DAT & OAT - When Should You Take The Exam?


DAT exam prep books

Choosing when to take the DAT or OAT exam can be tricky. You may find yourself questioning whether you're adequately prepared or taking the exam too late to get into your school of choice. And are these exams super hard to ace?

Keep a few things in mind when choosing when to take the exam, including how much time you have to prepare and what study materials you will be using.

How To Decide When To Take The DAT or OAT Exam

Regarding your education, everything hinges on adequate preparation and excellent timing. Consider these factors when deciding when to take the exams.

Consider The Dental School's Requirements

To study dentistry in the United States or Canada, you must take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). When making admissions decisions, schools may accept a range of DAT scores depending on their criteria. Check with the schools to see their requirements for acceptance.

Those students who want to be accepted into Optometry school in the United States and Canada must take the OAT. Applicants can take the exam at any of the Prometric Test Centers in the United States, its territories, and Canada. Exam dates and times are accessible year-round, so you have a lot of choices of when to take this exam.

We recommend taking the DAT or OAT in the second semester of your junior year or the summer between your junior and senior years of college if you want to gain acceptance in the next cycle. Make sure that you have allowed enough time to adequately  study the topics that will be on the exam. Only take the exam when you are fully prepared, even if you have to miss a cycle. One of the biggest mistakes students make is rushing to take the exam when not fully prepared.  

Familiarize Yourself With The Coursework

If you are currently in school it is always best to wait to take your exam until you have completed the required coursework. You can always speak to your school advisor for clarity. Many students for various reasons decide to take it before the required classes are completed and have succeeded by using our materials to prepare. Taking the exam while you are still in school can be challenging and that is why some students prefer to prepare during the summer months when they have more free time. Additionally, if you do well on the exam, some schools offer scholarship programs. Scoring as high as possible on the exam is always the objective.  Don’t take shortcuts.

On the other hand, if you have graduated from college and finished the required classes, you can take the DAT or OAT test when you are prepared. Brush up on the exam topics with OAT or DAT exam prep books. By taking the exam early it will allow you to submit your application early. Using the best DAT study resources and OAT Prep like the Destroyers will help you achieve that goal. Additionally, taking the exam early may allow you to retake it later if necessary. But don’t rush to take the exam! If you do all the work in our recommended books there is an excellent chance you will avoid the dreaded retake.

Ensure You Give Yourself Enough Time To Prepare For The Exam

Always make sure you have plenty of time to study and that will make you feel confident that you will do well while taking the exam. The GPA is an important part of your application, so don’t let your classroom work fall behind while studying for the exam. Always strive to keep your GPA as high as possible. You want to be as relaxed as possible when taking your exam. Having too much on your plate at once poses a distraction and can affect your ability to concentrate.

Should you need more time to prepare or are worried about fitting studying into your schedule, it may be better to wait until your schedule allows. Waiting until you graduate is also perfectly normal; some people find better results when waiting. You'll have more time to settle in and review your DAT exam prep books. Always do what is best for your situation.

Consider Whether or Not Study Alone Or In A Group

Some students perform better under pressure studying alone and others do better when studying for  the exam with other students or in a study group. Orgoman offers a free study group with questions and tips posted daily.  Join here.  Others find that they learn best when they have more time to study at their own pace. There is no right or wrong answer here; it simply depends on your learning style.

Your designated schools receive your official scores within 1-2 weeks following the exam's conclusion, but you can get your unofficial score immediately after the exam. We recommend giving yourself anywhere from one to three months to prepare for the test and scheduling it for when you feel fully prepared. The goal is to score high on the exam the first time, even if that means missing a cycle.  Do everything possible to avoid a retake.

Many institutions start taking applications in the summer, typically beginning in June. Get your additional materials (Letters of Recommendation, transcripts, essays) and complete as much of the application as possible before taking the OAT or DAT. If you do this, you'll be more prepared for the test and able to devote your full attention to it when the time is right.

Your Current Obligations

If, for any reason, your obligations affect your OAT or DAT exam prep time, we recommend taking the necessary steps to work around that. However, sometimes this isn't possible.

For example, you may be a full-time student while balancing a part-time job. This can be problematic if you schedule your exams for a particular date and cannot get time off for work or time off to study for the exams. Planning ahead often solves these problems

Sometimes it's challenging to balance your education and preparing for the exam. But never be tempted to take the exam until fully prepared or it can negatively impact your exam results. You do have the option of rescheduling your DAT and OAT tests if you need to.

How To Reschedule Your DAT Exam 

You must inform the Prometric testing center before your scheduled testing date if you need to reschedule or cancel it. The local testing center cannot make schedule changes or cancellations. You'll need to pay the Administration Vendor any additional fees that arise.

You must reschedule cancellations and appointments by the business day before the exam (at least 24 hours before your scheduled exam time). If you need to reschedule your testing session, you will receive a confirmation message; please keep a copy of this message for your records.

The quickest and easiest way to schedule your exam is to do it online, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

From the Prometric home page, search for or select the name of the test you want to take under the test taker menu. You’ll be brought to the “home page” for the organization whose exam it is. Click action links on the left-hand side and simply follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process.

Rescheduling Fees For the DAT and OAT Exam

As of 2023, the rescheduling fees to take the DAT and OAT are:

  • 30 or more business days* before test date $40
  • 5 – 29 business days before scheduled test date $70
  • 1 – 4 business days before scheduled test date $150

Call Prometric at 800.688.5804 or send a message through the website if you need to reschedule or cancel your testing appointment. You must contact Prometric at least 24 business hours before your scheduled exam time. Please do not contact the local test center, as they cannot reschedule or cancel your appointment.

Emergencies On The Day Of A Testing Appointment 

If an emergency occurs on the day of a testing appointment that prevents a candidate from sitting for their examination, a written request for relief must be submitted to DTS. This request should include applicable documentation and be sent to testingproblems@ada.org within five business days of the scheduled appointment. Examples of emergencies and applicable documentation include, but are not limited to, the following:  Sudden illness on the examination day. Provide a doctor’s note or hospital records confirming that you were treated on the day of the examination. Death in the family on the examination day. Provide a copy of an obituary, prayer card, funeral service program, or death certificate confirming that the relative passed away or services were held on the day of the examination.

In the event of a cancellation or rescheduling, you will be responsible for paying a charge to Prometric. Candidates who either don't show up for their test or arrive late will be turned away and will not be refunded their testing cost.

Plan Ahead To Take Your DAT or OAT Exams

Before you schedule your DAT and OAT test dates, consider all the factors affecting your performance. Have you met the requirements to take the exam? Have you mastered the coursework? Did you give yourself enough time to review your OAT and DAT exam prep books?

It's important to ensure you give yourself a fair chance at success. If need be, you can reschedule your exams. A bonus suggestion is to ensure your study materials are appropriate. Orgoman offers the most comprehensive DAT exam study guide and OAT Test Prep and other resources to make you feel prepared and confident on test day.

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