Dominating Canadian Boards Part 1

Disclaimer: always refer to the latest updates on for exam format and content changes.


Fall is in the air and Canadian board exams are coming quickly. Between clinical externships and studying, it can be a stressful time! Whether you’re in Canada or US, CAOS has a few tips for you to best prepare for the upcoming OEBC written exam in November:

1) OEBC Blueprint & Sample Case
  • Refer to the Blueprint! This is ALL the information provided by the OEBC to what is on the exam. While it is light on details about content/topic breakdown (unlike the NBEO), the style is similar to the old CACO written exam and the NBEO Part 2: It has “62 comprehensive cases each with 4 multiple choice questions, requiring the application of knowledge and judgement.”
  • The sample case gives you a rough idea of what to expect, but that’s about it. There likely won’t be any complex math questions involved, but do know the basic formulas and calculations, especially ones we use in clinic!

Unfortunately, there are no official or third party resources to help prep for Canadian boards, so a combination of resources are needed to cover everything you need to know in blueprint:


2) KMK Optometry Part 2
  • While KMK Part 2 course and book should suffice in preparing you for part 2, some students take find Part 1 to be helpful to review key concepts on anatomy, physiology and pharmacology. Take a quick glance at it, but I wouldn’t dwell too long on KMK Part 1.
  • The Part 2 course also provides you with video lectures going over key concepts, mnemonics to remember facts, and also has quizzes and a mock exam for you to take– super helpful to give you practice.
3) Relevant Class Notes

It is IMPOSSIBLE to go through all your 3 years of notes, unless you’re solely relying on them. While KMK is mostly comprehensive for all your basic exam needs, there are some topics that are better covered in your didactic class. Some topics include:

  • Binocular Vision: conditions, management & treatment
  • Pediatric: especially on prescribing and age-norm/expectations
  • Low Vision: briefly know how to apply low vision formulas for hand-held devices
  • Pharmacology: focus on ocular pharm– emphasis on mechanism of action and ADRs
  • Ocular Disease: know how to recognize and manage major ocular diseases, especially conditions where we can treat with therepeutics.
  • Colour Vision : focus on types of defects, test results and management. Don’t dwell too long as your CV course covers a lot of technical theories.
  • Clinical Management/Case Analysis: best prep for case-style exam!
4) Textbooks & Online Sites
  • Will’s Eye Manual
    • Your go-to book in clinic, exam prep and real life — definitely a good resource to study up on your ocular diseases, especially on management and follow up schedule of patients!
    • doesn’t hurt to read more about cases, and look at picture gallery.
  • Optocase
    • geared towards ODs, but more access to free cases= think like a clinician

Still itching for more practice?

5) Dose of OptoPrep
  • This is a freebie service that sends you a daily NBEO type of question to your inbox! This keeps you on your feet and gives you more chances to put your study into action. If you’re a fan of OptoPrep, consider signing up for their course instead of KMK.
6) NBEO Sample Questions

Pro tip: Canadian-trained students can consider studying for the NBEO part 2 at the same time, as they are both similar. Likewise, US-trained students can study for the OEBC written in preparation for the NBEO part 2!!

US-Trained Candidates:
  • Imperial/Metric Conversion — it’s already annoying to convert from kph to mph, and C to F. Unfortunately, the exam uses metric visual acuities (6/6m = 20/20ft) and M notation (0.4m/.4M) at near (don’t worry– most of us practise in 20/20 in real life!) Quick conversion chart can be found here. Memorize it!


  • Pharmacology –– HSK? go with Zirgan, right? Unfortunately…it is not available in Canada, so we still use Viroptic. We can’t prescribe Zylet, Xiidra, or Tramadol either, to name a few.

Last Words of Advice:

Create a study schedule and plan to finish reviewing most materials first time through a month before the exam. Then, prioritize on topics that are weighed more heavily in the blueprint. Quiz yourself on key concepts or with a friend. For example: name a condition, and ask them etiology, signs, symptoms, management, treatment, follow up and help each other out!!

The new OEBC exam is only one-day rather than two days, but still a marathon! So bring water, and some snacks to keep you fuelled. Good luck to all you future Doctors!


Dominating Canadian Boards Part 1
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