FK stands for Functional or Foundation Knowledge Area.  On the old Part 1 and Part 2 NBDE exams, students were tested by subject.  This is not the case anymore!  Each test question is written to fit into one of the 10 FKs determined by the JCNDE (Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations.)

Foundation Knowledge Areas
1 Molecular, biochemical, cellular, and systems-level development, structure and function
2 Physics and chemistry to explain normal biology and pathobiology
3 Physics and chemistry to explain the characteristics and use of technologies and materials
4 Principles of genetic, congenital and developmental diseases and conditions and their clinical features to understand patient risk
5 Cellular and molecular bases of immune and non-immune host defense mechanism.
6 General and disease-specific pathology to assess patient risk
7 The biology of microorganisms in physiology and pathology
8 Pharmacology
9 Behavioral sciences, ethics, and jurisprudence
10 Research methodology and analysis, and informatics tools


The above table is a very simplified description of each of the 10 FKs.  For more information, check out the full INBDE guide here.  While this information can get a bit overwhelming, let’s simplify it.

What does this mean for me?

  1. Each question is written by FK, which may include 1-9 different subjects.  The whole idea of this new test is to integrate your knowledge.  After all, isn’t this what you will have to do when you have a patient in your chair one day?
  2. As you study, it’s important that you do practice questions that are written by FK.  While you certainly need to be solid in your Endodontics knowledge, you have to be able to answer a question that is multi-layered.  So practice that way!
  3. Many of the questions on the INBDE will be accompanied by a patient box.  This box will contain all of the patient demographics and information you will need in order to answer the question.  Clinically relevant, right?
  4. Each of the 10 FKs represent roughly 1/10 of your exam, FK2 being the lowest at 7%.  What this means is that we really need to spend equal time across the FKs as we do practice questions.


When it comes to FK questions, B&B has you covered.  That long and hairy outline linked above can be a bit overwhelming.  Don’t sweat it.  Take your time, work through the questions with the confidence that with B&B, you’ve covered everything.  We have done the work. Take a look at the B&B Study Plans to see how we cover all 10 FKs.


We know this outline inside and out and this is exactly how the review course has been built.  B&B loves being a part of the journey to achieving your dream of becoming a dentist!