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 5-6 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. For a more comprehensive overview of the Dental Admissions Test, please take a look at the links below:
Wikipedia – The Dental Admissions Test (DAT)
American Dental Association (ADA) Guide to the DAT
Applying for the DAT Frequently Asked Questions
Duke Dental Society “All About the DAT” Presentation
Student Doctor Network – DAT Discussions
1. How do I register for the DAT?
The first step is to register for a DENTPIN. You will use this number to take the exam, apply for dental schools, and all of your dental career. More information about the DENTPIN can be found here.
Then, you will use your DENTPIN to apply to take the DAT. Once your application has been approved (a few business days later), you will be able to schedule a testing time, date, and location.
2. What are the best resources to use when preparing?
A list of the references used to create the items on the DAT from the ADA can be found here:
The Duke Dental Society recommends use of the following resources when preparing for the DAT:
General DAT Preparation:
- Kaplan DAT (latest edition)
- Orgoman’s DAT Destroyer Problems (latest edition)
- Barron’s DAT: Dental Admissions Test (latest edition)
- DAT Achiever Practice DAT Exams
- TopScore Practice DAT Exams
- American Dental Association (ADA) Sample DAT Exam
- iDATPrep Practice DAT Exams
- Examkrackers MCAT Biology
- CliffNotes AP Biology Review
- Schaum’s Outline of Biology
- Campbell’s Biology Textbook
- ARIS Biology 9th Edition
- Examkrackers MCAT Organic Chemistry
- Chad’s Video Reviews of Organic Chemistry
- Loudon’s Organic Chemistry Textbook
- Crack DAT PAT (King or Ace Edition)
3. Should I self-study or take a Kaplan course?
The main benefit of attending any DAT preparatory course is the set study schedule and classroom environment. If you find it difficult to study efficiently on your own or prefer to learn amongst peers in a classroom setting, then consider taking a prep class. The cost and duration of each preparatory course varies by program so start looking at your options far in advance. Most prep courses are designed to fully prepare you to take the DAT immediately after they end so don’t schedule the real exam too long after finishing the program.
If you are disciplined enough to set your own study schedule and stick to it regularly, then there will be little gain from taking a DAT preparatory course. All of the materials provided by prep courses are also available for students to purchase separately online. Furthermore, any “tricks and tips” that preparatory courses have to teach you can be learned from a wide variety of written DAT preparatory textbooks.
4. Do you have any studying tips for me?
START EARLY! The knowledge required to do well on the DAT is NOT difficult, it’s just lengthy. Unless you are extremely confident in your intellect/test taking abilities, it is strongly recommend that you start preparing for the DAT at least 2 months prior to taking the actual exam. The DAT simply covers too much information for the majority of students to absorb comfortably within a month’s time.
Find your “study zone”. Set aside a location where you only go to study for DATs, and always go to that place when studying. This will help your body and mind get into the studying mood whenever you are in that location. Also, make a regular study schedule and plan out what you will be doing to prepare for the DAT on each day of your schedule (ie. Focusing on biology or general chemistry, taking a practice exam, etc.). This strategy will help you stay on track to complete your DAT preparation within a reasonable amount of time and prevent you from straying from your studies. A sample study schedule can be found at the bottom of this page.
Space out your material. There is an immense amount of info that you need to know prior to taking the DAT, so space out your studying in order to make sure you don’t tire out halfway through your preparatory period. Dedicate a reasonable amount of time to your DAT studies each day, and do no more, no less.
Study one subject at a time. Do not attempt to mix DAT subjects when making a first run through the material. By focusing on each subject one at a time, you will be able to digest the material more quickly and effectively. Once you’ve gone through all of the material once, you may then begin to spot practice the specific topics within each subject that you still need to review more thoroughly. It is at this point that you can start mixing subjects. Just make sure that you are comfortable with the large majority of the material within each subject before you start mixing topics because the sheer amount of information can easily overwhelm you.
Read, Test, Review. A common strategy to use when preparing for any standardized exam is to first review all of the study materials, take a full-length practice exam, review the items you skipped/missed, and then thoroughly review the material covering those same items. Rinse and repeat. This method will help you “spot practice” the topics that you are weak on (aka missed on the practice DAT exam) and solidify your overall understanding of the material over the course of multiple read, test, review sequences.
TEST, TEST, TEST. The best way to prepare for the DAT is to get used to the types of questions that will be asked. Even the most knowledgeable person may not do well on the DAT if he/she is not familiar with the testing style. Make sure to take as many practice tests as possible in order to get a good grasp of the kinds of questions you will face on the DAT, and how to tackle each. Simulating the testing environment (ie. Computerized testing, scratchwork done on whiteboards, simple computer calculator) will also help you feel more comfortable when the real test day comes.
Sample Six Week Study Schedule