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Dental Aptitude Test

Most dental schools require that applicants take the Dental Aptitude Test (DAT). Students usually take the exam in the spring of the junior year prior to admission. The DAT is designed to measure general academic ability, perceptual ability and comprehension of scientific information. This approximately 4-hour, multiple-choice exam is administered by computer at Prometric Testing Centers and students can register for the DAT through the American Dental Association’s (ADA) website. Candidates for DAT should have completed prerequisite courses in biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry. The exam consists of four separate parts:

  • Natural Sciences (biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry)
  • Perceptual Ability (2, 3-D problem-solving)
  • Reading comprehension (dental and basic sciences)
  • Quantitative reasoning

Specifically, the DAT consists of 280 multiple-choice test questions. The Survey of the Natural Sciences section consists of Biology (40 questions), General Chemistry (30 questions), and Organic Chemistry (30 questions) for a total of 100 items. The Perceptual Ability Test is comprised of six subtests: apertures, orthographic projections, angle discriminations, paper folding items, cube-counting items, and spatial form development items. Each subtest has 15 questions for a total of 90 items. The Reading Comprehension Test consists of 50 test questions distributed across three reading passages. The Quantitative Reasoning Test consists of 40 test questions, 10 of which are word problems and 30 are computation problems.

Note that physics is not covered on the DAT. In the future, a section may be added to assess critical thinking skills.

The Test Specifications list the topic areas covered in each of the four tests and are located in the Examinee Guide at http://www.ada.org.

You will receive an unofficial score on the day of the test.  In 3-4 weeks, your official score will to go to dental schools.  Dental schools selected to receive your DAT scores at the time of application for the test are included in the DAT fee — regardless of the number of schools selected. Although they are free at the time of DAT application, you will pay for each score report thereafter.

Average DAT scores for dental school enrollees ranges from 19-20 in both academic and perceptual ability. Very selective dental schools can have means of 21-22.

You must wait 90 days between testing attempts. Examinees who have attended three or more tests must apply for special permission to take the test again. In order to take the DAT again, you must demonstrate that you are applying to dental school. Please refer to the Examinee Guide for specific details on this additional eligibility requirement: http://www.ada.org.