How the DAT Works

Preparing for the DAT

Before you start studying dentistry, you'll have to practice for the DAT.
Before you start studying dentistry, you'll have to practice for the DAT.
Photo courtesy of

Study and preparation methods for standardized tests are as varied as the people taking them. There are lots of ways to increase the chances of a high score. Winging it is not one of them.

So, how to prepare? There are lots of study methods that work, from flash cards on science concepts to brushing up on basic math skills from college. Lots of people take DAT preparation courses and read DAT test guides that describe the test concepts and strategies. Perhaps the best approach, though, is to take practice tests. Lots and lots of practice tests.

Practice tests are available in book stores and via the Web. Some are free, some are for sale. They're the best way not only to study up on the tested skills but also to practice completing each section in the allotted time. Testing strategies are pretty individual, and practice tests can help test takers find out which time-management, relaxation and thinking-under-pressure strategies work best for them.

A couple of online locations for DAT practice include:

Just like with study preparation, arranging to take the test is not a last-minute deal. It's best to start early, with dental-school deadlines in mind: Students who take the DAT between their college sophomore and junior years have time to re-take it and resubmit their scores if they do poorly. A minimum of three months is required between tests, and students need to apply to take the exam (see ADA: DENTPIN) before scheduling a testing date, time and location, so a good buffer between the test and the application deadline is a good idea.

To take the DAT more than three times requires special permission. This may actually be a good thing, since each test costs $190. If only for financial reasons, it's probably a good move to study up the first time. There'll be plenty of school loans to pay off later.

For more information on the DAT, dental school and related topics, look over the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links


  • DAT. Kaplan.
  • Dental Admission Test (DAT). American Dental Association.
  • Dental Admission Test. Indiana University -- Bloomington.
  • Dental Admission Test. Psychometric Success.