Dental Admission Test (DAT) for International Students in the USA

A complete guide to Dental Admission Test (DAT): Dates, test structure, test fees, and eligibility

What is DAT?

Dental Admission Test (DAT) is a computer-based multiple-choice test required by all US dental schools to assess the caliber of students who wish to study dentistry in the USA. The DAT measures the academic ability, scientific understanding, and perceptual ability of the students. 

66 dental schools in the United States and 10 in Canada accept the Dental Admission Test (DAT). Its purpose is to give dentistry school programs a way to assess candidates’ chances of success same way MCAT is an exam to study medicine in the USA, similarly, DAT is an exam to study dentistry. 

The test takes 4.5 hours to complete and is available at Prometric test centers throughout the United States, its territories (including Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands), and Canada throughout the year.

Overview

Total duration of DAT  5 hours and 15 minutes 
Break time  30 minutes 
Time allotted for administrative tasks 30 minutes
Number of sections 4
Number of attempts allowed per student  3 attempts without the permission of ADA
DAT fees USD 510
DAT score range 1 to 30
DAT score validity  3 years 
DAT results  3-4 weeks post exam

DAT Syllabus and Test Structure

Section Questions General Topics
Survey of Natural Sciences 100 items Biology (40 items)

General Chemistry (30 items)

Organic Chemistry (30 items)

Perceptual Ability Test 90 items Contains six subtests:

Apertures

View Recognition

Angle Discrimination

Paper Folding

Cube Counting

3D Form Development

Reading Comprehension Test 50 items A variety of topics are covered in order to test reading comprehension
Quantitative Reading Test 40 items Mathematics- Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Probability, Statistics, Numeric Calculations, and Conversions

How to apply for DAT?

  1. To register for the DAT, you will first need a DENTPIN. The DENTPIN is a standardized personal identifier used by the agencies responsible for the accreditation of dental school applicants when registering for the DAT. To obtain or retrieve a DENTPIN, visit ada.org/dentpin.
  2. Fill out all the information requested correctly and pay the exam fee which is currently USD 510. 
  3. Wait to receive an eligibility letter at your registered email address. It can take multiple days for the letter to come. 
  4. In the eligibility letter, you will find an eligibility number that can be used to schedule an appointment with a Prometric testing center. 
  5. Fill in all the information, and choose your center of examination and the date. It is advised to start the process at least a month or two before the date you want to take the exam.
  6. Upon submission of the application, you will receive a confirmation email of your examination.

How competitive is the DAT exam?

The Dental Admission Test, or DAT, is a difficult exam that requires perseverance and dedication, just like any other competitive exam. The DAT is often regarded as one of the most difficult exams available. The exam is organized into six sections and lasts 5 hours. DAT is guaranteed to be difficult because it covers such a broad range of topics. The average score for each section is 17 which is the 50th percentile. However, most dental schools in the USA require a minimum score of 75% which is a score of 19, to be considered.

In the 75th percentile, a score of 19 or 20 puts you ahead of three-quarters of DAT test-takers, making scoring considerably more competitive. The cream of the crop will score in the 98th percentile or above, putting them in the top 2% of test-takers, with scores of 22-23.

Dental schools will use this DAT Academic Average, along with your overall undergrad GPA, as a primary factor in admission. Admissions to prominent colleges such as UCLA School of Dentistry and Harvard School of Dental Medicine are more demanding, requiring an AA of 23.2 and 23.8, respectively. Therefore, students who wish to study dentistry in the USA must strive to get a score between 19-23. 

Test Dates

There are no specific dates for conducting the DAT. It is available year-round. The DAT is available all year at Prometric Test Centers across the United States and Canada. You must call Prometric to schedule an appointment once you have received your eligibility letter verifying that your test application has been accepted. 

DAT Scoring

Scale scores are used to report DAT findings. These scale scores are not in the form of percentiles. Psychometric equating processes are used to convert raw scores to scale score conversion. It is feasible to compare the performance of applicants who have completed the DAT using scale scores. The DAT has a range of 1 to 30 points.

Each dental education program determines what constitutes a passing score on the DAT on its own. As a result, there is no official DAT passing score. On the DAT, a scale score of 19 usually indicates an ordinary feat. The number of right responses obtained determines the DAT score; applicants are not penalized for guessing. Hence, no negative marking.

Some of the test’s questions are experimental and will not be graded. The information gathered on unscored questions is utilized to see if they meet psychometric requirements and are suitable for use in future test administrations. Unscored questions appear to applicants in the same way as scored questions do.

Test Fees

DAT examination fee is USD 510 and it includes administration and official score reporting to all dental hygiene schools and programs selected at the time of application. This fee is non-transferable and non-refundable. 

Candidates who are students or graduates of dental schools not accredited by CODA must pay a processing fee. $300

DAT Eligibility

  • Once the application has been filled by ADA, wait for the eligibility letter.
  • Once you have received the eligibility letter, you can schedule an appointment to take the test with Prometric testing. 
  • You can only take the test once every 90 days.
  • You can only take the test three times, no more unless you get special permission from the ADA.
  • Most applicants complete two or more years of college before taking the test.
  • Dental school applicants are encouraged to take the DAT well in advance of the dental school admission cycle.
  • Applicants seeking admission to Canadian dental schools should confirm the acceptability of the DAT by Canadian schools prior to applying for the test.
  • Candidates are required to submit a new application and fee for each testing attempt.
  • Candidates who have had three or more DAT attempts must apply for permission to test again. From that point forward, they may retest only once per 12-month period.

Frequently Asked Questions

DAT exam can be taken once every 90 days three times. After that, you will need permission from the ADA to retake the test,

The fee for taking DAT is USD 510. The fee varies from year to year and in addition to that, there may be other optional costs.

17-19 is considered an average DAT score. Anything above 22 is considered great.