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Survey of Natural Sciences on the DAT

About the Survey of Natural Sciences on the DAT

The Survey of the Natural Sciences (SNS) is the first section of the DAT.  90 minutes are given for test-takers to answer 100 questions (40 Biology, 30 General Chemistry and 30 Organic Chemistry). Questions are not randomly mixed, i.e. test takers will first be presented with the 40 Biology questions, than the 30 General Chemistry Questions, than lastly the 30 Organic Chemistry questions.   Below is a list of Topics the DAT covers in the SNS test as listed by the ADA.

Major Biology Topics to Know for the DAT

Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Origin of life
  • Cell metabolism (including photosynthesis/enzymology)
  • Cellular processes
  • Thermodynamics
  • Organelle structure and function
  • Mitosis/meiosis
  • Cell structure
  • Experimental cell biology

    Diversity of Life

  • Biological Organization and Relationship of Major Taxa (Six-Kingdom, Three-Domain System) – plantae, animalia, protista, fungi, eubacteria (bacteria), archae, etc.

    Structure and Function of Systems

  • Integumentary
  • Skeletal muscular
  • Circulatory
  • Immunological
  • Digestive
  • Respiratory
  • Urinary
  • Nervous/senses
  •  Endocrine
  • Reproductive
Developmental Biology
  • Fertilization
  • Descriptive embryology
  • Developmental mechanisms
  • Experimental embryology
  • Molecular genetics,
  • Human genetics
  • Classical genetics
  • Chromosomal genetics
  • Genetic technology
Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior
  • Natural selection
  • Population genetics/speciation
  • Cladistics
  • Population and community ecology
  • Ecosystems
  • Animal behavior (including social behavior)

Major General Chemistry Topics to Know for the DAT

Stoichiometry and General Concepts
  • Percent composition
  • Empirical formulae
  • Balancing equations
  • Moles and molecular formulas
  • Molar mass
  • Density
  • Calculations from balanced equations
  • Kinetic molecular theory of gases
  • Dalton’s, Boyle’s, Charles’s, and ideal gas law
Liquids and Solids
  • Intermolecular forces
  • Phase changes
  • Vapor pressure
  • Structures
  • Polarity
  • Properties
  • Polarity
  • Properties (colligative, non-colligative)
  • Forces
  • Concentration calculations
Acids and Bases
  • pH
  • Strength
  • Brønsted-Lowry reactions
  • Calculations
Chemical Equilibria 
  • Molecular
  • Acid/base
  • Precipitation
  • Calculations,
  • Le Chatelier’s principle
Thermodynamics and Thermochemistry
  • Laws of thermodynamics
  • Hess’s law
  • Spontaneity
  • Enthalpies and entropies
  • Heat transfer
Chemical Kinetics
  • Rate laws
  • Activation energy
  • Half-life
Oxidation-Reduction Reactions
  • Balancing equations
  • Determination of oxidation numbers
  • Electrochemical calculations
  • Electrochemical concepts and terminology
Atomic and Molecular Structure
  • Electron configuration
  • Orbital types
  • Lewis-Dot diagrams
  • Atomic theory
  • Quantum theory
  • Molecular geometry
  • Bond types
  • Subatomic particles
Periodic Properties
  • Representative elements
  • Transition elements
  • Periodic trends
  • Descriptive chemistry
Nuclear Reactions
  • Balancing equations
  • Binding energy
  • Decay processes
  • Particles
  • Terminology
  • Basic techniques
  • Equipment
  • Error analysis
  • Safety
  • Data analysis

Major Organic Chemistry Topics to Know for the DAT

  • Energetics
  • Structure – elimination, addition, free radical, substitution mechanisms
Chemical and Physical Properties of Molecules 
  • Spectroscopy (1H NMR, 13C NMR, infrared, and multi-spectra)
  • Structure (polarity, intermolecular forces, solubility, melting/boiling point, etc.)
  • Laboratory theory and techniques (i.e. TLC, separations, etc.)
Stereochemistry (structure evaluation)
  • Chirality
  • Isomer relationships
  • Conformations
  • IUPAC rules and functional groups in molecules
Individual Reactions of the Major Functional Groups and Combinations of Reactions to 
Synthesize Compounds 
  • Alkene/alkyne
  • Aromatic
  • Substitution/elimination,
  • Aldehyde/ ketone
  • Carboxylic acids and derivatives
  • Others

For each area listed above, the following sub-areas apply: general, one-step, and multi-step.

Acid-Base Chemistry
  • Ranking acidity/basicity (structure analysis and pH/pKa data analysis)
  • Prediction of products and equilibria
Aromatics and Bonding 
  • Concept of aromaticity
  • Resonance
  • Atomic/molecular orbitals
  • Hybridization
  • Bond angles/lengths.



DAT Destroyer |              DAT Destroyer



It is HIGHLY recommended to use the  DAT Destroyer to prepare for the Survey of Natural Sciences on the DAT. Very solid review for each section. The questions are difficult, but once you master them, the SNS section will be a cakewalk compared to this. You can find it NEW or USED on eBay.




Cliffs AP Biology |

Cliff’s AP Biology

Cliff’s AP Biology is highly recommended to prepare for the Biology section of the Survey of Natural Sciences on the DAT. The DAT will ask very broad spectrum questions on this section, making Cliff’s AP Bio perfect for studying for this section as it doesn’t get into the nitty gritty details most people learn in high school and college biology classes.

Chads Videos DAT |

Chad’s Videos at is another solid resource to touch up on your General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry for the DAT. Another highly recommended DAT prep  material.

Khan Academy |

Khan Academy, another solid resource to prepare for the Survey of Natural Sciences on the Dental Admissions Test. The videos are great for clearing up topics that may be difficult to understand. Best part of them is that they are 100% FREE!

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