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!

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!

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.

DAT Breakdown: Perceptual Ability Test (PAT) Section!

This is Part 3 of a series of breakdown posts that will outline the Dental Admission Test. Be sure to check out the other breakdown posts on each section of the DAT 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 your DAT day journey.

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 will have 60minutes to answer 90questions (15 of 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 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 Breakdown: Survey of Natural Sciences Section!

This is Part 2 of a series of breakdown posts that will outline the Dental Admissions Test. The DAT is a marathon of an exam with 4 large sections and clocking in at nearly 5 hours so let’s take a closer look at each section, shall we?

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.


On your score report you will see scores for each subsection in addition to a total Survey of Natural Sciences section score. Remember: Your scores are based on the number of correct responses, which means you’re not penalized for guessing. That means don’t leave any question blank but make educated and smart guesses!


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 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!

DAT Test Day Tips!

Your Dental Admission Test day may be coming up soon (or maybe not depending on when you scheduled yours but it will come) and it’s a big day! After scouring the Pre-Dental forums and pulling from first-hand experience, here is a carefully selected best of the best compilation of DAT day tips!


Set Yourself Up The Night Before

Have all you’re the stuff you need ready to go. This could be a thing like laying out your clothes, breakfast, ID cards, etc. Do as much for yourself the night before just in case something happens and you’re running late or something. Just follow the Boy Scout’s motto: be prepared.


Light Layers

Every single testing room I’ve ever heard of was cold. Dress accordingly. Who knows you could end up in the rare hot room so close-toed shoes and light layers seem the best way to go. Also someone suggested using your long sleeve as a better eraser for the dry-erase board because the one they got had seen better days.


Sleep Routine

Everyone says get a good night’s sleep, that’s a given. But if your test time is early in the morning you should really get into habit for waking up at the same time as test day. Prepare by setting your alarm for test day and using it at least 4 days prior to the real day. This can ease some of your concerns you may have about not waking up that morning or missing your alarm(s). Speaking of which, you should probably set two alarms and make them different devices if you can just to be extra safe.



No Cramming!

It’s too stressful. The morning of is no time for last minute learning/cram session but rather light reviewing to wake your brain up. Review some equations you may have trouble remembering and doing a few problems just to get you in the mood. Some students suggested even taking the day before off from studying too and just lightly review to clear your head.


The Tricky Tutorial Trick

FYI there’s a tutorial trick out there on the interweb that’s a bit controversial. As you know Prometric testing centers will provide you a small dry-erase board and marker to be used as scratch paper during the test. Some students have reported being able to use the tutorial time before the start of test for jotting down notes and/or equations for later use so you don’t have to worry about remembering them. Apparently it depends on the specific place you test, some might be very lenient or very strict on what you can and can’t do during the tutorial. Don’t just risk it. ASK a test proctor before you sit down and be sure it’s allowed. Realize you run the risk of being reported and not allowed to test before you even get past the tutorial!


Use Your Break

This is marathon exam and even if you think you’re feeling pretty good after the PAT section take the rest time. Even if it’s just to walk out of the room to ‘shake it out’, you should break up the monotonous screen time your eyes are getting and the seating position your body is in. Popular snack choices for break time seem to be a banana or a candy bar. Plus a quick bite to eat could give your brain a great jolt for the next half of the exam!



While in front of the mirror washing up on the big day, give yourself a boost of brilliant self-confidence. A smile and an affirmation or two that it’s time for all your hard work to shine. For inspiration see below:


Don’t be so nervous and please don’t stress too much. Trust in your training and relax. You got this. Keep these things in mind and check out the official ADA DAT checklist for explicit items you need (proper identification, etc.) here. GOOD LUCK, may the force be with you and practice practice practice! Nailing time management will definitely help come test day so practice! Stayed tuned because next week we’ll be back to the breakdown series!