What is the GC exam?

The GC stands for General Chairside, a component of the DANB® certification process. As the name suggests, this exam specifically tests your knowledge on chairside assisting to the dentist during a dental examination or procedure. It is one of the most popular exams as many states require that the dental assistant is certified in chairside assisting.


GC exam as a component of other DANB® certifications

The GC exam and certification is a component of the:

  • Certified Dental Assistant™ (CDA®) certification.

This means you must pass the GC exam together with Radiation Health and Safety (RHS®) and Infection Control (ICE®) to obtain the CDA® title. (In a separate article we describe in detail how you can apply and pass the CDA® exam).

The GC exam alone will not grant you the CDA® title.

To take the GC exam you must be eligible under one of the many pathways mentioned on DANB’s website.


GC as its own certificate

You can take the GC exam separately. There are no eligibility requirements for taking the GC exam so you can register anytime.

Once you’ve passed the GC exam, a certificate of knowledge-based competency will be issued to you. This certificate will help you prove to your employers that you are qualified in general chairside. If at a later point, you would like to become a CDA® you will be able to use the GC certificate towards those titles.

(Note: Certificates of knowledge-based competency are not certifications.)


DANB’s GC exam components

The GC exam has 120 multiple-choice items split into six parts:

  • Collection and Recording of Clinical Data (10%) (Basic oral and dental anatomy, preliminary physical examination, charting, diagnostic aids and treatment documentation)
  • Chairside Dental Procedures (45%) (Dentistry techniques, armamentarium, intraoral procedures and patient management)
  • Chairside Dental and Laboratory Materials (13%) (Chairside dental materials and laboratory materials and procedures)
  • Patient Education and Oral Health Management (10%) (Oral health information, pre- and post-treatment instructions, plaque control techniques and nutrition)
  • Prevention and Management of Patient Emergencies (12%) (Medical conditions and emergencies and dental conditions and emergencies)
  • Office Operations (10%) (supply and inventory control, maintenance of equipment, patient reception, communication and accounting, legal aspects of dentistry)

DANB® provides an exam blueprint, which is annually reviewed by subject matter experts. The blueprint is developed through a rigorous content validation study (CVS). A CVS is conducted every five to seven years to ensure the blueprint is consistent with current clinical practices. DANB’s Board of Directors approves all updates to DANB® exam blueprints.

Access the DANB’s GC exam page by clicking here.


Registering and taking the GC exam

The steps to registering and taking the exam are as follows:


Step 1: Apply for an online account with the DANB®

If you don’t have an account yet, select Create an account.

Click here to access DANB’s website and create an account

Step 2: Register

  • Go to the Dental Assisting National Boards website, www.danb.org.
  • Find the section called Become Certified (at the top) and select the section called Exams and Certification (on the left).
  • Select GC Exam. You will be directed to this page that shows you how to apply for the DANB’s GC examination.


There are no requirements for this exam so once you are ready just click Apply now and you will be redirected to the login page.


Step 3: Pay the Fees

The GC exam fee is different depending on what type of candidate you are.

If you register just for the GC exam alone, then one of the following fees apply:

  • Traditional candidate – $250
  • Employed in Maryland – $250
  • Active military personnel – $245

However, if you register for the CDA® exam package (RHS® exam + ICE®  exam + GC exam) you can save money. You will pay $425 instead of $745.

Step 4: Book an exam date and center

  • Wait for your application to be processed. The DANB® will notify you with instructions to schedule an examination with the test-center.
  • Once you receive the confirmation email, click in the area called Already applied? View your upcoming exams in my account.

You will be redirected to PersonVue. Sign in and see the test you are eligible to take. Once you type in your zip code, you will find many options for you to take the dental assisting examinations.

Step 5: Take the exam(s)

  • You will receive an email confirmation from the PearsonVue prior to the examination. Make sure that your name is spelled correctly.
  • The facilitators at the test centers will walk you through the process of taking the GC examination.
  • Note that there are other test-takers at the centers.

Step 6: Wait for the exam results

  • You will be notified via email that you passed or failed the examination. The results may take 2-3 weeks to arrive.

Click here to access the DANB website and download the application


States recognizing the GC title

The DANB® has a fantastic guideline for each state’s requirements for the dental assistants. There is a drop-down menu for each state. Go to  Meet state requirements and you will be able to read the comprehensive guideline.


Preparing for DANB’s GC exam

Review DANB’s exam blueprint

Click here to download the exam blueprint on DANB®’s website. The exam blueprint is detailed and can serve you as a guideline to understand what you should study.

Dale Foundation and textbooks

There are many different textbooks to use when preparing for the dental assisting exams, the GC in this case. At the end of the exam blueprint, see a list of recommended textbooks. Warning: They are heavy textbooks!

Also, the DALE foundation has online courses.


SmarterDA Prep Course for DANB’s Exams

SmarterDA is one of the most popular online prep courses for DANB’s exams. The website has a specific prep course for DANB’s GC exam. The smart course features:

  • Study guides (with progress tracking)
  • Practice questions
  • Mock exam with a timer

That is why SmarterDA is considered the ALL-INCLUSIVE solution. Some call this program “addictive” because you get a checkmark when you complete each topic.



Click here to start your FREE trial


If you have any questions about DANB’s GC exam, email us at support@smarterDA.com. We wish you the best in everything you do!


Related article: How to register and pass the RHS® exam