Dental Admission Test DAT

The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is a multiple-choice standardized exam taken by potential dental school students in the United States and Canada (although there is a separate Canadian version with differing sections, both American and Canadian versions are usually interchangeably accepted in both countries' dental schools. This article will specifically describe the American DAT). The DAT is a computer based test that can be administered almost any day of the year. Tests are taken at Prometric testing centers throughout the United States after the preliminary application through the American Dental Association is completed. Each applicant may only take the test a total of three times before having to ask special permission to take the exam again. After taking the exam you must wait 90 days before repeating it. Each exam costs $320.

Dental Admission Test Sections
The Dental Admission Test comprises four sections:
survey of the natural sciences (90 minutes),
perceptual ability (often called the PAT, 60 minutes),
reading comprehension (60 minutes),
and quantitative reasoning (45 minutes).
The mathematics of the quantitative exam is similar to that of the SAT. The first section is divided into questions about biology (40 questions), general chemistry (30 questions), and organic chemistry (30 questions). The second section is divided into six different problem sets designed to test perceptual ability, specifically in the areas of three dimensional manipulation and spatial reasoning. The third section of the Dental Admission Test is divided into three academic essays, each of which is followed by questions about the passage's content. The final section tests basic mathematics skills, with emphasis placed on algebra, critical thinking, fractions, roots, and trigonometric identities.

Dental Admission Test Breakdown

Section Questions Time Limit
Optional Tutorial
15 Minutes
Survey of Natural Sciences 100 90 Minutes
-Biology -40
-General Chemistry -30
-Organic Chemistry -30
Perceptual Ability Test 90 60 Minutes
-Keyhole -15
-Top/Front/End Visualization -15
-Angle Ranking -15
-Hole Punches -15
-Cube Counting -15
-Pattern Folding -15
Optional Break
15 Minutes
Reading Comprehension Test 50 60 Minutes
Quantitative Reasoning Test 40 45 Minutes
-Mathematics -30
-Applied Mathematics (Word Problems) -10
Optional Post-Test Survey
15 Minutes
Total 280 5:00 Hours

Dental Admission Test Scores
Immediately after completion of the test, eight standard scores on a scale of 1-30 are calculated and passed on to the test taker. The first six scores come directly from the test: perceptual ability, reading comprehension, quantitative reasoning, biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry. The remaining two scores reported are summaries of the previous six: the Academic Average is the average of five scores rounded to the nearest whole number: quantitative reasoning, reading comprehension, biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry. The Total Science score is a standard score based on all 100 questions in the biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry tests. Dental schools frequently summarize their applicant's scores by listing the academic, science, and perceptual ability (PAT) scores they typically see in their matriculating classes. Schools tend to emphasize the importance of high perceptual ability and biology scores, though the competitive applicant earns high marks across all sections of the test.

The mean (average) score for any scored section is set at 17. Scores above and below this represent fractions of standard deviations from the mean. This probabilistic scoring system results in the maximum not occurring for the compiled section scores (natural sciences and academic average) in a given year. For example, in 2003 a 25 academic average was labeled as 100.0th percentile, such that less than 8 people received this score, and none higher (approximately 8,000 people take the DAT per year). The mean academic average score for admissions is commonly 18. There are varying perspectives on the relative importance of sections, wherein the PAT or reading comprehension can be viewed as the most important or conversely, ignored. The PAT in particular is most often viewed as a threshold score, and therefore is the only score not included in the academic average; the threshold varies between 16 and 18.

Dental Admission Test Reporting Scores
As of the 2011 dental application cycle, applicants no longer self-report their American DAT scores on their applications. Using the applicant's DENTPIN®, the application service ADEA AADSAS will officially download all scores to the applicant's dental application. All test scores will be downloaded if the test is taken multiple times. During registration for the DAT, the applicant can indicate potential dental schools to send the scores to. As long as the applicant indicates at least one ADEA AADSAS-participating dental school in the DAT registration, the official DAT scores will be imported into the dental school application that is sent to every school designated in the ADEA AADSAS application.
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