Student Guide - How to Approach the DAT With Confidence

Did you know that over 14,000 people take the DAT each year?

It is a crucial part of the dental admission experience, which explains the high number. With thousands of dentists in the country, the number of people taking the DAT is also going to be up there.

So if you are thinking about taking the DAT, you probably want to learn a bit more about it. In this guide, we'll walk you through the DAT score range, DAT percentiles, and dental admission test prep tips.

Keep reading to prepare yourself for the DAT!

What Is the DAT?

When it comes to studying for the DAT, it's first important to know what it is and why you need to take it.

The DAT stands for the Dental Admission Test. It is an admission test for people considering going to a dental education program or school. Most dental schools require this test for admission in order to see the likelihood of an applicant's success. 

One of the most important things to know is that if you are thinking about becoming a dentist or contemplating going down this career path, you will need to take the Dental Admission Test at some point. Typically, this is one of the first steps in the process of dental admission.

The test takes place in the United States and Canada.

Things to Know About the Dental Admission Test

Now that you know what the DAT is, you may be wondering a bit more about it. And as someone who may be about to take the DAT or will be sometime in the near future, there are a lot of things that you should be aware of.

Reason for the Test

For starters, let's discuss the reason behind the test. Dental schools like to use this as a standard for applicants because most undergraduate programs and schools are not highly standardized when it comes to degrees that could be pre-dental.

Instead, the DAT gives schools an easy way to determine an applicant's academic abilities in terms of becoming a dentist.

The Difficulty of the DAT

Much like many other postgraduate tests, the DAT is extremely challenging. It can be compared to the other pre-admission tests such as the MCAT or GMAT.

With that said, this is not a test to take for granted or go into without preparing yourself. If you do that, there is a low chance that you will succeed in a way that will set you up for admission into a dental school.

On the test, many test-takers believe that the chemistry section is one of the hardest. However, many argue that the Biology section is actually the hardest of them all.

Scoring of the DAT

The DAT is scored between 1 through 30 on each one of the subsections of the DAT.

There are six sub-sections. The sub-sections cover biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning.

Of that, there are four primary sections. They are the Perceptual Ability Test, Reading Comprehension Test, Quantitative Reasoning Test, and the Survey of Natural Sciences.

Some of the top DAT scores will range between a 19 and 23 out of 30. This will likely put you in the top 25% of test takers. 

Survey of Natural Sciences Test

This test is the first section of the DAT. Test-takers have 90 minutes to complete this section. It has 100 questions all about basic sciences.

Broken up, this is 30 chemistry questions, 30 organic chemistry questions, and 40 biology questions.

To get through this section, you have to work fast as it is about 1 minute per question. 

Perceptual Ability Test

This part of the DAT tests your skills with spatial reasoning and physical dexterity.

You have 60 minutes to take this part of the test.

There are 90 questions to answer in this hour of allotted time. The questions have to do with paper folding, view recognition, apertures, and cube counting.

Although it may not sound difficult right from the start, this can be very hard if you do not adequately prepare because of the time crunch. Preparing for this part of the test with a lot of DAT preparation is crucial.

Reading Comprehension Test

The reading comprehension portion of the DAT comprises three passages of text and 50 questions. The entire reading comprehension portion needs to be done in one hour.

The three passages could have a wide array of topics, such as economics or science.

In order to practice for this part, it can't be specific information. Rather, you will need to prepare for general reading comprehension and practice in that way.

Quantitative Reasoning Test

This section of the DAT tests the math skills that you would actually be using in practice as a dentist. 

It is 40 multiple choice questions of which you have 45 minutes to complete. Here's a typical breakdown of the questions, although it can vary:

  • Algebra: 9 questions
  • Numerical calculations: 6 questions
  • Conversions: 3 questions 
  • Statistics: 4 questions
  • Geometry: 4 questions
  • Trigonometry: 4 questions 
  • Word problems: 10 questions 

There is also not much time in this section, so it is crucial that you work quickly and efficiently. Taking DAT practice tests can help you on this section with the speed that you need to have.

Tips for Dental Admission Test Prep

Now that you know what to expect when you take the DAT, you are probably now wondering how to study for the DAT. You're in luck! Here are some DAT study tips and DAT study plans that can help you succeed. 

It may come as a shock, but when you are preparing for the DAT, many people recommend putting in over 200 hours of studying for preparation.

Manage Your Time

One of the most important parts of taking the DAT is learning how to manage your time effectively. You have to answer each question quickly, so practicing your ability to go through the test efficiently is a crucial part of your test practice.

You do not want to spend too much time on one question as that can mess up the rest of your test.

Take Advantage of the Testing Tools

There are not many tools or resources given to you to take the test. Because of this, it is important that you take advantage of all of the tools that you are given. This means you should be methodical about your noteboard and the other computer-based testing tools that you will have on the test.

Use Process of Elimination 

As you learned all the way back in elementary school, and was probably reiterated to you when taking the ACT and SATs, the process of elimination needs to be your best friend.

You should always cross out all of the wrong answers first. Move past the trap answers and get to one that closely matches your prediction. It's always important to think of the potential answer first before you look at the answers so that you can more accurately predict before getting caught up in the wording of the given answers. 

Don't Be Afraid to Skip Around

Many people are afraid to skip around for fear that they will forget to go back or not have enough time.

However, focusing too long on one question can be just as harmful. This is why skipping around is actually a great tool to use.

If you get stuck on a question, move on. It is better to answer more questions than not. This will maximize your opportunity to get more points on the test.

Build Stamina

When you are practicing for the exam, it's important to build stamina. The test takes about five hours, so building the stamina to sit there for that long with a focused mind is important.

To do this, taking study tests can help. Study in three-hour blocks as well.

However, with that said, it is also important that you take a day off of studying so that you don't burn out. Make sure that you also take breaks during your studying days and don't go for too long without one (minus the times that you practice your three-hour blocks).

Think About Your Mindset

Your mindset is one of the most important parts of taking the test. If you go in with a bad attitude, you are not going to do as well as you could with a positive attitude. 

You also need to know that you prepared for the test to the best of your ability. Keep your spirits high even when you reach a question that you don't know—because you're going to have a few of those on the test.

One of the best mindsets that you can have while taking this test is to take it with a focused mind while also not putting too much pressure on yourself. You've done many practice tests just like it, so do it in the same way!

Go Into the Study Process Prepared

When it comes to your DAT study plans, you need to make sure that you first understand the DAT completely. You need to know what they will test you on, what it all means, and your areas of weakness.

Knowing that can help you develop a plan for your entire studying time that will pay off in the long run.

Get Sleep and Relax

When it comes to the day before the test day, give yourself a break. Relax a bit and make sure you get to be early.

Cramming before an exam has actually been found to have negative effects. This means that there is no point in doing this and relaxing will actually go a lot further.

Instead, getting enough sleep can actually help solidify the information that you have been looking over and studying for days on end. Plan to get about 6 to 8 hours the night before the exam. And with that said, do not skimp on sleep for the nights before that either, as that won't do you any good as well!

Block Off Study Times

One of the most efficient ways to study for the DAT is to block off an hour or two per day to study. The worst thing you can do when it comes time to study is to do it all in one day.

If you were to study all at one time versus spread out across six days, the latter is way more beneficial for your memory and skills.

The longest amount of time that you should study is three hours. This is ideal because it will help to build your stamina. If you find that this is too long, you should make sure that you at least study for an hour at a time uninterrupted. 

All About the DAT

There is a lot to know about the DAT. If you are wanting to go to dental school, one of the main things that you need to worry about is the dental admission process, which is where the DAT comes into play.

Before you take it, it is important to know what the layout and content of the exam are. Once you do, studying with the tips above in mind can make a huge difference in your test-taking skills and the score that you receive.

If you are ready to get started with your test prep for the DAT, it's time to think about the materials you need, such as study books and practice tests.

At Orgoman, we have the study book that you need to destroy the DAT and excel on the test! You can buy the book online here.

Happy studying!

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