What are the Most Commonly Asked Questions About the DAT Exam?


As a predental student, it's essential to know everything about the DAT exam. It is a standardized test that assesses your academic abilities in various subjects and critical thinking skills required for dental school admission. Many students are confused about what to expect from the DAT exam and have several questions in their minds. This article will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the DAT exam, providing you with a better understanding of the test.


What is included in the DAT?

The DAT consists of multiple-choice questions presented in English, and includes a battery of four tests:

  • Survey of the Natural Sciences (100 items)
  • Perceptual Ability (90 items)
  • Reading Comprehension (50 items)
  • Quantitative Reasoning (40 items)

What is the format of the DAT exam?


Number of questions



Survey of Natural Sciences

100 Questions

90 Minutes

Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry

Perceptual Ability Test

90 Questions

60 Minutes

Keyhole, Top/Front/End Visualization, Angle Ranking, Hole Punches, Cube Counting, Pattern Folding

Reading Comprehension Test

50 Questions

60 Minutes

The Reading Comprehension Test contains three reading passages on various scientific topics.

Quantitative Reasoning Test

40 Questions

45 Minutes

Math, Word Problems



DAT results are reported as scale scores. Scale scores are neither raw scores (i.e., the number of questions answered correctly) nor percentiles. DAT scale scores range from 1 to 30. A scale score of 19 typically signifies average performance on a national basis.

How is the DAT Academic Average score determined?

    The Academic Average is the rounded average of a candidate’s scale scores in Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Quantitative Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension.

      How is the DAT Total Science score determined?

      The Total Science scale score is based on a candidate’s performance on the Survey of Natural Sciences section. The Total Science score is NOT the rounded average of a candidate’s scale scores in Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry.

          Does the DAT contain unscored questions?

         Yes. A small number of questions on the test are experimental and are not scored. The data collected on unscored questions may be used in later test construction procedures, to ensure that these questions are appropriate before they become scored items. Unscored questions are presented in the same manner as scored questions.

        Can you retake the DAT exam?

        The DAT retest policy is not subject to appeal and states that:

        • Candidates must wait 60 days between testing attempts on the DAT, with a maximum of four (4) such administrations permitted during any 12-month period of time.
        • Candidates with three (3) or more attempts on the DAT must apply for permission to test again, providing proof of recent application to dental school with each subsequent application to test.
        • Subsequent to the candidate’s fifth DAT attempt, the candidate may retest only once per 12-month period.

        Whether your score was too low to get into your preferred school, or you simply want to see if you can improve your examination results, taking the DAT a second and third time is allowed.

        If taking the exam again, applicants should be aware that they must wait a minimum of 60 days from their last examination attempt before retesting, and each new testing attempt will  require a new application and examination fee.

        Be sure to check with your potential dental schools, as all schools handle their admissions differently, including which DAT score(s) they will consider for admission. The school you’ve applied to may take the highest of your scores, an average between the number of attempts, or the most recent.


        We hope that this article has answered some of your commonly asked questions about the DAT exam. Knowing what to expect from the test, its format, and scoring system can help you prepare better and ensure you get the maximum score possible. Remember to prepare for the DAT exam by reviewing the DAT Destroyer Study Guide materials thoroughly, practicing, and Taking mock exams offered by the ADA can be a powerful motivational tool. These exams are crafted by the same team responsible for creating the actual exam, making them the closest resemblance to the real thing. Also join a DAT Study Group.

        Good Luck!

        Dr. Jim Romano, Nancy Steen and the DAT Destroyer Team

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