The Dental Admission Test (DAT)
What is on the DAT?
The DAT consists of 280 multiple-choice test items presented in the English language. It covers four areas of study: 1) natural sciences (biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry); 2) reading comprehension (dental and basic sciences); 3) Quantitative reasoning (mathematical problems in algebra, numerical calculations, conversions, etc.); and 4) perceptual ability (two- and three-dimensional problem-solving).
Note: There is no physics or advanced biology 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.
How many questions are in each section of the test?
The Survey of the Natural Sciences consists of Biology (40 items), General Chemistry (30 items), and Organic Chemistry (30 items) 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 items for a total of 90 items
- The Reading Comprehension Test consists of 50 test items distributed across three reading passages.
- The Quantitative Reasoning Test consists of 40 test items, 10 of which are word problems and 30 are computation problems.
How long does the test take?
The DAT is a computer-based examination that requires four hours and 15 minutes for administration. It consists of four tests with a 15-minute optional break provided after the first two tests. The examinee is given 90 minutes to complete the Survey of the Natural Sciences, consisting of 100 test items distributed across Biology (40 items), General Chemistry (30 items), and Organic Chemistry (30 items). The Perceptual Ability Test consists of 90 items distributed across six subtests. The examinee has 60 minutes to complete this test before an optional 15-minute break. After the optional break, the Reading Comprehension Test is administered for 60 minutes across three reading passages with a total of 50 items. The final test is the Quantitative Reasoning Test, in which the examinee is given 45 minutes to complete 40 items.
How is the DAT scored?
DAT scores are based on the number of correct responses, and reported as standard scores, not raw scores. Each of the 4 sections discussed above is out of 30. The average score for each section is 17. Most dental schools have means of 19-20. Very selective dental schools can have means of 21-22
How are DAT Scores sent to schools?
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 (there are 50+ dental schools in the USA). So request away! Although they are free at the time of DAT application, you will pay for each score report thereafter.
How long do I have to wait to retest?
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 DAT Examinee Guide for specific details on this additional eligibility requirement.
Where can I find study materials?
The Examinee Guide includes sample test items and test specifications. Tutorials, located on the DAT test pages at are designed to familiarize examinees with the format of the questions on the computerized tests. Examinees are cautioned that obtaining or sharing confidential, unreleased test content violates Examination Regulations and carries significant penalties. Further, material obtained from sources such as Internet chat rooms, blogs or information-sharing sites may be inaccurate and/or out-dated and could mislead or disadvantage test-takers.
How should I prepare for the DAT?
Students can prepare for the DAT in a variety of ways, including taking a test preparatory course or by purchasing study materials individually. Students can be successful using either strategy, so you should weigh your personal needs when deciding on an approach. A JHU student and dental school applicant with exemplary DAT scores (23PAT/23QR/23RC/25BIO/30GC/24OC/26TS/25AA) has prepared a comprehensive Word Document: document of study tips.
The best DAT test resources are found on the DAT webpage of the American Dental Association.