The North Carolina State Board of Optometry Examination – How to Register and Prepare

Here is the guide for the North Carolina optometry examination!

Obtaining a license to practice optometry is easier in some states than others. North Carolina has notoriously been known to have a very challenging examination process for licensure. Recently having gone through this process, I can attest that their reputation stands true. This article will provide you with a few tips on how to approach the big day.

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About Scott Philippe

Scott Philippe


  1. Bhumika Patel

    Hey Ryan! What would be your advice on dos and don’ts while preparing and taking the boards?

  2. Ryan Corte O.D.

    1) Time yourself (clinically and verbally) – Have a friend make up some practices cases and time yourself going through the S.O.A.P format. Be sure to perform a complete eye exam verbally (i.e. if it’s an anterior segment issue, don’t forget to dilate)
    2) State aloud your differentials – Even if you don’t know the answer to a case, points may be given if you have the correct differentials.
    3) Book accommodations early – You want to be as relaxed as possible the day of the exam. Make sure your hotel and transportation situation is the least of your worries.

    1) Freak out – remaining calm under the pressure of the exam is key.
    2) Use a patient you’ve never practiced on – a buddy of mine registered late and had to do this…not ideal.
    3) Cram the night before – Do something enjoyable the night before. You’ll sleep and perform better the next day.

  3. Who else is taking the NC state board exam this summer??

    I’m searching for people to connect with to go through the preparation process together. My friend who passed it last year had weekly Skype sessions where they prepared mock cases to go over verbally and said it was very helpful practice for the real thing.

    I created a temporary Facebook page called Future North Carolina Optometirsts. Feel free to join the group if your are looking for other people who are in the same boat!

  4. Hey Ryan. I took it last year but didn’t pass. I’m considering taking it again. One thing they said afterwards was that I took too much time on going through the different exam components. I went through a typical exam asking all questions such as medications taken, family history, etc. What sequence did you use? After they told you the chief complaint did you go through the exam just asking exam questions based on their chief complaint or did you ask or did you take a more broad approach?

  5. Also, you said you studied for one month. What was your study schedule like?

  6. Ryan Corte O.D.

    Hey Shivali. I’m glad you’re staying positive and considering taking the exam again! I was very comprehensive about the way I dissected each chief complaint. Skipping pertinent information in the history would be a mistake. To get my timing right I had classmates and colleagues verbally go over cases with me in a timed format. By doing so I was able to better gauge how to manage my time during the actual exam. While studying I devoted ~2-3 hours each weeknight and variable amounts during the weekend (depending on my schedule). I found the most important study tactic was going practices cases out loud. See if you can find a study partner to help. Best of luck!

  7. Hi Ryan,

    Do you have a good resource for practice or sample cases? Thanks!

  8. Ryan Corte O.D.


    Unfortunately, I don’t have any specific online resources to recommend. However, if you Google “optometry or ophthalmology case reports”, you’ll find a number of helpful sites.

    As far as hard copy resources, I primarily used The Wills Eye Manual. I found that talking out cases with colleagues was the most effect way to prepare.

    Let me know if you have any other questions – best of luck!

  9. Tyler Stiegemeier

    For the August 2015 Test Takers. I’m considering starting a Facebook group similar to Danny. If there is anyone interested in drawing up mock cases and either skyping/facetiming to review or perhaps meet in person let me know. I’ll create a facebook group for us to connect better!

  10. Amber Parham

    Who is taking the NC boards in July/August this year? I’d love to find someone to practice with!!

  11. Scott Philippe

    Clinical procedures are no longer part of the North Carolina exam. Current information for applicants can be found here There are 5 stations and beginning in February 2018 all stations will consist of 2 cases each. The stations are composed of cases that a clinician is likely to see in practice.

  12. Michelle Biaggi

    Hello Ryan & Scott,

    Thanks for the article and all the tips. I’ll be testing next month. My boyfriend has tested before and he said there were very specific things he needed to know, including the interpretation of orbital CT’s and interpretation of blood work results (abnormal cell counts). My question is, how specific should we be regarding treatment for conditions that are referred to a specialist? For instance, with acanthamoeba, do you think it would be sufficient to say that we would refer to an infectious disease specialist, or would you also state that you expect the specialist to treat with polyhexamethylene biguanide Q1H?

  13. Ruvina Ranasinghe

    Thank you for all the tips. It helps a lot. Anybody taking the exam August 2019? I am planning to take it

  14. Scott Philippe

    The August 2019 pass rate was 78%. Everything you need for preparation is listed on the Board’s web site, including every possible case that could be presented.

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