Dental Admission Test (DAT)

The Dental Admission Test (DAT)

The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is a computer-based, standardized exam developed and administered by the American Dental Association (ADA). Complete information about the exam, including registration dates and deadlines, is available on the ADEA website. Register early for the best rates and choices of test location. For more information about DAT registration, preparation, and scores, please go to the ADA’s site.

It’s best to take the exam after you have adequately studied the requisite content and taken enough practice exams to feel comfortable with the timing and format of the exam. For more information about when to take the DAT and when it would be appropriate to retake the DAT, please refer to PDF Document: PDF Document: Guide Three.

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.

Where can I find study materials?

The Examinee Guide includes sample test items and test specifications. Tutorials, located on the ADA website, 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. Some helpful links include:

Test Prep Companies

Recognize that the material offered by the ADA, additional printed materials, along with a rigorous undergraduate education, may make enrollment in such courses unnecessary. That said, here are some commercial options:

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 (25PAT/25QR/25RC/28BIO/26GC/30OC/28TS/27AA) has prepared a comprehensive PDF Document: document of study tips.

DAT Resources

The best DAT test resources are found on the DAT webpage of the American Dental Association.