The GDP Handbook contains detailed program information:

  • Program requirements
  • Modules
  • Examinations 
  • Application forms
To obtain a copy of the Handbook click here.

Orientation Course  info@racds.org
Education Officer –  Emily Guo

Read an article by our Fellow, Dr Omar Ikram, on his journey from Primary Exams into his career, and advice he has for young dentists.
Read more

Primary Examination

Completing the RACDS Primary Exam can help to set yourself apart in a crowded dentistry market.

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

Enrolments due Friday, 9 Oct 2020

Written Paper:
30 Nov – 2 Dec 2020, various locations
viva voce: 
8–10 Dec 2020, Sydney
12 Dec 2020, Hong Kong
14 Dec 2020, Malaysia

If you have any enquiries or need assistance for the enrolment, please contact info@racds.org

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 is held annually in November/December with the written component being held at a number of locations across Australasia including Adelaide, Auckland, Brisbane, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Singapore.

The viva voce is held in Sydney, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Note: a minimum number of candidates is required to confirm each test centre.

The Primary Examination consists of two parts:

  • Written paper of two hours duration for each subject
  • viva voce examination of 10 minutes duration for each subject

The six subjects for the Primary Examination are:

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

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.

How To Apply
You will need to first subscribe to the College. Find out all you need to know about General Dental Practice pathways in the GDP Handbook.


Fellowship - General Dental Practice (GDP)
Primary Examination
1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020 Fees (in AUD)
Primary Examination Overseas Resident Australian Resident
Subscription 661.82# 728.00*
Orientation Course
Enrolment - all subjects (for subscribed candidate, fellow/member)
3,220.00* 3,220.00*
Enrolment - all subjects (for non-subscribed candidate, non-fellow/non-member) 4,141.00* 4,141.00*
Enrolment - per subject (for subscribed candidate, fellow/member) 535.00* 535.00*
Enrolment - per subject (for non-subscribed candidate, non-fellow/non-member) 695.00* 695.00*
Primary examination (viva voce in Australia)
Enrolment - all subjects
2,550.00# 2,550.00#
Enrolment - per subject 590.00# 590.00#
Primary examination (viva voce outside of Australia)
Enrolment - all subjects
5,750.00# 5,750.00#
Enrolment - one subject 1,147.00# 1,147.00#
Enrolment - per additional subject 538.00# 538.00#
Application for exemption from sitting the primary examination 1,179.00# 1,179.00#
Appeal fee  6,000.00*  6,000.00* 
  1. Subscription is valid for a period of six (6) years and is not refundable.
  2. The orientation course is held in Australia. A USB flash drive of lecture notes is provided on enrolment and covers the following subjects: anatomy, histology, physiology, cell biology and chemistry, pathology and microbiology. Daily meals (i.e. morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea) are included in the fee.
  3. Fees marked with asterisk (*) denote GST inclusive. Fees marked with pound/hash (#) denote GST free.
  4. 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

1. What are the requirements for the Primary Examination in General Dental Practice?
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.

2. Why should I complete the Primary Examination?
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

3. Are there study groups or support services?
Yes – RACDS provides Candidate Advisors in each region that can assist candidates with study groups, tutorials and general direction.

4. What is the structure of the exam?
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.

Exam Component Duration           Specifics Examiners
Week 1: 6 Written Papers 3 Days Morning: 1 x 2-hour paper
Afternoon: 1 x 2-hour paper
2 Examiners per subject
Week 2: viva voces 3 Days 2 x 10min sessions per day* 1 Examiner
1 Observer
*Except Hong Kong  1 day: 3 x 30min sessions


5. How do I prepare for the Primary 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 over 2 weeks in July. This provides candidates with an opportunity to meet examiners and other candidates, and gain valuable information on treatment planning, written paper and viva voce skills. Up to 60 hours of CPD is awarded for this program. If you have missed Orientation Course, we have the course notes available for a small fee.

6. I have completed all of the written sections of the exam but am unable to complete the vivas. Will I be given credit for what I have completed?
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 the entire section of the exam i.e. you will fail the elective section of the exam.

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

7. Will I receive feedback if I don't pass the exam?
If you have failed 4 or less subjects, you may be given credit for the subjects you passed. This credit is valid for three years. 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.