The Primary 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 for the Primary Examination are:

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

The Primary Examination consists of two parts:

  • Six (6) two-hour written papers with two subjects scheduled on each of three consecutive days
  • viva voce examinations of ten (10) minutes in duration are conducted in each of the six subjects. The focus is on your ability to effectively communicate knowledge.

IMPORTANT: You must hold Affiliate Membership (or current Subscription) to qualify to enrol in the Primary Exam.

A certificate will be provided to you upon passing the Primary Exam, as a testament to your achievement.

F.G. Christensen Memorial Prize

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 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.

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, you must still pass the Final Examination to be awarded FRACDS(GDP).

For more information on exemptions from the Primary Examination click here.

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*
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. 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.

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.