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. Complete information for candidates is available in the Candidate Handbook.

Already hold DANB certification and have a question about renewing? Click here for our recertification FAQs.

  • What exams does DANB offer?

    DANB offers five national certifications: National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA), Certified Dental Assistant (CDA), Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA), Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant (CPFDA) and Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant (CRFDA). DANB offers these certification exams, as well as component exams. Each DANB certification is made up of component exams that can be taken separately or in various combinations. DANB also administers state-specific exams for certain states.

    Learn More About DANB’s Exams & Certifications

    What is NELDA certification? Should I earn NELDA or CDA certification?
    NELDA certification is for those who do not yet qualify for DANB’s Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification. DANB recommends you earn the certification for which you are qualified. NELDA certification can be renewed for up to four years; DANB encourages NELDA certificants to earn CDA certification when they are eligible to remain DANB certified. Learn more about DANB 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. 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 obtain my state license? Does it transfer from state to state?
    Since a license is issued by a state or government organization, not DANB, please review your state requirements and contact the state dental board in the state in which you are employed for additional license information. Some states require that you pass DANB exams or earn certification to obtain a license. You can look up the dental assisting requirements in your state on DANB’s search-by-state map.


  • How do I apply for an exam?

    You can apply for all exams online from the Exams & Certifications page. If you prefer to mail or fax your application, you can download an application packet with all necessary forms and instructions. Go to the Exams & Certification page and click on the name of the exam or certification in menu on the left; then scroll down to “Additional Information” for the link to download a PDF version of the application packet.

    How do I submit my eligibility documentation when applying for an exam online?
    You will be prompted to upload documentation within the online application on the appropriate page. Please note that you cannot upload multiple files. If you are submitting several pages or documents, please upload them all as one PDF. You also have the option to indicate in your online application that you will mail or fax in your documentation.

    What should I do if I am applying for an exam with eligibility requirements, and my CPR card is expiring soon?
    You will need to obtain a new DANB-accepted hands-on CPR, BLS, or ACLS card. DANB cannot issue a testing window if your CPR card expires within 60 days. For example, if DANB receives a CDA exam application October 1 and the CPR card submitted expires October 31, DANB cannot issue the 60-day testing window because the CPR card would expire prior to the window end.

    How long will it take to process my application?
    If you applied online for an exam that does not require eligibility documentation, you will receive your new testing window immediately. Applications that require eligibility documentation can take two to three weeks to process, whether you apply online or by fax or mail.  

    How will I be notified that I can schedule my exam? 
    Upon application approval, you will receive an email with a link to schedule your exam appointment. Please ensure your email address on record is current. If you are applying for an exam by mail or fax, you will need to include a valid email address on your application.
  • What if my name or address changes after I have applied for an exam?

    Please contact DANB immediately with name or address changes or any spelling errors in your name. DANB charges a $50 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 your DANB account. If your name has changed, please call DANB.

    What if the name on my DANB profile does not match the name on my ID?
    If you need to update your name, please submit the Name Change Request Form with required documentation. The name in your DANB account must exactly match the name on the ID you will bring to the test center. You will be turned away from testing if your name does not match.

  • 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 an email with instructions to schedule your DANB exam at a Pearson VUE test center.

    Locate a Pearson VUE Test Center
    View Video


  • How many questions do I have to answer correctly to pass an exam?

    DANB uses computer adaptive testing (CAT) to present questions to candidates. This method of testing does not provide 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 exams needed to earn certification?

    If you do not pass all of the component exams to earn NELDA, CDA, COA, CPFDA or CRFDA certification, you only need to reapply for the component exams that were not passed. All necessary component exams must be passed within three to five years (three years for NELDA, CPFDA and CRFDA) to earn certification.

  • Can DANB email my exam results and certificates?

    DANB does not send exam results or certificates by email. Official exam results and any earned certificates will be mailed within two to three weeks after the exam. Anyone can also verify DANB credentials using the online Credential Verification tool.


  • Will anyone else receive my exam results?

    DANB takes your privacy very seriously. We will only send your exam results to you or, upon request, to a state dental board or regulatory agency to comply with state requirements. DANB also releases grouped exam results to program directors. Please keep in mind that whether you hold a DANB certification or certificate of knowledge-based competence is public record, so DANB will verify this information on request to anyone on request over the phone. DANB also offers a Credential Verification tool on its website, which anyone can use.
  • Can I get duplicate exam results?

    Duplicate exam results are available for exams taken within five years of the date of the request by submitting a Request for Duplicate Exam Results (PDF) form and $50 fee for each exam result. Exam results older than five years are not available, though DANB will verify certifications or certificates of knowledge-based competence 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 a DANB certification may purchase a duplicate certificate. 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 submitting a Request for a Duplicate Certificate (PDF) form and a $50 fee to DANB.

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

    DANB will verify certification or an RHS, ICE, CP, TA, TF, SE, AMP, IM, TMP or IS certificate of knowledge-based competence 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)

    Does my certificate of knowledge-based competence expire?
    Certificates of knowledge-based competence (such as the RHS or ICE certificate of knowledge-based competence) do not expire. DANB certifications (CDA, COA, CPFDA, CRFDA and NELDA) expire after one year and must be renewed annually.

  • Can I retake a test I failed?

    If you have failed an exam, you may immediately submit a new application 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 $75 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 $75 fee will be refunded. Requests for hand scoring of an exam will not be honored after 30 days past the official score date.

  • 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 (Level 1 Appeal) form and a $50 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 Appeal Policy and Procedures