DAT Preparation Overview

The Dental Admissions Test (DAT) is a multiple-choice standardized test that all pre-dental students must take prior to matriculating into American or Canadian dental schools. It is a computer-based exam that takes approximately 5 hours to complete and can be administered at any Prometric testing center on almost any day of the year. The DAT is designed to measure how successful an individual will be in dental school.

What content does the DAT contain?

The DAT is broken down into four sections:

  1. Survey of Natural Sciences
  2. Perceptual Ability
  3. Reading Comprehension
  4. Quantitative Reasoning

How is the DAT scored?

The DAT is scored on a 1 to 30 scale. For each section of the test, the actual number of multiple-choice questions you answer correctly per section is your raw score. All multiple-choice questions are worth the same amount—one raw point—and there’s no penalty for incorrect answers. That means you should always fill in an answer for every question whether you have time to fully invest in that question or not. Never let time run out on any section without filling in an answer for every question.

Competitive scores are:

Percentage Average 
Top 10% 21+ Academic Average
Top 25% 19-20 Academic Average
Top 50% 18 Academic Average

What Classes Should I Complete Before Taking the DAT?

BIO 180, BIO 181, CHEM 105, CHEM 106, CHEM 351, CHEM 352, ENG 301, MATH 109 (or MATH 110x and MATH 111), and MATH 221B are all foundational courses to prepare you for the DAT.

What are the costs associated with taking the DAT?

The DAT costs $475. There may be other fees for extra score reports or rescheduling fees.

The costs for study materials, travel, and the exam can be between $500-$2500, depending on if you choose to self-study or purchase programs and materials.

There is a fee assistance program. You can find information about waiver requirements at ADA.org/DAT.

Fee waivers are granted on a first-come, first serve basis at the beginning of each calendar year to eligible candidates who have submitted the required documents. Fee waivers will be granted beginning on January 1.

How do I register for the DAT?

Before you can apply to take the DAT or apply for admission to a dental school, you must obtain a Dental Personal Identification Number (DENTPIN®). You can register for a new DENTPIN® or retrieve an existing DENTPIN® at ADA.org/DENTPIN.

The DENTPIN® is a unique personal identifier for individuals involved with the U.S. dental education system and standardized testing programs.

Where do I take the DAT?

The DAT is administered by Prometric, Inc. at Prometric testing centers in the United States. The DAT is also administered in Canada. A list of test centers is available at Prometric.com. If your application is approved, you will receive an email with scheduling instructions. You can visit the Prometric website or call 800.688.5804 to schedule a testing appointment. The Prometric contact center will NOT schedule your appointment before receiving authorization from the DAT Program.

How do I Prepare for the DAT?

Give yourself at least two to four months to study for the DAT. Many sources recommend 200–250 hours. For example, you could plan on three hours per day, five days per week, for three to four months. It can help to find a DAT study buddy who can help you stay motivated and on task. Additional ideas to help:

  • Take two or three real-time simulated practice tests—this is the best way to most accurately replicate the conditions you will experience on test day.
  • Focus on fundamental concepts.
  • Study efficiently by creating a study calendar and focusing extra time on subjects you find difficult.
  • Study one subject at a time. By focusing on one subject, you will be able to digest the material quickly and effectively.
  • Get into a routine and ensure you continue to sleep and eat well.
  • Visit the American Dental Association (ADA) website for practice tests and the DAT Guide.

There are multiple test prep courses available. When deciding between the courses, consider the following:

  • Cost: compare what resources will be available through each test prep course for the expense
  • Location: some test prep courses are only available online while other test preps will have in-person classes or tutoring available
  • Teaching Style and Structure: Compare the length of the programs, the teaching style, and how the programs are structured.

Helpful Resources and Websites