National Board of Dental Examination (NBDE) Tips

National Board of Dental Examination Tips

In order to obtain a dental license, candidates must fulfill the following three requirements:

  • Minimum required level of education
  • Clear a clinical examination
  • Clear a written examination

National Board Dental Examination I and II fulfill the written examination requirement. NBDE is aimed to evaluate the candidate’s expertise in basic biomedical and dental sciences, respectively. The exam is conducted at 300 centers in the United States and Canada, almost daily.

NBDE Part 1
The first part of NBDE exam is usually taken after the second year of dental school. The NBDE part 1 is conducted in two 3.5 hour sessions with a one-hour optional lunch break in between.

The NBDE part 2 exam is typically taken during a student’s final year of dental school. It requires two days — the first day consists of two 3.5 hour sessions, with a one-hour optional lunch break in between. The second day is on single session test of 3.5 hours, which covers 100 case-based questions.


The NBDE Part 1 exam comprises 400 questions: 80% are stand-alone questions, 20% are associated with a clinical scenario.

The NBDE part 2 exam comprises 500 questions with similar ratio between independent and case-based questions.

Dentist Examining PatientFees

$410 – This includes official score reporting to the candidate and to the dean of the accredited dental school.

$455 – This includes official score reporting to the candidate, to the dean of the accredited dental school, and to the dental licensing boards, if requested by the candidate.

Optional Fees
Score audit fees: $65
Score report fees: $33 per score report
Rescheduling fees are contingent on the time at which rescheduling request is done by the candidate. The breakdown is as follows:
5 days prior to the testing appointment: $100
6-30 days prior to the testing appointment: $60
31+ days prior to the testing appointment: $25

SyllabusOrthodontic Exam

NBDE part 1 exam covers basic biomedical sciences, including:

  • Anatomic Sciences
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Pathology
  • Dental Anatomy
  • Occlusion

NBDE part 2 exam covers 9 disciplines, including:

  • Endodontics
  • Operative Dentistry
  • Prosthodontics
  • Pharmacology
  • Peridontics
  • Patient Management
  • Orthodontics
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Oral Diagnosis
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Pain Control

Study Material for NBDE

Probably, the most common question from all candidates is how and where to study for this exam. No book provides an all-in-one solution for clearing the NBDE. For each category, candidates are required to study from different resources in order to score better. We are listing some study resources that can help you in getting a good score in your NBDE examination.

Kaplan DentEssentialsKaplan Dentessentials is a comprehensive book. It contains in-depth information on all the topics; therefore, it is not suitable for a quick review. The book is divided into three sections: dental anatomy, organic systems, and general principles of basic sciences. It has bold charts and diagrams which are particularly useful for studying complex biochemistry concepts. It has great pictures, which can help candidates in retaining information on dental anatomy.

Mosby's Review NBDE IMosby’s Review for NBDE is suitable for those individuals notorious for studying at the eleventh hour — it contains materials in a concise outline form. The book is highly recommended for studying dental anatomy, but it doesn’t provide much valuable information on other disciplines included in NBDE.

BoardVitals is the most used question bank for the NBDE exams at the institutional level. There are over 1800 total questions that are created to simulate a true exam environment. There is a strong correlation on Medical Dental exams between the number of questions that a student takes and their eventual performance on the exam.

Dental Decks is probably the most sought after study material by dentistry students appearing in NBDE. Dental Decks Part 1 and Part 2 have more than 1000 flashcards each, covering all the disciplines of NBDE. The best thing is that the flashcards come with a test booklet that contains 10 case studies, which can help you in acquainting yourself with the exam format. We strongly recommend using Dental Decks as a resource.

NBDE Reprints by American Student Dental Association (ASDA) are considered a must by many students who have taken NBDE. These notes can actually help you in correlating your theoretical knowledge to the case-based questions asked in NBDE. This resource is generally considered easier than the actual exam, so make sure to supplement this resource with other sources of study material.

Your best bet is to incorporate a variety of study techniques to optimizing your study. BoardVitals offers access 24/7 via your smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. This convenience is a great way to study anytime, anywhere.

Good Luck on your exams!

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