Dental Admission Test (DAT)

The Dental Admissions Test (DAT) is designed to measure general academic ability, comprehension of scientific information and perceptual ability. While all US dental schools require candidates to participate in the Dental Admission Testing Program, test results are only one factor considered in evaluating a potential candidate.

The DAT is administered by Thomson Prometric and can be taken by appointment at any of their testing centers throughout the United States. The test is computer based and has a multiple choice format.

The cost of taking the test is $190 and candidates may only take the test three times, although special permission may be granted to take the test again. After taking the test, candidates must wait a minimum of 90 days before repeating it.

The DAT comprises four sections:

  1. Natural Sciences (90 minutes)

  2. Spatial Ability (60 minutes)

  3. Reading Comprehension(60 minutes)

  4. Numerical Reasoning (45 minutes)

Section 1 (Natural Sciences) is divided into questions about biology (40 questions), general chemistry (30 questions), and organic chemistry (30 questions).

Section 2 (Perceptual Ability) is divided into six different problems sets designed to test perceptual ability, specifically in the areas of three dimensional manipulation and spatial reasoning. For example: apertures, angle discrimination, cube counting, 3D form development, paper folding, and view recognition.

Section 3 (Reading Comprehension) is divided into three academic essays, each of which is followed by questions about the passage's content. The passages are typical of materials encountered in the first year of dental school and require no prior knowledge of the topic other than a basic undergraduate preparation in science.

Section 4 (Numerical Reasoning) tests basic mathematics skills, with emphasis placed on algebra, critical thinking, fractions, roots, and trigonometric identities. For example: Algebra - equations and expressions, inequalities, exponential notation, absolute value, ratios and proportions, and graphical analysis; Numerical calculations - fractions and decimals, percentages, approximations and scientific notation; Conversions - temperature, time, weight, and distance; Probability and Statistics; Geometry; Trigonometry, and Applied Mathematics.

Following completion of the test, eight standard scores on a scale of 1-30 are calculated and passed on to the test taker. The first six scores come directly from the test: perceptual ability, reading comprehension, quantitative reasoning, biology, general chemistry and organic chemistry.
The remaining two scores reported are summaries of the previous six.

The Academic Average is the average of five scores rounded to the nearest whole number: quantitative reasoning, reading comprehension, biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry.
The Total Science score is a standard score based on all 100 questions in the biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry tests.

Dental schools usually summarize their applicant's scores by listing the academic, science, and perceptual ability scores. The average score on the DAT is about an 18. Over 8,000 candidates a year take the DAT. It is generally believed that a score of 20-22 will lead to admission although to a dental school.

You may also be interested in reading background information on psychometric tests and aptitude tests.