Don't Let a Low PAT Score Hold You Back From Dental School

If you're a student who is aspiring to become a dentist, chances are you're aware of the Dental Admission Test (DAT). The DAT is a standardized test that assesses your academic and scientific knowledge, manual dexterity, and perceptual ability. One of the sections of the test is the Perceptual Ability Test (PAT). It measures your ability to interpret two-dimensional representations of three-dimensional objects, which includes angle discrimination, cube counting, and hole punching. A low PAT score can be disheartening, but don't let it hold you back from chasing your dream of becoming a dentist. In this blog post, we'll discuss ways to improve your PAT score and how you can still get into dental school, even with a low PAT score.

Improve your PAT score

It's essential to practice for the PAT section, just like how you would practice for any other section of the DAT. Several resources are available, such as DAT prep books, online courses, and workshops, that can help you boost your score. While practicing, focus on the sections that you're struggling with the most. Dedicate more time to studying and perfecting your weaker areas. Take timed practice tests, so you get accustomed to the timing, which will prepare you for the actual test day. Finally, stay confident and calm on test day. Taking a deep breath before the test can be helpful in alleviating any stress or fear that may have accumulated.

 Emphasize Your Strengths

Admissions committees look at the entire application, not just the scores. Highlight your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, community service, and work experience. Admissions committees want to see the whole picture of your personality, academics, and motivation. If you have a history of volunteering or community service, include that in your application. It demonstrates your desire to help others and your eagerness to become a part of the dental field.

 Explore Alternative Pathways

Suppose your application is rejected from dental schools due to a low PAT score. In that case, there are still alternative pathways to becoming a dentist. Several post-baccalaureate programs offer dental training, allowing you to complete the necessary classes and clinical practices required for the dental school program. You can also shadow a dentist, dental hygienist, or dental assistant and learn from their experiences. This can give you an idea of the daily operations of a dental practice, build your resume, and alleviate your questions about the dental field.


Be Ready to Retake

If you have to retake the DAT, that's okay. Several students retake the DAT to improve their scores. You can also request to throw out the previous score if it doesn't represent your true abilities. However, most schools will take a look at all DAT scores that have been taken, so it's good to make efforts with your retake.



Though a low PAT score may be a bummer, it doesn't have to stop you from pursuing a career in dentistry. You can improvise your PAT scores by practicing and studying, emphasize your strengths in your application, explore alternative pathways, and retake DAT if necessary. Admissions committees are looking for well-rounded candidates with a genuine dedication to dentistry. If you're passionate about dental health and committed to becoming a dentist, a low PAT score can't hold you back from achieving your dreams.

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