What is the Dental Admission Test?

Jeremy Laukkonen
Jeremy Laukkonen

A dental admission test (DAT) is an entrance exam that must be taken before training to become a dentist in Canada or the United States. The specific test can differ between these two nations, though they are usually similar in content and both versions are typically accepted by schools in both countries. Each exam is made up of several different components that tests the applicant's knowledge of science and mathematics. There are typically reading comprehension and visual acuity portions as well. After the dental admission test has been completed, the prospective student can typically apply to the school of his or her choice.

One company typically has a contract to provide the dental admission test at its facilities throughout an entire country. The contract may change hands from time to time, though it typically belongs to the single company, which can create a standardized testing environment regardless of where the exam is taken. Prospective students typically apply through the relevant national dental association and then report to a local testing facility where they can sit the proctored exam. Students at this level typically have a variety of different undergraduate degrees, though most of the knowledge assessed on the test is of a general nature.

The largest and most lengthy portion of the dental admission test typically involves the natural sciences. This will usually be further broken down into biology and chemistry, which the applicant will often have studied when obtaining his or her undergraduate degree. There are typically sections that cover both organic and inorganic chemistry. After this portion has been completed, perceptual abilities and reading comprehension are usually tested. Visual acuity and the ability to distinguish patterns, shapes, and angles can be important in dentistry, so they are usually included in the test.

Mathematics are usually present in a dental admission test as well, though it is often the smallest section of the exam. Both general arithmetic and applied mathematics are usually tested. This often includes a variety of word problems that can test quantitative reasoning.

If an applicant fails the dental admission test, he must wait a period of usually 90 days before reapplying. The exam may be taken several times, though the scores from each failed test will typically be provided along with the passing score to any schools that the student applies to. Students are usually not responsible for reporting their own dental admission test scores to the schools they are interested in, as this information is typically tracked electronically and submitted automatically.

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