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: Survey of Natural Sciences

This is Part 2 of a series of breakdown posts that will outline the DAT 2017!


On the menu today: The Survey of Natural Sciences, which is the longest section of the test, both in time and in number of questions!

Survey of Natural Sciences is the first section of the DAT,

there are 100 questions, and you have 90 minutes.

Within the section, there are 3 sciences tested: Biology (40 questions), General Chemistry aka Inorganic Chemistry (30 questions), and Organic Chemistry (30 questions). The content of these questions is limited to the things you learned in your entire first-year course in biology, general/inorganic chemistry course, and the organic chemistry class. Basically this means no upper level concepts beyond what you saw in those courses.

The ADA (maker of the DAT) gives a fairly detailed list of topics within the subsections so you can really hone in on certain areas when studying. Check out each subsection topic breakdown and a couple ADA-supplied sample questions below:

Biology, 40 questions

DAT biology topics

Sample Question:DAT biology sample


General/Inorganic Chemistry, 30 questions

DAT gen chem topics 1

DAT gen chem topics 2

Sample Question:DAT gen chem sample

Organic Chemistry, 30 questions

DAT org chem topics

Sample Question:DAT org chem sample


The Survey of Natural Sciences is first big hump in your DAT 2017 day adventure and it’s a doozy! The key is perfecting your time management to keep you calm so you can focus on the questions and not worry about running out of time. Practice and ace it with DAT Cracker, where you can take practice tests in each section with questions that look and feel like the real thing! Stay tuned for further breakdowns!


**P.S. Here are the sample question answers: 

5. E

51. C

81. C


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: Non-Traditional Paths

The road to dental school isn’t always so straight forward and according to the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) an increasing number of students are entering dental programs later in life perhaps after a career in a different field prior to deciding to pursue dentistry or just after taking a few years to work after undergraduate studies before applying.

A non-traditional path to applying to dental school may seem daunting but rest assured it’s NOT impossible!

Dr. Jonathan Meiers (second from left), professor and chair of the Division of Operative Dentistry, assists second-year dental student John Walsh. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health Center Photo)

Dr. Jonathan Meiers (second from left), professor and chair of the Division of Operative Dentistry, assists second-year dental student John Walsh. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health Center Photo)


Required Coursework

Keep in mind the classes all dental schools require you to complete (including corresponding labs)

-two semesters of biology

-two semesters of general chemistry

-two semesters of organic chemistry

-two semesters of physics

The ADEA shares that some schools will let you substitute one semester of organic chemistry for one semester of biochemistry, and many schools are now requiring biochemistry. Some schools have additional requirements, such as writing seminars, calculus or psychology courses.

It is imperative to research schools’ specific requirements to be certain of the correct course required.


Make Your Application Stand Out

-Letters of Recommendation

Your experiences leading up to dental school are unique and it’s important to highlight them in a way to best demonstrate your proven abilities that have prepared you for the dental world. Letters of recommendation from former employer even though not in the dental field can be beneficial if they illustrate qualities that reflect those of the program your are applying to. More on reference letters here.

-Personal Statement

This is your time to shine. Besides the interview this is the only place in your dental school application where you can sell yourself in your own words. Make it clear how and why you are committed to the dental field. Create a comprehensive story of your experiences and coming your decision to pursue dentistry. More on the personal statement here.


The American Student Dental Association (ASDA) held a webinar of a panel of current non-traditional students discussing different roads that led to dental school and it is available below.

A non-traditional path to dental school may be a daunting one but it can be achieved!


Changes Coming to the DAT!

*NOTE: ADA decided not implement these changes after all. From the website: “Please note that all DAT content changes indicated in Volumes 4 and 5 of the DAT Newsletters will no longer be implemented. This includes changes to the Biology, Quantitative Reasoning, and Critical Thinking sections.”


The American Dental Association aka the ADA announced changes coming to the DAT in 2016. The key words to the upcoming changes are Critical Thinking!

To be clear, these DAT changes will go into effect in 2016

so if you’re taking the test this year, no worries.


The ADA will be looking at assessing not only your knowledge of the section subjects like natural sciences and reading comp but soon your critical thinking skills as well. In their own words on the addition the ADA states,

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 10.53.31 PM


Instead of adding an entirely new additional content section, critical thinking skills will be assessed by embedding higher cognitive processing requirements within the Quantitative Reasoning Test (QRT) section!


Within the QRT section, Critical Thinking will be covered in the following areas…

Data Analysis, Interpretation, and Sufficiency (NEW)


Quantitative Comparison (NEW)


Probability and Statistics (more items)


As stated in our Quantitative Reasoning Section Breakdown post these are the current topics covered in the section…


Numeric calculations


Probability and Statistics




The ADA will give a further detailed outline in the 2016 DAT Guide so we’ll be sure to cover the QRT changes more in detail when it’s released.


The ADA also announced is a new test for advanced dental degrees called the Advanced Dental Admission Test (ADAT). This test will be for current dental students in their 3rd or 4th year or current dentists interested in postgrad training or degrees.

Since we’re more concerned with the Dental Admission Test right now we’ll worry about this test later.


That’s all for now DAT testers.

Remember to keep up the hard work with DAT Cracker because with these changes the DAT is only getting exceedingly more strenuous!

Happy Practicing!


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!

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!

DAT Breakdown: Reading Comprehension Section!

This is part 4 of a series breaking down the Dental Admission Test.

Definitely check out the rest of the series here on the blog to get the full lowdown on the DAT and get set up to dominate the exam!

On the agenda today: Reading Comprehension! But before we get into it how about a good dental pun to set the mood…

molar bear

Ha Ha MOLAR bear… Yeah OK, that’s enough! AVANTI!

This section will be right after your scheduled break so bright side is that you’ll have a little brain break before all the reading passages and quant reasoning.

The official DAT description reads, “The Reading Comprehension Test contains three reading passages on various scientific topics. Prior understanding of the science topics is not a prerequisite to answering the test items. The reading passages require the ability to read, comprehend, and thoroughly analyze basic scientific information.”

The passages are science-based written like articles and all the information needed will be in the passage. The topics of the passages can range anywhere from a natural science to economics so like the description states, the DAT is testing how well you can comprehend and analyze the dense scientific information provided.


The Reading Comp section will have 3 passages, 50 questions, & is 60 minutes long.


Some student say the reading comp section is the hardest to study for, since you can’t know what the passages will even be about, so how do you prepare? The answer is with practice! These are long and densely scientific passages and being able to read and breakdown them down efficiently is a skill you can hone! Possibly the most difficult part of the reading comp section is the limitation on time so practice with time restraints. With the time allotted of 60 minutes, you should be spending about 16 minutes on each passage. No worries though because DAT Cracker can give you plenty of practice!


Stayed tuned for the continuation of the DAT breakdown series plus all things pre-dental!

Happy Practicing!

DAT Study Tips!

Studying for the Dental Admission Test can be extra stress inducing, we get that.

So when you’re feeling especially frazzled, just picture a T-Rex trying to make a bed. After thinking about a bunch of other funny things that guy would have trouble doing and scouring the pre-dental forums and, here is a carefully selected best of the best compilation of DAT study tips to help with the stress!



Give Yourself 3 months of Preparation

This is a big test to say the very least with an immense mountain of material to get through. This isn’t a test you will be cramming for. Brightside is you’ve already been preparing with all the hard work you’ve sure to have done in your classes. So now is the time to prove it. Now all you have to do is prepare for an extremely long exam that tests on all your classes ever in a highly integrated and all encompassing manner. Yeah, not easy so give yourself like 3 months!


Set Aside Time Everyday To Study

The tried and true saying of “treat it like a class” is not to be taken lightly you need to be setting out time everyday to study. With your real life (school/work/etc.) it’s understandable if you can’t marathon big block time of like 8-10 hours of study time everyday but you should be doing something each day. You must make the most of your time and focus, sticking strictly to the 50/10 rule! That’s 50 minutes study time and 10 minute break time.


Take Several Online Practice Exams

Practice, practice, practice. The endurance and stamina needed just to get through test day is going to take some getting used to. Practice tests like with DAT Cracker are not only helpful with in content tested but also in getting used to computer testing and exposing you to the time needed for your brain to last through the whole exam. Just a reminder here’s what DAT day looks like:

Test Lineup


Make Your Own Study Guide

Through your college life thus far you know how you best work and study so why not create your own study guide. You do you. Stick to what works just do it on a grander DAT sized scale. Whether it’s outlining your notes or whatever specific thing you may do it’ll be better take the opportunity to personalize it for you versus sticking to someone rando off the internet’s guide/schedule. So sit down, layout a plan and stick to it. When creating a study schedule make sure to have a review day perhaps once a week or plan a practice test after working on a particular section (with DAT Cracker you can take practice section tests individually).


Try Studying in the Library

Gasp, that awful place? Yes. You want to make your study and practice environment to emulate the test centers. Try finding a place that will have just enough rustling of papers and typing of laptop keys from other students so it not to be too quiet, just like on DAT day! If this tip sounds familiar that’s because we’ve talked about it before in the blog’s DAT Study Motivation post a couple months back, check it out here.


Tutor Subjects Covered On The DAT

Once you’ve figured out the subjects you need extra help on tackle them! With the DAT Cracker diagnostic tests you can pin point specific areas in each section that you’re weakest in. Remember after the scheduled break you’ll have Reading Comp and Quant Reasoning back to back and if these sections aren’t your strong areas… PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!


Well there they are now go forth and conquer! Be sure to stay tuned for more tips and the continuation of our breakdown series of each section.

Got any other DAT study tips to add to the list? Share with the class in the comments!

P.S. If you don’t already, go ‘Like’ DAT Cracker on Facebook right here and now.