All About NPLEX Part 1 Biomedical Sciences Exam

The following post is written by Guest Author: CCNM Student Alecia Dodge

Thanks Alecia!

What is NPLEX?

  • The Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX) are professional licensing exams administered by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE).
  • More information about NPLEX, NABNE, and FAQ can be found on the NABNE website
  • You are required to pass both parts 1 and 2 before being permitted to practice as a naturopathic doctor in Canada and the USA.
    Part 1 is a biomedical sciences examination – testing concepts in anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, and physiology. It consists of 200 case-based multiple choice questions.

How Do I Prepare for Writing NPLEX Part 1?

Other than the great Pass NPLEX resources available on this site, the following tools are available.

Note: Some of these resources are only available in Ontario.

  • NPLEX Blueprint & Study Guide
    Free with registration to write NPLEX or $5 if you are not applying to take NPLEX. Updated each year to accurately reflect testable material
  • CCNM Class Notes, textbooks (physiology, anatomy, biochemistry, etc.)
  • There are several third party websites, in-class courses, and textbooks available to students seeking additional help in studying for NPLEX. Below are the most popular; however many other resources may exist to help you study for NPLEX.
  • Board Vitals ( 600+ practice questions, formatted to NPLEX standards, case-based
    Several promo codes available to receive discounted price (save 10% when you sign up through PassNPLEX website, for example)
  • Dr. Anderson’s Basic Science Boards (
    Online recorded modules of lectures along with access to PowerPoint files
  • Dr. Grossman’s NPLEX Part 1 Board Review Series (
    In-class format, 5 day course with access to study manual
  • Kaplan Lecture Notes
    Series of 7 textbooks: Anatomy, Behavioural Sciences, Biochemistry, Immunology/Microbiology, Pathology, Pharmacology (not needed for this exam), and Physiology
    Available for purchase on websites like PDF versions may also be available online
  • NPLEX Crunch (
    Personal coaching, 12 hours of online videos, access to PowerPoint slides, quick review ‘cheat sheets’, and online support group
  • Pathoma Videos (Saved in Google Drive class of 2018)
    To-the-point pathology-focused videos categorized by body system
  • First Aid for the USMLE
    The go-to study book. Covers all materials that may be tested on NPLEX (but also contains information like pharmacology and diagnostic imaging which are not tested on NPLEX part 1)
    Older versions of the book can be found online, or physical copies can be purchased from websites like
  • Wild Brilliance Press ( (formerly Healing Mountain Publishing)
    Offers two textbooks: NPLEX 1 Practice Exams and NPLEX 1 Review Questions
    Also offers online learning modules and NPLEX-style practice questions
  • Support your classmates and get answers to your questions by joining a free, CCNM student-run group called “NPLEX Support” on Facebook (or create your own and invite others to join!)

What Can I Expect the Day of the Exam?

  • Arrive early to sign in and get settled in to the room
    Things to bring:
  • Registration ticket – must print from NABNE website – you will not be permitted to write the exam if you do not have a physical copy of your registration ticket with you
  • Government-Issued Photo ID
  • Water bottle (optional)
  • Snacks/Lunch (optional)
  • Things to leave at home:
  • Pens, pencils, erasers, paper, calculators, etc. (All writing materials are provided to you on exam day)
  • Study materials, textbooks, laptops, etc.
  • Valuables (No personal belongings, aside from a water bottle, are allowed in the examination rooms)
  • The exam is administered in two, 3-hour sessions with a 1-hour break in between sessions for lunch. 100 MCQ/session for a total of 200 questions.
  • If you finish early you are permitted to leave after submitting your test and answer sheet to an administrator

Comments from Students Who Wrote NPLEX Part 1 in August 2016

Note: Some of these only apply to Ontario.

  • No matter the result you get, consider this as an experience worth having!
  • Start studying early. Most students recommend starting at the end of May/ beginning of June
  • Make a schedule and commit to it. It has been estimated that students spend between 100 – 200 hours preparing for the exam
  • Review tough concepts first (and again a couple weeks before the exam)
  • Try practice questions (if available) to get your brain used to the format used for the NPLEX exam
  • Memorizing may be inevitable, but try not to leave things to the last minute
  • Expect there to be questions that you don’t know the answer to. Try your best to eliminate options to find the right or most logical answer
  • Read each case stem and follow-up questions carefully!
  • Expect the questions to ask you for specific details. Broad concepts are important to know, but having a more detail-oriented knowledge base will help you answer questions
  • Stay positive and study the way that you want to study.
  • Everyone has their own way of tackling the material; don’t be afraid to use a technique that has helped you learn in the past.
  • Some students have suggested to learn from multiple sources: YouTube videos, textbooks, course notes, practice questions
  • Make sure you are covering all the topics listed in the NPLEX study guide
  • Take care of yourself – meditation, exercise, adaptogens, etc.
  • You need to be in your best health in order to perform well and feel comfortable taking this exam
  • Get a good night sleep the evening before the exam
  • Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t know the answer to a question
  • Eat something during the break between sessions – there is a plaza on the corner of Don Mills and Finch that has a No Frills and other stores if you want to purchase food (~5 min walk from the testing building at Seneca College)
  • ‘What I Wish I Spent More Time Studying’
  • Microbiology, specifically details like identifying characteristics of an organism (aerobic/anaerobic, gram staining, catalase/urease testing) and the diseases they cause
  • Cytokines and their functions
  • For all pathology-based questions the name of the condition is given. Spend more time learning etiology, clinical characteristics, complications of a given disease, and any relevant physiology