DAT 2017: Perceptual Ability Test (PAT) Section!

Part 3 of a series of breakdown posts that will outline the 2017 Dental Admission Test. 

Be sure to check out the other breakdown posts on each section of the DAT 2017 too!


Today let’s dive into the… 

Perceptual Ability Test a.k.a. the PAT section!

The Perceptual Ability Test exams your spatial ability and reasoning (two important things for a dental career I’d imagine) with six different kinds of visual mind games. Love or hate it, the PAT section is the second section you’ll hit on DAT 2017 day!

This section immediately follows the big Survey of Natural Sciences section and is before the scheduled break so your brain might be feeling a little drained.


You have 60 minutes to answer 90 questions!

There will be 15 questions on each of the 6 kinds of PAT questions.


Here are basic breakdowns of the instructions plus examples of the 6 types of Perceptual Ability Test questions below:


Apertures aka Keyholes, 15 questions

You are given a 3D object along with 5 openings and you have to determine which aperture the shape could pass through (in any orientation). Example:

DAT keyhole sample

Answer: A. These types of questions remind me of that Japanese game show that’s like human tetris: hilarious example. Maybe that helps you visualize these types of questions better, maybe it doesn’t but either way fun to watch. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


View Recognition aka Top Front End, 15 questions

Here you will be presented with 2 of 3 views of an object: Top, Front, and/or End and your job is to pick the third view not given. Example:

DAT front top end sample

Answer: C. Similar to the Keyhole problems the main thing is to be able to visualize the 3D object. Here’s you’ll need to do it with only two sides.


Angle Discrimination aka Angle Ranking, 15 questions

You are given 4 angles to rank in order from smallest to largest. Example:

DAT angle rank sample

Answer: B. Seems pretty straight forward and this example isn’t too hard to see it but these questions can get tricky. There are quite a few different strategies out there to consider but it’s with practice that you’ll find a way that works best for you.


Paper Folding aka Hole Punching, 15 questions

A square piece of paper is folded one, two, or three times then one or more holes are punched through it. You then have to visual what the paper looks like now with the holes unfolded.

DAT hole punching sample

Answer: D. One suggestion I found online was to actually practice with a real piece of paper and hole puncher. This practice can make it easier to visualize it in your head once you really see it with real paper.


Cube Counting, 15 questions

You have various stacks of cubes stuck together then you have to imagine that the resulting shape is painted on all sides except for the bottom. You will be asked to determine how many cubes have how many of their sides painted. If that sounds a little confusing, that’s because it is. Example:

DAT cube counting sample

Answer: C. It’s a little hard to explain but you’ll really get the hang of this subtest with practice (I know that’s the whole theme here but it’s because it’s really true)!


3D Form Development aka Pattern Folding, 15 questions

You are given a flat pattern and you must pick the 3D object the flat pattern will make when folded.

DAT pattern folding sample

Answer: C. Pro Tip for practicing: Side counting and visualizing.


It’s pretty clear the best way to ace this section is with PRACTICE and lots of it.

The great thing about DAT Cracker is that once you take the (free) diagnostic test and pin point which areas you need the most work in, you can hone in on the kind of PAT questions you want to work on. So if you’re bomb at Keyholes but Cube Counting is tough, you can focus on practicing just Cube Counting.

With practice you can really ace this section.

Remember like with every section, do your favorite/the easiest questions first. You are more likely to get the ones you’re more comfortable with right and it’s the number of correct responses the counts!


Happy Practicing.

Applying to Dental School: AADSAS 2018 Is Now Open!

As of June 1st the 2017 – 2018 cycle of the AADSAS is officially open!

The time has arrived. So you’ve been working to keep up that GPA, right? Got gleaming DAT scores? How about all that extra stuff like volunteer work, research projects, and extracurriculars? Well now it’s time to lay it all on the line! The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) has officially opened the Associated American Dental Schools Application Service aka the AADSAS for the 2018 cycle!

Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 8.55.40 AM

*Now just because the application is open until February doesn’t mean this gets to go on the back burner. It is highly suggested by literally everyone (schools, advisors, DAT Cracker, and me) that you get your completed application in the summer time!


Check out the full & official ADEA AADSAS Application Instructions here.

For now we’ll focus on the highlights…

Getting Started…

Firstly you’ll need to create an ADEA AADSAS account, here, and receive an identification number for the application process. This account/number is different from you DENTPIN you created for taking the Dental Admission Test (DAT). But have your DENTPIN handy too because you’ll need it submit your DAT scores along to dental schools through the AADSAS.

The application is dense and filling it out all the required information is a task not to be taken lightly. Take your time to insure all the detailed information is correct. Some of the sections you’ll see include Personal Information, Academic History,Relevant Experiences, and your Personal Statement to name a few.

Check out this video from ADEA on filling out the big Academic History section:

In addition to the filling out all the sections of the AADSAS you will also submit official transcripts and your letters of evaluation in order to completely complete your AADSAS 2018 application.


$ Cost $

The total application cost truly lies in the number of dental programs you are planning on applying to. Upon completely the AADSAS the fee is $245 and it includes submission to one school then it’s an additional $98 for each additional school. The application process as a whole can quickly become expensive with the cost of taking the DAT, completely the AADSAS, then individual schools secondary application fees, traveling to interviews, etc. so you really want to do your research and narrow down the programs you really want to apply to!

The Fee Assistance Program (FAP) is available to assist students who demonstrate extreme financial need while completing the AADSAS 2018 process. The FAP covers the initial AADSAS 2018 submission cost as well two additional dental school designations. Availability of these funds is limited and submission of additional paperwork is required so if you’re interested I’d suggest to get on this post haste! All the info: Fee Assistance Program.



If you are a Texas resident applying to a Texas school then you need the Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Service aka the TMDSAS, which already opened up May 1st! Applicants from Texas MUST use this application while non-Texas residents can apply with either the TMDSAS or the AADSAS! FYI the $150 app fee covers you to apply to all three dental schools! This application deadline is a whole lot sooner than the AADSAS 2018; the TMDSAS closes on 5:00 pm (central time) on September 29th!


Check out the Blog!

Be sure to take a gander at the other DAT Cracker blog posts covering the big application such as Letters of RecommendationThe Interview, and stay tuned for much more!


DAT 2017: Introduction Guide to the Dental Admission Test!

This is Part 1 of a series of breakdown posts that will outline the DAT 2017!

We’ve actually done a series like this before but the test has gone through some changes and here at DAT Cracker we like to keep you updated to make sure test day is the best day! First of all we’ll focus on the specifics of the DAT 2017 itself and then in upcoming posts we will discuss each of the sections in detail individually.

The Dental Admission Test is developed by the American Dental Association (ADA) to assess your readiness for dental school and is the official admission exam used by all U.S. dental schools in the application process as a factor in their decision.

The DAT 2017 is a monstrous marathon of an exam with a wide scope of testing topics and clocking in at 5 hours!



Before you can do anything, you need to get your DENTPIN. It’s your unique personal identifier for many things throughout the U.S. dental education system including the DAT, your ADEA AADSAS, the TMDSAS, etc. Get it here.


Applying to take the DAT

With your DENTPIN you can now apply to take the DAT here. Important: once you have been approved to take the exam you have a six month window to do it after which you’ll have to reapply. If you wish to retake the DAT you have to wait at least 90 days and if you feel the need to take it more than three times you have to gain special permission. Plus with each retake you’ll have to reapply to take it and pay the test fee again. Speaking of test fee…


$ Cost of taking the DAT $

Currently the test fee is $445 and that includes sending official score reports to all the schools you specify on your DAT application. If you want your official DAT scores sent to an additional school you didn’t list on the application it’s $36 each. The $445 fee is non-refundable and non-transferable so pick a date and stick to it! If you must reschedule, well more fees for you:

Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 8.22.48 AM


Scheduling a test date

Once your DAT application is approved you’ll receive email confirmation and only then can you schedule your test with Prometric. You can take the test year-round at Prometric Test Centers in your area. Prometric administers quite a few different computer-based tests like the DAT, GRE, MCAT, etc. and depending on the size of test centers, the day you wish to take the DAT can fill up so schedule ASAP.


What’s on the DAT?

As mentioned earlier, there are four sections to the Dental Admissions Test and we will discuss each in detail in upcoming breakdown posts. There are as followed:

1) Survey of Natural Sciences (100 Questions)

2) Perceptual Ability (90 Questions)

3) Reading Comprehension (50 Questions)

4) Quantitative Reasoning (40 Questions)


How long is the DAT?

Total test time is technically 4 hours and 15 minutes but there’s an optional 15-minute tutorial (to get you familiar with using the test interface), an optional 15-minute break, and an optional 15-minute survey after the test so could be 5 hours. Here’s the test schedule:

Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 8.26.27 AM

If you really need an additional break the timer on your test will not stop so don’t! With proper practice and a goodnight’s sleep you can handle no extra breaks no problem!


Can I use scratch paper?

The test center will provide two note boards and two fine tip markers to use during the test. Scratch paper, pencils, or markers that have not been provided by the testing center are prohibited. The note boards cannot be used as measuring devices and cannot be folded, bent, distorted, or mutilated in any way and you can’t touch the monitor during testing with the boards (i.e. during the Perceptual Ability section). All items must be returned to the test administrator before leaving the test center.


DAT Scores

Your scores are based on the number of correct responses, which means you’re not penalized for guessing so that means don’t leave any question blank! You will get an unofficial score as soon as you finish the test and official scores are available about 3 weeks later. DAT scores on made on a scale from 1-30 so there’s no passing or failing. The average score is 17 and some schools require a specific score so be sure to check with them and aim high!


What’s Next?

This breakdown to the DAT is really an outlined introduction the official ADA DAT 2017 Guide that you should definitely check out in full here. Remember the best way to prepare for this long and dense exam is with practice. With DAT Cracker you will get practice with the look and feel of the real thing plus you’ll get plenty of exercise with the timing of the sections.

While you’re here why not check out other pertinent DAT Cracker blog posts such as…

DAT Study Tips

DAT Test Day Tips


We will keep you updated and in the loop with any other future DAT 2017 changes. That’s all for now! Get out there and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

Applying to Dental School: AADSAS 2017 Is Now Open!

As of June 1st the 2016 – 2017 cycle of the AADSAS is officially open!

The time has arrived. You’ve been working hard keeping up that GPA, getting gleaming DAT scores, and all those extracurriculars, well now it’s time to put it all on the line! The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) has officially opened the Associated American Dental Schools Application Service aka the AADSAS for the 2017 cycle!


Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 1.23.09 AM


*Now just because the application is open until February doesn’t mean it goes on the back burner. It is highly suggested by everyone (schools, advisors, DAT Cracker, and me) that you get your completed application in the summer time aka ASAP!


Check out the full official ADEA AADSAS Application Instructions here.

For now we’ll focus on the highlights…



First thing’s first you need a DENTPIN, a unique identification number assigned to each applicant. You’ll use the same DENTPIN login info you used when signing up for the DAT. If you have applied using the AADSAS before you use the same DENTPIN login and good news is most of the application fields are saved and ready to use again. But not everything transfers so be sure review, add, and update as needed.

So if you need to register for a DENTPIN go here.


Application Sections

This application is dense and filling it out is a task not to be taken lightly. 

Take your time and get it right.

Here’s a glimpse at the big sections of the AADSAS you’ll soon be completing:

  1. Fee Assistance Program (if applicable)
  2. Applicant information
  3. Education
  4. Professional experience
  5. Personal statement
  6. Evaluators
  7. Release statements
  8. Dental school designations


$ Cost $

The total application cost truly lies in the number of dental programs you are planning on applying to. Upon completely the AADSAS the fee is $245 and includes submission to one school then it’s an additional $98 for each additional school. The application process as a whole can quickly become expensive with the cost of taking the DAT, completely the AADSAS, then individual schools secondary application fees, traveling to interviews, etc. so you really want to do your research and narrow down the programs you really want to apply to!



If you are applying to any of the three dental programs in Texas AND you are a state of Texas resident then you need the Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Service aka the TMDSAS, which already opened up May 2nd! Applicants from Texas MUST use this application while non-Texas residents can apply with either the TMDSAS or the AADSAS! FYI the $150 app fee covers you to apply to all three dental schools! Get on it because the TMDSAS closes September 30th!


Check out the Blog!

Be sure to take a gander at the other DAT Cracker blog posts covering the big application such as Letters of RecommendationThe Interview, and stay tuned for much more!



Career Spotlight: Pediatric Dentistry!

Hello all pre-dentals. We are bringing in a new segment here on the blog, called Career Spotlight, where we showcase and explore the nine dental specializations, different career settings, positions, and more in the wide world of dentistry.


After your four years of dental school and you are crowned the title of a DDS (doctor of dental surgery) or a DMD (doctor of dental medicine) you can choose to go above and beyond with additional post-graduate training to specialize!

With this specialized training you can hone your skills and knowledge specifically in the area of dentistry you desire.


For our first trick: Pediatric Dentistry!


I thought this would be a good place to start with specializations since it’s still a broad population of patients you will see: children. Even though pediatric dentistry refers to the treatment of the “pediatric population”, this actually covers a wide age range with widely varying needs, including all those between birth through the adolescent years. Check out the intro video from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry below.



  • After dental school graduation, a two-year pediatric dentistry residency program immerses dentists in the world often referred to as the pediatricians of dentistry. These programs feature a wide array of both clinical (i.e. in hospitals) and didactic (i.e. in classrooms) experiences working solely with children. A breakdown of the pediatric dentistry residency programs across the U.S. from the AAPD can be found here.


  • The early years of a child’s life is a critical time for dental development and monitoring. The American Dental Association recommends visiting a pediatric dentist after the first tooth emerges and strongly suggests that an infant’s 1st dental visit should really be no later than their 1st birthday!


  • Developing teeth on tiny patients is a big specialization and it may just be your thing. If you are interested in diving deeper and learning more, explore sites like the ADA’s mouthhealthy.org and mychildrensteeth.org.


fun fact: pediatric dentistry was formally referred to as pedodontics or paedodontics.


So there you have it; a small beginners look to the specialization of pediatrics!

Stay tuned for more of DAT Cracker’s exploration into the nooks and crannies of the dentistry field!

The Benefits of Joining a Pre-Dental Organization!

You may have seen a Pre-Dental table at a student organization fair and thought something along the lines of…

“Hey I know all about applying for dental school and I got a pretty good handle on the DAT so I don’t need those meetings and membership fees”

…but let’s take a closer look, shall we?




Gaining Relevant Experience

Simply putting down on your resume that you were a part of a pre-dental society isn’t much help but there are plenty of ways to get involved in events and programs put on by the organization. Pre-dental clubs offer a wide range of opportunities to be proactive in bettering yourself through things like for instance mentoring programs or gaining experience volunteering in the dental health world.


Leadership Opportunities

Within the ranks of the organization you can lead peers and drive the club to success.

Taking on a leadership role can be challenging but you gain the very valuable skills for a future in dentistry in communication, negotiating, and problem solving just name a few. Besides leadership positions always look great on a resume.


Access to Resources

These organizations have resources you may not even be aware exist and in order to take advantage of them you have to be in the know! One of the perks of a pre-dental organization is that school representatives from the different dental programs will schedule more visits should they anticipate an audience of pre-dental students. That means many clubs will host these representatives to come and talk to the group and answer any specific questions or even host a whole panel of representatives to speak!


Figure Out Exactly What You’re Doing

Orthodontists, pedodontists, and periodontists OH MY!
So what exactly is the difference and what exactly do you really want to do? Student orgs may bring in a wide range of people in the dental profession to talk on what they do and offer advice and help you discover exactly what you’d like to do someday!


Misery Loves Company

You’ll meet other pre-dental hopefuls to share the woes of preparing for dental school. With everything from the AADSAS, the DAT, letters of recommendation, etc making connections with fellow students that know exactly what you’re going through can be both comforting and helpful! You can even share your wisdom about how great DAT Cracker is ☺


Your school may have a pre-dental society/club/organization of its own but there’s also the option of joining the American Student Dental Association! Learn more here.


In review, pre-dental clubs both spread awareness of the dental profession as well as help members stay on the track and offer things like career panels and mentoring programs!

So why would you want to join? The better question is why not?

Should You Retake the DAT?

Maybe you freaked out on test day or did not meet a school’s minimum score requirement. For whatever reason you may be considering retaking the DAT, deciding to retake really depends on you!


Here are things to consider when faced with decision to retest or not to retest…


The Rules.

First off, you need to know the official word on retesting from the ADA.

• Required to submit a new application and fee for each retest. Reminder that fee is $385.

• Must wait at least 90 days from their last attempt.

• You can take the DAT three times and after that you have to apply for permission to test again, and from that point forward may retest only once per twelve-month period.


Do you have time?

With deadlines looming and the required 90 days between tests, keep in mind the timeline of receiving your scores. If too close to application due dates, retesting my not even be a feasible option.

Also you need to think about if you can devote the time needed to prep for the DAT in order to pick up your score to where you want it.


Prep Check.

Now that you’ve taken the test once and want to improve here are two important questions to ask yourself and answer honestly:

How did you prepare the first time?
What will you do differently in preparing this time?

Pinpointing the issues and deciding how to move forward in studying for the next time is key. Is it just that you didn’t prepare enough or was it the way you studied? We would suggest that the essential factor in improving you score is PRACTICE. With DAT Cracker practice tests you will get better at testing taking in general while also studying the content tested.


Postponing Instead.

If you having serious concerns before the big test day and are already thinking about retesting, consider postponing your test instead. This is most definitely the cheaper option; check out the different DAT rescheduling fees below. It is quite possible that you may feel like you an extra week or two and rescheduling could be better than having to wait the 3months that the ADA require you wait between tests.

Rescheduling Fees



Basically the only acceptable answer to

‘Should I retake the DAT?’ is

it depends.

If you go with retesting, remember with DAT Cracker you build on your test taking skills, time management, accuracy, confidence, and improve you DAT scores!

Applying to Dental School: The Interview!

The admissions process is long, stressful, and at times it feels like a lot of waiting and uncertainty. During this trying time there’s one clear sign in the process before a rejection or a congratulations letter that your doing well… getting the call or email about setting up an interview!

Reaching this point in the admissions process is exciting and promising but don’t blow it now!

You’re not in yet!

You look good enough on paper to make it this far but are you really what dental schools want?…

prove it


So let’s talk about the interview and how to ace it!


Professional Basics

You know these things but they are important enough to drill into your head some more now…



Projecting “FOMO”

FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out and you basically need to instill in a admissions committee the fear of missing out on what an awesome prospect you are! The interview is a two-way conversation and you not only what to be prepared to answer their questions, you want to be engaging and have questions of your own. You are interviewing them as a potential school as much as they are interviewing you as a potential student and you gotta make them want you. This may be your top choice school… but hey, you’re a catch and half and got other options too so you want them to win YOU over too. Note that this kind of confidence isn’t cocky but reflects a genuine and avid interest in what the program has to offer. You are evaluating the school as much as they are evaluating you.


Be Honest

Besides your Personal Statement, the interview is the only place to speak of yourself in your own words. The school is trying to further get to know YOU and understand your motivations towards dentistry. Be prepared for pitfalls and flaws in your application, like a less than stellar GPA or DAT score, to come up in the interview. This is your chance to shine and reassure them of any doubts and reservations they may have about you as a candidate. Speaking openly and honestly in the interview is always to way to go.


Be “On” At All Times

Each dental program’s admission interview is unique. Some schools do one-on-one interview while others opt for a committee-style set up. Most include all day visits with tours of the school, meeting professors, etc. and it’s important to understand that the entire you’re there is essentially your interview. While you’re on campus act as if you’re always being watched and examined by the admissions committee because you basically are. Making a good impression all day can lead to another professor mentioning something to the committee for instance like, “hey that candidate seemed great and asked really interesting questions on the tour earlier”; keep in mind that this works vise versa too! So you gotta be on at all times!


With these things in mind you can have a winning interview and be one step closer the congratulations acceptance letter! Until then you can work on getting a winning DAT score to get you to the interview step with DAT Cracker. Let us know in the comments if you have any questions or advice to add on interviews!


Happy Practicing!

DAT Breakdown: Quantitative Reasoning!

This is Part 5 of a series breaking down the sections of the Dental Admissions Test.

In fact this is the final breakdown post in the series so go catch up on the rest!

For our grand finale…drumrollQuantitative Reasoning!

So let’s get to it! ALL ABOARD!!!

tooth ferry

It’s actually pretty fitting that this the final breakdown post since Quantitative Reasoning is the last section you’ll face come DAT day! There will be 40 questions and you have 45 minutes! In this section you will be given a basic four-function calculator like this:



In 2015 some slight changes came to the topics tested in the Quant Reasoning.

Here are the topics as of now from the 2015 DAT Guide:

– Algebra including equations and expressions, inequalities, exponential notation,         absolute value, ratios and proportions, and graphical analysis

– Numeric calculations including fractions and decimals, percentages, approximations, and scientific notation

– Conversions including temperature, time, weight, and distance

– Probability and Statistics

– Geometry

– Trigonometry


Just like the other sections, time is the enemy and although the concepts may seem simple they can get tricky.

Try these two sample questions out:

DAT Quant Samples

Answers: 37) A and 38) B. Remember in conquering the Dental Admission Test, practice is key and with DAT Cracker you can practice the right way with full-length practice tests that look and feel like the real thing!


Well that’s it for DAT section breakdown posts! Stay tuned for more on all things DAT, applying to dental school, and whatever other lame dental puns I can find!

Happy Practicing!

Applying to Dental School: Letters of Recommendation!

Applying to dental school is a long, trying process and while the ADEA AADSAS application for the Fall 2016 cycle doesn’t even open until June 1st, it’s time to start thinking about your application now! By the way, if you’re planning on applying to a dental school in Texas the TMDSAS open May 1st!

Summertime and these applications may seem like a ways away but…

RIGHT NOW is the time to be making the connections and developing relationships with future letters of recommendation writers!


You can’t just go around asking like this, “I’m great! Write about it!” *self-five*


Anyway here’s the lowdown letters of rec:


Who to Ask?

Professors are bombarded with students asking for letters so the key is to ask the people who know you best in order to get the best letters. This is the time to be making nice with future potential letter writers and develop the kind relationships that make for compelling letters.

Basically you are recruiting for your dental school application team, so choose them wisely!

Schools sometimes ask for specific letter writers (like one from a professor, one from an employer, etc.) so research your potential dental schools’ requirements and plan accordingly.


Ask In Person.

Everyone really harps on this, as they should! You can set up an initial meeting through email to discuss the possibly of them writing a letter for you but you shouldn’t ask outright over the internet; that’s an in person question! Plus what’s that saying, “it’s harder to say no to someone in person”, right?


Ask Early.

As mentioned before professors are getting flooded with requests and you want a good letter not a rushed one! The absolute least amount of time is three weeks to ask for a good letter.


Go Asking Prepared.

This last tip will really set you apart from what could be many letter of recommendation a professor has to write. Go to your letter writers with all the materials they may need when writing a beautiful letter about you. These things can include your resume, CV, and at least a draft or bullet points from your personal statement. You want to set them up and make it easy for them to write a great letter so they can get a feel for exactly what you’re going for your application.


With these things in mind go forth and prosper setting yourself up for the best letters of recommendation possible. P.S. If you’re stressing about the DAT fast approaching, practice and ace it with DAT Cracker of course and stay tuned for more of our DAT Breakdown series!