The DAT is to prospective dental students what the SAT is to high school students, a 4-hour intensive exam. The DAT is a very difficult test that has a lot to do with your chances of getting into dental school. With thousands of applications to review, admissions officials usually look at GPA and DAT scores as a place to start when cutting the application pool. Therefore, you can easily see how important it is to do well on this test if you plan on going to dental school.
The test itself is split into four sections:
- Survey of Natural Sciences
(Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry)
- Perceptual Ability (PAT)
- Reading Comprehension
- Quantitative Reasoning
Survey of Natural Sciences
(100 Questions in 90 minutes)
Biology: For some, this is the most difficult portion of the test. Basically, everything you learned in biology is fair game for the test. Some of the topics covered on the test include: genetics, immunology, embryology, population ecology and vertebrate physiology. This is definitely a difficult part of the test, so don't neglect this area when you're studying.
General Chemistry: Remember to review stoichiometry, gases, acids and bases, chemical equilibrium and Lewis-Dot diagrams.
Organic Chemistry: Make sure you know bonding, chemical and physical properties of molecules, organic analysis (i.e., spectroscopy techniques), acid-base chemistry and aromatic compounds.
Basically, this portion of the test involves looking at objects in 2D, visualizing them in 3D, and working out problems based on your perceptions.
This section is reasonably self-explanatory, you read something and then show that you understand it.
There are some difficult math problems in this portion, but nothing beyond trigonometry.
Other Things To Know About The Test
Each part of the test is scored on a scale of 1-30. The four scores you receive are averaged to give your overall DAT score. The average score of all the people who take the DAT usually hovers around 15 (I guess there are a lot of people not getting into dental school?). Generally, a score above18 will probably get you in somewhere and anything over a 21 or 22 should probably get you into one of the more competitive schools. You can get more information on taking the DAT at the ADA website.