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How I Passed the ADEX OSCE in 4 Days (And You Can too!)

Happy New Year 2022 everyone! I crammed and conquered the last written exam of dental school, and with this short read, you can too. To give some context, the DSE OSCE is the didactic computerized portion of the five-element American Board of Dental Examiners (ADEX) dental licensure examination. The best part about this exam is you get your results (pass/fail) immediately at the Prometric center, just like your DAT.

Disclaimer: Students had the option to choose between the WREBS or ADEX licensing exam. The test they choose dictated which state they would be able to practice dentistry is based on coverage. Other factors involved in exam decisions were the cost of the test, the date of the test, and the grading system, and the cost. When I signed up for ADEX, I paid roughly $3,300 for the written and clinical portion of the exam, which is actually a few hundred dollars cheaper than the WREB (see cost breakdown below). However, in 2022 and onwards, the CDCA ADEX and WREB will be combined into one unified exam. For the remainder of the blog post, I will be reflecting on my experience in challenging the ADEX OSCE DSE.


I studied for four days and passed the exam! How did I do it?

I studied high yield concepts (check out the study resources section below) and ultimately trusted my decisions in oral diagnosis and treatment planning. Going to the clinic every day and doing a number of periodic and comprehensive exams as well as consulting with perio, endo, prosth specialists on a routine basis has given me a strong foundation in general dentistry practice. I also have taken NBDE PT 2 and passed the exam a few months back, which has extremely similar content.

Exam format:

Section 1: 101 questions

15-minute break

Section 2: 69 questions

Time frame: 4.5 hours (it took me about 2.5 hours to complete the exam)

"Candidates will be asked to demonstrate patient evaluation skills pertaining to Anatomy, Pathology, Radiology, Therapeutics, and understanding of Systemic Conditions. Treatment scenarios pertaining to each of the fields of dentistry as seen in general practice will be presented."

* Overall, the test very closely mirrors the last two years of most dental schools' experience in a clinical setting. It is very similar to NBDE Pt 2/ INDBE content. I believe I was able to cram for this exam in 96 hours because the questions are very similar to the decisions you make in the clinic every day (ie. forming treatment plan, when to prescribe antibiotics, anesthetic maximum dose calclulation, medical conditions ie. infective endocarditis, pharmacology, etc).


I will say that the content of the questions was very straightforward. However, where I had to truly focus and double-check my work was on the weirdly formatted questions. Honestly, I wish I knew this prior to the exam because the formatting threw me off for sure. Throughout the 170 questions, you will have questions in:

  • multiple-choice formats (A-J) and prompted to select 4/10 options that apply to the case

  • short fill in the blank/free response

  • Radiographic images and asked to "click" on an answer on the x-ray ie. "Click the tooth with the worst prognosis on a bitewing"

  • bucket questions: two categories of "present" and "Not present" and organizing 5-7 qualities of the patient presented to the buckets *be careful of double negatives



  1. Obama DSE Quizlet: very high yield document for repeated questions.

  2. A review of "The Little Dental Drug Booklet": Very comprehensive pharmacology review. This handbook was given to us when UCSF dental students enter the clinic in the third year. It has great summarized information on when to prescribe antibiotic prophylaxis and when to prescribe antibiotics or pain medication under specific dosages.

As we come to the home stretch of the year, I hope this blog is a valuable resource to my fellow colleagues challenging the DSE OSCE this year or in the future coming years. In my opinion, it is easier than NBDE part 1 or 2! I recommend studying high yield concepts and getting a good night's rest.


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