On November 23, 2019, the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB) administered the Assessment of Clinical Judgement (ACJ) at Prometric test centres across the country and at select international locations. Connectivity issues, at the Royal Crown College and Training Centres Canada test centres in Toronto, delayed and in some cases prevented individuals from taking the ACJ.
We recognize that these technical issues may have added to what can already be a stressful situation and for that we do apologize.
Since the November administration we have launched an investigation to assess what has happened and we want to assure those affected that we will continue to work with our third-party provider to prevent similar issues in the future.
The NDEB still believes that transitioning to electronic delivery is the right solution to maintain security of the examinations, provide higher quality images for diagnostic purposes, and improve access to the examinations.
In September 2018, the NDEB celebrated a pivotal step in its transition to electronic delivery with the successful delivery of the Dental Specialty Core Knowledge Examination (DSCKE) at Prometric Test Centres in Canada.
Leading up to the September delivery, the NDEB ran three pilot tests to gain feedback on the usability of the software and identify any issues. An orientation video was also created to provide examinees with an overview of the functionality of the electronic exam and the opportunity to take a practice test.
In May 2019 the NDEB administered the Assessment of Clinical Judgement (ACJ) for the first time electronically across the country and in select international locations. Unfortunately, unanticipated technical problems occurred where participants experienced delays in accessing the Assessment screens timing out prior to completion.
Despite the technical issues, it was determined that the May 2019 ACJ was valid. The NDEB acknowledged, however, that the circumstances that occurred during the administration of the ACJ may have affected some participant’s performance. Considering these issues, all participants who were unsuccessful on the May 2019 ACJ had their result voided and were offered the opportunity to retake the Assessment on a one-time exceptional basis in August 2019 at no cost or receive a refund of the May 2010 Assessment fee.
Since the May 2019 ACJ, the NDEB has been working closely with its two service providers to identify, resolve and test the issues that occurred in order to ensure smooth exam deliveries.
The NDEB intends to continue with its plan to convert its paper and pencil examinations to electronic delivery.
New Electronic Exam Orientation video!
As the NDEB moves towards electronic exam delivery, an orientation video has been created to help guide you through the functionality of the exam platform prior to taking an exam.
Transitioning the Assessment of Clinical Judgement (ACJ) to electronic delivery means that examinees will experience changes in the registration process for the ACJ. When registering for the May 2019 ACJ, examinees will register for an assessment through their NDEB online profile. The process will involve selecting a location and paying the fees. After the registration deadline, examinees will receive a notification that they must now go to the Prometric website and schedule their assessment seat time at a designated testing centre in the area they indicated during registration with the NDEB.
Work continues to progress on the delivery of the Assessment of Clinical Judgement (ACJ) electronically in 2019. Because the ACJ will be administered at Prometric Test Centres, it was determined that the assessment would not be administered the day prior to the Assessment of Clinical Skills (ACS). Beginning in 2019 the AJC will be administered on the second Saturday in May and the fourth Saturday in November. Separating the ACJ and ACS will provide more flexibility for examinees to take the ACJ in a location closer to their place of residence.
The NDEB had originally intended to administer the ACJ at Prometric Test Centres world-wide; however, it was recently decided to administer the ACJ in centres across Canada, and selected locations in New Zealand, Australia, Belgium, and England.
On September 7, 2018, the NDEB administered its first computer-based examination at Prometric testing centres in Canada. The Dental Specialty Core Knowledge Examination (DSCKE) was administered flawlessly to a small cohort of examinees.
Next up is the transition of the Assessment of Clinical Judgement (ACJ) to the digital platform for the May 2019 administration. The cohort for the ACJ will be significantly larger than that of the DSCKE; however, the NDEB intends to make all Prometric test centers world-wide available to participants, allowing for easier access and decreased travel expenses.
The NDEB will be administering its first electronic examination on September 7, 2018. The Dental Specialty Core Knowledge Examination for graduates of non-accredited dental specialty programs will be administered at Prometric test centres across Canada.
The NDEB has created a short e-exam tutorial video for individuals taking the DSCKE to familiarize them with the electronic platform. In addition, an updated exam protocol with information about specific check-in procedures has been circulated to participants.
May 2018 - Prometric test centres
The NDEB is moving forward with electronic delivery of its examinations starting with the September 2018 Dental Specialty Core Knowledge Examination (DSCKE).
After an in-depth investigation, the NDEB selected Prometric to deliver its examinations. With secure test centres worldwide, Prometric gives the NDEB the ability to offer its examinations both nationally and internationally. In addition, the NDEB will take advantage of Prometric’s extensive security procedures to maintain the integrity of the exams. Prometric also guarantees the same policies, procedures, and equipment will be used to deliver the exams, offering a consistent experience across all centres.
April 2018 - DSCKE Pilot Tests
In March and April 2018, the NDEB ran two DSCKE pilot tests at Prometric test centers. Feedback from the pilot tests has been positive. Based on the feedback received, the NDEB is moving forward with delivery of the September 2018 DSCKE electronically.
December 2017 – Prometric kick-off meeting
NDEB staff met in Ottawa with representatives from Prometric to get the electronic delivery project underway with pilot tests scheduled for March 2018.
Background and Development
The NDEB’s current Certification Process comprises two examinations. Both the Written Examination and OSCE are internationally recognized as valid, reliable and fair tests of the competency of a beginning dental practitioner. These examinations have begun to pose sustainability concerns leading the NDEB to explore the feasibility of a new examination system.
In 2012, the NDEB established an ad-hoc committee to investigate options for an integrated examination to replace the Written Examination and OSCE. The Integrated Examinations Committee recommended combining the two examinations into one comprehensive digitally-delivered examination. This examination would broaden the capacity to evaluate critical thought and judgement, increase face validity, and standardize images.
Within the current examination administration systems, the NDEB identified areas where security risks exist. Most of these risks are a result of the current paper-based testing format. An electronically delivered examination significantly reduces the opportunity for sophisticated cheating strategies.
The use of digital platforms in dentistry and dental education is continually evolving. By moving to electronic delivery, the NDEB will evolve with digital aspects of dentistry and ensure that examinees are evaluated in a setting as close to real life as possible.
Before selecting the software and delivery method for the examinations, the NDEB’s Electronic Examination Delivery Team did a detailed risk analysis of what it means to move to a digital platform, developed strategies to mitigate those risks, and investigated multiple delivery options and companies.
With the development of the Virtual OSCE well underway and a projected implementation in 2021, the NDEB has turned its attention to delivering other paper and pencil examinations electronically. In the spring of 2017, the Electronic Examinations Implementation Team presented a rollout plan to the Examinations Committee proposing all paper and pencil examinations be delivered electronically by 2022.
In October 2017, the NDEB Board approved an administration of the DSCKE electronically in September 2018.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the information in the rollout plan final?
The rollout plan is the framework for the order the NDEB examinations and assessments will be converted to electronic delivery. There are multiple factors that may impact the rollout plan. If changes are made they will be communicated to stakeholders.
I see on the Prometric website that they have test centres around the world. Will examinations and assessments be offered outside of Canada?
One of the benefits of moving to electronic delivery is increasing access to the examinations. When determining which Prometric testing centres to make available, the NDEB will consider many factors including demand and security.
When will we know where we can take examinations?
Examination locations will continue to be listed in the dates and locations section of the NDEB website.
I have limited computer skills; will this impact my ability to be successful in the examinations?
The computer skills needed to take the examinations and assessments electronically are minimal. The NDEB will be developing an orientation video and practice test for examinees to use prior to the examination. Anyone who is unable to complete the practice test should refresh their computer skills before to taking an examination.
Is it going to cost more to take the examinations/assessments electronically?
The NDEB is a not-for-profit organization. Examination and assessment fees are determined on a cost recovery basis. Small annual increases are normal, but moving to electronic delivery will not be the basis for a fee increase.
Will I get my results right after the examination?
Results of the examinations will be released 4-6 weeks following the administration.
What is the Virtual OSCE?
The Virtual OSCE is a new examination that will replace the current Written Examination and OSCE. Successful completion of the Virtual OSCE will be required to receive an NDEB certificate.
The NDEB welcomes comments and feedback from its stakeholders. Correspondence can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.