Take the DAT


All U.S. dental schools require applicants to take the Dental Admission Test (DAT). The DAT is designed to measure general academic ability, comprehension of scientific information, and perceptual ability. This half-day, multiple-choice exam is conducted by the American Dental Association (ADA). It is a computer-based test given at Prometric Testing Centers in various sites around the country on almost any day of the year.

Candidates for the DAT should have completed prerequisite courses in biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry. Advanced level biology and physics are not required. Most applicants complete two or more years of college before taking the exam. ADEA strongly encourages applicants to prepare for the DAT by reviewing the content of the examination and basic principles of biology and chemistry and taking practice tests. The DAT Candidate’s Guide, the online tutorial, and the application and preparation materials are available in the DAT section of the ADA website.

The ADA suggests that applicants take the DAT well in advance of their intended dental school enrollment and at least one year prior to when they hope to enter dental school. See the ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools for an overview of individual schools’ requirements regarding the DAT, including the average scores of enrollees and timelines that will help you schedule the DAT. You should also note that the DAT can be taken a maximum of three times. Applicants who wish to take the DAT more than three times must apply for special permission to take the test again.

The DAT consists of multiple-choice test items presented in the English language and requires four hours and 15 minutes for administration. The four separate parts of the exam cover:

  • Natural sciences (biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry)
  • Perceptual ability (two- and three-dimensional problem solving)
  • Reading comprehension (dental and basic sciences)
  • Quantitative reasoning (mathematical problems in algebra, numerical calculations, conversions, etc.)

Most dental schools view the DAT as one of many factors in evaluating candidates for admission. As a result, the emphasis schools place on different parts of the test varies.

Candidates applying to take the DAT must submit application information to the DAT testing program from the DAT section of the ADA website. The fee is $320. After the application and fee payment are processed, the ADA notifies Prometric that the candidate is eligible for DAT testing. At the same time, the candidate will receive notification from the ADA including instructions on how to register with the Prometric Candidate Contact Center to arrange the day, time, and place to take the DAT at a Prometric Testing Center.  The candidate is eligible to take the test for a 12-month period. If the candidate does not call, register, and take the exam during this period, he or she will have to submit another application and fee in order to take the exam later.  Candidates may apply and retake the test up to three times, but they must submit a new application and fee for each re-examination, and the re-examination must be taken at least 90 days after the previous exam. Individuals with disabilities or special needs may request special arrangements for taking the DAT. For details, visit the Special Accommodations section of the Prometric website.

The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) and the Association of Canadian Faculties of Dentistry have developed the Dental Aptitude Test for applicants to Canadian dental schools. All Canadian dental schools require the test.

For more information, contact the Dental Aptitude Test Program of the Canadian Dental Association (L’Association Dentaire Canadienne), 1815 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1G 3Y6; fax 613-523-7736; dat@cda-adc.ca, www.cda-adc.ca.



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