This is Part 1 of a series of breakdown posts that will outline the Dental Admission Test. First off we’ll focus on the specifics of the DAT itself and then in upcoming posts we will discuss each of the four sections 1) Survey of Natural Sciences, 2) Perceptual Ability, 3) Reading Comprehension, and 4) Quantitative Reasoning. The Dental Admission Test is designed by the American Dental Association (ADA) to assess your readiness for dental school and is used by all U.S. dental schools in the application process as a factor in their decision. It’s a monstrous marathon of an exam with a wide scope of topics tested and clocks in at around 5 hours! The DAT has been around since 1950 and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Basically: Unavoidable & not to be underestimated. So let’s take a closer look shall we?
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 $385 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 $33 each. The $385 fee is non-refundable and non-transferable so pick a date and stick to it! If you must reschedule, well more fees for you:
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:
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.
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!
This breakdown to the DAT is really an outlined introduction the official ADA DAT 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.
Onward, practice, and conquer!