Becoming a vet tech is a great career path for those who want to play an essential role in the health of animals big and small. Th
So you want to become a veterinary technician? If you’re ready to begin studying for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE), you’ve already completed (or almost completed) your technical school training and internship. At this point, you’re likely more than ready to get out there in the real world and start your career, but you have one more important step: you need to pass the VTNE. Once you’ve passed this required exam, you earn your credentials to be a licensed veterinary technician.
We all know it isn’t as easy as just “passing the test.” There will be dedicated hours involved in preparing for the exam. According to the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB), there are a handful of steps required to get your credentials:
Steps to Complete the VTNE
1. Verify your eligibility. This includes checking your state’s eligibility requirements.
2. Submit your online application. You will need to apply to take the exam. Make sure to check out the Candidate Handbook (AAVSB.org) so you know their policies. You’ll also need to submit your official transcripts.
3. Check your application status. During the application process, you will register for an account, which will keep you updated on the status of your application.
4. Schedule your exam. Once your application has been approved, you will be able to schedule your exam. Keep in mind, the exam is only offered 3 times per year.
5. Study for the VTNE. Here’s the “fun” part. Make sure you give yourself enough time between scheduling the exam and taking the exam.
6. Get your score report. Your personal official score report will be available immediately after taking your exam and results will be posted through your online account about 3-4 weeks later. Scores will be sent to the state board of your choosing when you apply.
7. Get your credentials. Contact your state board for credentialing requirements and applications.
Preparing for the VTNE: 9 Must-Dos
Test anxiety is a real thing. It is very important that you prepare for the VTNE carefully in order to obtain the best results. Make sure to train yourself physically and mentally for the task ahead. Here are some tips for when it comes time to buckle down and study for the exam.
1. Do Your Homework
Research the exam as much as you can so you know what to expect ahead of time. Here are a few administrative basics to get out of the way:
- It costs $325 USD to take the test. This does not include additional study materials.
- The VTNE is offered 3 times per year.
- The VTNE contains 170 multiple choice questions, 150 of which are scored.
- The test is computer-based.
- It is available in English and French.
- You will have 3 hours to take the test.
The content of the VTNE is wide-ranged and includes the following categories:
- Pharmacy and pharmacology
- Surgical nursing
- Laboratory procedures
- Animal care and nursing
- Diagnostic imaging
- Emergency medicine and critical care
- Pain management and analgesia
2. Don’t procrastinate
Start studying as early as you can. Don’t wait until the week before the exam to brush up on the main topics or try to cram as much information in as you can. You will quickly realize there is an unimaginable amount of material to review and shortly after this realization stress and anxiety will ensue.
A good rule is to start studying about three months in advance. Keep in mind that everyone is different, but this should allow plenty of time to become comfortable with the material.
3. Be organized
Take extra time to write yourself an outline. This should include a timeframe, what you’re going to study and when, and layout what information you need to cover. This could also be in the form of a check list.
And don’t forget to organize all your study materials. This can include:
- Keeping tabs in your internet browser for online resources.
- Straightening and organizing your class materials, textbooks, notebooks, and other resources so you know exactly where everything is for easy reference.
- Keeping pens, highlighters, paper, and other study materials readily available.
4. Take care of yourself
This may seem like a broad step, but it could be the most important piece of advice you receive leading up to the exam. These three things can help you stave off the stress while you get ready to take the test:
- Eat, drink, and sleep enough. This doesn’t mean just the day and night before your exam, (although that too, is important) but the weeks leading up to the exam.
- Eat healthy balanced meals. Avoid binging on junk food during late-night study sessions.
- Drink plenty of water. Every person needs to drink approximately half their bodyweight in water each day (UMsystem.edu).
5. Take practice exams
There are several different practice exams available for you to take, some are subscription based and some are one time only. These practice exams are critical. They will put you in the test-taking mind space. The practice exams are often timed, similarly to the real thing, and will help you get an idea about what the format of the exam is like, the types of questions, and how much time you need.
Here are some great resources for practice exams
6. Write it down by hand
Studies show (NPR.org) that you retain more by handwriting than typing. Write outlines and key points, and try to keep it short and simple.
7. Mix it up!
Sometimes a change of scenery can give you renewed energy, especially when studying for a lengthy exam becomes a slog.
- Change things up so you don’t get tired or distracted.
- Try studying in a different location, a library instead of your room, for example.
- Study with a small group of people and by yourself.
- Study at different times of the day. Don’t wait until 10pm every night to crack open your books.
8. Ask around
Ask other veterinary technicians who have taken (and passed) the VTNE about what the testing experience was like. Don’t expect to get questions and answers that are on the test, as these are changed, but they can provide you with insight about what did or didn’t help them.
9. Learn in the real world
A great way to learn and retain information is to learn by experience. Find a part-time job working or volunteering in a veterinary clinic to get some real-world experience.