Ace the DAT: Mastering Reading Comprehension for the DAT Exam

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One of the trickiest parts of the Dental Admission Test (DAT) is the Reading Comprehension section. Even for native English speakers, this portion can be daunting because of its complexity and time constraint. However, don't fret! Here's a guide to help you boost your confidence and score well in the Reading Comprehension segment of the DAT exam.

 Understand the Structure of the Test

To ace the Reading Comprehension section, you must first understand how it is constructed. This part of the DAT test includes four passages, each consisting of approximately six to eight paragraphs, followed by 15-17 questions per passage. You have 60 minutes to answer all the questions, so time management is critical. Therefore, it's best to start by skimming through the entire passage, which not only saves time but also offers a general idea about the topic.

Increase Vocabulary Knowledge

Having a vast vocabulary is essential to scoring well in unique, unusual words, and scientific terminologies related to dentistry are common in the Reading Comprehension passages. The best way to improve your vocabulary is by reading heady books on science and technology, dental journals, or even following dental blogs regularly. You can also utilize vocabulary-builder apps to expand your vocabulary efficiently.

 Practice by Reading

 As the adage goes, "practice makes perfect." The same applies to acing the Reading Comprehension part of the DAT exam. The more diverse articles you read, the better you understand the different writing styles and enhance your reading comprehension skills. Additionally, you become familiar with the question types that the examiners frequently ask. Time magazine, Scientific American, and the National Geographic website are excellent resources to utilize while practicing for this part of the exam.

Focus on Main Ideas and Details

The passages in the Reading Comprehension portion often contain lots of information that can be overwhelming to sort through. To extract the necessary information, try to ignore the minor details and instead focus on the central idea of the passage. Identifying the central idea early saves time and helps with answering the questions on the exam accurately. After identifying the central idea, try to recall key details and examples, as exam questions commonly ask for such pieces of information.

Process of Elimination and Time-saving

Lastly, understanding the process of elimination and using it is a helpful practice to use while answering the questions on the exam. Carefully reading the answer choices helps to determine which are incorrect, which lessens the pool of options. Also, keep an eye on keywords like "never," "always," and "for every," as they usually indicate a false answer. Lastly, if you are uncertain of an answer, mark it to skip it and return to with time later on.

Time management

Lastly, decent time management skills help you collect an impressive amount of data in a short period. The amount of text in a DAT passage may look overwhelming, but five minutes of intensive reading comrades with better comprehension and safer recall than speedreading for five minutes. Splitting the 45-minute duration equally among three passages while leaving a little extra time for reviewing your answers, helps gain better control over time-management.


The Reading Comprehension section of the DAT exam can be anxiety-provoking, but with the correct practices and preparation, you can overcome this challenge. Understanding the structure of the exam, increasing vocabulary knowledge, practicing by reading, focusing on main ideas and details, and using the process of elimination all contribute to achieving the score you need. Mastering the Reading Comprehension section is a big step toward success on the DAT, and we hope these tips will help you get there!

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