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.

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!


Choosing The Dental School For You

It’s never too soon to begin your search into prospective dental programs to apply to and it goes without stating that the choosing of your dental school cannot be taken lightly! The decision process can be exciting and fun but also a little nerving and stressful. During the application process you’ll really want to do your research and be efficient in picking where to apply because applying to a lot programs can get costly.


So how do you choose?


Let’s take a look at some things to consider and questions to ask yourself when choosing the dental school for you…




Location Location Location

Would you prefer a rural setting or a bustling city? Think about your time in undergrad, did that work for you or do you need a change of pace? A school visit is the wisest choice before finalizing your decision on location to get a real feel and glimpse into your future stay there. The importance of living in a cool city may take a back seat when keeping in mind the cost of living expense differences in locations too.


Tuition Costs

When thinking about tuition cost there are several factors to consider such as private vs public school or in-state vs out of state tuition, cost of living depending on the location choice etc. The cost of tuition is always (and forever it seems) on the rise. Just as a quick example check out the projected cost of attendance from the University of Washington’s School of Dentistry here. This is just one program but it gives you primarily example of what to expect.


Program Specs

Be sure to take a look at program specifics like specializations and what kind of research opportunities are available to you. How important is class size to you? These all examples of things to look for when doing your homework on all the optometry schools you are considering!

The key to making your final decision will depend how you prioritize these topics of consideration.


So research and think it over carefully because these are very important next four years for you!

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?

Applying to Dental School: AADSAS 2016 Is Now Open!

The time has arrived. You’ve been working hard keeping up that GPA, getting gleaming DAT scores, well now it’s time to put it on paper er well okay or computer I guess…

The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) has officially opened the Associated American Dental Schools Application Service aka the AADSAS for the 2016!


Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 2.55.21 PM


The ADEA’s nice infographic above may look simple enough but don’t waste anytime the 2016 AADSAS is a huge undertaking! Let’s go over the big things to keep mind when beginning your AADSAS journey…



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 and if you haven’t even done that yet… WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Okay, so you don’t necessarily have to have taken the DAT by now but oy get on DAT Cracker and get it done! 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.


$ 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 $93 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 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 $140 app fee covers you to apply to all three dental schools! Get on it because the TMDSAS closes October 1st! But for now back to the AADSAS…


Check out the Blog!

Be sure to take a gander at the other blog posts covering the application such as Letters of RecommendationThe Interview, and less we forget about all those DAT Breakdown posts, huh? 🙂


Remember these are only the primary things to keep in mind when starting to tackling the AADSAS so to get the ADEA’s full application instructions go here. Go forth and conquer y’all!



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!