Vital Inputs From Experienced Individuals who have cleared the AFK.

Dr Neda Gholami

Written By:

Dr. Neda Gholami
DDS, Diploma in Oral Medicine


Reviewed By:

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

Table of Content:

STEP 1: Equivalency process and AFK

Embarking on a dental career in North America, especially in Canada, is a rewarding journey for Internationally Trained Dentists (ITDs). However, this path involves navigating through specific regulatory processes, with the National Dental Examination Board of Canada (NDEB) playing a pivotal role in granting licenses to ITDs. In this blog post, we will delve into the first crucial step of the equivalency process for ITDs – the Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (AFK).

The NDEB offers a comprehensive equivalency process for ITDs, accommodating those from accredited and non-accredited programs. Accreditation status is determined by the Commission of Dental Accreditation of Canada (CDAC). If you hold a DDS/DMD/BDS from a non-accredited program and aspire to practice in Canada, there are two pathways to consider:

  1. The NDEB Equivalency Process:-

   This route involves a series of assessments designed to evaluate the candidate’s proficiency and readiness for dental practice in Canada. The process encompasses three key exams:

Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (AFK):  The AFK is the initial and crucial step in the equivalency process. This exam evaluates the candidate’s foundational knowledge in key areas of dentistry. It serves as a litmus test, ensuring that ITDs possess the essential understanding required for dental practice within the Canadian healthcare system.

Assessment of Clinical Judgement (ACJ):     Following the AFK, successful candidates proceed to the ACJ. This assessment focuses on evaluating the candidate’s clinical judgement skills, a crucial aspect of dental practice.

NDECC (Clinical Skill and Situational Judgment):     The NDECC is the final component, evaluating clinical skills and situational judgment. Successful completion of this stage demonstrates a candidate’s ability to apply their knowledge in practical, real-world scenarios.

  1. Accredited Qualifying/Degree Completion Program:   Alternatively, ITDs can opt for an accredited Qualifying/Degree Completion Program as an alternative pathway. These programs provide a structured curriculum to enhance and align the candidate’s skills with Canadian dental standards.

For ITDs aspiring to practice dentistry in Canada, understanding and successfully navigating the equivalency process is crucial. The AFK, as the first step, assesses fundamental knowledge, setting the foundation for subsequent assessments. With diligence and commitment, ITDs can confidently progress through the NDEB equivalency process, paving the way for a fulfilling dental career in Canada.

Did you know?

The National Occupational Code for dentists?

The National Occupational Classification (NOC) is Canada’s national system for describing occupations. For dentists the NOC is 3113.

STEP 2: Apply for Equivalency Process

Continuing from the previous section, let’s explore the second step in the process of applying for the NDEB Equivalency Process and AFK exam:

Now that you’ve gathered all the information about the AFK exam, it’s time to initiate your application for the NDEB Equivalency Process. Before you can register for the first exam, the AFK, it is essential to follow a set of carefully outlined steps to ensure a smooth application process.

  • Review the Required Documents:

NDEB has specific document requirements based on the country where you obtained your undergraduate dental degree. To avoid delays in the credential verification process, it is crucial to meticulously review the list of required documents on the official NDEB website.
Be attentive to the details, as incorrect document submissions can extend the verification timeline. For additional guidance, refer to the NDEB Application Guide.

  1. Create Your NDEBConnect Account:

Once you have all the required documents in order, the next step is to create your NDEBConnect account. This online platform is instrumental in managing your application and exam processes. Here’s what you need for this step:

A current photograph in JPEG or PNG format:Ensure that the photograph meets the specified requirements for clarity and format.

  Access to a desktop or laptop computer: NDEBConnect is optimized for use on computers, providing a user-friendly interface for seamless navigation.

A valid credit card to pay the fee (900 CAD): The application fee is a crucial part of the process and can be paid securely through the online platform.

Visit the NDEB official website to familiarize yourself with NDEBConnect. Following the provided instructions, create your account, upload the required photograph, and proceed with the secure payment process. This account will serve as your gateway to managing your application status and accessing essential resources throughout the equivalency process.

Submit All Required Documents. As soon as you create your online profile on the NDEB website, you will have a list of required documents and the Confirmation of Degree Completion Form to be downloaded.
    Sample of  NDEBConnect 

As you progress through these steps, you’re one step closer to realizing your goal of practicing dentistry in Canada. Stay committed, and soon you’ll be ready to take on the AFK exam as the next milestone in your Canadian dental journey.

Does the NDEB have any VISA /Residency requirements for participation in their process?

According to the NDEB Website the answer is NO, but be aware that the NDEB cannot provide assistance in obtaining visas or other documents required for travel for the purposes of participating in the examinations, so it is always advisable to plan ahead and have your valid visa before exam registration.

STEP 3: Document Approval and Credential Verification Process

After submitting all necessary documents for the NDEB Equivalency Process, the approval and credential verification process begins, marking a significant step toward your goal of practicing dentistry in Canada.

Initial Screening

Once NDEB receives your documents, an initial screening of basic criteria takes place. If any essential information is missing or fails to meet the basic criteria, you will be promptly notified via email.

Comprehensive Two-Stage Review

The approved documents proceed to a comprehensive two-stage review. This meticulous process involves verifying the authenticity of your credentials, confirming your identity, and ensuring graduation from a recognized dental program.

Email Notification

Following the second review, you will receive an email from NDEB indicating the status of your application. This communication will either confirm the approval of your application or specify any pending approval status. If additional steps are required to complete the application, these will be outlined in the email.

Document Status on NDEBConnect

Throughout the credential verification process, your online profile on the NDEB website is regularly updated with the status of each document. This real-time tracking provides transparency regarding the progress of your application.

Approval and Eligibility for AFK

Upon successful approval of all required documents, you will receive an email from NDEB, notifying you that your application has been approved. This approval makes you eligible to register for the Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (AFK), the first exam in the NDEB equivalency process.

Incomplete Document Resolution

If a document does not meet the credential verification requirements, you will be informed via email. The communication will detail the necessary actions to be taken to complete your application successfully.

Tracking Document Status

You can conveniently track the status of your documents by logging into your NDEBConnect account. Regularly checking for updates ensures that you stay informed about the progress of your application.

Efficiency in Processing Time

As of July 2021, the NDEB Equivalency Process has experienced a significant reduction in credential verification processing time, from 12 months to approximately 22 weeks. This improvement reflects NDEB’s commitment to streamlining the process for applicants.

To facilitate a smoother journey through the Equivalency Process, read the provided information carefully, follow each step precisely, and refer to the official NDEB resources for guidance. The faster processing time is a positive development, making the path to dental practice in Canada more accessible for aspiring dentists.

STEP 4: Registering for the Exam :- The Key Step

Now that your Equivalency Process application has earned approval, it’s time to take the pivotal step of registering for the Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (AFK). This exam, a crucial element in the journey to practicing dentistry in Canada, demands careful planning and swift action.

Initiate Your Registration

Head to the official NDEB website to commence your AFK exam registration. This examination is offered biannually, in February and August, and being aware of the registration timeline is crucial for a seamless process.

Key Dates and Locations

Visit the NDEB Examination Dates and Locations page to determine the opening and closing dates for AFK registration. The registration process operates on a first-come, first-served basis, making it imperative to mark these dates on your calendar. Due to the competitive nature of registration, prompt action is advised to secure your preferred exam date and location.

Timely Registration is Crucial

Given the high volume of candidates vying for limited seats, it’s advisable to register promptly at the exact date and time of registration. Delays may result in unavailability of seats, potentially hindering your preferred exam arrangements. Therefore, act swiftly to optimize your chances of securing a seat for the AFK exam.

Exam Fee and Payment

Registration for the AFK exam comes with a fee of 1000 CAD. This fee must be paid at the time of registration, emphasizing the importance of having your credit cards ready. Timely payment not only confirms your registration but also ensures you’re well-prepared for this essential step in your Canadian dental journey.

Strategies for Successful Registration

  1. Stay Informed: Familiarize yourself with the AFK exam format, content, and expectations by referring to the information provided on the NDEB website. And it is wise to follow NDEB FAB Page to keep posted.
  2. Plan Ahead: Set reminders for key registration dates and prepare all necessary documents in advance, including your NDEB approval notice.

3. Secure Necessary Resources: Ensure your computer and internet connection meet the requirements for the online registration process.

Do I get Any Financial Aid for the Exam ?
Answer is Yes, if you are a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident.
There are many agencies like WindMill Micro Lending, CIBC Bank, Success BC etc to name a few.
Disclaimer: This is not a promotional communication piece and all the suggestions are based on self or aspirants’ experiences. 

Step 5: Strategic Preparation for the AFK Exam: Understanding the Format

As you gear up for the Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (AFK), a clear understanding of the exam format is crucial for smart and effective preparation. The AFK is designed to evaluate your foundational knowledge in dentistry and is structured as follows:

Exam Format Overview

The AFK consists of a total of 200 multiple-choice questions, each with a single correct answer. These questions are evenly divided into two parts, and you are allotted two hours for each section. The exam aims to comprehensively assess your understanding of essential concepts within the field of dentistry.

Two Delivery Formats

  1. Electronic Delivery at Prometric Test Centers

– This format involves taking the AFK electronically at designated Prometric test centers.

– The electronic delivery provides a controlled and standardized environment for candidates.

  1. Booklet Format at Specific Exam Sites

   – Alternatively, the AFK is available in a booklet format at specific exam sites.

   – Candidates at these sites receive a physical booklet to answer the questions.

Question Characteristics

– All questions in the AFK are of the single-answer multiple-choice type, providing four options for each question.

– There are no images, pictures, or radiographs included in the AFK. The focus is on testing your knowledge through text-based questions.

– Each question carries equal weight, with a value of one. The minimum score for any question is zero, emphasizing the importance of accuracy in responses.

Sample of Percentage of questions per subject are as below: 

It is always advisable to check the latest protocols on the NDEB official website.

Did you know that the NDEB has released some sample questions? 

Yes, 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. 

Passing rate

According to the NDEB website the passing rate for the AFK exam in 2023, 2022, and 2021 were 61%, 43%, and 32% respectively.

NDEB releases the passing rates based on the exam and the year in which it is conducted on their website.

Result Interpretation

You need to get a score of 75 to pass the exam , but you don’t need to answer 75 percent of the questions correctly to receive a rescaled score of 75. The rescaled score is not the percentage of test questions the examinee answered correctly as it also takes into account the difficulty of the exam as established by a panel of experts through standard setting. NDEB provided detailed information about result interpretation on NDEB website.

Elevate Your Preparation with SIMPLI BOARDS

Unlocking Success in Your NDEB Equivalency Journey

As you embark on the final stretch of your NDEB equivalency journey, strategic preparation remains paramount. While various online resources, including YouTube channels, offer valuable insights, enrolling in a dedicated preparation course can provide unparalleled advantages. At SIMPLI BOARDS, we recognize the significance of this journey and offer a comprehensive solution tailored to your needs.


1. Updated Materials: Enrolling in our courses ensures access to the latest and most updated study materials. We meticulously curate content to align with the evolving nature of the AFK exam.

2. Understanding Exam Pattern: Our courses provide a deep understanding of the AFK exam pattern, allowing you to navigate through questions with confidence and accuracy.

  1. Flexible Courses: Recognizing the busy schedules of individuals, our courses are designed with flexibility in mind. Choose a plan that suits your timeline and study at your own pace.
  2. One-on-One Mentorship: Benefit from personalized mentorship to address your specific challenges and receive guidance tailored to your unique needs.

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 18, 2024 at 1:28 am

    Very useful information for all international trained dentists! Thank you for sharing!

  2. January 18, 2024 at 2:19 am
    Elham Mousavi

    As a dentist in the equivalency process, enjoyed the detailed explanation. Their team are really organized and knowledgeable. Thank you Simpliboards!

  3. January 18, 2024 at 10:15 pm

    Thanks for the information in such useful details.
    It is so good to know about all the steps and help we can get through this gruelling process.

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