Dave Evangelisti By: Dave Evangelisti
DAT Test

The DAT (Dental Admissions Test) is the most widely accepted entrance exam for dental schools across the US and Canada. If you’re planning on attending dental school, you will need to take the DAT.

Summary: Learn about the DAT. To start practicing for this exam, take our DAT practice test.

The DAT is used by dental programs to assess whether an applicant is ready for their program. Most prospective students take the exam during their junior undergraduate year of college, or between their junior and senior year, before applying to dental school.

The DAT is composed of four sections, totaling 280 multiple-choice questions.

The DAT takes 4.5 hours to complete. Each section of the exam has a time limit:

Section Questions Time Limit (Mins)
Survey of Natural Sciences 100 90
Perceptual Ability 90 60
Reading Comprehension 50 60
Quantitative Reasoning 40 45
Total 280 255 (4.25 Hours)

There are four main sections that make up the DAT:

  • Survey of Natural Sciences
  • Perceptual Ability
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Quantitative Reasoning

If you want some help preparing for these sections, consider investing in a DAT prep course.

Survey of Natural Sciences

The Natural Sciences exam is the largest, and includes the following material:

  • Biology (40 questions)
  • General chemistry (30 questions)
  • Organic chemistry (30 questions)
  • Perceptual ability (90 questions)
    • Apertures
    • View recognition
    • Paper folding
    • Cube counting
    • Spatial relations / 3D form development

Perceptual Ability

You will have 1 hour to complete this section. It is split into 6 subsections:

  • Apertures
  • 3D development
  • Folding paper
  • View recognition
  • Cube counting
  • Angle discrimination

Reading Comprehension

The Reading Comprehension exam will assess your ability on the following:

  • Reading and comprehending 3 science-related passages
  • Analyze basic scientific information

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning section will include the following topics:

  • Algebra
  • Data analysis and interpretation
  • Quantitative comparison
  • Probability and statistics
  • Applied mathematics (word problems)

Final scores range from 1 to 30, and are scaled rather than raw or percentile scores. Different schools require different scores for admission, but most people don’t score higher than a 25.

For more in-depth information, check out our DAT scores article.

The current cost to sit for the DAT is $525. You will also be charged $50 per school you choose to send your scores into after you apply. You can send your scores to any institution for free before the time of application.

For a more detailed breakdown of the cost and fees of the DAT, check out the official DAT Candidate Guide.

Is the DAT multiple choice?

Yes. All the questions on the DAT are multiple-choice.

How many times can I take the DAT?

You may take the DAT multiple times, but you will be charged the full amount each time you do so. You are also required to wait 60 days between tests. After three attempts, you must apply for permission from the ADA to retake the test.

Is there a passing score for the DAT?

There is no official “passing score” for the DAT, as every dental school has different standards. However, it is generally agreed that a score of 19 is considered average.

How long does it take to get my DAT score?

You will be provided an unofficial score report at the test center upon completion of the test.

Scores will typically take 3-4 weeks to be reported to the institutions that were requested on the application.

Are all questions on the Dental Admission Test scored?

No, some questions are only on the test for experimental purposes and will not affect your score.

You will not be aware of which questions are scored and which are not, so do your best on every question.

Will institutions still get my DAT score even if I do poorly on it or can I void my scores?

Once you take the test, the scores become part of your permanent record — they will be available to institutions to see and cannot be voided or removed from your record.

What do I need to bring with me to the DAT test center?

All you need is two forms of identification. Do not bring any writing utensils, calculators, or electronic devices. Everything else that you need will be provided to you at the testing center.