About the DAT

The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is conducted by the American Dental Association and has been in operation on a national basis since 1950. The testing program is designed to measure general academic ability, comprehension of scientific information, and perceptual ability. All dental schools require candidates to participate in the Dental Admission Testing Program, but test results are only one factor considered  in evaluating the admission potential of a candidate.  The admission process usually involves an evaluation of DAT scores, collegiate records, and other information. The relative importance of these predictors is determined by the dental school.

The usual requirements for admission to dental school stipulate at least 2 years of liberal arts study but many require three years of college. More than 89 percent of first-year dental students completed four years of college, and of that group, 76 percent earned baccalaureate degrees prior to admission.

In contrast to medical schools, dental schools vary with regard to the required pre-dental education courses.  It is strongly recommended that students take general and advanced level biology courses and general and organic chemistry.

The average DAT score of successful matriculants into dental school is around 18 (equivalent to 30/45 on the MCAT).  The examinations are comprised exclusively of multiple-choice test items presented in English.


There are four examinations included in the DAT. The examinations included are:

I. Survey of the Natural Sciences
Biology: origin of life; cell metabolism (including photosynthesis); enzymology; thermodynamics; organelle structure and function; biological organization and relationship of major taxa (Monera, angiosperms, arthropods, chordates, etc.) using the five-kingdom system; structure and function of vertebrate systems integumentary, skeletal, muscular, circulatory, immunological, digestive, respiratory, urinary, nervous, endocrine, and reproductive); fertilization, descriptive embryology, and developmental mechanics; Mendelian inheritance, chromosomal genetics, meiosis, molecular and human genetics; natural selection, population genetics, speciation, population and community ecology, animal behavior (including social behavior).

General Chemistry stoichiometry, (percent of composition, empirical formulas from percent of composition, balancing equations, weight/weight, weight/volume, density problems); gases (kinetic molecular theory of gases, Graham’s, Dalton’s, Boyle’s, Charles, and ideal gas laws); liquids and solids; solutions (colligative properties, concentration calculations); acids and bases; chemical equilibrium (molecular, acid/base, precipitation and equilibria calculations); thermodynamics and thermochemistry (laws of thermodynamics, Hess’ law, spontaneity prediction); chemical kinetics (rate laws, activation energy, half life); oxidation-reduction reactions (balancing equations, determination of oxidation numbers, electro-chemical concepts and calculations); atomic and molecular structure (electron configuration, orbital types, Lewis-Dot diagrams, atomic theories, molecular geometry, bond types, quantum mechanics); periodic properties (including categories of non-metals, transition metals, and non-transition metals); Nuclear Reactions.

Organic Chemistry bonding (atomic orbitals, molecular orbitals, hybridization, Lewis structures, bond angles, bond lengths); mechanisms (energetics, structure and stability of intermediates: SN1, SN2, elimination, addition, free radical and substitution mechanisms); chemical and physical properties of molecules (stability, solubility, polarity, inter- and intra-molecular forces: separation techniques); organic analysis (introductory infrared and 1H NMR spectroscopy, simply chemical tests); stereochemistry (conformational analysis, optical activity, chirality, chiral centers, places of symmetry, enantiomers, diasteriomers, meso compounds); nomenclature (IUPAC rules identification of functional groups in molecules); reaction of the major functional groups (prediction of reaction products and important mechanistic generalities); acid-base chemistry (resonance effects, inductive effects, prediction of products and equilibria); aromatic (concept of aromaticity, electrophilic aromatic substitution); synthesis (identification of the product of, or the reagents used in, a simple sequence of reactions).

2. Perceptual Ability
Angle discrimination, form development, cubes, orthographic projections, apertures, and paper-folding.

3. Reading Comprehension
Ability to read, organize, analyze, and remember new information in dental and basic sciences. Ability to comprehend thoroughly when studying scientific information. Reading materials are typical of materials encountered in the first year of dental school and require no prior knowledge of the topic other than a basic undergraduate preparation in science. The Reading Comprehension Test contains three reading passages.

4. Quantitative Reasoning
Algebraic equations, fractions, conversions (ounces, pounds, inches, feet), percentages, exponential notation, probability and statistics, geometry, trigonometry, and applied mathematics problems.