What is the NBDE Exam?

NBDE Practice Test
National Board Dental Examination

The National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) is a comprehensive dental exam for students and professionals in dentistry in the United States. It is a requirement for dental licensure in the United States and may also be required when applying for postgraduate studies after completing a dental degree. Foreign-trained dentists also must take the NBDE to earn admission into advanced standing programs in U.S. dental schools.
NBDE is intended to fulfill the written examination requirement. It is designed to assess the expertise of the candidate in basic biomedical and dental sciences. The examination is carried out almost daily in 300 centers in the United States and Canada.

NBDE Parts I and II were established and administered by the ADA Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations. Actual tests are carried out by federal or national testing boards. Currently, all U.S. licensing authorities accept NBDE results. Such territories shall include all 50 States, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.

The NBDE dental consists of two parts: NBDE part 1 and NBDE part 2. The purpose of these tests is to assist the national boards in assessing the credentials of dentists seeking a license to practice dentistry. The tests evaluate the ability to comprehend vital information from the biomedical and dental sciences as well as the ability to implement this information in a problem-solving context.

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NBDE Test Format and Structure


The first portion of the NBDE exam is usually taken during the second year of dental school. Part 1 is administered in two 3.5 hour sessions with an optional one-hour lunch break in between. It consists of 400 questions: 80% are stand-alone questions, 20% are testlets consisting of a patient scenario, patient history, and a set of items.

It covers basic biomedical sciences, including:

  • Anatomic Sciences
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Pathology
  • Dental Anatomy
  • Occlusion
TopicsSubtopicsNumber of Questions
Biochemistry – Physiology
  • Biological Compounds
  • Metabolism
  • Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Connective Tissues
  • Membranes
  • Nervous System
  • Muscle
  • Circulation
  • Respiration
  • Renal
  • Oral Physiology
  • Digestion
  • Endocrines
  • Professional Ethics/Patient Management
100 Items
Anatomic Sciences
  • Gross Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Oral Histology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Professional Ethics/Patient Management
100 Items
Microbiology – Pathology
  • General Microbiology
  • Reactions of Tissue to Injury
  • Immunology and Immunopathology (at least 3 on oral immunology)
  • Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology of Specific Infectious Diseases (at least 8 on oral diseases)
  • Systemic Pathology
  • Growth Disturbances
  • Professional Ethics/Patient Management
100 Items
Dental Anatomy and Occlusion
  • Tooth Morphology
  • Pulp Cavity Morphology
  • Calcification and Eruption
  • Principles of Occlusion and Function
  • Clinical Considerations—Tooth Morphology and Anomalies
  • Professional Ethics/Patient Management
100 Items
NBDE 1 Test Format
SectionAllotted Time
Tutorial15 minutes (optional)
Subject-based, stand-alone items (100 items)3 hours and 30 minutes plus 15-minute optional scheduled break
Subject-based, stand-alone items (about 60 items)
Three to five testlets (about 40 items)
Break30 minutes (optional)
Three to five testlets (about 40 items)3 hours and 30 minutes plus 15-minute optional scheduled break
Subject-based, stand-alone items (about 60 items)
Subject-based, stand-alone items (100 items)
Post-examination Survey15 minutes (optional)
Total8 hours and 30 minutes

NBDE Part 2

The second part of the NBDE is a two-day comprehensive test comprising of 500 test items. It consists of 80% stand-alone items and 20% interdisciplinary and case-based items. Each case consists of a patient scenario and history, along with a set of items relevant to the scenario. The discipline-based component of the test has 400 items, while the case-based part has 100 items. The first 400 items must be completed within 7 hours on the first day, and the remaining 100 items must be completed in three hours and 30 minutes on the second day.

NBDE Part 2 covers the following disciplines:

  • Endodontics
  • Operative Dentistry
  • Prosthodontics
  • Pharmacology
  • Periodontics
  • Patient Management
  • Orthodontics
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Oral Diagnosis
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Pain Control
TopicsSubtopicsNumber of Questions
  • Case Clinical Diagnosis, Case Selection, Treatment Planning, and Patient Management
  • Basic Endodontic Treatment Procedures
  • Procedural Complications
  • Traumatic Injuries
  • Adjunctive Endodontic Therapy
  • Post-Treatment Evaluation
41 items
Operative Dentistry
  • Dental Caries
  • Examination, Diagnosis, & Treatment Planning
  • General Operative Procedures
  • Preparation of Cavities
  • Restoration of Prepared Cavities
59 items
Oral And Maxillofacial Surgery/Pain Control
  • Surgery
  • Anxiety and Pain Control
  • Medical Assessment and Emergency Care
  • Treatment Plan
  • Diagnosis
61 items
Oral Diagnosis
  • Oral Pathology
  • Oral Radiology
54 Items
Orthodontics/Pediatric Dentistry
  • Individual Tooth Pathology
  • Supporting Tissue Pathology
  • Dentofacial Variations
  • Behavior
  • Systemic Pathology
62 items
Patient Management
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills
  • Anxiety and Pain Control
  • Health Behavior Change
  • Disabled and Medically Compromised
  • Epidemiology
  • Prevention of Oral Diseases
  • Evaluation of Dental Literature
  • Infection Control
  • Materials and Equipment Safety
  • Professional Responsibility/Liability
  • Practice Management
65 items
  • Diagnosis
  • Etiology
  • Pathogenesis
  • Treatment Planning
  • Prognosis
  • Therapy
  • Prevention and Maintenance
57 items
  • General Principles
  • Central Nervous System
  • Autonomic
  • Cardiovascular
  • Local Anesthetics
  • Chemotherapy
  • Endocrines/Immunosuppressants
  • Analgesics
  • Antihistamines and Autocoids
43 items
  • General Considerations
  • Complete and Removable Partial Denture Prosthodontics
  • Fixed Partial Prosthodontics
58 items
NBDE 2 Test Format
Day 1
SectionAllotted Time
Tutorial15 minutes (optional)
Discipline-based, stand-alone items (100 items)3 hours and 30 minutes plus 15-minute optional scheduled break
Discipline-based, stand-alone items (100 items)
Lunch Break30 minutes (optional)
Discipline-based, stand-alone items (100 items)3 hours and 30 minutes plus 15-minute optional scheduled break
Discipline-based, stand-alone items (100 items)
Day 2
Tutorial15 minutes (optional)
Four to six patient cases (50 items)3 hours and 30 minutes plus 15-minute optional scheduled break
Four to six patient cases (50 items)
Post-examination Survey15 minutes (optional)
Total8 hours and 30 minutes

NBDE Scoring System

NBDE is graded on a scale of 49-99. A weighted score of 75 or higher is considered to be a passing score. This scaled score is generated from your raw score (the total amount of items you answered correctly). Scale scores can be quickly converted to percentiles using the info you have obtained from your score survey.

You will get your NBDE score report about 6-8 weeks after the date of the test. A copy of your NBDE Part 1 results and NBDE Part 2 results will also be provided to the dean of your dental school. Additional copies shall be made available through written request.

The NBDE is a pass/fail test; grades are recorded only as a pass for candidates who have obtained passing scores. For remediation reasons, applicants who fail the test shall receive numerical ratings for each of the major areas covered by the test. The rating of “pass” is stated for candidates with a scale score of 75 or higher. The classification of “fail” is stated for candidates who have earned a score below 75.


NBDE Registration

To be eligible to take part in the NBDE I, the dental school must confirm that you have met all the required course requirements included in the test material. Graduates from foreign dental schools must have their approved dental school transcripts checked by the Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc.

To register for the NBDE part 1 and part 2 tests, you may follow the steps below:

  • Read the NBDE Guide for Candidates. Familiarize yourself with the testing guidelines and the parts of the exam using the NBDE guides available on the ADA website. You may download a PDF copy of the guide or read it online. Reading it will give you a good grasp of the structure of the exam, testing protocol, and more.
  • Send your eligibility letter to the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCDNE). Either you or your school must submit a completed “Certification of Eligibility” signed by the dean to the office of JCDNE for each application submitted (Part 1 and Part 2 has different forms).
  • Obtain a DENTPIN and apply for the test. Before you can apply to take NBDE, you must register for a DENTPIN. If you did not receive your DENTPIN when you began your dental school, you can register using your legal name (the name that appears on your government issued I.D.). If you have already taken or applied any exams like DAT, NBDHE, or ADAT, you already have a DENTPIN can just use your existing one. Once you have it on hand, you can apply for NBDE Part 1 or Part 2 online.
  • Sign up for the date of the exam. Tests are conducted by Prometric Inc. at Prometric Test Centers. A lot of students take these exams around the same time and space is limited. Prepare in advance to ensure that you will be able to book the day you want, particularly with Part II, which needs to be taken on two consecutive days. Test appointments can be rescheduled up to 48 hours ahead of time.

NBDE Test Fees

Examination Fees
Fee TypeDescriptionAmount
NBDE Part 1 FeeIncludes official results reporting to you and the dean of an accredited dental school. Reports are reported electronically to dental schools through the Department of Testing Services Hub.$445 USD
NBDE Part 2 Fee$490 USD
NBDE Processing Fee for Non-accredited CandidatesApplicable to candidates who are students or graduates of a dental school not accredited by CODA.$210 USD
Results Report Fee (optional)Covers single results report for a recipient not selected at the time of application.$45 USD per report
Results Audit Fee (optional)The Department of Testing Services is able to check your NBDE reports if your appeal is submitted within 30 days of the reporting date from your =official results report.$65 USD
Eligibility Extension FeeCandidates may extend their eligibility period for a fee. The extension is for 45 days within the designated testing window and is available once per application.$125 USD
Rescheduling Fees
Number of days before testing appointmentFee
1 to 5 business days before testing day, and at least 24 hours before the scheduled appointment starts.$150
6 to 30 business days before testing day.$60
31 or more business days before the testing day.$25

NBDE Questions

How many times are you allowed to take NBDE?

You have to wait 90 days between the exams. Applicants who have failed the NBDE Part I three times will wait 12 months before retesting.

How long are the NBDE scores valid?

NBDE scores are valid for up to 10 years.

How long will it take to get NBDE results?

NBDE score reports are usually made available about three to four weeks after the test.

What is the INBDE?

The Integrated National Board Dental Examination (INBDE) is a new standardized cognitive dental licensure exam expected to replace the existing National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) Part I and Part II exams by August 2020.

Does NBDE provides scholarships?

NBDE is an examination. They don’t have scholarships. It is a standardized test that must be carried out by both the dentists of the United States and internationally qualified applicants.

How many people apply for NBDE per year?

Since it is a requirement for dental licensure, thousands of students apply for NBDE each year.

Can I get into dental school without an undergrad?

Yes, you can. If you are in Canada or the United States, you only need a total of 3 years of undergraduate courses, including pre-requisites, to be eligible to apply for a dental school. You’re going to need to be extremely bright or ambitious and/or fortunate to get in with 3 years.

Is dentistry a dying profession?

Of course not. There is no substitute to dentistry at all.  Dentistry is an ever-increasing and always-improving field of healthcare. 

What are the top dental schools in the US?

Attending a top-ranking dental school is a relatively secure way to establish a successful, high-paying career functioning in your own company or with colleagues in service. There are 64 universities in the United States offering advanced degrees in dentistry. Below are dental schools with a strong reputation, excellent services, and exceptional faculty members.

  • Harvard University
  • New York University
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • UCLA
  • University of California San Francisco
  • University of Florida
  • University of Michigan
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Washington

What is the best NBDE exam preparation courses?

The following is a list of the best NBDE prep courses to assist you in your exam preparation.

  • Kaplan NBDE Part 1 & Kaplan NBDE Part 2 On Demand Prep: Kaplan NBDE covers all you’ll ever need to know to pass your National Dental Board examinations without a hitch. You can never go wrong with their lively professional instructors. Part 1 instruction includes basic sciences, dental anatomy, and occlusion. NBDE part 2 study material focuses on clinical dental science. There are ten case studies here, as well as dental charting and radiography.
  • Board Vitals NBDE I and NBDE II Dental Question Bank and Practice Test: Their test question bank provides extensive explanations for both correct and incorrect answers. You will also receive performance metrics. Keep in mind that these practice questions cover all of the NBDE part 1 subjects. Physiology, Pathology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Dental Anatomy & Inclusion are among them. They also include Anatomy, Embryology, and Histology.
  • B & B Dental NBDE Part I Boards Review Course: This comprehensive Part 1 dental NBDE exam prep course employs a tried-and-true exam study method to guide you through each and every review stage. This is a strategy that has already been utilized by over 19,000 pupils. The B & B Dental online course offers practice questions and flashcards to help you prepare for your test. This course is jam-packed with practice questions designed like the actual test.

NBDE Sample Questions

NBDE Part 1 Sample Questions

Question #1

Regarding the pathophysiology of shock, which of the following statements is true?

  • There is a decrease in urinary output
  • The patient becomes hypertensive
  • There is an increase in blood flow
  • There is an increase in cardiac output

Question #2

What is gum disease called when it becomes chronic and involves bone?

  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontal disease
  • Geographic tongue
  • Chronic stomatitis

Question #3

Which of the following tooth types has a labial ridge?

  • Incisor
  • Canine
  • Premolar
  • Molar

Question #4

What is the most common oral prosthetic complication?

  • Mandible misalignment
  • Gingiva malformation
  • Veneer fracture
  • Veneer attachment

Question #5

Leukemia is mainly treated with radiation and chemotherapy. What are the two types of chemotherapy used in the treatment of leukemia?

  • Induction and maintenance
  • Induction and delayed
  • Delayed and maintenance
  • Maintenance and latent

Question #6

Ginglymodiarthrodial joints connect the lower jaw to the skull. What type of movement do these joints display?

  • Sliding
  • Immovable
  • Freely movable
  • Gliding