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DAT Test Breakdown


In order to be admitted to dental school, an individual must do well on the Dental Admission Test (DAT). This exam was developed by the American Dental Association to measure academic ability, understanding of scientific information, and perceptual ability. In order to sit for the exam, individuals must have completed at least one year of college, including courses in biology and organic chemistry.

The Dental Admission Test is composed of four distinct tests: a survey of the natural sciences (90 minutes); a perceptual ability test (60 minutes); a reading comprehension test (60 minutes); and a quantitative reasoning test (45 minutes). There is an optional fifteen-minute break between the perceptual ability and reading comprehension tests.

The survey of the natural sciences includes the following specific topics in biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry: cell and molecular biology; diversity of life, biological organization, and relationship of major taxa; vertebrate anatomy and physiology; developmental biology; genetics; evolution, ecology, and behavior; stochiometry; gases; liquids and solids; solutions; acids and bases; chemical equilibria; thermodynamics and thermochemistry; chemical kinetics; oxidation-reduction reactions; atomic and molecular structure; periodic properties; nuclear reactions; laboratory procedures; mechanisms of organic chemistry; chemical and physical properties of molecules and organic analysis; stereochemistry; nomenclature; individual reactions of the major functional groups and combinations of reactions to synthesize compounds; acid base chemistry; and aromatics and bonding. The perceptual ability section of the exam includes angle discrimination, form development cubes, orthographic projections, apertures, and paper folding. The reading comprehension section consists of passages on dental and other sciences, which the candidate will be required to evaluate. The quantitative reasoning section of the exam consists of math problems in the following areas: algebra; numerical calculations; conversions; probability and statistics; geometry; trigonometry; and applied mathematics problems.

The candidate will receive a copy of his or her score report at the testing center immediately after finishing the exam. The testing center will also mail copies of the score report to the pertinent dental schools. These scores are standardized onto a scale of 1 to 30. Exam score is based on the number of questions answered correctly, so candidates are encouraged to guess on questions they do not know. The Dental Admission Test is administered by Thomson Prometric; those interested in taking the exam should visit the Prometric website.

Here are the sections on the DAT:

SECTION Total amount of time allotted Number of questions Time to answer each question
Natural Sciences 90 min 100 .9 min
Perceptual Ability 60 min 90 .67 min
Reading Comprehension 60 min 50 1.2 min
Quantitative Reasoning 45 min 40 1.13 min

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Last Updated: 07/25/2014


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