Get into Dental School

The Dental Admissions Test (DAT)

About the DAT

What is the 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 a differing carving section for the PAT, both American and Canadian versions are usually interchangeably accepted in both countries’ dental schools. This article will specifically describe the American DAT). As stated by the ADA, “Its purpose is to measure the general academic ability, comprehension of scientific information and perceptual ability of test takers.”


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. The DAT is comprised of 4 sections: 

  1. The Survey of Natural Sciences
  2. The Perceptual Ability Test (PAT)
  3. Reading Comprehension Test (RC)
  4. Quantitative Reasoning Test (QR) .
During the first section of the DAT, the Survey of Natural Sciences, test takers are given 90 minutes to answer 100 questions (40 Biology, 30 General Chemistry and 30 Organic Chemistry). In the second portion of the DAT, the PAT, test takers are given 60 minutes to answer 90 questions. An optional 15 minute break is than given after the PAT. The RC test after the break lasts 60 minutes and is comprised of 50 questions from 3 passages (two science and one non-science). The Final Section of the test is the QR test where testers are given 45 minutes to complete 40 questions. Finally, an optional post test survey is given with a 15 minute time limit.
Below is a table showing the different sections of the DAT.

What does it test?

The Survey of Natural Sciences tests one’s proficiency in Biology, General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry. The Perceptual Ability Test tests one’s perceptual abilities ie. being able to manipulate and visualize 2D objects into a 3D form and vice versa. The Reading Comprehension Test simply tests one’s abilities to comprehend material in given passages and answer questions about the given passages. The Quantitative Reasoning Test tests one’s basic math skills through reasoning and computation problems that incorporate the use of algebra, statistics, fractions, roots and powers, trigonometry and the use of critical thinking.


Interested in attending dental school but clueless on how to sign up for the DAT?

Read more about “How to Sign up for the DAT”  HERE.

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