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The application process for Advance Placement for DDS/DMD for a foreign-trained dentist.USA-3

Updated: Feb 6, 2021

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”-Thomas Jefferson

Photo Courtesy - @Indykadeer

  • If you are sure of this path you should start with the Exam preparation (details on INDBE Blog)- as all other parts take time and no point in wasting time.


  • So first step before the application is figuring out which state and which college you want to study. (check out the blog on ASP)

  • Most colleges have chosen to be a part of the centralised application system called CAAPID

1. Take the TOEFL exam

  • The TOEFL is an online test administered by ETS to measures your ability to use and understand English at the university level. Most US dental schools International dental graduates must demonstrate proficiency in English.

  • Check out the official TOEFL website to find information on the test format, find answers to your questions and to locate your testing centres.

  • Another great resource for TOEFL exam prep is Magoosh.

2. ECE / WES evaluation

  • Most US dental schools will require you to get your dental diploma and transcripts evaluated by one of the accredited evaluation institutes.​

  • A credential evaluation compares academic and professional degrees earned in one country to academic and professional degrees earned in another.

  • You have to send

  • An application and collect all that required documentation.

  • Documents must be originals or attested copies which are issued in a sealed envelope by your school/university. (Don't put your name the From address) It should contain

    • Degree, Diploma or Provisional Certificate confirming the earned qualification.

    • Statements of Marks for all examination attempts, or official Transcript Issued by the university or the autonomous college.

    • Internship Completion Certificate

  • It also converts the Indian grades to GPA so on a score of 4 -3.5 and above is considered good.

  • If your transcripts and diploma were issued in a language other than English, you will have to translate them. It is recommended that you find a translator that is a member of the American Translators Association.

  • It will take 3-4 weeks to get the report and ECE reports are priced at $ 240 for a course-by-course is better than a document by document.

  • You can ask for a copy of the report be sent to the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE) for your NBDE /INDBE application. The reason for this is that JCNDE will use your DENTPIN and provide you with an eligibility ID which you require to apply for the exam.

3. Get a DENTPIN

  • Applications for the NBDE examination programs are processed through the American Dental Association's (ADA) Department of Testing Services. The first step in the application process is getting a DENTPIN, a unique personal identifier you will use in taking the exam. You will need this for the ADAT exam as well.

4. Schedule to take the INBDE

  • It is a single part exam (I am only going to discuss the INBDE as the NBDE Part 1 is going to be stopped in a few months and NBDE Part 2 being stopped in 2022)

  • The JCNDE will use your DENTPIN and provide you with an eligibility ID which you require to take the INBDE

  • All details on INBDE page.

5. Application to ADAT (All details on another blog)

  • The Advanced Dental Admission Test (ADAT) is an admission test designed to help dental schools in selecting the more competent student as NDBE/INDBE is only a pass/fail.

  • Not all programs require this, but if your GPA score is poor you could boost your chances with a good ADAT score. Check the requirements of different schools or summarized as USA -ASP requirements.

  • The application process is different for if you are a student or a graduate ( but the advantage is you can give this exam while you are studying for BDS as well)

  1. Dental Student in an Accredited Dental School​

  2. Dental Student in a Non-Accredited Dental School ​

  3. Graduates of Accredited dental schools

  4. ​Graduate of Non-Accredited Dental Program (FTD)


6. Applications to dental schools

  • The application form is one of the most crucial and important parts of the whole application process. It plays a big role in how you represent yourself and being likeable and credible from the start has a huge impact. Think of this as someone not ever met you painting a picture of you, by what and how you tell them about you. It's like getting a right swipe on TINDER - now you get it !! Help them paint a good picture!!

  • ADEA offers an application service that allows you to apply to multiple advanced standing programs at once. This service is called the ADEA Centralized Application for Advanced Placement for International Dentists (ADEA CAAPID®).

  • This simplifies the application process by allowing you to submit one standardised application, rather than individual applications, to each program.

  • Advanced placement programs benefit by receiving uniform information on all applicants.

  • ADEA CAAPID is open from March through January each year. The website gives details of each university by state, application window, and entry requirements.

  • Note: Not all advanced standing programs participate in ADEA CAAPID and will require individual applications.

  • It is strongly recommended that you submit your application well in advance of the deadlines of the schools to which you apply.

Application Essentials

​1. Passing score for - Test of English (TOEFL)

2. Passing INDBE

3. Score for ADAT

4. GOOD Statement of Purpose (SOP)

​5. Letters of recommendations(LOR) - You will need 3

  • The letters are crucial in evidence in supporting your application as it is one of the only parts of the application that allows the application committee to learn about you from a third party that has worked with you in a professional setting.

  • A strong letter of recommendation from a local dentist that you have worked with addressing the 5 D's

    • Depth of knowledge of the field

    • Dependability

    • Determination

    • Dedication.

    • Dated

  • 2 would be a good number

  • Good to mention leadership skills shown

  • Please read more details on how to get a good LOR(check blog on LOR)

6. A Good CV

  • This the one most important document you have to make for your career.

  • You need it updated and enhanced all through the years of practice.

  • You will need it for jobs/ courses / to represent who you are in the dentistry field/conferences/ paper presentation / for elections to positions of power, for nominations for positions of power.

  • So take time and effort getting this document to represent you at its best.

(If you struggling with any part of the application you can contact IDC - there may be a fee, DISCLAIMER:-I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM! Just thought it could be useful for someone.)

Application Desirables

  • Most dental schools have an application process for limited placements and so you will need to have more than the essentials to stand apart. Some of the options are as follows (some of them are explained in detail on separate blogs)

1. Gain dental experience in the United States

  • This plays a huge role in your holistic development as a dentist than you would ever realise.

  • No matter how experienced you are or the degrees you have the work culture anywhere different has to be experienced !!

  • All schools require at least some shadowing experience, but anything above fifty hours should be enough for all but a handful of schools

  • Check out the blog about this topic - Externship in US

2. Volunteer Service


  • This is a great opportunity to be a part of a community, be accepted and feel like giving back, about compassion and selflessness.

  • It shows that you are a team player and an active participant.

  • This need not be anything about dentistry, but it paints a very good picture

  • More importantly, you become a better version of yourself.

  • Virtually every hospital has a volunteer department that recruits and trains hospital volunteers to perform a variety of tasks—clerical duties, stocking medical supplies, transitioning patient rooms, facilitating patient transport and more.

  • Your time as a volunteer may involve direct-care experiences (interacting directly with the patient and healthcare providers) or indirect-care (filing, stocking supplies etc.)

3. Community service

  • This is usually favoured well in the application

  • Experience also allows you to learn more about the diversity of US culture.

  • Become involved in organized dentistry (e.g. ISDS, CDS, ADA, IAGD).

4. Research and Publications

  • If you can find a research opportunity, anything to do with it - would be a good boost to your application. This will be extremely important if the department you applying for is into research.

  • Would be a good idea to contact the department before application and ask for the research assistant/observership opportunity.

  • It would even be a good idea to make an appointment and go meet the faculty and see facilities, as that shows keenness from your side and they associate a face to the name when they see an application, and hopefully you would have formed a good impression on meeting you.


  • Also directly contacting PhD students may work in your favour to find out who is helpful among faculty and some inside info.​

5. Attending National and International conferences​ and CPD Events.

  • Attend any conference in the region a good way to make contacts and know who is who if the area.

  • Also, try and attend any CPD courses in the are run by the school

6. Presentations / Poster

  • This may be quite hard to do when you are not in a clinical environment, but if you have any posters you have already done or any unique cases with photographs or research, then try and get a paper /poster presentation slot at conferences.

  • Try in a few you may get an invite somewhere.

.7. Master’s degree in the U.S

  • This is an expensive option, but a good option.

  • You get a feel of the academic environment, methods of teaching and who's is who at a uni, great LOR, and an additional degree.

  • My bestie did a hygiene program when she got tired of the NBDE(15 years ago it was a very competitive exam) , then went on to do a residency in Cons at North Carolina university and now is a faculty member at North Carolina university and has written 2 chapters in the Operative Dentistry textbook Sturdevant, this was our bible growing up in dentistry ...and I am mighty proud of her......and she would not trade the world for this job! Dr Sumitha Nazer Ahmed.

  • So every career path is to be carved out by you and for you.

8. Continuing dental education courses

  • The options for this is immense in this day and age.

  • There are a lot of CPD that can be done online, webinars and hands-on.

  • Definitely find your interest and try and build your knowledge base around it.

  • Before my MClinDent application for the first time in 2013, I had around 300 hrs of verifiable CPD for the 3 yrs immediately prior to the date , it was very random course from I.V sedation to Inman aligners to Botox and fillers complaints handling and managerial courses.....basically every type, of course I could get my hands on. So when I applied the first time, my application was very haphazard and 'all over the place', and rightly so I did not get invited even for an interview!!

  • My passion was prosthodontics/restorative , and I was most inspired after the the year-long restorative course by Paul Tipton in 2012-2013 which helped me realise where my heart really was, but it was diluted with all the other CPD, that I must have come across as a jack of all trades...I did not have sufficient evidence to prove my passion.

  • The next whole year was wholly focused on restorative courses, and conferences (tried to do 1/2 with the faculty at King's), so when I next applied, I showed only evidence for what was relevant to prosthodontics and restorative than throw every information into the application, which was well-received - as you have rightly guessed, so the take-home msg is - quality is more important than quantity.

  • I urge you all to make a well thought out PDP (Personal Development Plan ) every two years and review similar time every year, it is a much-needed evidence for most applications, but what this helps you do it to get some clarity of thought on how you would like to take your career which usually progress with degrees/courses/webinars/presentations / reading relevant research and reading textbooks.

  • Check out the separate blog on PDP.​

Additional Requirement

1. Psychomotor bench tests

  • If your application has been successful to a school, they will invite you for an interview and you may be expected to do a bench test as well on the same day, to evaluate your clinical skills and manual dexterity.

  • This is the practical examinations given for advanced standing admissions into the various U.S. dental schools. Bench examinations are administered by individual schools. The exam assesses three major topics: fixed prosthodontics, removable prosthodontics and operative dentistry.

  • The Preparations expected are as followed but not limited to: Class II amalgam, Class II composite, Class III composite, Full gold crowns, Full ceramic crowns, Porcelain fused to metal crowns, ¾ Crowns, Onlays, rubber ram application, wax carving etc,

  • It is quite crucial to be able to deliver in this part of the test and practice makes perfect.

  • You can either buy all of the kit yourself and practice at home /join one of the many courses available. I will add a few suggestions, but you can check more area-specific if you would like. Would be a good idea to contact the local school as well.

Buying your own kit


Different courses for the bench test course

2. Supplemental Application

  • Some schools require more paperwork , to check your command of writing , your ideas are clear and that your application is prepared by you .

  • Some of the questions that is asked you on the day of interview or as a part of supplemental applications are

    • How have you prepared yourself for learning and practising in the United States? (1,500-character limit)

    • What do you think is a major issue(s) that dentistry in the United States will face and how will you address this in your practice? (1,500-character limit)

    • PRIDE values (Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Diversity, and Excellence) are an integral part of our identity. Please select a value that resonates with you and tell us why. (1,500-character limit)

    • What is important to you in selecting a dental school? How will you make your decision about which school to attend? (1,500-character limit

    • Discuss the greatest challenges you may face in an advanced standing program in the United States? How will you prepare yourself to deal with these challenges? The essay must be limited to 250 words

    • In your own words, define professionalism and how it relates to you as a health care provider? The essay must be limited to 250 words.

    • What are your reasons for wanting to attend SIU/SDM?

    • Describe the most difficult patient you have treated to this point in your career. What made their treatment most challenging?

    • What were the strengths and weaknesses of your previous dental education?

3. Interview

3.CASPer Test

  • CASPer (Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) is an admissions test developed by researchers at McMaster University (Canada) that aims to measure traits like professionalism, ethics, communication, and empathy.

  • This is used by many programs to screen potential applicants for key personal and professional characteristics in a more fair and reliable way.

4. Written Exam

  • Some programmes have written exams on basics that are important



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