Anyone hoping to attend dental school in the United States much first achieve a high score on the Dental Admission Test, or DAT. This is the official admission exam used by all dental schools in the US. According to the American Dental Association, which conducts the test, anyone interested in taking the exam should have completed at least one year of college with courses in organic chemistry, general chemistry, and biology. The typical applicant has completed at least two years of college before taking the exam. It can be taken year-round at Prometric testing centers, which are located all over the US and its territories.
There are four sections on the DAT, all of them multiple choice. They are: Natural Sciences, Perceptual Ability (commonly referred to as PAT), Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning. It takes five hours to complete the exam. (Applicants may take an optional 15 minute break during the test if they so choose.)
Natural Sciences contains 40 biology questions, 30 general chemistry questions, and 30 organic chemistry questions, for a total of 100, with a time limit of 90 minutes. On the PAT, there are 90 questions evenly divided between six different perception categories – keyhole, top/front/end visualization, angle ranking, hold punches, cube counting, and pattern folding. The PAT time limit is 60 minutes. In the Reading Comprehension section, applicants will have 60 minutes to answer 50 questions about three reading passages. In the Quantitative Reading section there are 40 questions covering basic math, fractions, roots, algebra, and trigonometry. Ten of these questions are in the form of word problems.
Scores on the DAT are scaled from 1-30, with 17 being average. However, there is no “passing” score per se, as each dental schools sets its own admission standards. While it’s true that schools try to “look at the whole person” and not just their GPA and test scores, the DAT score is still extremely important, probably outweighing any other factor on a person’s application. Those who are serious about becoming dentists should spend a lot of time and study prepping for the exam, as embarking on their hoped for career likely hinges upon the score they achieve.
DAT Study Guide
Start learning how to be successful on your DAT exam. Our DAT study guide is guaranteed to help you get the results you deserve on your DAT test. Some test takers prefer to study using flashcards and so we have created the best DAT flashcards that cover everything you need to know for the DAT exam. Note that using multiple study aids will help you maximize the benefit from your study time.