Common Questions About the Dental Admission Test

Anyone who wishes to work in the field of dentistry must first go through dental school and become licensed. However, you can't just jump into dental school; like many types of higher education, especially in medical fields, you must take an entry exam in order to even be considered for admission into such institutions. This means taking the Dental Admission Test (DAT), a standardized test that consists of multiple-choice questions designed to determine whether or not you have the general knowledge and aptitude necessary to enter dental school. If you are not familiar with this test or the testing process for higher education, you may have many questions about what this process entails. So here are just a few common questions and the answers you need to move ahead.

1.       What topics are covered? Most students taking a test are keen to find out just what will be on the exam so that they can study. In terms of the DAT, there are four basic sections. The Survey of Natural Sciences covers knowledge of biology and chemistry; the Perceptual Ability Test deals with spatial visualization skills (regarding 2D images of 3D objects, like drawings or x-rays of oral cavities, for example); the Reading Comprehension Test is pretty much what you'd expect (read a body of text and answer questions about it); and the Quantitative Reasoning Test deals with mathematics (similar to an SAT test).
2.       How should I prepare? Now that you know the topics covered you should be able to narrow down your field of study, but it couldn't hurt to get study guides and practice tests to help you out (you can find them on Amazon, often at discounted prices). However, you should also prepare by finding testing dates and locations in your area so that you can schedule your test and pay associated fees in a timely manner. You can find this information at, the company responsible for administering the DAT.
3.       How long is the test? The test runs approximately 4-5 hours, depending on whether or not you elect to participate in the optional portions (beginning tutorial, intermission break, and post-test survey). Otherwise you are looking at 90 minutes for the Survey of Natural Sciences, 60 minutes for the Perceptual Ability Test, 60 minutes for the Reading Comprehension Test, and 45 minutes for the Quantitative Reasoning Test.
4.       What is the process for grading? Test-takers will be graded solely on correct answers, so guessing could result in a higher score if you happen to guess accurately (in other words, don't leave any blanks!). From there you will receive a score between 1 and 30, with 17 denoting the average. There are no letter grades associated with this test and the score you receive does not equate to a pass or fail on the exam. Obviously, a higher score is preferable, but most colleges have a slew of other criteria upon which they base admissions. Before you can become a cosmetic dentist Atlanta, Austin, or Albany schools may ask not only for test scores, but also essays, grades, and other information.
5.       If I fail, how does retesting work? All you have to do in order to take the test again is pay the fee ($360) and schedule another test date that is 90 or more days after the date of your original test. You may take the test three times without penalty, but each additional testing after that will require special permission.

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