To take the Dental Admission Test (DAT), you must contact the American Dental Association to request an application. You may either submit your application online, or request a paper application and booklet. The DAT battery of tests is computerized, and you can take the test at specified testing centers almost any day of the year.

Subjects on the DAT exam

The Dental Admission Test is actually a set of four tests:

  • Survey of Natural Sciences (SNS): biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry

  • Perceptual Ability Test (PAT): aperture passing, orthographic projection, angle discrimination, paper folding, cubes, and form development

  • Reading Comprehension Test (RCT): reading comprehension

  • Quantitative Reasoning Test (QRT): mathematics

Those are the four sections that are timed tests. However, you will actually receive eight scores, which include the tests above, but broken down into the various subjects.

  • Biology

  • General Chemistry

  • Organic Chemistry

  • Quantitative Reasoning

  • Reading Comprehension

  • Total Science, which is a combination of the three science subjects

  • Academic Average, which is an average of all of the subject areas except for the PAT section.

  • Perceptual Ability is a separate score

Time allowed, question totals for each DAT section

You will have 4 hours and 15 minutes to complete the entire test, which includes a 15-minute break. The test is broken out as follows.

Survey of Natural Sciences

100 questions

90 Minutes

Perceptual Ability Test

90 questions

60 Minutes

Reading Comprehension Test

50 questions

60 Minutes

Quantitative Reasoning Test

40 questions

45 Minutes


You can easily see from the previous table that you will have to work quickly. In the Natural Science section, you will have less than 1 minute to answer each question, and slightly more than a minute for the other sections.

Understanding and memorizing test directions — before you take the exam. This will save you a considerable amount of time, especially in the PAT section. As you take the tests, make sure you read the directions carefully. While DAT is basically a test that says "read the question or paragraph and select the correct answer," you should be fully aware of the directions.

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