Why should I do the Primary Dental Sciences Examination?

  • Enjoy full Membership rights as a Member of the College
  • Use of post-nominals MRACDS(PDS)
  • Stand out from the crowd
  • Prepare for postgraduate specialist training
  • Improve your knowledge and skills
  • Professional and peer recognition
  • Challenge yourself and build a strong foundation of knowledge for clinical practice
  • Join a community of like-minded practitioners

Read more about becoming a Member in Primary Dental Sciences MRACDS(PDS) here.

Dental chair and equipment

Subjects Assessed

The Primary Dental Sciences Examination assesses theoretical knowledge in the six (6) basic science subjects that are the foundation of sound clinical dental practice. The examination is held annually in November/December and exemptions from the examination may be granted for candidates with appropriate qualifications. The examination is also open to non-dentists.

The six subjects assessed in the Primary Dental Sciences Examination are:

  • Anatomy
  • Cell Biology and Biochemistry
  • Histology
  • Microbiology
  • Pathology
  • Physiology

Examination Format

The Primary Dental Sciences Examination consists of two parts:

Further details are provided upon enrolment.

Orientation Course

The Orientation Course is highly recommended for candidates enrolled or planning to sit the Primary Dental Sciences Examination.

The Orientation Course is an intensive preparatory course to prepare you for the Primary Dental Sciences Examination. It covers all six (6) science subjects assessed in the Primary Examination (GDP), as well as Pharmacology. Lectures and resource materials will be provided by Primary Dental Sciences Examination examiners to set you up for success in passing the examination.

Candidates who attend the Orientation Course will be awarded CPD hours upon completion.

Two Dr Elizabeth Fanning Orientation Course Scholarships are available each year for final year dentistry students and early career dentists. The scholarships will cover the full cost of enrolment in the Orientation Course. For more information and to apply click here.

For more information on the Orientation Course and how to enrol click here.

Examination Recognition

The F.G. Christensen Memorial Prize is awarded to the candidate who passes all six subjects and achieves the highest overall aggregate mark in the Primary Dental Sciences Examination. The prize consists of a Medal and a monetary award of AU$500. The awarded candidate will be acknowledged in College publications such as the Yearbook and College News and presented the Medal by the President of the College at the following Convocation Opening Ceremony.

For detailed information please refer to the GDP Handbook.


The Primary Dental Sciences Examination is open to dentists and non-dentists however the College requires all candidates to hold current Affiliate membership (or current Subscription) which is only open to dentists with current registration (in good standing) in their country of residence.

If you are interested in sitting the Primary Dental Sciences Examination but are not a dentist or not yet registered to practice, please contact the Education Officer at fracds@racds.org.

How to Apply?

Applying is easy!

Please ensure that you have read and understood the requirements and fees for the Primary Dental Sciences Examination and then follow the steps below:

  1. Check you are eligible for the Primary Dental Sciences Examination
  2. Apply for Affiliate membership
  3. Register via the button above

You MUST be an Affiliate member prior to registering for the examination.

For more information, please refer to the GDP Handbook or email fracds@racds.org.

Primary Dental Sciences ExaminationOverseas Resident Australian Resident
Affiliate Member Annual Fee (FY 1/7/22 to 30/6/23)$228.00$250.00*
Affiliate Member Annual Fee (FY 1/7/21 to 30/6/22)$220.00$242.00*
Orientation Course
Enrolment – all subjects (member rate)$3,278.00*$3,278.00*
Enrolment – all subjects (non-member rate)$4,216.00*$4,216.00*
Enrolment – per subjects (member rate)$545.00*$545.00*
Enrolment – per subjects (non-member rate)$707.00*$707.00*
Primary Dental Sciences Examination
Enrolment – all subjects$2,596.00$2,596.00
Enrolment – per subject$601.00$601.00
Application for exemption from sitting the Primary Dental Sciences Examination$1,200.00$1,200.00
Appeal fee $6,108.00*$6,108.00*
Admission to Membership$327.27$360.00*
Annual fee (FY 1/7/22 to 30/6/23)$664.00$731.00*
Annual fee (FY 1/7/21 to 30/6/22)$642.00$706.00*
1. All fees are in $AUD.
2. Fees marked with asterisk (*) denote GST inclusive, otherwise fees are GST free.
3. The annual fee is payable on the 1st day of July each year. All unpaid annual fees by the 31st of August each year will attract a monthly late payment surcharge. Members or Fellows who are elected to Membership or Fellowship during the year will pay a pro rata annual fee based on the whole months remaining in the financial year (FY).
4. Board approved 1/3 reduction in Annual Fees for members residing outside of Australia and NZ, for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 financial year.
5. For more information, please refer to the RACDS General Dental Practice (GDP) Handbook and other relevant policies (including refunds) which are available on the website.

Exemption from the Primary Dental Sciences Examination

Candidates who have completed a university higher degree in research or a degree leading to a specialist qualification in the health sciences which is no less than two (2) years full-time study or its equivalent may be eligible for an exemption from the examination.

If you are granted an exemption from the Primary Dental Sciences Examination, you must pass the Fellowship Examination (GDP) to be awarded FRACDS(GDP). You are not eligible to apply for Membership in Primary Dental Sciences.

Read more about the Primary Dental Sciences Examination Exemption here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, Candidate Advisors are available in each region to assist candidates with study groups, tutorials and general direction – Find your Candidate Advisor here.

The GDP Handbook includes a guide to study and suggested reading list. Candidates also have access to ‘ClinicalKey’, an online library via their membership dashboard which will provide them with journals and articles to assist with your study.

Once enrolled in the Primary Dental Sciences Examination you will be provided access to past papers, study groups and Candidate Advisors. You are also encouraged to enrol in the Orientation Course to further your study preparations. The Orientation Course provides candidates with an opportunity to meet examiners and gain valuable information on treatment planning, written paper and viva voce skills.

The examinations are delivered entirely online and can be sat from the candidate’s home or other preferred location.

Yes, candidates who do not have subject credits from the previous attempt are required to present for all six (6) subjects at the examination.

Both the written and oral sections of the exam must be completed. If you complete the written sections only, and do not present for the vivas you will receive a fail grade for that subject.

Should a medical/personal situation arise that prevents you from undertaking a portion of the exam, please Contact Us immediately.

Candidates who have failed the exam will receive a performance report from the examiners. If you have failed 1-2 subjects only, you may be given credit for the subjects you passed. This credit is valid for three years.

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