Ace the DAT Reading Comprehension: Proven Strategies

Mastering DAT reading comprehension can be tricky. You need to memorize scientific terms and understand complex texts. How do you tackle these challenges efficiently? 

In this blog, Orgoman will help you learn effective strategies for the reading section of the DAT exam. You will learn tips to memorize vocabulary, grasp difficult concepts quickly, and avoid common mistakes. Also, we share techniques to enhance your exam performance dramatically. 

Ready to enhance your knowledge? Let’s begin! 

What Is the Dental Admission Test (DAT)?

The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is an exam required for those applying to dental schools in the United States and Canada. It assesses key skills in natural sciences, perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning. 

Schools use DAT scores to evaluate applicants' potential for success in dental education programs. The test consists of four sections, and each measures a different set of abilities. Preparing for the DAT is essential, as it plays a critical role in the admission process. This exam ensures candidates have the necessary knowledge and skills for dental school.

DAT Exam Breakdown

The DAT is a standardized examination for prospective dental students, covering four key areas: Natural Sciences, Perceptual Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning. Each section is crafted to assess specific skills that are critical for success in dental school.

Survey of Natural Sciences

This section includes 100 questions on Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry. You will encounter topics from cellular processes and genetics to chemical reactions and organic compounds.

Perceptual Ability

Here, you face 90 questions designed to evaluate your spatial and visual perception skills. Tasks include angle discrimination, cube counting, and pattern folding.

Reading Comprehension

DAT reading comprehension consists of 50 questions that require you to read and understand scientific passages. These passages cover a range of scientific topics, and you need to analyze them critically.

Quantitative Reasoning

It comprises 40 questions involving basic math, algebra, data analysis, and probability. This section tests your numerical problem-solving ability.

Mastering Scientific Terminology for DAT Reading Comprehension

Out of all the parts of the exam, the DAT reading comprehension section can be notably challenging. This section demands a strong command of scientific terminology, which is crucial for understanding the complex material presented.

Develop a Reading Habit in Science

To get comfortable with scientific terms, start by reading science-focused materials regularly. Engage with textbooks, scientific journals, and articles that emphasize biology, chemistry, and health sciences. This practice will familiarize you with the style and vocabulary used in scientific discourse, making it easier to navigate the reading comprehension section of the DAT.

Use Flashcards for Memorization

Create flashcards of new terms you encounter during your reading. Include the word on one side and its definition and a context sentence on the other. Regular review of these flashcards will help reinforce your memory of scientific vocabulary.

Participate in Study Groups

Join or form a study group with peers who are also preparing for the DAT. At Orgoman, we do have a DAT Destroyer Facebook Study Group that you can join for free, where we regularly post reading passages that can help you test your reading comprehension.  Discussing reading passages and explaining terms to each other can enhance your understanding and retention of scientific vocabulary.

Leverage Online Resources 

Utilize online platforms that offer DAT preparation courses. These resources often include practice tests that feature scientific reading passages similar to those you will encounter on the exam. Regular practice with these tools can sharpen your skills in quickly deciphering complex terms and concepts.

Strategies for DAT Reading Comprehension on Exam Day

On the day of the DAT, tackling the reading comprehension section effectively is key. This part of the exam can be daunting due to the dense scientific content and complex terminology involved.

Skim the Passages First

Begin by quickly skimming the passages to grasp the main ideas and structure. This initial overview helps you understand the overall theme and locate key information faster when answering specific questions.

Break Down Complex Sentences

Encountering complex sentences is common in this section. Take time to break them down into simpler parts. Focus on understanding the meaning rather than memorizing technical terms. If a term is unfamiliar, try to infer its meaning from the context or related information within the passage.

Focus on Comprehension, Not Memorization

The reading comprehension section tests your ability to understand and interpret scientific texts, not to recall memorized facts. Concentrate on understanding the arguments and explanations provided. This approach will enable you to answer questions more accurately.

Answer Questions Strategically

When answering questions, prioritize those you find easier or more straightforward first. This method ensures you secure points quickly and reduces the time spent puzzling over difficult questions. Return to the tougher questions once you’ve covered the manageable ones.

Use Process of Elimination

For multiple-choice questions, leverage the process of elimination. Cross out clearly incorrect answers to narrow your choices. This technique can increase your chances of selecting the correct answer, especially when you are uncertain.

Manage Your Time Effectively

Keep a close watch on your time. Allocate a specific amount of time to each passage and set of questions. Avoid spending too much time on one passage. If you're stuck, move on and come back if time permits.

Practice Active Reading

Engage actively with the text as you read. Look for transition words that indicate contrasts or comparisons, as these often highlight critical points. Make mental notes of key concepts and details to enhance your understanding and recall.

Prepare for Different Passage Types

Be ready for a variety of scientific topics. Familiarize yourself with common themes and experimental setups often discussed in scientific literature. This background knowledge will help you quickly adapt to the content of each passage, regardless of the topic.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How Should I Prepare for the DAT, Especially the Reading Comprehension Section?

To prepare effectively for the DAT's reading comprehension section, focus on practicing with a variety of scientific passages since the exam often includes these topics. Use practice tests to familiarize yourself with the format and types of questions asked. 

Additionally, develop a consistent strategy for approaching passages, such as previewing questions before reading or actively summarizing main points and details as you go. Time management is crucial, so regularly time your practice sessions to enhance your ability to complete the section within the allotted time.

Is It Better To Read Quickly or Slowly in the Reading Comprehension Section of the DAT?

The key is to find a balance between speed and comprehension. Reading too quickly can lead to missing important details, while reading too slowly may prevent you from completing the section. 

Practice reading at a pace where you can understand and recall the main ideas and details effectively. Techniques like skimming for structure and then slowing down for dense or important sections can be very helpful.

Is It Advisable To Read Passages More Than Once During the DAT Reading Comprehension Section?

Re-reading passages can be beneficial if done strategically. If time allows, you might revisit complex sections or passages to clarify your understanding or to confirm answers to specific questions. 

However, it's generally more efficient to aim for strong comprehension in your first read-through by focusing on key details and taking brief notes. This approach helps in managing the limited time you have during the exam.

How Can I Quickly Understand Questions and Browse Through Them for Faster Comprehension in the DAT Reading Comprehension Section?

To quickly understand questions and browse through them effectively, start by skimming through all the questions before reading the passage to identify what information you need to focus on. This can guide your reading process, allowing you to note relevant details as you go. 

Also, practice distinguishing between different types of questions (e.g., detail-oriented, inferential, or vocabulary-based) as this will help you know how deeply you need to engage with different parts of the text during your first read.


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