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Examination Details

The Dental Council wishes to advise that 2024 Examination is now oversubscribed and we are no longer taking applications – 26 January 2024 (1.15pm).

Dates for Part 1 of the Dental Council 2024 examination for non-EEA dentists have been confirmed. Part 1 written papers will take place on the 23rd and 24th March, while the bench test will proceed on the 27th and 28th March 2024.

Additionally, we would like to confirm that exam capacity has been increased in cooperation with the dental schools to allow for 40 new applicants.


Dental Council examination for dentists applying for full registration in the Register of Dentists under the provisions of Section 27(2)(d) of the Dentists Act 1985.

Background & context

  1. Section 27 (2) of the Dentists Act 1985 (“the Act”) provides for the admission to full registration in the Register of Dentists of any person who satisfies the Council that he/she has undergone such courses of training and passed such examinations as are specified in rules made by the Council. This provision is in addition to the provisions made in the Act for the admission to full registration of persons holding primary qualifications awarded by the licensing authorities in Ireland and of persons, being nationals of EEA member states, who have graduated within the EEA with a scheduled dental degree/diploma.
  2. Dentists seeking registration under the provisions of Section 27(2)(d) of the Act are normally required to present for and pass a special examination. This examination is supported at a practical level by both of the dental schools in Ireland and is overseen by an Examination Board appointed by the Council on which both of the dental schools and the Council are represented.
  3. A separate route to registration has been established for dentists holding formal refugee status in Ireland. Dentists with refugee status in Ireland are therefore not required to apply for the examination in order to access the Register of Dentists. The refugee process has been established under the provisions of the EU’s Professional Qualifications Directives at the direction of the European Commission.
  4. An applicant for registration under the provisions of Section 27(2)(d) of the Act should, in the first instance, submit to Council a transcript of his/her training and qualifications for assessment. Any person who, as a result of this assessment, has been deemed to have followed an acceptable course of study and has indicated to the Council his/her competency to communicate in the English language will normally be permitted to present for the examination. An acceptable course of study in this context would be equivalent to that laid down in the Dental Directives of at least a five-year full-time course of theoretical and practical instruction given in a university or similar educational institution, with training to provide the dentist with the skills necessary for carrying out all activities involving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of anomalies and diseases of the teeth, jaws and associated tissues.
  5. The standard of the examination is no less than the standard of final year dental examinations in Ireland and is designed to maintain the integrity of the Register of Dentists in the best interests of patients. The involvement of representatives from each of the dental schools in the design, delivery and management of the examination maintains the direct linkage between the standards underpinning the examination and the standards expect of dental graduates in Ireland.

Exam description

  1. The examination is comprised of two parts that are typically held two months apart and at two different locations in Ireland – Dublin and Cork. Both parts of the examination must be passed in order to be eligible to access the Register of Dentists, and candidates must successfully pass Part 1 in order to progress to Part 2.

Part 1

  1. Part 1 of the examination comprises three written papers and also a “bench test” (a practical examination in operative dentistry techniques).

The three written papers are as follows: –
‘Health’ – including but not limited to anatomy, dental anatomy, head and neck anatomy, oral anatomy, oral histology, oral physiology.

‘Disease’ – including but not limited to immunology, medicine, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, surgery.

‘Society’ – including but not limited to law and ethics, regulation of dentistry in Ireland, dental public health, critical evaluation of evidence.
The papers will typically be in a Short Answer Question (SAQ) format.

  1. The bench test is a key element of the examination and provides a key opportunity for candidates to demonstrate their proficiency in operative dentistry. The test is conducted in a simulated clinical environment and involves the use of manikin heads as a proxy for patient treatment. Candidates will be supported by experienced dental nursing staff, and observed and assessed by dental examiners, and every opportunity will be afforded to candidates to enable them to demonstrate their proficiency. At the beginning of this part of the examination, candidates will be provided with the grading scheme for each aspect of the examination where the pass/fail threshold is clearly described.
  2. Candidates must pass each of the written components and the bench test in order to progress to Part 2 of the examination.

Part 2

  1. Part 2 of the examination comprises three separate components – written papers, an OSCE and clinical vivas. Each of these three components must be passed individually and there is no compensation marking within, or between, components.

Acknowledging the potential impact of the examination on candidates and their dental careers, and as a general approach to marking throughout the examination as a whole, every benefit of the doubt will be given to candidates but without compromising patient safety.

  1. The written component comprises three papers as follows: – ‘Restorative Dentistry’, ‘Oral Surgery/Oral Medicine’ and ‘Child Dental Health’. Papers will typically be in a Short Answer Question (SAQ) format.
  2. The OSCE – Objective Structured Clinical Examination – comprises a number of clinical and rest stations and is designed to assess candidate proficiency in diagnosis, treatment planning and clinical decision-making, in addition to assessment of some commonly used basic clinical skills.
  1. The clinical viva component involves candidates engaging with pairs of examiners in a face-to-face setting for assessment on clinical scenarios in the areas of ‘Restorative Dentistry’, ‘Oral Surgery/Oral Medicine’, and ‘Child Dental Health’.

Management and marking

  1. Each component of the examination will be subject to a process of standard-setting to establish the pass marks for each component. Standard setting is the process used to distinguish between a passing candidate and an unsuccessful candidate. This is achieved by determining the score associated with the minimal level of clinical skill or knowledge that a safe practicing dentist would be expected to attain. This “cut-off mark” divides the candidates in to two groups; those below the cut off and those above the cut-off. Typically questions which examine knowledge on essential elements or common elements of general dental practice will require a higher mark to achieve a pass. Conversely, a question which examines knowledge on more specialised areas, or which is difficult in content, may require a lower mark to pass. Therefore, the pass mark for exam questions should not be assumed to be 50% as often it will not be.
  2. Candidates should note that displays of unprofessional conduct and behaviour during any component of the examination will be taken seriously and could lead to a candidate’s removal from the examination process without refund. Such decisions would not be taken lightly but would reflect the significant value placed by the Dental Council on professional conduct and behaviour in the best interests of patients.
  3. After Part 1 and Part 2 of the examination, results will be issued to candidates electronically as soon as they are available. Candidates who have been unsuccessful in the examination will routinely be issued with their examination scripts.
  4. Candidates will be allowed a maximum of two opportunities in which to pass Part 1 of the examination and a maximum of three opportunities in respect of Part 2 of the examination. Candidates must have passed all components of Part 1 of the examination before proceeding to Part 2.

Candidates who are required to repeat Part 1 may be exempted from repeating a component that they passed previously (i.e. the Bench Test or the written component). All three Part 1 written papers must be passed in a single sitting to be considered to have passed the written component.

Candidates who are required to repeat Part 2 will be required to repeat all components of Part 2 in the repeat sitting, even if they had passed a component during a previous sitting.

  1. If a candidate fails to present for an examination in which they were registered to sit, it will constitute an unsuccessful attempt.
  2. The Dental Council has an Exam Appeals Policy which candidates are advised to familiarise themselves with. An Exam Appeals Committee is in place to assist the Dental Council in its consideration of appeals in this area.

Further information

  1. The examination will ordinarily be held once each year. Places on the examination are limited due to the clinical capacity in each of the dental schools and arising from the number of repeat candidates in the examination process at any given time. For this reason, places on the examination are awarded on a ‘first come, first served’ basis and the number of places available each year may vary.
  2. The application date will typically be announced between November and December in a given year for the examination taking place the following year. Application dates will be confirmed using social media and/or carried as an update on the Dental Council’s website.
  3. Incomplete applications will be returned to sender. Similarly, applications received before an announced application date will not be considered. A reserve or standby list will be in operation in the event that a new applicant or repeat candidate fails to accept an offer of a place.
  4. The specific dates of Part 1 and Part 2 of the examination will be confirmed as soon as possible with candidates who have been awarded a place. Part 1 will typically take place in March/April each year with Part 2 typically taking place in June/July each year.
  5. Candidates requiring a visa/permit/other to enter and stay in Ireland in order to participate in the examination will be solely responsible for organising same. The Dental Council has no role or influence in arranging visas or work permit but can provide a letter on request to confirm the purpose and dates of the examination (once the dates have been confirmed).
  6. Examination content may be revised annually and should not be viewed as being static. Acceptance of an examination place will equate to acceptance of the examination content that is in place at the time of application. In any given year, repeat candidates will be required to sit the same examination as first-time candidates.
  7. There are no routine deferrals available to candidates. In limited and unforeseen circumstances, and on a strict case-by-case basis, individual requests for deferral may be considered. Given the high demand for places on the examination, in all but the most extreme of circumstances, requests for deferrals will be refused.
  8. The Dental Council has published a Charter of Expectations to support the examination process and this document confirms the mutual obligations of Dental Council, its representatives, and examination candidates throughout the process.
  9. Council and the universities/dental schools will ensure that all legal requirements for the holding of the examinations are met, and that adequate insurance cover is provided.
  10. The examination fee payable by candidates will be fixed by Council with the approval of the Minister for Health. The fee details for participation in the examination are available on the Dental Council’s website and must be paid at the time of application. In the event of a candidate having to repeat a part of the examination, an additional fee will be payable. All payments must be made paid online through our website.
  11. Candidates who have previously sat the examinations and who are required to repeat either Part 1 or Part 2 must apply in writing to the Council before the announced application date if they wish to be considered for acceptance to the examination.
  12. After places for the examination have been offered to candidates, candidates must accept their place within 3 working days of the offer being made. Otherwise, the place may be offered to another candidate. A candidate who fails to accept the offer of a place on the examination must re-apply again if they wish to sit the examination in a subsequent year.
  13. Candidates should note that success in the examination confers entitlement to registration in the Register of Dentists for Ireland. There is no ongoing entitlement to registration in any other EEA Member State or jurisdiction.
  14. Candidates are strongly advised to establish from the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment that they would be entitled to a work permit to practise dentistry in Ireland if admitted to registration in the Register of Dentists.
  15. Refunds will not be issued once a candidate has confirmed their attendance to sit the examination. This applies to new and repeat candidates.

Application details:-
Applicants must submit:-

    1. Fully completed application form.
    2. First-time application fee or repeat fee as applicable.
    3. Two passport-sized photographs with the candidates name and signature on the reverse.
    4. Certified copy of diploma / degrees, and a certified translated copy if not in English.
    5. Certified copy of academic transcripts, and a certified translated copy if not in English.
    6. Evidence of having been engaged in the lawful practice of dentistry for a period of three consecutive years in the previous five years.
    7. Original Certificate of Good Standing (and a certified translated copy if not in English) from registration board in the jurisdiction the applicant last practiced dentistry.
    8. Candidates must provide evidence of having been engaged in the lawful practice of dentistry for a period of three consecutive years in the previous five years. Candidates who have graduated within the three years preceding their application to sit the examination must have been practicing continuously since graduation. This requirement acknowledges the likelihood that candidates who have been practising continuously will have a greater chance of success in the examination than candidates who have not been practising continuously.
    9. An original of one of the following, to have been completed within the two years prior to receipt of the completed application, as evidence of proficiency in the English Language;
      1. An OET Certificate (in dentistry) with a minimum score in each module, set out below;
      2. An Academic IELTS Certificate with a minimum score in each module, set out below;


OET (for Dentistry)

IELTS (Academic)


Minimum score of B

Minimum score of 7.0


Minimum score of B

Minimum score of 7.0


Minimum score of B

Minimum score of 7.0


Minimum score of B

Minimum score of 7.0

A language test may not be required if candidates completed their dentistry degree entirely through the English language and can provide evidence of this.

Repeat candidates
Repeat candidates must provide an up-to-date letter of good standing, an up-to-date work history, and repeat fee.
The Dental Council has agreed a set of learning outcomes that applicants for the Dental Council examination must have achieved and be able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Council. The Dental Council examination is designed to test that candidates have the required competence to practice as a dentist in Ireland.