How to Get Into Dental School

Aspiring to become a dentist is a commendable goal. The path to dental school is challenging but rewarding. This guide will take you through the necessary steps to turn your dream into reality.


The Importance of Dental School and What to Expect

Dental school is a rigorous program designed to prepare students for careers in dentistry. It includes comprehensive coursework in subjects like anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry, along with clinical practice. Graduates are qualified to diagnose, treat, and prevent oral health problems. Understanding the importance and expectations of dental school can help you stay focused and motivated throughout the application process.

Preparing for Dental School

Academic and Extracurricular Requirements

  • Maintain a Strong GPA: Aim for a GPA of 3.5 or higher, especially in science courses.
  • Complete Prerequisite Courses: Most dental schools require courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and English.
  • Gain Shadowing Experience: Observe dental professionals in practice. Aim for at least 100 hours of shadowing.
  • Participate in Extracurricular Activities: Join pre-dental clubs, volunteer, and take part in community service. Leadership roles in these activities can make your application stand out.

Navigating the Dental Admissions Test (DAT)

Tips and Resources

  • Start Early: Begin studying at least six months before your test date.
  • Use Quality Study Materials: Recommended resources include the DAT Destroyer and Kaplan DAT
  • Create a Study Schedule: Allocate specific times each day for studying different sections of the DAT.
  • Take Practice Tests: Prepare with DAT practice tests offered by the ADA and updated biology test specifications The ADA offers practice tests with questions written by actual DAT test constructors.

These practice tests feature the types of questions and question formats used in the actual test and will mirror the actual test specifications, although some modules/sections have fewer items than the actual test. The practice items are intended for the use of educators and students within the educational environment or for individual study and may not be reproduced in any format, whether paper or electronic, without expressed written permission of the ADA. This practice test should only be used as a personal resource when studying and preparing for an admissions examination. The number of correct answers will be reported upon completion of each module. Scores will not be provided. Applicants may choose between the following testing options:

  • Individual modules, each available for $20.
  • A full practice test, for the discounted price of $100.
  • Join the DAT Destroyer Study Groups: Collaborate with peers to share resources and study tips.

Crafting a Standout Dental School Application

Key Components

  • Personal Statement: Write a compelling essay that explains your interest in dentistry and highlights your experiences and strengths.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Secure strong letters from professors, employers, or dentists you've shadowed.
  • Extracurricular and Volunteer Activities: Include all relevant experiences that demonstrate your commitment and skills.
  • Transcripts: Ensure your academic records are complete and reflect your academic achievements.

The Interview Process

Preparing and Succeeding

  • Practice Common Interview Questions: Prepare answers for questions about your motivations, experiences, and understanding of the dental profession.
  • Mock Interviews: Participate in mock interviews with advisors or mentors.
  • Dress Professionally: Make a good first impression with appropriate attire.
  • Be Yourself: Authenticity can set you apart from other candidates.

Financing Your Dental Education

Scholarships, Grants, and Loans

  • Research Financial Aid Options: Look into scholarships, grants, and federal loans specifically for dental students.
  • Apply for Scholarships: Utilize resources like the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) and local dental organizations.
  • Understand Loan Repayment Options: Familiarize yourself with loan repayment programs, including those that offer forgiveness for service in underserved areas.


Encouragement and Next Steps

Entering dental school requires dedication, hard work, and careful planning. Remember, each step you take brings you closer to achieving your goal. Stay motivated, seek support when needed, and believe in your ability to succeed.

For more personalized guidance, consider reaching out to a career advisor or joining a pre-dental organization. Good luck on your journey to becoming a dentist!