DAT Test: Everything You Need to Know

DAT Test- Everything You Need to Know
November 9, 2023 5 min read Liaison

Start your journey toward acing the DAT with confidence.

Key Takeaways

The Dental Admission Test (DAT) test serves as a vital criterion for dental school admission. Your ability to achieve a competitive score will require preparation that includes a deep dive into the nature of the exam, including understanding the format.

To schedule the DAT test, you must register through the American Dental Association (ADA) and set up a test date at a Prometric Test Center. Ideally, you should do that 60 to 90 days in advance, to best align with the rolling admissions process and DAT test dates.

A thorough DAT test prep strategy combines studying foundational subjects, practicing with simulated exams, and utilizing ADA resources to ensure familiarity with DAT test questions and all test sections.

The DAT test sections include the Survey of the Natural Sciences, Perceptual Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning, each of which is designed to assess critical skills required for the study and practice of dentistry.

The DAT test is scored on a range from 1 to 30. Achieving a score above the national average requires honing your time management skills, which is particularly crucial given the 4.5-hour length of the exam, inclusive of all DAT test sections.


Embarking on the path to dental school requires a significant first step: excelling in the Dental Admission Test (DAT). Understanding the nuances of the DAT test, from the meticulous breakdown of its sections to strategic prep advice, is paramount for building confidence and achieving a competitive score. This comprehensive guide serves as your go-to resource for mastering the DAT, offering detailed insights into the DAT test breakdown, sections, and effective preparation strategies.

The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is a prerequisite for admission to any dental school. While all test attempts will be recorded, applicants are allowed to retake the exam in an effort to improve their score. We recommend that you take the exam by mid-summer of your application year to remain competitive in the rolling admissions process.

DAT Registration

The DAT is offered year-round through the American Dental Association (ADA) at Prometric Test Centers. It is accepted by 66 dental schools in the USA and 10 in Canada. The test fee is $525. The fee covers the cost of the DAT test itself and the cost of score distribution. It takes 4.5 hours to complete, and applicants are recommended to schedule an appointment at least two months before their desired test date.

The application process:

  1. Register for the exam through ADA and follow the instructions on their website to set up a testing date.
  2. Schedule an appointment at the Prometric Test Center.
  3. You can apply up to 4 times in a year (12-month period) and must wait at least 60 days before taking the test again.
  4. If you require special testing accommodations, you must fill out the PDF application found on ADA's website and email it to: testingaccommodations@ada.org.
  5. You will also be asked to provide a list of the schools and/or programs you are aiming for. By doing this, you grant permission to release official results to those schools.
  6. After the testing section has ended, you can see the unofficial results at the test center. Official results are usually electronically reported within three to four weeks after the test. You will be able to see the results on your profile. If you have taken more than one test, the history of all testing attempts will be reported there.

DAT Scoring

Scores range from 1 to 30. As ADA states, the national average for the DAT is 19. However, this is the national average, so do not aim that low. Rather, focus on getting at least over 21. The test is scored on a scale, meaning that scores are not the raw scores nor the percentile groupings.


Source: Pexels

DAT Test Sections

Diving into the core of the DAT requires a clear understanding of its components. Each section is crafted to assess specific skills and foundational knowledge imperative for the study and practice of dentistry.

Survey of the Natural Sciences (100 items)

This section evaluates your grasp of key concepts in biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry. Your results demonstrate your understanding of scientific principles and their applications in real-world scenarios.

Perceptual Ability (90 items)

Often considered a wild card, this section tests your visual-acuity and spatial-reasoning skills, both of which are vital in dentistry. From angle discrimination to 3D form development, the challenges presented are unique compared to traditional academic tests.

Reading Comprehension (50 items)

Here, you'll face complex scientific passages, demanding not only basic understanding but also the analysis and application of scientific studies. This section underscores the importance of a robust foundation in science-based reading.

Quantitative Reasoning (40 items)

This segment assesses your mathematical abilities with a focus on problem-solving in areas like algebra, statistics, and geometry. Quick, accurate calculations and logical thinking are your allies here.

DAT Test Prep: Strategizing Your Success

Effective DAT test prep is multi-dimensional, blending comprehensive review, practice tests, and an understanding of the DAT format. Start your preparation with the basics and then consider utilizing resources like DAT prep courses, study groups, and simulation exams that can mirror real test conditions. Balancing your study across all DAT test sections and adhering to a consistent schedule enhances time management skills, which is crucial given the DAT test dates and deadlines.

The ADA offers a plethora of resources that you can use to prepare for the test. You can purchase individual models that cover specific topics for $20 each, and a full practice test for $100.


Navigating the intricacies of the DAT test doesn't have to be an overwhelming journey. By thoroughly understanding the DAT test breakdown, developing a strategic approach to your studying, and utilizing diverse prep resources, you'll create a solid foundation for success. As you move closer to your DAT test dates, remember that perseverance and strategic preparation are your keys to unlocking a high score — and dental school doors.


The DAT, short for Dental Admission Test, is a standardized examination designed to assess the knowledge, problem-solving skills, and other abilities essential for admission into dental education programs.

The DAT comprises multiple sections and takes approximately 5 hours to complete, including a short break.

The DAT encompasses a range of subjects, including a Survey of the Natural Sciences, Perceptual Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning, each of which reflects critical skills and knowledge areas in dentistry.

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