The DAT is the Dental Admissions Test, a standardized exam testing your knowledge in the following subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Reading, and Math.
In addition, there is a Perceptual Ability Test (PAT) section. This portion of the exam tests your visual abilities to determine angles and shapes through logic and visual tests.
Where and when can I take the DAT?
The DAT is taken on the computer at testing centers throughout the country. Because it is a computerized test, the DAT can be taken almost any day of your choice. Check on the ADAs DAT site to find your nearest testing location and dates that have availability for you to take the test.
How is the DAT scored and what are the average DAT scores?
The DAT is scored on a scale of 1 30, but it is not a linear scoring system. Your score is based on the number of questions you answered correctly in comparison to others who answered those questions correctly in the past and then calculated through some unknown formula. It is possible that one person could answer only one question wrong and get a 25 for that section, while another person who also only got one question wrong on the same section but a different set of questions receives a 28 for that section. Also, a 20 on a section does not mean you answered one third of the questions incorrectly in fact you may have answered 90% of the questions correctly.
Each section is scored individually and then groups of sections are scored collectively. All three science sections are combined and given an overall science average that may be different than the average of your three sections. Your Academic Average (AA) will be the average of your three science sections and your math and reading sections. Your PAT is scored separately. Each score will also be given along with the percent of test takers who scored below your score for that particular score. For example, a 22 Academic Average may correspond to scoring better than 95% of DAT test takers, while a 17 AA may correspond to scoring better than 55% of test takers.
The average score is roughly 17.
What is the average DAT score of accepted applicants?
The average DAT score for accepted applicants varies by school. Keep in mind that your acceptance does not rely solely on your DAT score, but is a composite of your DAT, your GPA, the courses and college you went to, your extracurricular activities, your essay and your interview. Your DAT is a large factor in your consideration, but a school may accept a student who scored a 16, but has a 3.9 and has done a ton of volunteer work and worked in dental offices over a candidate with a 21 but only a 3.0 GPA.
Simply taking the prerequisite science courses does not mean you are ready for the DAT. You will want to review your sciences before taking the test, and you may want to study for a few months leading up to the DAT to get refreshed on all the information. Its also a good idea to take some practice tests to get a feel for what the DAT is like and especially to experience the PAT section.
I highly recommend either getting the Top Score DAT CD or DAT Achiever as they are the best simulation of the actual DAT exam -- however neither provides you with any review material. For the most comprehensive review, try The Gold Standard DAT review as it comes with multiple CD's packed with science review material and also includes the Top Score pro DAT software. If you are strong in the sciences and feel all you need is a quick refresher, I suggest the Kaplan DAT book. However, the kaplan material is a little weak in the biology section so I suggest buying Schaum's outline of biology and/or Cliff's AP Biology for additional review. Kaplan, and most other review materials, are also a bit weak in the PAT section practice so if you struggle with this section, I recommend the Crack DAT PAT software. If you need a little more help in review and are looking for something with a structured environment that thoroughly goes through each section of the test, I would suggest taking one of the Kaplan DAT courses. The class is somewhat expensive, but is definitely worth it if it helps you get into dental school. I took the class and felt it really helped me to prepare (I earned a 22 Academic Average and 22 PAT). There are also a number of other good study materials that will help you prepare including DAT Destroyer, DAT Achiever and Ace The DAT.
Click on the above image to go to Kaplan's website to see the DAT courses they offer and their locations. They also offer an online course.
What is the PAT section on the DAT?
PAT stands for Perceptual Ability Test. This section tests your visual and spatial acuity. There are 6 subsections of the PAT, each with 15 multiple choice questions for a total of 90 questions. The 6 subsections are angle discrimination, form development cubes, orthographic projections, apertures, and paper folding.
How do I prepare for the PAT section?
All the DAT guides include sections on how to prepare for the PAT, however some are better than others. Kaplan is okay to start with for the PAT, but the exam questions are much harder than those you will see with Kaplan. The Topscore software has a much more accurate representation of the PAT questions you will see on the exam. If you are having trouble studying for this particular section, the Barron's DAT guide does a great job on providing tips for the PAT (although the book is not very good for the other sections of the exam). Also, try Crack DAT PAT for a ton of PAT practice tests and practice questions. Crack DAT PAT is a bit expensive, but is well worth the investment as the huge amount of extra practice questions really helps to prepare for this section.
When should I take the DAT?
The best recommendation is to take the DAT when you feel you are ready. You do not need to have completed the DAT to submit your application, but schools will not review your application until DAT scores are received so it is advisable to take the DAT by the end of the summer or early in the fall. One reason to get this test done with sooner rather than later is that if you do not score as well as you would like on test, you can not take it again for 90 days. So, if you took the test at the beginning of June and did not do so well, you can retake the test in early September. I would recommend taking the DAT in the spring or early summer if you are able to get studying in before then. If you can't take the DAT until much later, do not worry - you may still get in, but the later into the cycle that you take the DAT, the less chance you have of acceptance.
Do I have to take the DAT before applying?
No, but your application will not be reviewed by schools until your DAT scores are received.
Do schools have minimum DAT scores?
It all depends on the school, but many schools will reject any applicant with any DAT section score below 15 or 16. You need to check with individual schools for their specific DAT requirements or cutoffs.