Exam & Certification FAQs

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Frequently Asked Questions About DANB Exams and Certifications

On this page, you will find the most frequently asked questions DANB candidates have regarding exams and certifications. Click on each question to expand or collapse the answer.

  • What exams does DANB offer?

    DANB offers four national certifications: Certified Dental Assistant (CDA), Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA), Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant (CPFDA) and Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant (CRFDA). The CDA exam is made up of three component exams: General Chairside Assisting (GC), Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) and Infection Control (ICE). The COA exam is made up of the Orthodontic Assisting (OA) and Infection Control (ICE) component exams. The CPFDA exam consists of the Coronal Polishing (CP), Sealants (SE), Topical Anesthetic (TA) and Topical Fluoride (TF) exams. The CRFDA certification is made up of six component exams: Anatomy, Morphology and Physiology (AMP); Impressions (IM); Temporaries (TMP); Isolation (IS); Sealants (SE); and Restorative Functions (RF). DANB also administers state-specific exams for certain states. 

    Learn More About DANB’s Exams & Certifications

  • What are the requirements for dental assistants in my state?

    Each state has different requirements for dental assistants for duties such as exposing radiographs or performing expanded functions, among other issues. You can check the requirements in your state by visiting DANB’s Search by State page. You will also find contact information for your state dental board, which will have the most up-to-date information.

  • How do I apply for an exam?

    You will find exam applications in the application packets. The CDA application packet contains applications for the CDA exam as well as its component exams (GC, RHS and ICE). DANB’s COA application packet contains applications for the COA exam and its component exams (OA, ICE). The CPFDA application packet contains the application for the CPFDA exam and its component exams (CP, SE, TA, TF). The CRFDA application packet includes the applications for the six component exams (AMP, IM, TMP, IS, SE and RF).

    CDA Application Packet (PDF) 
    COA Application Packet (PDF) 
    CPFDA Application Packet (PDF)
    CRFDA Application Packet (PDF)

  • Where do I take an exam?

    DANB exams are administered on computer at Pearson VUE test centers, which are located nationwide. After you apply for a DANB exam, you will receive a Test Admission Notice, which will contain information on how to schedule your DANB exam at the Pearson VUE test center closest to you.

    Locate a Pearson VUE Test Center

    View Video

  • How are exams administered?

    DANB exams are administered at Pearson VUE test centers across the country. Each test center follows the same procedure for administering DANB exams. Watch this short video to learn what you can expect on the day of your exam.

    View Video

  • Can I still take the CDPMA exam?

    DANB stopped accepting Certified Dental Practice Management Administrator (CDPMA) exam applications on May 31, 2008. DANB’s content validation research suggested that the exam may no longer sufficiently reflect the current duties of dental practice managers. This decision reflects DANB’s commitment to excellence and protecting the respect and reputation of the CDPMA certification. You can continue to renew this certification, however. To find out how to renew your CDPMA certification, see DANB’s Recertification Requirements (PDF).

    Dental practice management administrators have continuing dental education (CDE) opportunities available through the DALE Foundation.

  • Why is the COMSA exam no longer offered?

    DANB discontinued offering the Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Assistant (COMSA) exam in 2000 due to insufficient participation. Current COMSAs may continue to renew this certification; see DANB’s Recertification Requirements (PDF) for more information.
  • How many questions do I have to answer correctly to pass an exam?

    DANB uses computer adaptive testing (CAT) to present questions (sometimes called items) to candidates. This method of testing does not provide a candidate with a percent of questions that must be answered correctly to pass the exam. Instead, the questions come from a pool of questions that have been pretested and calibrated.

    Each candidate starts with a question at or around the passing standard. If the candidate gets a question correct, the next question will be slightly harder. If the question is incorrectly answered, the next question will be slightly easier. Question selection always takes into account the content of the question, as each candidate is presented with the same percentage of questions from each content area on the exam blueprint. Using this method of testing, DANB is able to more accurately pinpoint a candidate’s ability level. The average candidate will get a little over 50 percent of the questions correct and a little under 50 percent of the questions incorrect. The candidate’s score is based on the difficulty of the questions that were presented and passed.

  • What if I do not pass all of the CDA, COA, CPFDA or CRFDA component exams?

    If you take the CDA, COA, CPFDA or CRFDA exam but do not pass all of the component exams, you only need to reapply for the component exams that were not passed in order to earn certification. All necessary component exams must be passed within three to five years (three years for CPFDA and CRFDA) to earn certification. Certificates of knowledge-based competency will be issued when you pass the RHS, ICE, CP, TA, TF, SE, AMP, IM, TMP or IS component exams. (Please note: Certificates of knowledge-based competency are not certifications.)

  • Will anyone else receive my exam results?

    Because the RHS, ICE, CDA, COA, CPFDA and CRFDA exams may be required to meet state regulations, pass or fail status on these exams is a matter of public record and may be released to anyone on request. DANB releases a candidate’s exam results and verifies RHS, ICE, CP, TA, TF, SE, AMP, IM, TMP and IS passing status and CDA, COA, CPFDA or CRFDA certification status to state regulatory agencies in compliance with state requirements. DANB also releases exam results to dental assisting program directors for the program’s graduate or student candidates. Duplicate exam results and RHS, ICE, CP, TA, TF, SE, GC, OA and DANB certification exam pass/fail verification are available with a written verification request.

    Request for Duplicate Exam Results Form (PDF) 

  • What if my name or address changes after I have applied for an exam?

    It is your responsibility to contact DANB with name or address changes or any spelling errors in your name. DANB charges a $25 fee for reprinting a certificate for a name change once the original certificate has been printed. If you move after applying for an exam, you can update your address in My Account. If your name has changed, please call DANB.

  • What is DANB's retest policy?

    If you have failed an exam, per DANB’s retest policy you may immediately submit a new application form along with the fee and documentation (if required). State regulations may require additional coursework after failed attempts. Check with your state dental board for more information.

  • What is DANB's hand scoring policy?

    Hand scoring of an exam is available on request. Candidates must submit a Request for Hand Scoring of Exam Results (PDF) form along with a $50 hand scoring fee by mail or fax so that it is received within 30 days after the official score date printed on the exam results or certificate. Hand scoring is typically completed within 30 days of receipt of request. If the pass/fail status is reversed as a result of the hand scoring, the $50 fee will be refunded. Requests for hand scoring of an exam will not be honored after 30 days past the official score date.

  • Can I get duplicate exam results?

    Duplicate exam results are available for exams taken within five years of the date of the request. You may request a duplicate exam result by logging in to your Account or submitting a Request for Duplicate Exam Results (PDF) form, along with a $25 fee, for each exam result. Exam results older than five years are not available, though DANB will verify certifications or certificates of knowledge-based competency earned more than five years ago.

    Note: Exam results will not be released to employers or any other individuals, except upon written request of the candidate or as required by state regulatory agencies. Verification of a DANB certification or RHS, ICE, CP, TA, TF, SE AMP, IM, TMP and IS passing status is available from DANB.

  • Can I get a duplicate certificate?

    An individual who has earned DANB CDA, COA, CPFDA or CRFDA certification may purchase a duplicate certificate for $25 each. Individual RHS, ICE, CP, TA, TF, SE, AMP, IM, TMP and IS certificates are also available. Candidates with expired certifications may only request duplicate certificates if the certification was earned on June 1, 1993, or later for the CDA or June 1, 1994, or later for the COA. You may request a duplicate certificate by logging in to your Account or by submitting a Request for a Duplicate Certificate (PDF) form and a $25 fee to DANB.

  • Who can request a verification of certification or of a certificate of knowledge-based competency?

    DANB will verify certification or an RHS, ICE, CP, TA, TF, SE, AMP, IM, TMP or IS certificate of knowledge-based competency exam pass/fail status and the effective date(s) to anyone on request, since this information is a matter of public record. Only a candidate, certificant or employer may request verification in writing by submitting a Request for Verification form via mail or fax along with a $10 fee to DANB. The $10 fee covers one verification letter, which can be used to verify multiple certificates, certifications or passing status of one or more exams. An official verification letter is not a duplicate certificate.

    Candidate/Certificant Request for Verification (PDF) 
    Employer Request for Verification (PDF) 

  • How can I appeal a DANB decision?

    To appeal a DANB decision regarding eligibility, administrative or exam content issues, you may submit a Request for Reconsideration Under DANB’s Review and Appeal Process form and a $25 appeal fee to DANB’s Executive Director within 30 days of the date on the DANB correspondence that prompts the appeal (i.e., the date on the letter indicating your application was incomplete, date on your exam results letter). Contact DANB for questions about DANB’s appeal policy or process.

    DANB’s Review & Appeal Policy & Procedures (PDF)