DAT Test – What is the DAT?

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.

What is the DAT?

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.

How Many Questions Are On the DAT?

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

How Long is the DAT?

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

SectionQuestionsTime Limit (Mins)
Survey of Natural Sciences10090
Perceptual Ability9060
Reading Comprehension5060
Quantitative Reasoning4045
Total280255 (4.25 Hours)

What is on the DAT?

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)

How is the DAT Scored?

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.

DAT Fees

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.


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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Dave Evangelisti
Dave is our founder and CEO. He has 20+ years of experience in the testing and test prep industry.