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DAT (Dental Admission Test)

The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is the entrance exam required by most dental programs. The DAT is taken by more than 14,000 people each year and is one of many tools that admission committees use to ascertain the suitability of applicants to their schools. The DAT is administered by and overseen by the American Dental Association (ADA).

Click here to link to the main Web site for the DAT.
The DAT is currently offered year-round on an appointment basis at nearly 500 Prometric test centers. Most testing centers offer weekend and evening appointments. It is a computer-based exam.
You must register for the DAT and schedule your appointment 60-90 days in advance of when you want to take it. Each testing center has a limited number of seats on any given day. The closest testing centers to San Marcos are in Austin and San Antonio, but there are a number of test sites located throughout Texas. For the 2023 administrations, the cost to take the test is $525, but partial fee waivers are available if you apply well ahead of time and can demonstrate financial need.
Click here to learn more about Prometric testing centers throughout the United States.
Click here to link to the DAT application page. Note that the first step of the DAT registration process is to apply for a DENTPIN (Dental Personal Identifier Number). Click here to link to the DENTPIN registration site.
When you register for the DAT please remember to check the box that releases your scores to the pre-health advisors at your university.  We never share your DAT scores with other people, but knowing how our students do on the exam is important information we need as we work with other students in the future.
The DAT consists of four tests with a total of 280 multiple choice questions. Each test results in a numerical score of 1-30. 
Test 1 Survey of Natural Sciences = 90 minutes, 100 questions - 40 questions cover biology, 30 questions cover general chemistry, and 30 questions cover organic chemistry
Test 2 Perceptual Ability = 60 minutes, 90 questions -  consists of six subtests with 15 questions each covering apertures, orthographic projections, angle discrimination, paper folding, cube counting and spatial form development.
Test 3 Reading Comprehension = 60 minutes, 50 questions - three reading passages each with 16 or 17 questions about each passage
Test 4 Quantitative Reasoning = 45 minutes, 40 questions – 10 questions are applied word problems and 30 questions are computation problems covering basic math, algebra, geometry and trigonometry.
The scores for the biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, reading comprehension and quantitative reasoning sections are averaged to produce a composite score called the Academic Average (AA). The Perceptual Ability (PA) score is reported as well.
So a typical DAT score might look something like: AA 19/PA 18.  The national average is approximately 18 for both AA and PA. 
To do well on the DAT you should strive for three things:
  • Master the content that will be tested.
  • Become familiar with the format of the exam itself and understand what kind of information the exam seeks to test.
  • Practice taking exams to increase your comfort and familiarity with the exam format and to ensure that you time your progress through each section effectively.
There are a number of ways to do this (prep courses, independent study, practice tests, written guides, etc.) and you need to think about what is the most effective way for you to study. Plan to spend a substantial amount of time preparing for the exam.