What is the NBDE part I?


The NBDE part I is the National Board Dental Exam. The NBDE is part of the dental licensure requirement, along with the NBDE part II, and your state or regional licensing exam. The first part of the NBDE exam is usually taken after the second year of dental school, although it is taken after the first year at a few schools. The exam is taken on the computer and consists of 400 questions.

How long is the NBDE exam?
Dental students are given 7 hours and a 1 hour lunch break for the exam.

What is tested on part I of the NBDE?
The exam consists of 400 questions - 100 questions for each of the following broad categories: Anatomic sciences, Biochemistry & Physiology, Microbiology & Pathology, and Dental Anatomy & Occlusion. All questions are in the multiple choice format and some are grouped together in clinical testlets. To get more details on the subcategories tested, view the NBDE candidate guide from the ADA.

What are testlets?
A recent change to the first part of the NBDE is the addition of clinical testlets. In the exam, about 20% of the questions you will see will be in the testlet format. In this format, 6 to 10 questions are grouped into a clinical case. A patient chart with information on the patients complaint and basic medical history is provided on the computer before each testlet and the following 6 to 10 questions all relate to that specific patient.

How is the NBDE exam scored?
The score on the NBDE is not a percentage of the correct answers, but instead is a scaled score based on the number of questions you answered correctly compared to score scale.

What is the minimum score to pass the first part of the NBDE?
The minimum passing score for the NBDE part I is a 75.

What is the average score for the NBDE part I?
The average varies by year, but by using a scale for the exam, the ADA aims to keep the average around an 85-89.

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