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Reading Comprehension of the DAT

Reading Comprehension on the DAT

The Reading Comprehension Test of the DAT is comprised of three articles. According to the ADA’s 2014 DAT Program guide, all three passages will be scientific in nature and may reflect topics covered in dental school. The Reading Comprehension Test is the third test of the DAT, and starts after a 15 minute, optional break after the Perceptual Ability Test.
A total of 60 minutes are allotted for test takers to answer 50 questions about the three passages. Prior understanding of the science topics presented is not a prerequisite to answering the questions regarding them. However, the information presented in the passages are factually correct, so increasing your breadth of knowledge in the sciences will only be to your advantage. Examinees are first presented with each passage followed by 16-17 questions (factual and tone-inference).  The test is conveniently formatted in the sense that while each question is presented, testers may scroll through the passage that is located in the bottom half of the screen. (Below is a screenshot of exactly what you will see)


Dental Admissions Test Reading Comprehension Screen Shot


DAT Reading Comprehnsion Strategies

1. Skimming Spend about 5 minutes skimming through each passage to get a good overall sense of what each is about, than spending around 10-11 minutes answering the questions.


2. Search and Destroy Involves reading a question then scanning the passage for key words that were within the question.  Paragraphs  in the DAT RC are organized in a way that everything related to a certain key word will be included in the same paragraph. This method is useful because you can read the passage and simultaneously answer questions. Tone/Inference questions are difficult to answer using this method so be wary to mark those questions and make sure to allow yourself enough time to be able to re-read the passages to get a sense of tone.


3. The Road Map As suggested by Kaplan, this method involves having you jot down a couple of important buzz words that are related to the main idea of each paragraph. At the end of the passage you will have a “Road Map” to refer to so that you can easily locate the answers to questions. Developing and improving your reading comprehension ability isn’t something that happens overnight for most people. It is going to take some time to do so. It is highly recommended that you prepare by reading higher level passages and than trying to recite and recall as much detail as you can. Practice makes perfect.


4. Strategies discussed on SDN forum Vicviper of SDN who got a 30 on the RC shares his approach to the RC part of the DAT in this thread. Another Helpful thread where members of SDN discuss RC strategies can be found HERE. To help yourself prepare, read articles on Scientific American and Discovery News websites. Primary Literature and other articles in science journals are also another great way to prepare. The topics in the lather can be rather bland. This is a double edged sword because although they may be boring, they are great practice tools to simulate boring passages you may face on the DAT. If you can train yourself to find a boring passage interesting, this will do wonders for your recall and comprehension. The above websites and reading online science journals are also great in the sense that they acclimate you to reading on a computer screen. Comprehending reading on a screen can often be more difficult than comprehending materials written on paper for some, so if this is you make sure to get plenty of practice!!



   Topscore Pro DAT |

Top Score Pro is a program that simulates the Reading Comprehension section of the DAT very well. Its user interface is very similar to the actual test as are the difficulty of the passages and questions. It is a full length simulation of the DAT like DAT Achiever. Unlike DAT Achiever, the level of difficulty of Top Score Pro is very comparable to the actual DAT

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