Exam Preparation


Dental hygiene students and graduates should be adequately prepared by knowing the content in their dental hygiene program. The NDHCB website provides a variety of resources to assist a candidate for preparing to write the NDHCE. Please note that the information and materials listed below are the only ones recommended by the NDHCE. Other companies or individuals that offer NDHCE preparation materials or courses are not endorsed by the NDHCB. 

The following steps are suggested:


NDHCE Policies and Procedures

The following documents should be reviewed by candidates:


The NDHCE Blueprint

The purpose of the Blueprint  (see "Quick Links") is to describe how the examination is to be developed. It is not designed explicitly for study purposes but does provide valuable information about the examination content.


Please click here to access how the exam is developed or to download a copy of the latest version of the National Blueprint on which the current exam is based.


Reference Material

The NDHCB offers a list of some resource materials to assist you in preparing for and taking the NDHCE. Click here to access the NDHCE Reference Material List.

Sample Questions, Answers and Rationale

The sample questions illustrate the types of questions found on the certification examination, and give an overall idea of how they may relate to day-to-day dental hygiene practice. They also familiarize you with the question format, the rationale behind them and the competency they refer to. See "Quick Links" to access the free sample questions.

Preparation Tests

The NDHCB offers four different 75-item Preparatory Tests available online.


The English/French Lexicon was developed by the French Translation Validation Group as a tool to assist for the translation of the Examination. It will also give you a list of most terms used within the examination.  See "Quick Links" to access the English/French Lexicon.

Useful Information

  • Exam Format:  There are 200 multiple-choice questions on the NDHCE. The questions are divided in two back-to-back sessions. Each section is distinct - once you have completed and submitted one section, you cannot return to those items. The schedule is specific to each writing centre and/or virtual proctoring candidate. It is recommended that candidates show up 30 min. before the start of the exam. Experienced dental hygienists created the questions to reflect the common oral health situations that a dental hygienist may encounter. Each question has an introductory statement followed by four possible answers. These questions may appear as cases (i.e., an introductory text followed by four to six questions), or as independent questions (i.e., single questions unrelated to other questions). You will record your answers onscreen.

  •  FDI Numbering System: The FDI (Fédération dentaire internationale) two-digit tooth numbering system (below) is used in all examinations.


FDI Numbering System for Permanent Dentition


18   17   16   15   14   13   12   11           21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28
48   47   46   45   44   43   42   41           31   32   33   34   35   36   37   38

         Right                                                         Left


FDI System for Deciduous Dentition


55   54   53   52   51           61   62   63   64   65

85   84   83   82   81           71   72   73   74   75

Right                                     Left


Useful Tips

Understanding multiple-choice questions will allow you to apply your dental hygiene knowledge and skills to the testing situation effectively. A multiple-choice question is constructed so that only one option appears to be correct to someone who has mastered the subject. To someone who lacks a firm grasp of the subject, other options look equally plausible. The following suggestions may help you prepare and feel more comfortable on the examination day. Learn and use a few of these techniques:


Read the Questions Carefully 

  • Read the question carefully and understand it. Use your dental hygiene knowledge and skills to try to deduce the correct answer before looking at the choices.

  • Concentrate on what is actually being asked and relate it to the data provided. Try to understand the client’s oral health situation and the oral health care the client is likely to require.

  • On the examination, each question has four possible answers. Select the answer that you think is correct, or the best of the four alternatives.

  • Avoid reading too much into the question.

  • In the introductory text of a case or in a question, pay attention to the most important details to remember. Reread the question before picking your answer.


One Question at a Time

  • Deal with each question separately. Try not to let a difficult question make you anxious when you read the next one.

  • Limit your time on each question so you can finish the examination.

  • If you don’t know the answer to a question, bookmark it, skip it, and return to it later using the "Navigator".

Consider Types of Questions

  • Examination questions will relate to dental hygiene competencies and will test certain knowledge, skills, abilities, attitudes, and judgments.

  • Although you may not have experienced oral health care situations exactly like those on the certification examination, you should be able to apply the specialized knowledge and skills acquired while in your education program or working in your practice.

  • Try to prepare for questions that test your ability to recall information and facts, to apply principles and procedures to the dental hygiene process of care, and to use your judgment about dental hygiene care.

  • Some questions may refer to an image (X-Ray or photograph).


Use the Process of Elimination

  • Focus on the key idea in the question.

  • If, after reading a question, you are unsure of the correct answer, try to eliminate the absolutely incorrect options. Make a note in the electronic note-pad on screen.


Guessing and/or Changing Answers

  • There is no penalty for guessing. You will not lose marks for an incorrect answer; use your experience to choose what you think is best or most correct.

  • If you decide to change one of your answers, just go back to it and select a different one.