Did you receive an invite for an interview and bench test from a US dental school? Congratulations! This invitation will definitely bring you one step closer to the well-deserved success you’ve been working for! Before you start with your bench test preparation, remember that your performance in the bench test is one of the most important criteria in the selection process. Let us talk about the overview of this exam, its importance and a few tips on bench test prep course for international dentists.
Importance of Bench Test Prep Course for International Dentists
What exactly is a bench test?
A bench test is a skills evaluation to test your practical and clinical knowledge. The admission committee of the universities will assess your insight and experience in dentistry based on how you perform on this test. The time-based exam consists of a specified number of exercises, usually pertaining to general dentistry. The exam is mostly in a simulation lab on a typodont. Most advanced standing programs (excluding residency programs) require you to take a bench exam along with the interview process.
Why the bench test?
The dental schools are looking for the perfect candidate, who do not only have a strong educational background but also have an evidence-based experience in practical dentistry skills. Although DDS for international dentists is a 2-year study program in which you will be learning many concepts, the schools conduct this exam to make sure that you have the basic knowledge of general dentistry. The schools use a holistic review process for selecting their candidates and consider reviewing a number of factors. Good performance in the bench test is one of those important factors and perfecting this will certainly help increase your chances of getting selected.
How important is the bench test?
The bench test is as equally important as the other factors in your profile. To give you a quick overview, the first step in the entire process of getting accepted into a dental school is to make sure you represent yourself effectively in your application. This can be achieved through competitive GPA, above 100 TOEFL score, passing the NBDE, shadowing and a good clinical experience in both your home country and in the US. One should leave no stone unturned to stay ahead in the game.
The second step in this process is to prepare well for the interview and the practical exam. You can always review the common interview questions for the preparation. Usually candidates think that getting an invitation is enough but don’t make the mistake of undermining the value of this latter process. Even though this is the last step, it’s one of the more difficult ones. Through your interview and bench test, you have an opportunity to really differentiate yourself from others and demonstrate your skills to the school’s admission committee.
The bench test is what concerns many international dentist applicants. If you have applied to programs that require you to take the bench test, I highly recommend you to start preparing in advance. Most candidates make the mistake of initiating their exam preparation only the day after they’ve received an invite, leaving them with only a few weeks to prepare and master the skills they need in acing the exam.
Schools send out invitations usually one month prior to the exam and interview date and most of the applicants have a vague idea of the exam. If you ever have gotten that invitation, please don’t waste this one month ordering dental equipment and materials. Make sure to use that time to start practicing and doing ideal preps .
How to practice for the bench test?
You have a few options that you can consider in preparing for this important exam; you have the choice of taking a bench test course or completely preparing by yourself.
Here are your options briefly discussed:
You can find private institutes and programs that schools offer to help any international dentist get prepared for the skills-assessment test. Price and duration of the courses may vary. If you feel totally lost with your preparation and if you can afford this, this might be the option for you.
Here a few courses for your reference:
- Rutgers Bench Testing Preparatory Course
- Duggan Dental Studies
- OSTC Dental
- The Dr. Tools
Look for a mentor
If you live close to a dental school and you know a student who can mentor you, then use this cheaper option. You also have the option to ask a US dentist if you know one or if you are currently working with one. Be mindful however as they may have lost their eye for ideal preps especially if they have been out of school for quite a long time.
Do It Yourself (or possibly with a friend)
You can get the necessary equipment and materials to set up a home lab yourself and practice on your own. Although feedback is really important in practicing for the ideal preps, nobody can do your preps for you. You need to practice on your own anyways even if you plan to take an in-person course.
Among all these options, we also offer an online bench test course where Dr. Alyssa will mentor you and provide the feedback and guidance you need to do ideal preps. If you are preparing in a location where it is difficult to find a hands-on course, this might be a great option for you.
Having gone through the process myself, I feel that the quality of the bench test results is getting higher every year. Please do not make the mistake of underestimating the standard of the exam.
Got a question for us regarding bench test preparation or bench exam? Do not hesitate to comment them down below.