The Integrated National Dental Board Examination (INDBE) was launched in August 2020 as an option for third- and fourth-year dental students to take on their pathway to dental licensure. The plan is that the INDBE will replace the current National Dental Board Examination (NBDE) Parts I and II that dental students have traditionally taken. According to the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE), the INDBE “is a new written, cognitive examination for dental licensure…[combining] content from several disciplines, and test takers must integrate their knowledge of science with the clinical know-how involved in the safe practice of dentistry to answer many of the test items.” The NBDE Part I was officially discontinued Dec. 31, 2020, and the NBDE Part II is scheduled to be discontinued July 31, 2022.
District 7 Trustee Cameron Ainslie (Kentucky ’21) took the Integrated National Dental Board Examination (INDBE) in September 2020 on her pathway to dental licensure. Here, Ainslie talks about her experience as well as her advice for taking the exam.
ASDA Blog: How long was test day, and what was the schedule like for you?
Cameron Ainslie: I had extended time-testing through the ADA, so my schedule was a little longer than what it would be for the typical test-taker. I took my test over the course of three days: 200 questions on day one, 160 questions on day two and 140 questions on day three. For the typical dental student taking this exam, it occurs over one and a half days. The test starts at 8 a.m. on the first day, and there is a 15-minute break after the first set of questions, a 30-minute break after the second set and another 15 minutes between the third and fourth sections of the test. A similar pattern followed suit on the next day as well. The setup of the schedule is similar to that of the current [NBDE] Part II exam.
How long did you prepare for the INDBE?
I began to study for this exam in July 2020. I spent the first two weeks of July on B&B Dental, focusing on head and neck anatomy, physiology, dental anatomy and embryology — topics that I felt would be important in the integrated exam. I then began going through dentistry topics one-by-one via the Part II Mastery App in combination with my notes from dental school the final two weeks of my summer break in July.
For the month of August, and a few weeks leading up to my exam in September, I continued to work through the Mastery App in conjunction to my notes from school for supplemental information and knowledge. I aimed to do between 30-50 questions during the school week per day and then do between 150-200 questions over the weekend. After finishing the Part II Mastery App, I moved on to the Integrated Dental Decks, going topic-by-topic, but this time having the foundational knowledge, [I] hoped to treat these questions more as mini practice exams.
I studied over the course of two and a half months, but July was intense with six- to eight-hour study days since I was on my summer vacation. It was less intense later on, but I still [maintained those] important few hours each day after clinic during the months of August and September.
Did you do anything for wellness, or engage in any self-care practices leading up to your test day?
For me, it was important to have a group of students I could lean on during the study time for support and to discuss topics. Especially for such a new test, there is a lot of anxiety and additional stress of the unknown. Making sure that I took the time to be able to slowly go through the study material and still have a life was a huge part in maintaining sanity during my preparation.
I set limits for myself each day, so that I was able to go to bed at a decent time and give myself a little time for friends, family and my fiancé. Balance is key. It’s so easy to get burnt out studying and stuffing knowledge in your head for these comprehensive exams, but maintaining a healthy diet, sleep schedule and getting some form of physical activity are also huge components to your individual success and ability to retain and fully understand the knowledge you’re learning.
Do you have any advice for students preparing to take the INDBE?
My advice (as well as that of my study partners) is to go through materials and focus on the details that will make you be a good and proficient dentist. There were very few (surprisingly) detail-heavy questions. I was familiar with many topics or the information presented, and you might often have at least a gut reaction for the answers on this test. I made a point to review the materials from my medically compromised patient course (oral medicine focus), as that seemed to be a trend throughout the practice questions. [Some of them focused on] really sick patients or patients who were on several medications, that you would need to know how to alter treatment to be able to provide safe dental care.
I would try to work through as many questions as you can for exposure to all the different possibilities of answers and explanations on the answer to know why each one is wrong or how to change the question to make each incorrect answer correct. Most importantly, believe in your answer and that your gut knows. As I was going through study questions, more often than not, my gut knew the correct answer before my brain could determine why. We have all learned the material that is pertinent to the INDBE. It’s in our brains somewhere — we just have to trust ourselves!
Learn more about the INDBE.
~Callista Schulenburg, LECOM ’22, ASDA Editor-in-Chief