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!