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:

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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:

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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!

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!

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?

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,

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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!


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!