Written By:

Dr. Tarun Nanda
BDS, MDS, Mentor, Simpli Boards


Reviewed By:

Dr. Sujit Pradhan
Co-Founder & Mentor, Simpli Boards

Table of Content:


Embarking on the thrilling journey to become a dentist in the fiercely competitive landscape of North America demands adept navigation through the challenging terrains of crucial examinations. The Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (AFK), orchestrated by the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB) for international dentists from non-accredited dental graduate programs, and the Integrated National Board Dental Examination (INBDE), conducted by the USA’s Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE), pose as the gatekeepers to the dental profession.

At the heart of our exploration is a vibrant tapestry of inquiries flooding in from aspiring dentists worldwide, eager to unravel the mysteries of the first leg of the Canadian Equivalency Exam Series – NDEB AFK, and discern its unique features in comparison to the INBDE. Imagine this exploration as a dynamic journey, akin to comparing a trusty typewriter to a sleek laptop – we delve into the nuanced differences in time, speed, outreach, reproducibility, and applicability. Join us on this exhilarating ride as we navigate the intricate landscapes of preparation methodologies, delve deep into core content areas, and unearth the pivotal factors that propel success in these exams, paving the way for an extraordinary journey in the realm of dentistry.

Are Accredited and Non-Accredited Dental Graduates the same for the USA and Canada?

The crucial distinction between accredited and non-accredited dental graduates in the Canadian and US context. In the grand scheme of things, accreditation is determined by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada (CDAC). A dental program not recognized by the CDAC falls into the non-accredited category. Meanwhile, in the United States, the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) plays a similar role, accrediting dental and dental-related education programs. CODA approved programs are only in the USA and Canada. For certification and licensure in Canada, only programs accredited by either CDAC or the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) are considered accredited. Interestingly, dentists holding general dentistry programs accredited by the Australian Dental Council (ADC), the Dental Council of New Zealand (DCNZ), and the Irish Dental Council are also considered accredited, exempting them from the Equivalency Process. It’s a fascinating journey of accreditation intricacies, and we’re here to guide you through it all.


Organizing Authority NDEB – Canada JCNDE – USA
Eligible Candidates Dental Graduates from Non Accredited Dental Program who wish to challenge the NDEB through equivalency program All Dental Graduates from Non Accredited as well as Accredited Dental Program who wish to obtain license to practice in USA
Exam Dates Twice in Year- Feb/Aug Throughout the year
Test Centers Across Canada (except Quebec), USA & New Zealand Only in USA & Canada
Test Conduct Paper based + Computer based Prometric center Only Computer based Prometric center
Prerequisites Steps-
1. Profile Creation

Check require document list here.

Look for step wise guide
For application her

2. Profile approval by NDEB.

1. Dentpin Creation

2. ECE evaluation Report

3. Profile Approval bu JCNDE

Look for the complete guide, click here
Profile Approval Time approximately 18 weeks after all asked for document submission. approximately 2 weeks after all asked for document submission.
Fees Application fee- CAD 900
AFK Exam Fee- CAD 1000
INBDE Exam fee-
Accredited graduates- USD 845

Non Accredited- USD 1195 (USD 845 + USD 350)
Exam Format One day exam

Consist of 200 MCQ based

No Box questions/ Radiograph/Perio chart etc

Only one break
Two day exam

Consist of 500 MCQ based Question

Has Box questions Radiograph/Perio chart etc

Multiple break options.
Nomenclature Used FDI (ISO) Notation Universal Notation
Reschedule Option Can’t reschedule the exam if registered. But can be withdrawn with no fee back policy. Can reschedule the exam with extra fees.
Attempts Allowed Only 3 attempt allowed No fixed numbers
Results At Least Four to Six Weeks Within three to four weeks
Pass Percentage 2022 is just 43 % 2022 is over 62 % for Non accredited graduates

Released Questions!

NDEB has released some sample questions in the year 2019, however the AFK format has changed in 2022. In the new format only 200 questions are there instead of the older version of 300. To find the updated AFK exam guidelines, click here

JCNDE has also released practice questions to give aspirants an exposure, click here to get more details.


In AFK, there is a psychometric process named Standard Setting and standardized statistical process known as Test Equating.

In Standard Setting, a panel of different faculties from all over Canada is set up and they examine the difficulty level of the exam questions and set a minimum competent score that should be a benchmark for all the candidates to be considered as pass in that exam. So, for example if the setting team has set the benchmark as 50% for the exam then the candidates who achieve that score will be automatically rescaled to 75% which is the passing criteria for AFK exam. If a candidate scores 74% then it does not mean that he/she was just one mark away from passing. It means that the concerned person can be one or more correct answers away from the passing result of 75%. Also we can say that for getting the passing score one does not have to attempt 75% questions correctly , it is the just minimum standard that has been set by NDEB for that particular exam that one has to cross. 

Test Equating is the process that NDEB uses so that there are equal levels of difficulty in every exam of AFK. So, in this the NDEB panel scrutinizes the questions that came in the exam and analyzes the performance of the candidates in answering those questions. If they feel that some question has not been answered by many of the candidates correctly or the question was not answered as expected then they will eliminate that question from the evaluation of the result. By this the NDEB tries to maintain equal standards in all versions of the AFK exam.


For INBDE also, the passing criteria is similar to AFK. In this exam, which is conducted throughout the year, a subject matter expert panel decides the minimum passing score that the candidate should have to show competency and skill required to enter the profession and  safely practice. The decision is reviewed by the Joint Commission who finally releases the result irrespective of how the other candidates performed in the exam unless a minimum benchmark that was set by the panel is achieved. Regarding the different forms that the candidate is giving INBDE multiple times, so, the level of difficulty can be different in each form of the exam but still each attempt will be considered according to the sophisticated psychometric process that takes into consideration the question difficulty while evaluating the results. So, in this way fairness is maintained at each level of the exam.

Which exam is easier to Pass, AFK or INBDE ?

None. It is absolutely foolish to take any of the exams lightly. As AFK has only 200 questions so the margin of error is less than INBDE. However, if the aspirant works on developing strong fundamental understanding, then both the exams are easier to pass. FYI all mentors at Simpli Boards have over a decade experience of teaching and mentorship and they have passed numerous dental exams, including AFK as well as INBDE with flying colors.


When it comes to preparing for any dental licensing exams be it AFK or INBDE, we emphasize the importance of an early start. Beginning your preparations well in advance allows you to complete the process sooner.

However, it’s crucial to note that planning for the Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (AFK) differs significantly from the process for the Integrated National Board Dental Examination (INBDE). Given that AFK occurs only twice a year, strategic planning and prompt registration are essential. We recommend expediting the registration process and meeting eligibility criteria promptly.

Commence your preparation without delay, rather than immediately booking the exam. A critical step is understanding the exam format by following the current guidelines outlined in the NDEB guidelines. 

As previously mentioned, there are limitations on the number of attempts for the AFK exam. Therefore, starting your preparations early, dedicating at least four months to studying for AFK, is advisable. For instance, if you plan to take the AFK in February, we recommend commencing your preparations in September or October of the previous year. This approach not only ensures thorough preparation but also contributes to a more relaxed state on the exam day.
Simpli Boards offers abundant resources and expertise, including Simpli Notes, Simpli Lectures, Core Tests, Vital Tests, Mini Mock Tests, and Mock Tests, all designed to elevate your knowledge to the AFK competency level.

Regarding the INBDE, aspirants have the flexibility to prepare first and schedule exams at their convenience. However, starting early is still the optimal strategy. Relying solely on memory-based questions (RQ) from various platforms can be a significant mistake, contributing to the higher failure rate among international graduates compared to accredited dental graduates. For INBDE preparation, approximately 2 to 2.5 months with Simpli Boards’ resources can yield favorable results. While the exam content areas are broader than AFK, the observed trend is that INBDE concepts are repeated and comparatively easier to grasp.

For both exams, joining social media groups for discussions and seeking guidance from experienced mentors (Simpli Boards About page link) is advised. Having a study partner and a realistic study plan is crucial. Joining a coaching institute with quality study materials, practice tests, and a supportive environment is a wise decision.

If you plan to take both AFK and INBDE, we suggest prioritizing AFK first. Following successful completion, dedicate an additional month to focused INBDE preparation, addressing topics less emphasized in AFK, such as practice management, statistics, dental anatomy, and more.

Before joining any study groups, consider the following checklist:

1. Aspirant-Friendly Environment

2. Experienced Mentors (Simpli Boards About page link)

3. Support Structures like Simpli Connect/Mentor Connect

4. Updated Study Materials and Practice Tests

5. Value for Investment

6. Legitimacy as many Facebook based companies have duped and harassed aspirants in the past.

Do you know that Simpli Boards have one of the highest pass percentages in INBDE (Over 99%) and 90% of the passed aspirants said they didn’t use any other support or investment. Check what our aspirants say about us.


The AFK and INBDE exams play a pivotal role in shaping the careers of aspiring dentists in North America. These exams exhibit defining characteristics that candidates navigate each year as they strive to secure their futures in the dental profession.

Over time, a notable trend has emerged—both AFK and INBDE are evolving to encompass increasingly relevant clinical aspects, emphasizing concepts, materials, and the management of pathologies, emergencies, and conditions. At SIMPLI BOARDS, our commitment is to comprehensively cover all relevant topics, ensuring candidates can confidently and smoothly address every question that arises during these exams.

In summarizing the key distinctions between AFK and INBDE:

AFK Exam

  • Occurs twice a year.
  • Requires strategic planning and early registration due to limited opportunities.
  • Limited attempts, necessitating early and thorough preparation.
  • Focus on fundamental knowledge and understanding of dentistry.


  • Offers flexibility in preparation and exam scheduling.
  • Broader content areas compared to AFK.
  • Memory-based questions (RQ) are not sufficient; a more in-depth understanding is required.

– Approximately 2 to 2.5 months of dedicated preparation is recommended. Acknowledging the financial burden associated with exam preparation, SIMPLI BOARDS takes a student-centric approach.

While numerous resources and organizations charge hefty fees for AFK and INBDE preparation, our programs are tailored to be both affordable and extensive in coverage. We strive to make quality preparation accessible to all, minimizing financial obstacles. Additionally, we offer scholarships to deserving candidates, further reducing barriers and facilitating their journey toward achieving their professional goals. Our commitment is not only to provide top-notch preparation materials but also to create an inclusive and supportive environment for aspiring dentists.

Can Simpli Boards Support me in Successfully Clearing Both AFK and INBDE?

Absolutely! At Simpli Boards, we are dedicated to preparing candidates by aligning with the latest guidelines, structures, and patterns of both AFK and INBDE exams. With 50+ collective experience, our mentors possess the knowledge and expertise necessary to comprehensively train students across all domains covered in these exams. However, the key lies in understanding the differences or similarities between AFK and INBDE and tailoring our preparation strategies accordingly. This decision is influenced by factors such as the source of preparation, the time available for exam preparation, and the chosen exam date. 

At SIMPLIBOARDS, we prioritize understanding the unique circumstances and priorities of each individual. Recognizing the challenges of balancing exam preparation with personal and professional goals, our mentors are committed to supporting you at every step of your journey. Remember, facing these challenges is part of the process, and our mentors are here to guide you towards success.

In the words of the great Track and Field Athlete, Ms Jessica Ennis“The only one who can tell you ‘you can’t win’ is you, and you don’t have to listen.” Your determination, coupled with our guidance and resources, can pave the way for your success in both AFK and INBDE exams.

Consult Our Mentors And Clear Your Doubts.

Proven Success with SIMPLI BOARDS:

Our commitment to your success is reflected in our 99% passing rate for first-time aspirants. The key components of our program, including Simpli notes, Core and Mastermind tests, live and recorded video lectures, mock tests, and mentor connect, contribute to a comprehensive and effective learning experience.

Affordable, Stress-Free Success:

SIMPLI BOARDS is dedicated to helping you save time, achieve high scores, and navigate the exam without undue stress. Our program offers an affordable solution without compromising on the quality of preparation.

To know more about our program visit our programs page or drop in an email at admin@simpliboards.com

Inspiring Success Stories:

The success stories of our aspirants stand as a testament to the effectiveness of our program. Explore their testimonials to understand the impact of SIMPLI BOARDS on their NDEB equivalency journey.

Our success stories are what our aspirants achieve in their life, but we are overwhelmed by how vocal they are for us. Experience some of their valued words here.

As you stand on the threshold of this significant step in your Canadian dental career, SIMPLI BOARDS is here to support your aspirations. Best of luck on your AFK exam, and may your journey with us be a catalyst for your success!

Happy Learning!



  1. January 20, 2024 at 3:35 am
    Kavan Shah

    Before reading this article, I assumed that preparing for both of these exams would be similar. However, after understanding the distinctions and commonalities between the two tests from this blog, I have gained in-depth knowledge of how to approach each one individually. Thank you for such a simple explanation.

  2. January 28, 2024 at 11:18 pm
    Karandeep Singh Arora

    A very informative blog. It helped me differentiate between the two exams and is explained very well. Thanks you.

Leave a comment