Thinking about taking the Dental Admissions Test (DAT)? Not sure where to start? That's why we've compiled to most frequently asked questions we've received from students preparing for the DAT.

If you don't see your question here, don't worry! Send us a message or schedule a meeting with one of our DAT experts.

Is DAT easier than MCAT?

The MCAT is usually considered to be the more difficult test, due in large part to its length. The MCAT is a much longer test that requires students to work fairly quickly, which can be difficult for students who struggle with test anxiety or endurance.

What is the average DAT score?

A scaled score of 17 on each section will put you in the 50th percentile, which is considered the average DAT score. However, if you want a competitive score to help you get into higher-ranked dental schools you will want to try to score above the 70th percentile range.

What is the hardest section on the DAT?

This will depend on the person, but there are two common answers: Some consider the chemistry section to be the most difficult because of the advanced material being tested. Others consider biology the most difficult because there is such a wide variety of material that you may encounter, which makes the preparation for this section difficult.

DAT exercise sample
How many times can you take the DAT test?

After your first assessment, you can retake the DAT after a 90-day waiting period. However, you can only take the DAT 3 times total unless you receive special permission from the American Dental Association (ADA).

Is it bad to take the DAT twice?

Taking the DAT multiple times does not look bad at all. In fact, most experts recommend that you take it a second time if you believe you can improve your score. This can also be especially helpful for students with test anxiety as they will know more of what to expect the second time through.

What is the highest you can score on the DAT?

Your raw score will be converted into a scaled score that ranges from 1 to 30, with 30 being the highest possible score.

Is the DAT multiple choice?

Yes, this is a multiple-choice exam made up of four sections: Survey of the Natural Sciences, Perceptual Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning.

DAT reading sample
Is 17 a good DAT score?

A scaled score of 17 is the national average (give or take depending on the year). If you're trying to decide what grade you should aim for, take a look at the average admissions score of the dental schools you are applying to. In some cases, it may be necessary to score higher if you want to be competitive.

How long is the DAT score valid?

Your score will be valid for 2 years.

Do you get your DAT score right away?

Your scores will be sent to schools, ADEA AADSAS, and other addresses included on your application within 1-2 business days.

Is there math on the DAT?

The DAT includes a Quantitative Reasoning section consisting of 40 multiple-choice questions. You will have 45 minutes to complete this section and an on-screen calculator will be available for this section only.

Here's a photo from the ADA of the actual calculator:

ADAs-DAT exam calculator
Do you need Biochem for DAT?

You do not need to take Biochemistry before taking the DAT, but you will need to take it at some point before you graduate.

Is taking the DAT in September too late?

Not at all! Just make sure that you give yourself enough time to study for the exam, take the test, and potentially do a retake before applications are due. It’s always better to be safe and give yourself as much time as possible, just in case.

Is there physics on the DAT?

Physics and calculus will not be tested on the DAT, but you will need to complete both courses to be admitted into most dental schools.

Can you use a calculator on DAT chemistry?

No, the only section you will have a calculator for is Quantitative Reasoning.

Is Trig on the DAT?

Yes, though if you just know the basic/intermediate concepts in geometry and trigonometry you should be fine.

What subjects does the DAT cover?

The DAT consists of four sections: Survey of the Natural Sciences (biology, chemistry, organic chemistry), Perceptual Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning (trigonometry, geometry, probability & statistics, conversions, algebra).

Here's a breakdown of the administration schedule from the ADA.

DAT Administration Schedule
Is ORGO 2 on the DAT?

It is highly suggested that you take both Orgo 1 and Orgo 2 before attempting this exam.

Is cell biology on the DAT?

Yes. The first subtest you take during the Survey of Natural Sciences section is biology. You will be asked 40 questions related to anatomy/physiology, developmental biology, cell and molecular biology, and genetics.

Is taking the DAT in July too late?

July is not too late, but any time beyond that is pushing it if you’re planning to apply the same cycle. It’s mostly just important to schedule your exam for when you feel you will be the most prepared. However, keep in mind that it can be very helpful to give yourself enough time for a retake, just in case.

How do I pass the DAT test?

There is no perfect formula for doing well on this exam. However, there are a few tips that our experts suggest following to set yourself up for success:
1) Create a study schedule outlining what you will work on each day/week/month leading up to your exam so that you stay on track.
2) Create goals and rewards for yourself to stay motivated.
3) Take practice tests to see what areas you need to dedicate more time to and what areas you're strong in.
4) Only use a few, high-quality study materials so you don't get overwhelmed.
5) Don't be afraid to ask for help! Study groups and tutoring programs can help keep you on track and ensure you make the most of your study time.
6) Take care of your physical and mental health. It's easy to get sucked into a cramming loop. Make sure you're eating right, sleeping enough, going outside, and socializing.

Perceptual ability sample
What chemistry is on the DAT?

General chemistry and organic chemistry 1 & 2 will be on the DAT. However, you should check with the schools you'll be applying to as many dental schools have requirements for admission as well.

How many questions are on the DAT test?

The DAT consists of four sections and contains 280 multiple-choice questions. Remember, this is an endurance exam. Make sure you're using practice exams during your prep to train yourself, just like you would for an actual marathon.

DAT Breakdown
What do I need to know for the DAT?

Make sure you are familiar with the four main sections and subjects that are required for each section. For example, in the Survey of the Natural Sciences, you will need to be familiar with biology, chemistry, and organic chemistry. For the Quantitative Reasoning section, you will need to be familiar with trigonometry, geometry, probability & statistics, conversions, and algebra.

All images used come from an ADA sponsored practice DAT exam.