One of the most challenging exams that gauge your qualifications to practice dentistry is the National Board Dental Examination (NBDE). After you've passed it, you're on your way to taking your regional licensing exam.
The NBDE is Divided Into Two Tests
Both Parts I and II must be passed in order to receive your clinical license:
- Generally taken after your first or second year of dental school (after the basic science curriculum is completed).
- Subject areas focus on basic sciences:
- Anatomic Science
- Dental Anatomy/Occlusion
- Structured as a one-day exam: 400 questions to be completed in seven hours with 20% being grouped into testlets with interdisciplinary focus and clinical application.
- Generally taken during the third or fourth year of dental school.
- Subject areas focus on clinical dentistry:
- Operative Dentistry
- Oral Surgery/Pain Control
- Orthodontics/Pediatric Dentistry
- Oral Pathology/Radiology
- Patient Management
- Structured as a two-day exam: 400 questions to be completed in seven hours on the first day; 100 case-based questions to be completed in three and a half hours on the second day.
NBDE Part I & II are Pass/Fail
Until January 2012, numerical scores were
reported with indication of a passing or failing grade. Now,
performance is only scored as pass/fail. Read about these changes on the
NBDE Pass/Fail page or hear about it from a student perspective below:
Steps for taking NBDE Part I & II:
1. Read the NBDE Candidate Guide
Be familiar with the NBDE testing guidelines for each part of the exam. The guides are available on the ADA website (you can also download the PDFs here: Part I and Part II). Reviewing it will give you an idea of testing protocol, exam structure and more.
2. Send Your Eligibility Letter to JCDNE
You must send a completed "certification of eligibility" signed by your dean to the JCDNE office for each NBDE application submitted (there is a different form for Part I and Part II).
3. Obtain your DENTPIN & Apply for the Exam
Before you can apply to take NBDE Part I, you must register for a DENTPIN. If you didn't receive one when you started dental school, register for one at www.ADA.org/dentpin.aspx. Once you have it handy, apply for Part I or Part II online.
4. Sign Up for a Test Date
The tests are administered by Prometric Inc., at Prometric Test Centers. Do not wait too long to schedule the test — many students often take these exams around the same time and spaces are limited. Plan ahead to ensure you are able reserve the date you want, especially with Part II which needs to be taken on two consecutive days. Sign up here. Test dates may be rescheduled up to 48 hours in advanced for a $100 fee. The more notice you give, the less expensive the rescheduling fee will be.
Regional Testing Agencies
On test day:
- Bring two original, current (not expired) IDs (e.g. driver's
license, passport, social security card). The name on your ID must match
the name you put on your application.
- Know where your test center is and how long it takes to get there.
- Wear comfortable clothes.
- Nothing can go into the test with you — no cell phones, watches, etc.
- Pack a nutritious lunch — you have an optional 1-hour break half-way through the exam.
Study Materials & Tips
Take Practice Exams: ASDA has released examinations
available for purchase from the website. Time yourself when you take these exams and learn
from incorrect answers. It is against NBDE policy to use or distribute
unreleased or remembered questions.
Study Tools/Guides: ASDA's 2012-13 Council on Communications has developed a list of resources – free and for purchase – that are available to help you study. ASDA does not endorse any product other than the released examinations for sale in the online store. Members receive a discount on items highlighted in red.
Download NBDE Resources
Review Sessions and Study Groups: set these up yourself and bounce thoughts off each other. Being able to explain concepts to others is a great way to learn something.