NDEBexams Archives - Prep Doctors Education

How to Become a Dentist in Canada

On February 25, 2021, the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB) announced significant changes to the Canadian dental equivalency process. This article has been updated to reflect those changes.

Becoming an accredited dentist in Canada is no easy feat. The road to practicing dentistry is an intricate, ever-evolving, yet rewarding process that requires highly specialized training and professional development. 

For internationally trained dentists seeking to practice dentistry in Canada, the rewards for getting through the examination process and obtaining your license are tremendous as Canada now ranks in the top five countries in the world to practice dentistry in terms of salary and quality of professional life. First-year associates in Canada start with salaries around $150,000 CAD, and the earning potential for senior associates and clinic owners is vast. 

Currently, there are three routes available that lead to becoming a dentist in Canada. One option is to attend a Canadian university as an undergraduate. If you are an internationally-trained dentist, you can navigate the NDEB process or take the university route by applying to a bridging program.

Let’s explore each route in further detail.


Pursuing a Dental Degree:

Admission and application requirements for dental school vary from one institution to another. It is important to contact the respective dental school admissions office to determine the specific admission requirements needed. As part of the admissions process, most Canadian dental schools require applicants to provide Dental Aptitude Test (DAT) scores administered by the Canadian Dental Association (CDA).

Luckily, Canada is home to a variety of prestigious dental schools across the country that prospective students can choose from. These include:

University of Alberta (School of Dentistry)

University of British Columbia (Faculty of Dentistry)

University of Manitoba (Faculty of Dentistry)

Dalhousie University (Faculty of Dentistry)

University of Toronto (Faculty of Dentistry)

The University of Western Ontario (School of Dentistry)

McGill University (Faculty of Dentistry)

Université de Montréal (Faculté de médecine dentaire)

Université Laval (Faculté de médecine dentaire)

University of Saskatchewan (College of Dentistry)

On average, the cost of obtaining a four-year undergraduate dental degree can vary from $50,000 to $200,000 CAD for domestic students and up to $360,000 CAD for international students. Tuition fees typically include both academic, non-academic, and dental instrument fees. However, tuition fees vary for universities, so it is best to do your research before filling out an application.

It’s important to note that registration for the DAT is not an application to dental schools but a step towards getting your foot in the door. Don’t be afraid to schedule a call with an advisor and find out what they’re looking for in successful candidates, such as extracurriculars.


The National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB):

To begin the process with the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB), you must apply to be accepted into the Canadian Dentistry Equivalency Process. As long as you have a recognized degree, you should be accepted. Due to COVID-19, response times may vary on acceptances as there may be delays to the application process.

Once accepted, the first exam you will need to complete is the AFK (Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge). After you pass this exam, you have two options: you may continue the equivalency process and then take Assessment of Clinical Judgment (ACJ) followed by Assessment of Clinical Skills (ACS), or you may apply to a Canadian university and fulfill a two-year bridging program (more on this option below). 

Currently, candidates are allowed three attempts each to pass the AFK and ACJ examinations. Beginning in 2022, however, examinees may attempt the ACS an unlimited number of times within a five-year period. 

If you are successful in the equivalency process, you will then need to take the board exams (OSCE & Written) to get your licence to start practicing in Canada. These exams are a requirement to practice dentistry in Canada for all accredited candidates and Canadian university dental graduates. 

The NDEB equivalency process costs approximately $50,000 CAD, including course and exam fees. This amount may increase depending on how many attempts you need to pass. Here is a typical breakdown of the costs to expect when navigating the Canadian NDEB equivalency process:

The NDEB fee breakdown from Prep Doctors

*All prices are in Canadian dollars and reflect the fees as of April 2021. For the latest updates on NDEB exam fees, please visit the NDEB’s website.

In addition to exam fees, you will need to purchase materials (i.e. kits and reusable teeth) to practice dental procedures and techniques. It is also your responsibility to be fully equipped with all the required materials for the actual exam. 

At Prep Doctors, we provide specialized dental equivalency courses to help students prepare for each exam administered by the NDEB. Our classes consist of various materials and components, such as comprehensive mock exams, detailed textbooks, and extensive lectures. Find out more about our courses, including registration dates, below:

AFK Training Course

ACJ Training Course

ACS Training Course

OSCE & Written Training Course


Bridging Programs:

As we mentioned above, following the completion of the NDEB’s AFK exam, you have the option to enroll in a specialized bridging program offered by Canadian universities. These programs are designed to bridge the gap between international and Canadian dental training.

Bridging programs are held over five to six months, and after successful completion of the program, students can enroll directly into the third year of a four-year Doctor of Dental Surgery Program (DDS). Overall, a DDS degree program can take 2 to 2.5 years to complete.

If you’re looking to take a bridging course, there are some general qualifications that most Canadian universities require:

  • You must have completed a minimum four-year University dental program not recognized by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada (CDAC).
  • You must have a relatively strong GPA (each university has its own GPA standard).
  • Be a Canadian citizen or have permanent residency status in Canada.
  • Provide proof of your English abilities. Students whose first language is not English may be required to write the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), and the Test of Written English (TWE), or equivalent.
  • Complete the NDEB’s AFK exam with a high score (preferably 90% or more will greatly improve your chances of acceptance).

If you meet all the requirements for your chosen institution’s program, you will be contacted for an interview or to participate in a bench test.

It is important to note that not every university offers a bridging program. It is best to contact the institution of your choice to confirm its specified entry requirements.

The bridging program process can cost up to $90,000 CAD, but this price may vary depending on tuition fees as well as each institution’s non-refundable application fee. 

At Prep Doctors, we also provide courses that help prepare trainees for Canadian universities’ admission bench tests and interviews. Our courses offer trainees case-based training and practical scenarios designed to guide them through the interview processes at institutions including the University of Toronto and Western University, to name a few.



Regardless of whichever route you choose, becoming a dentist in Canada is a huge commitment, both financially and in the amount of time needed (find out about financing options here). Always feel free to reach out to the school or institution of your choice to learn more information and weigh your options. 

To help give you the best information to make an informed decision, Prep Doctors offers scheduled tours of our campus and facilities, as well as demo classes and financial counselling. Our team is always available to answer any questions about the dental equivalency journey. So, please reach out to us through our Facebook page or email us at info@prepdoctors.ca. We are more than happy to help!

An Overhaul of the Dental Equivalency Process in Canada

On February 25, 2021, the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB) announced significant changes to the Canadian dental equivalency process, impacting internationally-trained dentists across the country. 

The question many dentists going through the equivalency process are asking is: “how will these changes affect me?” Our Chief Learning Officer, Dr. Marwan Al Rayes, has conducted a number of webinars sharing our understanding of what has been announced. Here is a breakdown of the upcoming changes and what we know so far.

As part of its five-year strategic plan, the NDEB committed to reviewing the existing equivalency process in Canada. This review analyzed the blueprints for each of its three examinations in the equivalency processthe Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (AFK), the Assessment of Clinical Judgment (ACJ), and the Assessment of Clinical Skills (ACS) and identified vital modifications and positive adjustments to evaluate international dental graduates. The changes are part of a multiple-step “Reduce, Change, and Develop” strategy in their Vision 2022: The Future of the NDEB Equivalency Process proposal.

So, what are these changes, and how will they affect each exam? 


An infographic that goes from 1-3 to visually list the NDEB changes for Vision 2022


The Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (AFK): 

Currently, the AFK exam consists of 300 multiple-choice questions, which tests candidates’ core and basic knowledge of dentistry. Beginning in the August 2021 exam, AFK will now consist of 200 questions under the “Reduce” pillar offering a more comfortable examination experience while still maintaining substantial authenticity and validity for students. The assessment will continue to be administered electronically. 


The Assessment of Clinical Judgement (ACJ): 

As part of their “Change” strategy, the second development is the NDEB’s update on sequence and eligibility. As it stands, candidates who are successful in the AFK exam can attempt the ACJ and ACS simultaneously or in the order of their choosing. Starting in 2022, however, eligibility for the assessments will become sequential, and the completion of the ACJ exam will become a prerequisite to undergo the ACS. In other words, once examinees take and pass the AFK, they will only become eligible to take the ACJ. When they complete the ACJ examination process, they may then, and only then, attempt the ACS. This change comes from the standard procedure of practising dentists who consistently apply their clinical judgement before entering into treatment. Therefore, candidates must first demonstrate the appropriate knowledge and decision-making acumen needed to perform dental procedures on patients that very well may be irreversible. 


The Assessment of Clinical Skills (ACS): 

Finally, several modifications to both the existing structure, overall format, and content of the ACS exam in the “Develop” initiative account for the most consequential changes. The big difference is the introduction of OSCE-style stations for dental procedures, in addition to the traditional psychomotor skills analysis on simulated patients (manikins) in a clinical setting. These contemporary stations will mimic a pharmacy setting and test participants’ ability to interact with patients on conversations surrounding diagnosis, treatment planning, and informed consent. 

The NDEB expects the new ACS format and requirements to take effect in 2022, and these changes will allow for a better analysis of a candidate’s knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs).

At Prep Doctors, we will be offering a customized package in July for our Assessment of Clinical Skills course to better prepare trainees for the modified-ACS examination. Once the NDEB formally releases its updated blueprint, we will make the necessary modifications to the class. 

Additionally, the current ACS structure comprises 12 project requirements. Presently, participants can fail one of the 12 requirements and still be successful. As with the AFK and ACJ, candidates can attempt the ACS a maximum of three times. In the updated “Develop” strategy,  participants will be able to take the exam an unlimited number of times within a five-year period, but they must pass all 12 requirements. 

The NDEB has also announced they have begun the construction of an in-house ACS testing facility in Ottawa, Ontario. The development of this centre will offer ample opportunity for the NDEB to administer the modified ACS examination in a controlled environment throughout the year, reducing scheduling conflicts and clearing the backlog of candidates. This will also promote a less stressful yet more consistent testing environment. 


Are these changes a good thing?

Overall, these changes are definitely a step in the right direction. They help foster a more fair and honest assessment of internationally-trained dentists on their path to dental licensure in Canada. 

At Prep Doctors, we have already begun adapting our curriculum to the upcoming changes. We are committed to making sure our trainees are the best prepared to clear this challenging process — now and in the future.


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

If you have any questions about our upcoming courses, send us a message on Facebook here.

AFK Exam Cancellation: Our Statement

As you may be aware, a few days ago, the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB) announced the cancellation of the upcoming Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (AFK) exam due to their ongoing investigation into reports of alleged cheating in respect of prior exams. This AFK exam was scheduled to take place on February 05-06, 2021. The cancellation comes after the NDEB announced that they launched an investigation on December 21 of last year.

Cheating on licensure exams provides an unfair advantage for those who cheat and more importantly compromises the integrity of the board exams. These exams are meant to safeguard the dentistry profession from unqualified individuals. As an educational institution, we take a firm stance against cheating. We do not support nor condone cheating, in any respect, for any and all professional licensing examinations.

There have been a number of exam cancellations in 2020 due to COVID and now in 2021 due to the NDEB’s investigation into alleged reports of cheating. These cancellations will have an impact on the number of Internationally trained dentists entering the market over the next couple of years unless measures can be taken to make up for those delays.

It is unfortunate that this situation has arisen. It is having a widespread negative impact on many who have studied hard for the AFK exam and have done nothing wrong.

We empathize with our hardworking trainees who put their lives on hold to pursue their dreams of becoming licensed dentists in Canada. We know that many were affected by the relatively short notice given due to the COVID situation. We have received reports that some of our trainees have already travelled to Canada because of the self-isolation requirements imposed due to COVID. We are sympathetic to those trainees who have had to travel to write the now cancelled AFK exam.

The NDEB’s withholding of the last exam’s results and the cancellation of the AFK exam will slow down but will not stop the journey of becoming a licensed dentist in Canada. We want our trainees to know that we are here to continue to support them through their journey. We have already connected with our dentists who have been affected by this cancellation and will be scheduling another session in the near future.

Firas Abu Saleh is the CEO and co-founder of Prep Doctors.


The NDEB Process vs. Bridging Programs: What’s the Difference?

As an internationally-trained dentist, there are two routes available when looking to become a licensed dentist in Canada. You have the option to apply to the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB) equivalency process or opt to enroll in an academic bridging program that’s offered at Canadian universities. 

Although each option has its benefits and challenges, it is important to understand what each option offers. So, what is the difference between the NDEB process and bridging programs?


Option 1: The NDEB Process:  

The most popular method for internationally-trained dentists is taking the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB) exams. The NDEB is a governing body that creates and administers assessments that identify the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in Canada’s dental job field. When opting to take this route you will have to appear for and clear 3 exams:

Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (AFK)

Assessment of Clinical Judgement (ACJ)

Assessment of Clinical Studies (ACS) 

Once you have cleared these exams, the next step is to go through the NDEB’s certification process where you will need to clear two final exams:



Before taking the exams, you will have to apply for the NDEB Equivalency Process by creating an online profile through the NDEB’s Online Portal.

Once you have created your profile, you will need to submit the following documents to be approved by the NDEB:

– Government-Issued Photo Identification

– Proof of Name Change/Difference in name if applicable

– Translation of Proof of name change/difference in name, if applicable

– Final Dental Diploma/Degree

– Translation of Academic Records, if applicable

– Internship Completion Certificate, if applicable


You will need to arrange to have a Confirmation of Degree completion form and your academic records sent to the NDEB by your university.

For those who are looking for a quicker route in obtaining dental equivalency, the NDEB process is the ideal option.

The shortest time in which this process can be completed is 1.5 years, provided you clear the exams on the first try. The NDEB allows you 3 attempts each exam to get a passing score. It is important to note that you must score at least 75% on each exam in order to advance to the next exam. 

Although you can prepare for the exams on your own, Prep Doctors helps with preparing trainees for the exams. Prep Doctors can help with that as well as provide you with the confidence and knowledge that will help you adapt to the landscape of Canadian dentistry. 

For more information on our NDEB equivalency courses, click here


Option 2: Academic Bridging Program

In Canada, there are specialized bridging programs offered by universities that focus on bridging the gap between international training and Canadian training. After successful completion of this program, students are able to transition into the third year of a four-year Doctor of Dental Surgery Program (DDS). These programs can be anywhere from 2-3 years in duration. 

So how does one get into a bridging program? Well, similar to the NDEB route, you will need to complete the NDEB’s AFK exam. However, there are some distinct differences in the qualifications that are required of a trainee.

Trainees looking to take the bridging program route must have the following:


– Canadian citizen or permanent resident

– Graduated from a four-year university program (not recognized in Canada) 

– Relatively strong GPA (Every university has its own grading scale)

– Must have cleared an English proficiency test

– Appeared for the Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (AFK) exam (85% or higher)


Bridging programs are offered by Canadian universities by various names but generally have the same qualifications and program aspects. These programs include:  

– University of British Columbia – International Dental Degree Completion Program

– University of Toronto – International Dentist Advanced Placement Program (IDAPP)

– University of Manitoba – International Dentist Degree Program

– University of Western Ontario – Internationally Trained Dentists (ITD) Program


Canadian universities are incredibly competitive when it comes to this route due to the limited amount of dental programs in Canada, especially compared to other job fields. So when applying for a bridging program, besides having a relatively high score on the AFK exam, you must also write an essay and have a resume of extracurriculars that show you’re a well-rounded candidate. 

A common question is, “what kind of extracurriculars do universities typically look for?”. Well, extracurriculars can include a wide range of activities including volunteering, sports and community service. It is also extremely beneficial to have some dental shadowing and clinical hours under your belt as well. 

If your application meets these requirements, the university will invite you to an interview or conduct a bench test. 

At Prep Doctors, we have courses that help to prepare for various universities’ interview processes. Check out our courses below:

University of Toronto | Admissions Course

Universities Admissions Course | Western, Manitoba, Alberta



When researching your options, it is no doubt that pricing plays a big part in helping to determine what your final decision will ultimately be. Taking the NDEB route can cost upwards of CAD 50,000 depending on how many attempts as well as exam fees. Tuition fees for bridging programs can vary, depending on the university. It is important to note that there is a non-refundable application fee when applying for any bridging program. For a full breakdown of prices, check out our blog: How to Become a Dentist in Canada.


So, which one should you choose?

Figuring out which route is best for you depends on what will work best for your situation. If you’re looking to complete your equivalency in a shorter amount of time or the cheapest overall route, the NDEB route is your best option. However, if you do achieve a high score on the AFK exam, although the more expensive route, applying for the university route is an option to consider. 

If you ever have any questions or you’re just looking for a bit of clarification, Prep Doctors is always here to help. Whether on our Facebook page, through email at feedback@prepdoctors.ca or by phone (+1 855-397-7737), we’re more than happy to help craft the best path for you!

Q&A with Dr. Marwan Recap

Missed the Q&A? Don’t sweat it. Watch the full recording of our presentation down below:



The occurrence of COVID-19 has undoubtedly caused shake-ups within the Canadian dental landscape. From the upcoming NDEB schedule to how trainees have adapted to online methods of teaching, we wanted to equip internationally-trained dentists with the knowledge to help navigate through these changes.

So, what are the key things to understand about all of these new changes? That was the subject of our recent live Q&A with our Chief Learning Officer and lead instructor, Dr. Marwan Al Rayes. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from our live Q&A: 


NDEB Exams: 

The NDEB has been very impressive in how they have handled a lot of concerns and rumours in regards to future exam dates. Here is what we learned about what is in store for our courses:

Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (AFK): The NDEB has cancelled their August exam and has postponed it to December 16, 2020. The February 2021 exam will continue on as planned. For the December exam, we will have a unique comprehensive review course that is structured specifically for the postponed exam. The course will include access to all the main features of the regular course such as live lectures, review lectures on and mock exams.

Assessment of Clinical Judgement (ACJ): The ACJ exams will take place in September and November of 2020. We will also have a condensed course to accommodate those that will be taking the rescheduled ACJ exam in September. This course is designed to deliver complete ACJ content for new students or returning students who need a refresher close to the exam date. The course will consist of 4 mock exams and 4 mock discussions. Lectures will be held online but the mock exams will take place on campus. 

The ACJ Condensed course will also consist of ACS components which will be delivered in a form of 4 weekly webinars that are scheduled post-exam. Including the ACS module, the course is 13 weeks in duration which will also make you eligible for CESB, if needed. 


Assessment of Clinical Skills (ACS) : The scheduled ACS exam will take place December 2020 and   our course will begin on July 13th.

The NDEB released a schedule of all dates for the exams that will take place for the remainder of 2020 into 2021 that can be found here.


ACS in the lab:

The COVID-19 pandemic created a situation that was difficult for most industries to operate in. For us the clinical skills lab posed a particular challenge as our trainees spend a lot of time in our labs and traditionally worked in close quarters with instructors and fellow trainees.

During the lockdown, we implemented new ways to check students’ work that we found worked so well, we will be adapting our ACS course in order to keep those changes. Those changes include, using HD cameras to do work-check and live online demos, and online one-on-one sessions between trainees and instructors. 

With ACS being one of the more hands-on courses, there will be some new changes and techniques put into place. We went back and looked at the regulations of the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario and had in-depth conversations with officials who are in agreement with the changes to our facilities. We have installed air purifiers and acrylic barriers in the labs to allow for more isolation, trainees will have their temperature taken upon arrival, masks and gloves will be required at all times for both trainees and staff when in the labs and around the office, sanitization stations will be available.

Online options will still be available for ACS courses. 


OSCE and Written Exam: The OSCE and Written exams will take place in September 2021. You can find more information about our upcoming OSCE and Written courses here



With Prep Doctors now being a certified educational institute, some of our trainees may qualify for the Canada Student Emergency Benefit (CESB). We have received many questions about qualifications and we strongly urge those interested to view our handy CESB guide that can be found on our blog. Use the link below to check it out:


Do exam results matter in the NDEB process?

In Canada, from the tender age of 7 or grade 3, test results start to play a factor in how we view education. It only gets more important as you go through the levels of schooling from the pressures of standardized testing, university admissions and making the dean’s list. In all of these cases, exam scores are really important to progressing through the education system and eventually finding a job.

At Prep Doctors we are really proud of the results our trainees are able to achieve. Even with the low passing rates of NDEB exams our trainees are not only able to get through in large numbers they also getting really high scores. In the August 2019 AFK exam, we were the only institute to have trainees with perfect scores – not one but three! 

But besides the magical passing grade of 75, what significance do results play in the dental equivalency process? Do previous results from peers or training institutes really mean that much for your upcoming exam and how do your mock exam and exam scores affect you? These are all key questions – so let’s dig in.

To start with, your AFK score really matters, in fact, it could be the deciding factor that gets you invited to interviews/bench tests with a Canadian dental school. There is no set score that will get you in but 90 and above is generally believed to be a qualifying score these days. It’s important to remember that the AFK score is only one of the factors and some universities give it less importance. Your GPA, resume, and interview/bench test performance are also key factors that universities consider.    

ACJ and ACS results are much less important as the key is just to pass these exams so you can get your license. Of course, there is always the prestige factor that is associated with scoring high in these exams and some might use this as some sort of legitimacy when pursuing a teaching career. As any school or university student knows it’s not always the student with the top marks who can explain the work best – so be wary. 

Results do matter in giving you some sense of how well students from certain training centres or institutes are doing but there are many factors that affect results in the NDEB process. Where you study is important but equally important is how you study, the group of colleagues you study with and how the NDEB has decided to curve the results in your exam cycle. 

This might seem like a given but ultimately your exam results are down to you and how much effort you put into studying. Our courses are designed to make the whole process so much more digestible but in the end, it’s up to you.

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