The Primary Examination assesses theoretical knowledge in the six basic science subjects that are the foundation of sound clinical dental practice. The focus is on the candidate’s ability to effectively communicate knowledge, demonstrate their thinking process and understanding in written papers and viva voce examinations. The Primary Examination is one of the pathways to Fellowship with the College.

The Primary Examination consists of two parts:

  • six two hour written papers, with two subjects scheduled on each of three consecutive days
  • viva voce examinations of ten minutes duration are conducted in each of the six subjects.

The six subjects for the Primary Examination are:

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

Documentation that the College requires in order to apply for exemption from the Primary Examination:

  • completed an application for Affiliate Membership to the College form (if not already applied)
    completion of Exemption form for the Primary Examination
    most updated Certificate of Registration to practice in your jurisdiction (must be verified)
  • certificate of University BDS Qualification (must be verified)
  • certificate of University postgraduate Master’s Degree qualification (must be verified)
  • clear proof that the postgraduate qualification was two years, was full-time and the start and finish dates (if the university cannot provide the above information they must be contacted and advised of this)
  • a two year postgraduate program can be: Masters, PHD or DClinDent.

Exemptions from the Primary 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 Primary Examination.

If you are granted exemption from the Primary Examination, then you must still pass the Final Examination to be awarded FRACDS(GDP).

The Application for Exemption from the Primary Examination (GDP) form can be found here.

The College is proud to offer candidates two unique preparatory courses Preparation to Fellowship Success and Web-based Education Program (WBE) to maximise success and grow confidence for passing the Final Examination for Fellowship.

F.G. Christensen Memorial Prize

The candidate who passes all six subjects and achieves the highest overall aggregate mark will be awarded the F.G. Christensen Memorial Prize. This prize consists of a Medal and a monetary award of AU$500, acknowledgement in College publications such as the Yearbook and College News, and the medal is presented to the winner by the President of the College at the following Convocation Opening Ceremony. For detailed information please refer to the GDP Handbook.

Primary ExaminationOverseas ResidentAustralian Resident
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*
Lecture notes – all subjects$264.00$290.00*
Lecture notes – per subject$116.00$128.00*
Primary Examination
Enrolment – all subjects$2,596.00$2,596.00
Enrolment – per subject$601.00$601.00
Application for exemption from sitting the Primary Examination$1,200.00$1,200.00
Appeal fee$6,108.00*$6,108.00*
1. All fees are in $AUD.
2. Fees marked with asterisk (*) denote GST inclusive, otherwise fees are GST free.
3. 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

The examinations will be conducted online – you can sit them from the comfort of your home. The online written paper will be available via downloadable software on your device, and the viva voce will be conducted via Zoom.

The Primary Examination is an assessment of a candidate’s knowledge of the fundamental principles of the basic health sciences as they relate to dentistry, and is the first step to Fellowship with the College (FRACDS). For those looking to obtain Fellowship, exemptions from the examination may be granted for candidates with appropriate qualifications.

The Primary Exam is the first step to achieving Fellowship in General Dental Practice. Benefits in obtaining Fellowship with the RACDS include:

  • Developing a strong foundation of knowledge for clinical practice
  • Professional development
  • Professional recognition
  • Develop a career pathway in education and examination

Yes – RACDS provides Candidate Advisors in each region that can assist candidates with study groups, tutorials and general direction.

The Primary Exam is made up of 6 subjects of the examination:

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

Candidates should also be familiar with standard statistical methods and Pharmacology. Note: while not examined as a separate subject, Pharmacology is relevant across all disciplines and may be examined. Two hours of lectures on Pharmacology are included in the Orientation Course and notes.

The exam consists of a written paper and a viva voce. There are no live patients for this examination.

The GDP Handbook includes a guide to study and suggested reading list. Candidates should have access to current journal articles and maintain an individual resource library in preparation for the examination.

RACDS offers access for those enrolled in the Primary Exam to past papers, Study Groups, Candidate Advisors, and an Orientation Course which runs from 7 July to 5 August 2020. This provides candidates with an opportunity to meet examiners and gain valuable information on treatment planning, written paper and viva voce skills. The program awards 80 hours of CPD. If you have missed Orientation Course, we have the course notes available for a small fee.

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.