Dental Admission Test (DAT)
The Dental Admission Test (DAT), sponsored by the American Dental Association (ADA), is a required part of each candidate’s credentials. The majority of dental schools require you to submit DAT scores as part of your supporting materials. The DAT may be taken once you have completed all of the pre-DAT recommended pre-requisite courses and when you feel you are ready. Normally, this falls around the end of a student’s fall semester or late spring of their junior year. Before you register for the DAT you must apply for a Dental Personal Identification Number (DENTPIN).
You should plan on taking the exam only once. Retakes are possible if a desired score is not achieved on the first attempt, but they are limited. If you wish to allow for a chance to re-exam and still meet the September 30th Dental College of Georgia (DCG) and other schools' deadlines for DAT testing, you must factor in the required 90-day waiting period (allow approximately 100 days) required by Prometric. It may take 3-4 weeks from the date the test is taken for scores to be reported and verified by the American Dental Association, and then transmitted to AADSAS. You will receive your unofficial scores through Prometric the day of the test, which will enable you to decide if a re-take is desirable.
Keep in mind that an individual school will have an expiration date on the DAT scores they will accept. The DAT is valid for two years; however, some schools may accept scores past the two-year mark. Check with each individual school for the length of time they will accept DAT test scores. The Dental College of Georgia accepts a DAT score for up to two years. Please note there is a limit of three attempts on the DAT.
What is on the DAT?
The DAT is offered multiple times per year at a cost of $460. It is computer based and around 5 hours in length. The test is multiple choice and includes the following six areas: Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Reading Comprehension, Perceptual Ability and Quantitative Reasoning. Reading the DAT Guide is an important part of being ready to take the DAT, especially the "Test Content" or "Scope of the Test." A new guide is due out around the end of December of each year.
What courses do I need before taking the DAT?
To be adequately prepared for the DAT, you should have completed the following courses:
- BIOL 1107/L and BIOL 1108/L
- CHEM 1211/L and CHEM 1212/L
- CHEM 2211/L and CHEM 2212/L
- **Physiology is one of the most helpful courses pre-DAT (VPHY 3100, PMCY 3000, CBIO 3710 or both (CBIO 2200/L & CBIO 2210/L).
If possible, you may want to have BCMB 3100 and Statistics as well (but not required). Taking 3D Design (ARST 1080) can be helpful for the Perceptual Ability section of the DAT.
When and where is the DAT offered?
The DAT is administered through Prometric Test Centers and testing appointments are available year-round. Before you can apply to take the DAT you must secure a Dental Personal Identification Number (DENTPIN). Once a DENTPIN is secured, you can then submit your DAT application. To request testing accomodations, download and complete the DAT Accomodations Request Form. A new application must be submitted each time the DAT is taken. At this time and for the same price, you may name as many dental schools as you wish to receive yourt scores. You should consider having a couple of aspirational schools as well as schools where you would go and where your numbers are at or above the schools’ averages from the previous year. Adding schools later may cause a delay as well as additional fees. You should not worry about listing schools that you might not choose to select for the AADSAS application.
After the application is processed, an email will be sent with instructions on how to schedule the test. It is recommended to wait 24 hours after receiving this email before attempting to schedule an appointment.
Fortunately, UGA students have several locations in which to take the DAT. The University Testing Center offers the exam in Athens, however, there are several testing sites across the state, including Atlanta, Columbus, Macon, and Augusta. Students can register for the DAT here.
How is the DAT scored?
The American Dental Association (ADA) reports DAT scores, as eight standard scores. The first six scores are from the individual tests themselves, which include biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, perceptual ability (PAT), reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning. Each sub-section of the DAT is scored on a 30-point scale, with a mid-point of 18 (50th percentile). The Total Science Score (TS) combines your raw science score, with Reading Comprehension and Math to make up the Academic Average (AA). Scores are placed into percentile rankings based on the performance of all test-takers in a given month of administration.
How long is the DAT?
The entire exam takes ~5 hours to complete. Each section is divided into specific blocks of time with a 30-minute optional mid-exam break. Please review the breakdown of the test below:
Can I receive financial assistance to pay for the DAT?
Yes! The Partial Fee Waiver assists those who, without financial assistance, would be unable to take the DAT. According to the ADA DAT Guide, this waiver covers 50% of the DAT fee, which includes the fee for the test and any official score reports you request. The waivers are granted on a first come, first served basis, beginning on January 1, and are generally exhausted within two or three months.
The Fee Assistance Program cannot be applied retroactively, so it is important you apply for assistance before paying for the DAT. The waiver also does not apply to any fees associated with rescheduling or score reporting after the time your initial application.
How many times can I take the DAT?
You should always plan to take the DAT only once. Retakes are available, but you must think very carefully about signing up for one. Remember, you must do better on your second attempt. Consider what message you are sending to an admissions committee if you retake the exam only to achieve roughly same score or even something lower. Since it is no longer an isolated incident, it raises questions about your knowledge and skill in the areas being tested and also about your judgement. In addition to this, many dental schools do not accept scores after three attempts.
If you are considering retaking the DAT, begin by examining your scores on practice exams.
- If your DAT score is consistent with your practice exam scores, you are not likely to do better on a retake immediately. This does not mean that you cannot do better on the DAT ever. However, you will need to take a stepback and assess what you can improve so that you can be better prepared for a future attempt — e.g. allot more time to studying for the exam, change study methods if your current one proved to be ineffective, consult a DAT tutor, etc. Do not rush into a retake!
- If your DAT score is significantly lower than what you have consistently scored on practice exams, then a retake might be advisable. Take the time to assess how quickly you can be ready to jump into taking the exam again.
How should I study for the DAT?
You may elect to self-study or take a guided DAT-prep course (or both!) to prepare for the DAT. What you decide is completely dependent on your own financial situation and beliefs in your study skills. It is not mandatory to take a prep-course; in fact, many UGA students do quite well on the DAT through self-study alone. The key is to devise a plan, stick to it, and take multiple (at least 5-6) full-length practice exams.
Many students find it helpful to take 12-13 credit hours during the semester they are studying for the DAT. Regardless of whether you do this or not, you must be cognizant of the fact that preparing for the DAT will take a significant amount of time. Make sure that you have built adequate time into your schedule for studying.
Prometric also offers an online tutorial of how the DAT works and a checklist for test takers to utilize before the day of the test. The computer-based practice test is timed and reflects the actual DAT testing time of 5 hours. Upon conclusion of the test students will receive an unofficial report indicating the number of correct questions. Students can also take a Test Drive with Prometric that simulates the day of the test to alleviate any anxiety before the official test date.
The best preparation for the DAT is to have completed college coursework in the topics/content of the test, but this is not enough. Additional study and review is necessary to achieve a competitive score. Study should be followed by practice testing in the same format (computer-based) and circumstance (timing) of the actual test. Upon completion of a practice test you must determine what you still need to study. Many commercially available materials have computer based testing, comprehensive score solutions, and diagnostic score reports that will help direct your efforts.
A competitive score at any given school is usually at or above the average score for the immediately preceding entering class. You may view these scores in the ADEA Guide to Dental Schools chapter 3, Deciding Where to Apply. Schools may also have minimally acceptable sub-scores. The admissions office will tell you if they recommend a repeat of the DAT based on any sub-score.
The ADA and ADEA offer various products, resources and tools to assist you with the DAT exam and there are a wealth of other private options, including Kaplan, DAT Bootcamp, Chads Videos, etc.
The Pre-Health Advising Office does not endorse or recommend any DAT prep course/company. Students should use due diligence in determining the best preparation for the DAT.