The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is administered by the American Dental Association (ADA) and is taken by those who wish to attend dental school. There is no passing score for the DAT and the exam is just a single component of a prospective dental student's entire application package.
The DAT consists entirely of multiple choice items. There are four different batteries tested in the DAT: the survey of the natural sciences which covers biology and chemistry (90 minutes), the perceptional ability test (60 minutes), reading comprehension test (60 minutes), and the quantitative reasoning test (45 minutes). Those interested in attending dental school are advised to take the DAT well in advance of when they plan to enroll. The ADA suggests that test takers have taken at least a single year of college courses and also reports that most test takers have completed at least two years of college before taking the test, and should have already taken courses in biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry.
The DAT is administered at Prometric Test Centers throughout the United States. Registering for the exam can be done via the ADA website. All applicants must obtain what is called a DENTPIN, which is a unique personal identifier that will be used to register. An application can be submitted no more than six months before the desired test date. After the application is processed, the test taker will be sent an email with instructions on how to select the exact test date. Rescheduling is allowed, but a fee will be charged; the closer to the test date that a rescheduling takes place, the higher the rescheduling fee will be. Those who do not reschedule and simply do not attend their scheduled testing session will not be refunded any of the registration fees that were paid. Additionally, if this takes place, the registration process must begin all over again.
The fee to take the DAT is $385. Those with financial hardship are eligible to apply for a partial waiver fee and should contact the ADA for instructions on applying. This fee includes official score reports being sent to all dental schools indicated on the application (there is no maximum number of schools to which scores can be sent), as long as they were all selected prior to the examination. If scores must be sent to schools after the exam, the fee per additional report is $32.50. When scores are reported, the scores of the most recent four attempts are sent for those who took the DAT more than once. Test takers will also receive an unofficial score report at the testing center at the conclusion of the test and this will be the only score report that they receive.
During the exam, test takers are not allowed to bring personal items into the secure testing area. For the quantitative reasoning portion of the exam, a simple on-screen calculator will be provided. Once a test taker has taken any part of the exam, the test taker cannot void his or her score.
The DAT program offers both online and paper practice tests. Questions on these practice tests appeared on previous versions of the actual exam, which is not commonly disclosed among many types of standardized tests. The online practice test is timed at four hours and 30 minutes, which helps to simulate the actual DAT examination. If time expires before the practice test is completed, it must be purchased again in order to be scored, so those taking the practice test should keep a close eye on the time (which is good practice for taking the actual exam). Immediately following the practice test, the test taker will be told of the total number of correct answers they provided as well as scores for each of the content areas. Other organizations provide test preparation courses, however the ADA does not endorse any of the content in resources provided by others.
To help test takers prepare for the logistical aspects of the actual test day, the Prometric website also offers what they call a "Test Drive" which simulates the scheduling and registration process, check-in process, introduction to test center staff and surroundings, a 15-minute sample test, and preparation for the actual test.
The exam score is based on the number of correct responses. Test takers are not penalized for guessing, and therefore are encouraged to manage their time carefully to be able to give some consideration to every single question. The final score is a scale score with a range from 1 to 30. There is no passing score for the DAT, although the ADA reports that a scale score of 17 is an average score. There are some questions on the exam that are considered experimental and are not scored, though the test taker will not know which questions these are.
The DAT conducts a quality review of all exams taken in order to confirm the accuracy of the scores after they have already been scored. For 30 days following the exam, test takers are able to request an audit of their DAT results for a fee of $65.