How to Take the Veterinary Licensing Exam

Your Guide to the NAVLE

The North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) is a standardized test that is used by state and provincial licensing boards as a part of their licensing process for veterinarians. The experts from EssayWriterCheap prepared an overview of the exam process for aspiring veterinarians. The NAVLE program is administered by the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (NBVME).

Applicant Eligibility

Several groups of candidates may be eligible to take the NAVLE including graduates of AVMA accredited veterinary schools, students expecting to graduate within 8 to 10 months (depending on state requirements), and students or graduates of non-accredited veterinary schools that have completed step 3 of the equivalency certificate programs offered by the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates (ECFVG) or the Program for the Assessment of Veterinary Education Equivalence (PAVE). 

Students are advised to check with their state or territorial board to be sure that they meet all eligibility requirements before applying.  Canadian students must check with the Canadian National Examining Board to follow their specific rules and requirements.

Exam Test Dates

The NAVLE exam is administered during two “windows” of time each year: first in the fall (November/December) and again in the spring (April).  Once approved to take the exam (by the NVBME and their local board) students may schedule their exam date at 

a Prometric testing center during the exam window.

Exam Applications

There are two applications required before a candidate becomes eligible to take the veterinary licensing exam in the United States or a U.S. territory.  The first is a national NAVLE application that is submitted to the NVBME.  The second is a separate state/territorial application that goes to the board where the candidate is seeking licensure.  While students should check the specific deadlines each year, applications are due several months before the exam window date.  State board due dates maybe even earlier than the NVBME’s deadline.

Exam Content

The NAVLE exam is designed to test a candidate’s proficiency in the field of veterinary medicine with a specific emphasis on entry-level private practice skills.  The exam may cover small animal medicine, food animal medicine, companion animal medicine, mixed animal medicine, and a variety of other topics.

Exam Format & Scores

The NAVLE exam consists of 360 multiple choice questions to be completed over a six and one half-hour period.  The exam is administered in six sections, with 60 questions and 65 minutes allotted per section.  Break time (45 minutes total) may be taken at the tester’s discretion but only between testing sections.

Some questions will have a visual element (such as a photograph or radiograph) that must be evaluated to answer the question.  Free sample questions are available through the NAVLE website, and full-length online practice exams are also available for purchase.  The online exams are $50 each and offer immediate score results after the test.

Students should answer all questions on the NAVLE as there is no penalty for incorrect answers.  Each correct answer earns one point.  NAVLE scores can be reported in several ways depending on the state board’s preference: pass/fail, three-digit scaled score, or two-digit scaled score.  On the three-digit scaled score, the numerical scale ranges from 200 to 800, with 425 being the minimum passing score established by the NVBME.  Scores are reported within 6 to 8 weeks.

The pass rate for first-time test takers is approximately 90 percent.  Several vet schools boast a pass rate of nearly 100 percent.

Exam Fees

The 2021-2022 NAVLE testing fee was $590, with overseas testing available for an additional surcharge of $275.  Online application fees may be submitted by credit card.  Paper applications must be accompanied by a check or money order.  The exam fee is non-refundable unless the student does not receive NAVLE approval from their state licensing board.

Students must also pay any applicable NAVLE application and approval fees that are required by their state board.  These fees vary from one jurisdiction to the next.


Once students have successfully passed the NAVLE, they must also meet all state requirements.  Some states require additional clinical competency tests or jurisprudence tests.  Once all requirements have been completed, the state board will grant the candidate a license to practice veterinary medicine.  The NVBME itself does not grant licensure.

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