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Practical Tips for an RDA Examination

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The RDA exam is the Registered Dental Assistant exam that must be taken by those pursuing this career option before they can become licensed. As with any exam, taking the RDA exam can stress out test takers and cause feelings of anxiety. However, with a knowledge of the exam and some test-taking rules of thumb, you can enter the exam as prepared as you possibly can be.

Understand the Process

There is a lot that goes into becoming an RDA, and you should be well informed of the process before committing yourself to the RDA exam. First, there is a practical examination that is performed on a typodont, which is a model of the skull, jaw and teeth. Next, there is a written exam administered through the state that is taken on a computer. The state will also administer a law exam on the computer, as well as a handwritten ethics exam. Once you have completed courses in coronal polishing, radiation safety, the Dental Practice Act and an eight-hour class on infection control, all of which must be Board approved, and after you have earned a CPR card, you will be ready to submit your fingerprints for clearance from the Department of Justice and the FBI.

Know the Exam Components

By educating yourself on what you will be tested on, you will avoid any surprises on exam day. Also, you will decrease the amount of anxiety you are feeling on test day by knowing your enemy, so to speak. The first portion of the exam is 21 questions on patient screening and education, followed by a 35-question section on restorative and esthetic dentistry. After 35 questions on infection control and 14 questions on occupational safety and health, you will have 10 questions on preventative procedures and seven on medical emergency preparedness. Next, you will be asked seven questions on dental radiation safety, four questions on endodontic procedures and four more on periodontal and postextraction dressings. You will conclude with three questions on orthodontic procedures for a grand total of 140 questions.


Practice makes perfect, and this is certainly true for the RDA exam as well. RDA Exam Home Study Programs and RDA Preparation kits can be purchased online if you are interested in preparations you can do by yourself. There are also flash card sets that can be downloaded online and can be used for study sessions. However, if you are looking for further guidance, check for exam preparation courses that may be offered at local dental schools or colleges. Also, if you know anyone who is already a Registered Dental Assistant, you can ask him to study with you and quiz you. Working with someone who has already taken the exam can help you to gain additional perspectives on the exam.

Exam Day Tips

Make sure you get a full eight hours sleep the night before the exam. Don't attempt to stay up all night cramming. It will only inhibit your focus when taking the exam. That morning, eat a well-balanced breakfast with protein and healthy carbohydrates to help you be alert during the exam. Although you should know the breakdown of the exam questions, take a look at the exam once you get it so you will know how to break down your allotted time. Answer the easier questions first, skipping any that you don't know rather than getting yourself stuck on a particular section. Come back to any skipped questions at the end and work through them.