The Best Time to Start National Board Certification (Part 2)
Sunday, April 29, 2018 by Joetta M. Schneider, NBCT

Photo by Szucs László on Unsplash

This is a continuation of Part 1, The Best Time to Start National Board Certification for Teachers.

Ideas for Scheduling Your National Board Components:

You will develop your own calendar, but here is an example timeline for National Board Certification.  If it seems overwhelming, don’t worry.  Print this out or keep it bookmarked and look at it every month or so and it will begin to make sense.  If you do the things that are suggested, you will be on track to complete all four components in one year. 

An Example Timeline For Completing All Four Components In One Year
May/June the year before:  Attend a Prep Class in person or online; download all materials from the website and prepare a binder and other organizational materials. If you feel the need to brush up on any content for Component 1, sign up for free courses on Khan Academy or CK-12, or some other study site.  Make a plan to study that includes time this summer and May of next year.  If you feel okay about your content knowledge, don’t be concerned about the test until next May.

July the summer before:  Read through your NB Standards and all the instructions; buy a book or two about the process and read them, too. 


Prepare your permission forms to distribute to all students, collaborating teachers, and other adults such as student teachers or parent-volunteers who might end up on your video.  The forms can be found here. 
Plan ways to get to know your students and their families at the beginning of the year.  Develop profiles of each class you teach, as well, for Component 4
Decide which of your best units of instruction you will be teaching in September, October, and November for Component 2. 

September:  Do a “dry run” with your first 3-12 week unit of instruction for Component 2.  The actual timeframe differs for each certification area.  But this will get you started.  Make your best lesson plans including differentiation for various children in your class, implement your activities, and keep copies of student work as evidence of your impact on student learning.

October:  Look at the questions in the Written Commentary of Component 2 and see if you can answer them based on what you taught in September.  It will be best if you really do write the answers to these questions to the best of your ability at this point.  Until you actually begin typing answers, you will feel overwhelmed.  Just type all the answers without worrying about page limits or whether or not you are doing it correctly.  Remember the idea of “developmental process?”  This is like riding a bike—you are practicing and it’s important.  Don’t judge yourself; whatever you do here is okay.

Mid-to-Late October:  Set up an iPad or video camera in your room and let it record your students so they get used to being recorded.  Some teachers like to use a Swivel, but we need to hear what your students are saying and we need to see what they are working on.  It would be great if someone like a colleague, student assistant, or parent volunteer could record the student’s faces and discussion while you are teaching.  Don’t worry about what you are teaching at this point.  This is your practice for Component 3, but you may be working on the instructional sequence for Component 2.  You will not be using the video recordings!  These are just practices for you, your students, and your videographer.  You can also read the “What Do I Need To Do” section of your Component 3 instructions.

November:  At this point you have one or two practice attempts at Component 2 and you’ve begun thinking about Component 3.  Look at the instructions for Component 4, which has four “chunks.”  First, you have to develop a profile of a group of students as described in your instructions. (Remember how we started this in August?) The second chunk of Component 4 is to identify a learning need that stands out from one of your groups of students that you can advocate for.  A third chunk for Component 4 is to determine a professional need that this information seems to bring out.  It can be your own learning need or your colleagues’.  You can be the learner or the leader in addressing this professional learning need, or a bit of both.  You will share your work in this and collaborate with others to address these student needs. For November, you can plan for the collaborative work with other professionals and/or parents and community members.  When can you attend a training, or hold a training for your collaborators that will have an impact on the student learning need you identified?  There are other ways to address this, but this will be your jumping-off point.


Write your rough draft of Component 2 so you can have others read it over the holidays and then you can begin to revise it.  You will begin to “worry” about the length of your writing in January. 
Begin thinking about lessons you can use in Component 3, which is about student engagement.  What lessons do you already do that have high levels of student engagement?  Don’t forget to learn more about student engagement from resources such as these.
You have a good bit of work to do over the break.  Plan for some uninterrupted time to work.

January:  At this point you have a rough draft of Component 2 out to a few readers.  You are working on the professional learning need for Component 4, and you’re planning to video record for real many days during January, February, and March.  Plan for more time to work.  At this point you have to commit to the process by paying for any components you want to submit in May.  Relief!  If you aren’t able to do all four of them, it hasn’t hurt you to have begun as if you would!  You will get a letter in February or March explaining how to sign up for your Component 1 Test—but don’t worry about that yet.

February: Your understanding of the process will have grown exponentially after you have completed one component, so I advise you to go ahead and complete Component 2 in early February.  Get your paper into the correct number of pages.  Begin writing any sections of Components 3&4 that you can— for instance the sections about planning.

March: Watch your video recordings and choose the segments that allow you to do the best job of answering the questions in the Written Commentary section of Component 3.  Finish your rough draft of Component 3 and get them out to your readers as soon as possible.  Plan to rewrite Component 3 in April.  Also plan to write and revise Component 4.  Make your best guess about when you want to take your test.  Remember that you will have time to study after you submit in May if you want to.

April:  The submission window will open around April 1st, but you don’t have to submit till mid-May, don’t panic.  You can also test any time after this date (Component 1.) Keep writing and revising your Components.  Use the code the NBPTS sends you to sign up for an account on the submission site.  Get your work into the proper format for submitting and double-check the picky stuff like margins. 

May:  Plan to submit at least a week ahead of time.  Go ahead and upload files; they won’t be submitted until you push the button or until midnight of the deadline.  Now begin studying for your Component 1 test.  After you’ve taken the test, CELEBRATE!  You will get your scores in December or so.    

Leave questions in the comments and I’ll get back to you.  What do you think of this schedule?  What worked best for you? 

Share This Blog:


Rachael Fowler From North Carolina At 1/16/2023 12:14:21 PM

I am preparing to begin my National Boards in the 23-24 cycle. I noticed you recommendation to take Khan Academy courses. My area will be Elementary Literacy. What courses do you reccomend?

Reply by: My National Board for Teachers

Whatever any teacher of elementary literacy would use to study for their certification would be helpful, for example, the Praxis ( in Elementary Reading and Writing. This would be for Component 1.

Cindy From CT At 8/1/2021 6:14:33 PM

Thanks for the timeline. If I follow this timeline, when do I actually purchase the components? I just registered today (8/1/21).

Reply by: My National Board for Teachers

You can wait till much closer to the deadline to purchase the components although you can access them and get started! :-) The deadline used to be December 31st or January 31st, but that has been extended at times. In general, you should have till late December at least before you have to pay! :-)

Elizabeth Lepper From Upstate NY At 1/1/2021 2:12:22 PM

I have just registered and I like the schedule you have shared. I was going to sign up for component 1 in February, take it in May and then follow the schedule you shared, In that way , I would be able to retake C1, if needed and also give me the summer to prepare. What do you think?

Reply by: My National Board for Teachers

Many of the candidates in our physical cohort have recommended this approach. It is good if you are strong in your content because you may not need to retake any of the sections of it. It's good if you are weak in your content because you get the opportunity to experience and see it once and you can retake only portions of C1 if needed. :-)

Sasha Roethe From Seattle At 6/28/2020 9:14:38 PM

Hi there! I want to try this schedule for my national boards. Say I don't get all of this done due to COVID or any other unplanned reason by May, do I need to repurchase all of the components for the next testing cycle?

Reply by: My National Board for Teachers

Some of this depends upon what the nbpts does due to COVID. But in general, if you pay for it (and payment is not usually due till February) then you must complete it that year. So be careful what you pay for. Most teachers begin the process as if they are completing all of it and then make an assessment of what to pay for in February.

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