The aim of this study was to compare the apical centring ability of incisal-shifted access (ISA) with that of traditional lingual access (TLA). Fifteen three-dimensional printed resin models were prepared from the computed tomography data for a human maxillary central incisor and divided into ISA (n = 7), TLA (n = 7) and control (n = 1) groups. After access preparation, these models were shaped to the working length using K-files up to #40, followed by step-back procedures. An apical portion of the model was removed at 0.5 mm coronal to the working length. Microscopic images of each cutting surface were taken to measure the preparation area and the distance of transportation. TLA created a larger preparation area than ISA (P < 0.05). The distance of transportation (mean ± standard deviation) was 0.4 ± 0.1 mm for ISA and 0.7 ± 0.1 mm for TLA (P < 0.05). Access cavity preparation has a significant effect on apical centring ability. ISA is beneficial to maintaining apical configuration.