What is the DAT?
The DAT (Dental Admissions Test) is and entrance exam used by dental schools throughout the United States. Information about the DAT is available on the ADA website. This includes an description of what is tested on the DAT as well as information about applying to take the test.
When to take the DAT:
The best time to take the DAT is as soon as the necessary background courses have been completed and a thorough review of DAT study materials has been made. Often, students find that a test date during or just after spring semester is best. Taking the test early ensures that scores will be returned early for timely application to dental school. When you take the test determines when you apply to dental school, and it is best to get your application in as soon as possible. It must be understood that any advantage to taking the test early is lost if you have not properly prepared to take it.
Most dental schools honor your scores for two to three years from the testing date. Some students actually take the summer DAT and use the scores for the following year's application period. This provides them with an opportunity to thoroughly prepare during the summer break for the fall DAT.
How to prepare for the DAT:
The most important aspect of studying for the DAT is that you start early and stick to your study plan. You will need to have a thorough understanding of biology (at least BIOL 1610 and 1620), general chemistry (CHEM 1210, 1215, 1220, 1225), and organic chemistry (CHEM 2310, 2315, 2320, 2325). It is incredibly easy to fall behind on studying, so make the necessary preparations to be able to keep yourself on track.
Test preparation materials are available from a variety of sources. The AMA produces a two practice tests and additional materials for student use. These are found on the same website as the general test and application information. Private commercial DAT study preparation materials and study courses are also available from a variety of sources. These guides can be found online from most major retailers. There is also a one credit pass/fail campus review course taught by undergraduates every spring (BIOL 1040).
Retaking the DAT:
The DAT may be repeated after 90 days. Most dental schools will not negatively discriminate against you for doing so.