It has certainly been a year of big changes and challenges both globally and in the realm of dentistry. We at WREB Success are happy to say the WREB Exams are still running and have been for some time over the course of 2020. However, there have been many changes to the exam structure. There are now different options for students taking the exam. The examiners have modified all of the testing locations to accommodate for social distancing and have taken all of the necessary COVID safety measures needed in order to operate.
The National Dental and Dental Hygiene Testing Agency, which administers the WREB exam throughout several states in the US was able to respond quickly to the COVID situation and WREB created a new official Facebook channel to share immediate, up to date news about the changes to the WREB exam procedure.
Students awaiting their certifications were eager to move on and begin work, and new students were looking to begin the process and take the WREB exam. COVID put a quick but temporary halt to the exams. But exam officials were quick to act and work with the local government entities to come up with a viable solution.
Policies & Procedures
WREB announced new policies and exam accommodations in the spring of 2020 in order to counter the countrywide lockdown situation and restrictions in each state. In the 2021 exam procedures, there are new options available to students for each section of the exam. The WREB exam still consists of three core sections and two optional sections. These are operative, endodontics, comprehensive treatment planning (CTP) and (optional) prosthodontic and periodontal sections.
The core knowledge and skills required for the exam are unchanged, however, there are new options for testing. These include the option to work on a manikin instead of a real patient during the operative portion of the exam. Likewise, the CTP exam section is now completely online and hosted through the online testing platform run by Prometric Testing Centers. The endodontics section of the exam is relatively unchanged and still requires work on simulated teeth. Despite much confusion and delay throughout 2020, the 2021 WREB exam schedule has been released and is now available for students to apply.
2020 COVID All-Simulation Dental Examination
Amidst the uncertainty in 2020 WREB officially released a new exam preparation video briefing students. It outlines the changes made in order for testing to proceed during the pandemic. You can watch this video on the WREB official website.
Essentially, Mark Christiansen, DDS MBA, the Assistant Director of Dental Examinations for the Western Regional Exam Board highlights the new simulation exam format, which was released to accommodate the COVID restrictions and mandates in place.
Within the new exam structure, there is the written CTP section and the clinical simulations for operative, endo and prostho sections. The new format omits the periodontal root planing exercise which has now been incorporated into the CTP section. Scaling and root planing is still required for licensing and this section will be re-added separately when it is available. It is not required in 2020 for licensing in California, Texas or other states using the WREB simulations.
Operative Testing Simulation
Prior to the pandemic, students performed the operative and perio segments of the exam on live patients. However, with COVID social distancing restrictions, the National Dental and Dental Hygiene Testing Agency released the revised protocols and approved examinations with mannequins. After several proposed examination solutions, it was decided that testing on manikins rather than real patients would be a suitable way to continue the examinations in a safe manner that would limit the spread of the virus.
The operative simulation as of 2020 remains a 3.5h test session. It is an in-person exam, socially distanced and following all COVID procedures. Students are required to perform 2 operative and one restorative procedure on a manikin, to simulate operating on a patient. The manikin is lifelike and you can turn its head and use a rubber dam just as you would on a regular patient. WREB provides the necessary maxillary arches for preparation and restoration, you will still need to supply a lower arch.
When you are finished you must submit your work to the floor examiner with all additional papers included. The grading criteria is exactly the same as it was in prior testing years. Full PPE including gowns, gloves, masks and goggles are required. Students in 2020 made WREB exam history as the first class to perform an entire exam with the manikins.
Endodontics Exam Section
The endodontics section has not changed for COVID because it is already a simulation. You will work on 3D digitally printed replicas of teeth. This portion of the exam is also still performed in-person. You must submit your work to the floor examiner while following all COVID social distance policies. It requires post-treatment radiographs to showcase the endodontic treatments performed.
Prosthodontics Exam Section
This section is optional but it is important that you check to determine whether or not it is needed for your licence in your state. This portion of the exam also works with simulation teeth so it remains unchanged in 2020. You will receive a maxillary arch, a worksheet and a forming device. You will have a setup check to ensure you are ready to go before the exam. The examiner will announce when to officially start the exam, you cannot operate until the start of the exam.
This section allows for a full 3.5 hours to prepare two abutments to place a fixed partial denture. You must bring your own tools and ensure you have the proper equipment before the start of the exam. All three of the operative, endodontic and prosthodontic portions of the exam will be in person. Students must follow all COVID safety protocols on-site and remain socially distanced.
New Critical Errors and Failure
In all sections of the WREB exam, a new critical error was added as a safety precaution during COVID. Any student who directly or indirectly violates any COVID protocols in place including site-specific transmission prevention instructions will receive an immediate failure.
Social distancing measures and protocols can differ across states, so follow the protocols of your testing facility. All students must wear full PPE throughout all in-person exam procedures. Physical separation is required in all in-person labs.
Virtual CTP Examination & Modifications
The CTP exam is hosted by the digital testing platform Prometric, which is available to students. You can find the complete, updated CTP guide on the WREB official website. This has shifted to be a computer-based exam where students will showcase their comprehensive treatment planning skills. Students must assess 3 patient cases, including one pediatric patient.
Students have three hours for this segment of the exam. The CTP exam must be scheduled separately from your in-person exams. Once you are enrolled in the WREB exam you will be updated about when to schedule the CTP portion. This online test will take place at a Prometric testing facility in your state.
WREB 2021 Testing
For 2021 WREB will offer both patient-based and simulation exam options. Each testing site will determine what is viable in that state, and choose to conduct the exam with either live patients or simulation options.
WREB will continue to stay updated with any changes as we move into a new year with pandemic precautions in place. Updates will be shared as they become available and it’s best to frequently visit the WREB official website for the most up-to-date news. Those who have additional questions about the new policies and procedures in place can visit the WREB FAQ page for official information and answers to commonly asked questions.
The WREB 2021 exam guide is out and if you are looking to take the exam in the new year, now is the time to book ahead.
Keep Up To Date
We know that with the changes happening, it can be difficult to stay up to date with the new protocols. The WREB official website is the best place to check for new information. It has an overview of all of the new COVID updates and exam changes. Reference the full sheet of exam options for 2020 and 2021. We suspect that once the pandemic is over, testing procedures will return to normal. If you have any additional questions about the WREB exam, send us a message or contact us. We would be happy to help with any questions you have. And we are committed to helping you pass your WREB exam.