The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is an entrance examination taken by candidates applying for admission to a dental school. It has been administered on a national basis since 1950 by the American Dental Association (ADA). The examination is updated often by the ADA Council on Dental Education and Licensure and its DAT Committee to ensure that its contents are properly harmonized with the needs of dental school programs and with the evolving pedagogical practices and theoretical approaches of undergraduate science courses.
Function of the Test
Dental schools in the United States require candidates to take the Dental Admission Test as part of the admissions process. Between 2007 and 2011, the number of people taking the DAT ranged between a low of 12,245 in 2011 and a high of 13,714 in 2009. The DAT is usually taken late in a candidate's college career or soon after graduation. A large majority (72.2%) of candidates who take the examination have completed at least 91-120 semester hours of post-secondary education, while 37.9% of candidates have already obtained a Baccalaureate degree.
More women than men take the DAT. In 2012, 51.6% of test takers were women, while 48.4% of test takers were men.
In 2012, the percentage of examinees taking the DAT more than once was 32.5%.
The DAT is administered at Prometric test centers in the United States and its territories. There is no specific testing window; candidates may make a testing appointment for any time of the year.
The cost to take the examination is $385. This fee includes official score reporting service to all dental schools selected at the time of the application to take the examination as well as an official score report to the candidate's pre-dental advisor, if applicable. Additional official score reports may be ordered after the examination for $33 each.  A limited number of DAT partial fee wavers which cover 50% of the DAT fee are available to first-time test takers experiencing severe financial hardship.
Candidates who desire to retake the examination must wait 90 days between testing attempts. Candidates who have already tested three or more times must apply for special permission to take the examination again.
Candidates who require special testing accommodations for a disability should submit a testing accommodation request form with supporting documentation at the same time as they submit the application to take the examination. The ADA does not appear to offer any "standardized" accommodations; rather, the supporting documentation submitted by the candidate must include recommendations for the specific accommodation(s) the candidate requires.
|Distribution of content on the DAT exam|
|Domain||# of Questions||Time Allowance|
|Optional Tutorial||15 minutes|
|Perceptual Ability||90||60 minutes|
|Optional Break||15 minutes|
|Reading Comprehension||50||60 minutes|
|Quantitative Reasoning||40||45 minutes|
|Optional Post Test Survey||15 minutes|
|Total||280|| 4 hours 15 minutes|
to 5 hours
The Dental Admission Test is made out of 280 questions that have to do with four test domains. The domains are Survey of the Natural Sciences, Perceptual Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning. All 280 questions are multiple choice questions. Along with the four test domains, there will also be an optional tutorial, break, and post test survey. The entire testing period lasts five hours.
The Dental Admission Test takes place at Prometric Testing Centers. Candidates are expected to arrive at least half an hour before the exam is scheduled to start. For admission an ID is required. In the testing area, no personal items are permitted. This includes books, study materials, calculators, food, drinks, watches, pens, paper, bags, and wallets. There will be a locker provided to store personal belongings in. The test is computer based, and a calculator will be provided on screen for the sections that allow it. Two note boards and markers will be provided as a substitute to scratch paper to work on.
Because there are several different forms of the DAT which may have slightly different difficulty levels, test takers' raw scores are not reported. Instead, all scores are equated and scaled to ensure that all candidates' scores may be compared equitably. Each section's scaled score is reported on a scale of 1 to 30, with a national average score of approximately 18. Because the DAT is an entrance examination, there is no single "passing score." Candidates who achieve higher DAT scores may expect greater success in dental school admission.
A certain number of pretest questions are mixed into every examination. These questions are being tested for future inclusion on the DAT examination and do not count toward the candidate's score.
There is no penalty for guessing on the examination; incorrect answers and omitted answers are treated the same way.
Unofficial score reports are available immediately after candidates complete the examination. Official score reports require approximately four weeks for delivery to the candidate's desired dental schools.
Recent and Future Developments
Following the 2013 meetings of the ADA Council on Dental Education and Licensure and its DAT Committee, some significant changes to the DAT were adopted. Starting in 2014, the biology test specifications of the DAT were modified to better conform with current teaching practices in universities. In recent years, survey courses in biology have moved away from a reductionist approach and shifted to a holistic systems approach which focuses on complex interactions within biological systems, and the DAT has been updated to reflect this systems perspective. In addition, the Quantitative Reasoning Test is being revised to eliminate certain sections such as numerical calculations, conversions, geometry, and trigonometry. In their place will be more items pertaining to data analysis, interpretation, and sufficiency; quantitative comparison; and probability and statistics. This modification to the examination will be implemented no sooner than 2015.
In January 2014, the DAT's fee waiver program, which assists a limited number of candidates who qualify for financial aid, was expanded. However, it is still a pilot program with a limited number of fee waivers available.
- Dental Admission Test (DAT) 2014 Program Guide 24 March 2014
- Dental Admission Testing Program: Examinee Information, 2011 24 March 2014
- Dental Admission Test Frequently Asked Questions 24 March 2014
- Dental Admission Testing Program Sample Test Items 24 March 2014