How to Get Into Dental School

Getting into dental school involves years of planning and preparation to ensure you get into your school of choice. While there are no guarantees, this article will give you a road map for how to get into dental school and the resources you need to succeed along the way.

Steps to get into dental school

1. Earn a Bachelor's degree and maintain a good GPA

Before you can take the DAT or apply to dental school, you will have to complete your undergraduate degree. Your grades are an essential aspect of your admission, so take your classes seriously and do your best. Also, consider that you will have to take the DAT before you can apply for dental school, so the more you learn in your first few years of college, the better off you will be when it comes time to prepare for the exam.

2. Decide when you need to take your DAT and plan your course of study

This step is crucial as you need to give yourself enough time to study for the DAT and take the exam before your dental school application deadlines. DAT prep courses are a great way to study for the DAT. Utilize our free DAT practice exams to get started. 

3. Get relevant work experience

If you are studying to become a dentist, getting relevant work experience will help you prepare for the DAT but also look good when it comes time to apply for dental schools and eventually jobs. Consider working in a dental office or becoming a dental assistant. This will help you learn the inner workings of a dental office and make valuable connections with others in the industry.

4. Take the DAT

This is one of the most important steps on how to get into dental school because regardless of your other efforts, you will not be accepted without an appropriate DAT score. Studying for this test can be time-consuming and challenging on your own, but you can adequately prepare and pass your DAT on test day with the right resources.

5. Apply to dental school

With a passing DAT score and an undergraduate degree, you are ready to apply to dental school. It is a great idea to get your application in early, as most dental schools accept applications on a rolling basis. This makes using your study time efficiently and passing the DAT the first time even more crucial.You will also need to prepare for the possibility of dental school interviews before getting your acceptance into your school of choice.

How to Get Into Dental School

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How to prepare for the DAT

Not investing in study resources and neglecting to take the time to prepare for the DAT can negatively affect your chances of being accepted into dental school. Here are the best resources to help you pass the DAT and get into Dental school.

A great place to start is with a DAT prep course. The right course will include everything you need to fully prepare for the DAT in one place. Prep courses are the best way to make efficient use of your study time and get a great score on the DAT.

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How to create and use a study plan

Once you find the right prep materials, you can put together a study plan. This will help you stay on track and learn the required material before test day.

1. Review the DAT practice tests to determine what information you need to know.

2. Figure out how much time you have to study before the test day and decide how much time you will devote to studying each week.

3. Give yourself enough time to study each section of the test and schedule a timed practice test.

4. Take the timed practice test and notice which sections you struggle to complete on time. These sections may require more study time.

5. Look at the questions you got wrong carefully and determine why you answered them incorrectly. Taking the time to look at your mistakes will help you internalize the information you are studying, and it will also help you decide which areas you need to focus the remainder of your study time on.

6. Continue to study the areas you struggle most on.

7. Retake the practice test again and reassess your study needs until test day.

How is the DAT scored?

The DAT is a multiple-choice exam. The number of questions you answer correctly will be used to determine your score on a scale of 1 to 30. You will be given a score on each of the four sections of the exam.

For a more in-depth look at how each section of the DAT is scored, take a look at this article on What is a Good DAT Score?

Tips for doing well on the DAT

  • Answer every question. The DAT is a multiple-choice exam. There is no penalty for a wrong answer, so it is crucial to answer every question.
  • Go into your test with confidence in your ability. Having the right prep materials and time to study should help you feel confident and ready on test day.
  • Don't lose track of time. If you come to a challenging question, you may find yourself lingering and losing valuable time. Keep track of how much time you have to spend on each question and stick to it.
  • Prepare for a lengthy test. It is important to practice taking an extensive test like the DAT because answering several sections of multiple-choice questions can feel daunting. One of the best things you can do to prepare for this is to take several timed practice tests before test day. This will give you the feel of how long you can spend on each question and allow you to build your test-taking stamina.

DAT Frequently Asked Questions

What score do I need to get on the DAT?

You will receive a score from 1-30 on your DAT. This is a scaled score based on the number of questions you answered correctly. The average score on the DAT is 17.

If you hope to get a highly competitive score, you should aim for a minimum score of 19. If you score a 21 or above, you will be considered in one of the top ten percentiles of all test takers.

All dental schools require a different score, so it's important to look at your school of choice to determine the score.

Can I retake the DAT?

Yes, but you can only take the DAT once every 90 days. When determining your test date, be sure and leave yourself enough time to retake the test outside of the 90-day window should you need to retest.

For this reason, many students choose to take the DAT after their junior year of college, leaving themselves plenty of time to test and apply to their dental school of choice.

Does it look bad if I take the DAT more than once?

It is common for students to take the DAT 2-3 times. Dental schools are used to seeing multiple scores on applications, and numerous scores can be a sign that you did what it took to improve your scores.

Because some students struggle to get a competitive DAT score, it is important that you invest in the right prep materials to get a good score the first time around.

With dental school costing tens of thousands of dollars and four years of your life, the cost of any prep course is well worth it if it helps you get into your dental school of choice.

How many questions are on the DAT?

The DAT has four sections with 280 multiple-choice questions in all. With so many challenging questions to answer, it is important that you utilize a prep resource with practice tests and various practice questions. This is the only way to build the test-taking stamina to complete a lengthy exam like the DAT.

How do I register to take the DAT?

You will begin at the American Dental Association website. Before you can register to take the DAT, you will first have to read and agree to the rules and regulations outlined in the DAT guide.

You will then input your personal information, including your legal name, your prerequisites for taking the DAT and paying the registration fee. Once that is done, you will submit your application.

Once your application is processed and approved, you will receive an email notification with instructions on scheduling your testing appointment.