What are the Different Types of Dental Admission Test Prep?

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  • Written By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2019
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There are many different kinds of Dental Admission Test prep, from taking a practice test or working through a prep book to enrolling in a commercial test prep course. Some Dental Admission Test prep focuses on improving individual performance on certain test sections, while others aim to familiarize test-takers with the format and time constraints of the exam. Most students prepare for the Dental Admission Test in several different ways before test day.

The Dental Admission Test, also commonly referred to by its acronym, DAT, is an exam made up of four different standardized tests administered over one half-day. Each test examines knowledge in a different subject area by asking a series of multiple choice questions. Subjects tested include the natural sciences, perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning. The exam’s format requires that students be prepared both for the style and substance of the questions, as well as for the time constraints that the DAT exam necessarily imposes.

Most Dental Admission Test takers begin their preparations by familiarizing themselves with the exam’s format. Organizations like the American Dental Association (ADA) makes past exams available for a small fee, which is a good place to start. The ADA also publishes extensive information about the test, its sections, and the specific subject matters examined. Careful study of this material is often an invaluable Dental Admission Test prep strategy.


Taking a practice test or two can give a student a good idea of what sort of further preparation is needed. If a student needs to sharpen up his or her knowledge in a certain area, then review products like subject matter flashcards or science question drills might be helpful forms of Dental Admission Test prep. These kinds of review products are readily available online, as well as through many bookstores.

Like all standardized tests, the DAT tests more than just raw facts. Simply knowing biology or organic chemistry, for instance, is not usually enough to score well on the science section. Similarly, even a firm grasp of logic and math is not itself a sure way to succeed on the perceptual or quantitative reasoning sections. Prospective dental school students must also have an understanding of how the exam is going to ask the questions, and be prepared for traps in the answer choices.

Some students can develop their own strategies for conquering the different question types during independent DAT practice. For others, however, a more disciplined and prescribed course may be necessary. Many students purchase a DAT review book to help them get a broader sense of how to approach the exam. The majority of review books walk students through the entire Dental Admission Test, step by step, offering tips and strategy advice along the way. One of the advantages of using a DAT book for Dental Admission Test prep is the flexibility to set one’s own schedule, and to follow a self-created time line.

Commercial test prep companies offer DAT prep courses in many cities, as well. These courses offer students a classroom learning approach to conquering the admissions tests. Most commercial courses combine lectures, practice exams, and one-on-one tutoring, though their schedules and locations are often more fixed.

Online companies also offer Dental Admission Test prep services. Web-based preparation can be a good option for students who do not have the time to commit to a classroom course, but who need more review than a book can provide. One of the advantages of online prep programs is that they closely mimic the Dental Admission Test’s computerized format. The DAT changes slightly every year, however, and it can sometimes be difficult to gauge the timeliness of an online program. Books are usually dated, by contrast, and in-person courses can provide assurances of up-to-date information.



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