Apr 6, 2022

Meet the Replacement for ACS: The NDECC™

Nearly eight months ago, the NDEB released considerable changes to the Canadian equivalency process for international dentists. Most notably, the ACS examination received the most significant modifications to its existing structure, content, and overall format. 

Under the “Develop” component of their multiple-step strategy called Vision 2022: The Future of the Equivalency Process, the ACS examination was set to receive a new blueprint, skills requirements, and a facility to be constructed and opened for operation in 2022. However, on October 29, the NDEB announced that the current format of the ACS examination would be replaced by a modified skills examination known as the National Dental Examination of Clinical Competence™ or NDECC™, for short. 

In their official release, the NDEB stated the ACS exam in its current format will be administered for the final time in December 2021, while the NDECC will become the third examination of the equivalency process in 2022 following the AFK and ACJ.


So, what is the purpose of the NDECC?

The NDECC will continue to evaluate an examinee’s clinical abilities much as the ACS did. This exam will consist of two components requiring dentists to perform seven clinical requirements on simulated manikin-patients in a clinical setting in the first component and ten situational judgment requirements in the second. A basic outline for the NDECC is now available on the NDEB website. 

Based on the announcements so far, here is our breakdown of the two components:

Component 1: Clinical Skills
• Must perform seven
• Will contain evaluation on:


– Class II amalgam preparation
– Class II amalgam restoration
– Class II composite restoration
– Class IV composite restoration
– Crown preparation
– Provisional restoration
– Endodontic access cavity preparation


Note: You may notice Rubber dam, Record-keeping, Class III, Full Metal Crown (FMC) are no longer listed as projects, but they may be combined in other projects or the Situational Judgement component. 

• Skills and techniques will be evaluated based on current Canadian standards.
• This component will simulate a clinical setting as if they are being performed on working patients.
• You will be required to use your judgment and follow accepted clinical care guidelines and standards.
• Requirements can be performed in any order.
• Infection control and safety will be assessed.


Component 2: Situational Judgement
• Must perform 10
• Will contain evaluation on:


– Patient-Centred Care*
– Professionalism*
– Communication and Collaboration*
– Practice and Information Management*
– Health Promotion*


* For specific examples on these topics, please see the NDEB blueprint. Please note, these examples do not reflect all situations that can be assessed. 

• This component evaluates a dentist’s ability to use their judgement to solve work-related issues.


When will the NDECC take effect?

The first NDECC exam will be held in June 2022 at the NDEB’s new testing facility in Ottawa, Ontario, and will be given multiple times a week throughout the year.

Where is the facility located?

The NDECC Test Centre is located at 340 Albert St. 12th Floor Ottawa, ON. The facility includes many other operational rooms, including separate situational judgement rooms and the simulation clinic.

How long does it take to write each component?

The NDECC exam will take place over two days, with clinical skills on the first day and situational judgment on the second day. 

What materials are needed to take the NDECC?

A complete list of equipment, materials, and supplies provided by the NDEB will be released in a practical guide soon. You can bring your own protective eyewear and dental loupes. A disposable gown will also be provided. 

There have been notable changes to the typodonts, teeth, and handpieces (Kavo) used during this exam. Therefore, pay close attention to the lists provided by the NDEB. 

Please note, the preliminary lists do not include equipment and dental supplies needed during training. 

How many attempts will the NDECC allow?

The NDECC can be taken an unlimited amount of times in a five-year period (60 months). 

What does this new exam mean for the future of equivalency in Canada?

While it may seem like the equivalency process is unpredictable at times, the NDECC is a positive change towards the future of equivalency in Canada. In fact, the pandemic has shone a light on the significant hurdles the ACS faced and needed to be addressed. 

“The main positive point I see from this announcement is the unlimited attempts. Back in the older system, it used to be three attempts for clinical skills,” said Prep Doctors co-founder Dr, Marwan Al Rayes during our live webinar. “The environment is also going to be standardized, and now it is going to be the same environment in which the exam is going to be conducted; the flexibility of time [too] are the main advantages.” 

Dr. Al Rayes also spoke to the necessity of dentists enhancing their time management and organization skills in preparing for the two exam components. Listen below to hear more of his thoughts: 



For more information and to read the NDECC outline, click here. To learn more about the NDECC materials list, click here. To purchase dental materials, please visit Knurling Dental here.

For more details, please direct specific questions about Vision 2022 directly to the NDEB. Also, don’t forget to sign up for our dental equivalency newsletter for our future breakdowns of equivalency-related announcements and Prep Doctors’ course updates.

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