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11 March, 2024

INBDE 5-Year Roadmap

In this article, you will learn about the JCNDE’s proposition of a 5-year roadmap to reevaluate and possibly update the new INBDE based on its trial performance.
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INBDE 5-Year Roadmap
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INBDE 5-Year Roadmap

In August 2020, the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE) replaced the two parts of the National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) with the Integrated National Board Dental Examination (INBDE). With this change, however, comes a trial period for the JCNDE to evaluate the new exam’s effectiveness at measuring dental students’ competency levels and knowledge base as compared to the old exam. The JCNDE has proposed a 5-year roadmap for the INBDE, and perhaps the pillar that holds the most relevance for dental students is that they will update the INBDE performance standard following evaluation in 2023. During this evaluation, the JCNDE wants to ensure that the board exam, despite the change, continues to be able to assess student competency with regard to the level of knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for the practice of dentistry. Following evaluation, a decision will be made with regard to the cut score for the exam, and any changes that will be made are projected to occur in January 2024.

Now, let’s dig a little deeper into the passing threshold for the INBDE. I’ll begin by breaking down what this performance standard evaluation means for dental students. One of the questions that many people worry about is whether the INBDE will be harder to pass if one takes it in 2024 and onwards. It is currently unclear how the performance standard and grading evaluation may change following the committee’s review, but what we do currently know is that there are 3 possible outcomes: (1) raise the performance standard (making the exam more difficult to pass), (2) lower the performance standard (making the exam less difficult to pass), or (3) leave the performance standard as is.

To provide a little bit more background on performance in the past years for accredited programs, the NBDE Part II fail rate ranged from 6.5% in 2013 to 11.7% in 2022. It fluctuated in the years in between. In contrast, the INBDE fail rate on the first attempt was 1.0% in 2020, 1.3% in 2021, and 0.8% in 2022. Please see the tables below published in the 2022 JCNDE’s annual report for a more comprehensive overview of the fail rates for the NBDE Part II and INBDE.

Although there are notable disparities between the pass/fail rates from the NBDE Parts I and II compared to the INBDE, however, it remains uncertain how the JCNDE committee will interpret this. While what they may choose to do moving forward remains unclear, we wanted to outline these differences given what has been made available so that you are aware.

No changes to scoring have been announced yet. Rather, we need to wait for the results from the JCNDE review to gain a better understanding of what they anticipate doing. If any substantial changes are made to the grading, the JCNDE will likely make an announcement to help dental students better understand what it means for them when taking the boards as well. Know that there are 3 possible outcomes to their review, so let’s wait and see what the review board says. Regardless of the statistics or passing score for the INBDE, just know that you are studying for the boards as one of the first steps to obtaining your license. This means that what you are studying is relevant to passing the Boards and, more importantly, so you can provide optimal care for your future patients. Happy studying!