What is the DAT?

The Dental Admissions Test is a required exam for acceptance into Dental schools in the United States.  This test provides Dental schools with a universal baseline when judging separate applicants because every University has a different education.  Furthermore, the DAT analyzes a student’s ability to apply the information they have learned through various critical thinking questions, puzzle exercises, and science fundamentals.  

The DAT is split up into four different sections that will take a student up to four hours and fifteen minutes.  The first section is the Survey of natural sciences which covers 40 questions in Biology, 30 questions in Chemistry, and 30 questions in Organic Chemistry.  A student will have 90 minutes to complete these 100 questions.  The sections are ordered Biology, General Chemistry, and finally Organic Chemistry, but a student can skip around and do the questions they choose first and go back to the more difficult ones.  

The perceptual ability section follows which a student will have sixty minutes to complete ninety questions.  This section allows Dental schools to get an initial representation of an applicant’s spatial visualization ability.  Inside the PAT section, there are six categories where questions can arise from: keyholes, top-front-end, angle ranking, hole punching, cube counting, and pattern folding.   

  1. Keyholes:  Determine which hole a 3D object can fit through.  There will be five options given and students can use the process of elimination to determine which hole the 3D object will perfectly fit through.  Objects are always drawn to scale.  
  2. Top-Front-End: A question will give the student two views of an object.  This can be interchangeable between the top view, front view, or end view.  From the two views given, the third view will need to be determined by understanding what different edges, lines, and dotted lines mean. 
  3. Angle Ranking: Rank the four angles given from smallest to largest. 
  4. Hole Punching: The folding of a paper will be shown and concluded with a hole punch.  The student must mentally unfold the paper and determine where the hole punches will show up in the final image. 
  5. Cube Counting: Students will be given an image of cubes stacked on top of one another.  You will need to answer questions based on how many sides are showing from the cubes. 
  6. Pattern Folding: A flat image with lines will be shown and the student needs to determine what the final image is. 

The third section on the Dental Admissions Test is Reading Comprehension.  Students receive sixty minutes to complete fifty questions in three different scientific articles.  

The fourth section of the DAT is Quantitative Reasoning (Math) where students receive forty multiple questions in forty-five minutes.  The questions in this section mostly cover: Algebra, Quantitative Comparison, Probability, Statistics, and Data Analysis.