The Dental Admissions Test, commonly called the DAT, is a massive test, but the scores can seem oddly simple in comparison to how complex the test itself is. Trying to interpret your DAT scores is a skill you’ll have to learn if dental school is something you envision as part of your future plans and career aspirations.
In this article, we’ll be discussing everything there is to know about the DAT scores. We’ll be answering some commonly asked questions like “what is a good DAT score?” and “What is the best score possible on the DAT?”. There is a lot to cover when it comes to the DAT, but if dentistry is what you want to pursue, you better start thinking about it now.
What is a Good DAT score?
DAT scores range from 1 to 30, with 19 being around the national average. Each section of the exam is scored by counting one correct answer as one point and one incorrect answer or blank answer as no points. The American Dental Association, or ADA, will calculate your composite score from this raw score.
Each section will also receive a composite score. The section composite scores can range from around a 19 for quantitative reasoning to a 23 for reading comprehension. Any of these scores will put you in the top 10% of all test takers for that year. The best DAT scores, or those achieved by the top 10% of those who take the test, will be anything above a 21 on your overall composite score.
Overall, competitive scores for both your overall and natural science composite scores will be around 19-20, depending slightly on the year. These scores will put you somewhat above the national average of 19 and are considered to be good scores. Competitive scores for quantitative reasoning are lower, generally falling around 17-18. For perceptual ability, you will need around a 20-21, and for reading comprehension, you will need the highest score of around a 21-22.
The quick takeaway from all these numbers is that the DAT score range you should be aiming for if you want a highly competitive score is an overall composite of between 19 and 20. Scores in this range are generally accepted at most schools and will aid in your admission process.
If you are shooting for a highly competitive dental school, you may aim for an even higher composite score, something that would put you in a higher DAT score percentile. Some of the most competitive dental schools in the country have average DAT scores of around 21 or 22, so you will need to work hard to get into these schools.
What is the Highest Possible DAT Score?
The highest DAT score that anyone could ever receive would be a perfect 30. Although the test has way more than 30 questions, the scores are scaled and are only out of a possible 30 points. This is the highest composite score you can achieve and is calculated using the raw points you earned in each exam section.
Getting any score in the high 20s is considered a really good score, though, and shouldn’t be scoffed at just because it isn’t perfect. Since the national average tends to hover around 19, depending slightly on the year, any score above 25 is fantastic. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t score a perfect 30; almost nobody does.
The best way to set yourself up to earn a perfect score on your DAT is by preparing for the test as well as you can. Think about taking a practice test at the start of your studying to figure out what score you’ll be starting from and working from there. After you know how much you want to increase your score, you can start creating a study plan to follow.
Creating an effective study plan or guide is the key to getting a good score and increasing your score as much as you want while studying. If you spend your weeks studying randomly, you might increase your score a little, but you could also have a negligible impact on your score. Make sure that you are tailoring your studying to you and what your goals are, especially if getting a perfect score is on that list of goals.
Sticking to your study guide is the next challenge. Use practice tests throughout your study time to check your progress and adjust your study plans as necessary. Keep doing practice tests every few weeks to know you are on task to receive a perfect score on your DAT. If you spend six weeks studying in a certain way, only to learn that it did nothing to help your score, you will have just wasted six weeks.
What is the Lowest DAT Score to Be Accepted?
There really is no hard and fast line that schools will publish, but there are generalizations that can be made. Based on the average composite scores of students at the 70 accredited dental schools in the US and its territories, the lowest average scores are somewhere around 17. This is only the average, though, and means that the actual lowest score those schools accepted is much lower.
If you do have a low DAT score, you can still get into dental school, but all your other application material will have to be unique. Suppose you have a fantastic GPA, excellent recommendations, and a stellar essay, interview, or other supplemental application material. In that case, you could still get into a lot of dental schools with a DAT score of under 15. Just remember that a higher DAT score will make it easier to get into dental school.
Although you can still get into many dental schools with a lower DAT score, if you plan on applying to schools like the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, you may need to shoot pretty high. The most elite and highly competitive dental schools will only accept students with stellar GPAs, exceptional DAT scores, and outstanding recommendations. You really have to be the total package to get into these schools, and a low DAT score could hurt your chances of admission.
How to Calculate Your DAT Score?
The American Dental Association, or the ADA for short, does not publish the conversions they use to convert your raw score into your composite score, so there really is no way to calculate your DAT score for sure. You can estimate your DAT score by using the number of questions that you answered correctly on a practice test, or you could use an online DAT score calculator.
There are a few things to consider when considering how your DAT score will be calculated. First, it is important to remember that there is no penalty for wrong answers. It is always better to guess rather than leave a question blank since a blank question will give you no chance at a point.
Secondly, there will be a few questions on the DAT in each section that are not included in the score. These are experimental questions that the ADA has put on the test to see how students respond to them. You will not receive any points for answering them correctly or incorrectly, but you also will have no idea which questions they are. Make sure you answer each question, assuming it is a real question.
Lastly, understanding that the conversions are based off of the Rasch psychometric model may help you try to understand how your test will be scored. This way of scoring the DAT was adopted in 1988 and uses a few anchor items in each section of the test to help keep scoring consistent even though the test itself changes every year. It is a log-based scoring system, which makes no assumptions about the spread of the scores on any given year.
When you are taking practice tests while studying for the DAT, you can estimate your score by determining what percentage of the questions you got correct for each section. Although this won’t give you a score out of 30, you can always use this as a baseline to determine if you are doing well or if you need to increase the amount of time you are studying for. This is only an estimate, though, so don’t be surprised if your actual score is slightly different.
Average DAT Scores for the Top 10 Dental Schools
The US only has 70 accredited dental schools, so getting into any dental school is a significant accomplishment. Getting into any of the top 25 schools on that list of dental schools is a huge accomplishment and one that very few people can say they have done. That being said, these schools are tough to get into, considering how few dental schools there are to begin with.
Any of the top dental schools have average DAT scores of at least 20, if not higher, depending on what school you are talking about. To have a chance of being offered admission to any of these top schools, you will need to be scoring well on your DAT. Although having a 19 or above is highly advisable, getting in with a lower score is still possible, just much harder.
Most of the top 25 dental schools have average DAT scores of either 20, 21, or 22, depending on the school. The exact average depends on the year, but since these schools are so competitive, you can expect that the average DAT score will also be highly competitive. These schools are some of the top dental schools for a reason, and a lot will be expected of you there, so they want to make sure that they are only taking the best of the best.
Here are the average DAT scores from the top 10 dental schools:
|School||Average DAT Score|
|University of Pittsburg School of Dental Medicine||21.3|
|University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine||21.9|
|Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine||21.5|
|Columbia University College of Dental Medicine||22.8|
|Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, School of Dental Medicine||21.3|
|Harvard School of Dental Medicine||23.5|
|University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine||21.6|
|University of the Pacific Author A. Dugoni School of Dental Medicine||21.9|
|University of California, San Fransisco School of Dental Medicine||21.8|
|University of California, Los Angelos School of Dental Medicine||22.8|
What is a Good DAT Score to Get into Harvard?
If you are aiming to get into the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, you better be ready to push yourself to achieve an amazing score on your DAT. While other highly competitive schools may have average DAT scores in the range of 21 or 22, the average Harvard DAT score is around 23. Since the average score is 23, a large number of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine students will have scores above that mark.
If this really is your goal, we recommend you check out our other articles on the DAT. These articles are made to help you know how to prepare for the exam, so please use them! We have articles that will help you ace the DAT and articles that are packed with tips and tricks to help you crush the DAT.
Getting a Harvard DAT score is not an easy feat, so make sure you take it seriously. You will need to put in lots of hard work and time in order to achieve a score as high as the average Harvard DAT score. Remember that while your DAT score does carry a lot of weight when applying to dental schools, it is not the only thing that matters.
In order to get into a highly competitive dental school, like the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, you will need to have a good DAT score, good grades, and good recommendations. This combination must be stellar in order to get into the top dental schools in the country, but that doesn’t mean that each part has to be perfect.
Maybe your DAT score is only a 21, but your GPA and recommendations are outstanding. For some people, that might be a good enough combination to get them into Harvard. It still might not be enough for others. It all depends on you as a person, what they are looking for, and ultimately what year you apply since every year is different.
Wrapping Things Up: DAT Score Range: What is Good?
There are lots of DAT scores that count as good scores. Since the DAT is scored out of 30, with the national average typically falling around 19, any score above 17 is usually considered good. Your definition of a good score range might be different than the next student’s, so make sure you figure out what you would like your score to be. A good score is typically in the range of 18-21. An excellent score is typically in the range of 21-23. A stellar score is usually anything over a 24.
We hope that this article has been able to answer some of your burning questions about the scores of the DAT. There is a lot to understand about the DAT, and the scoring is essential. We know that with hard work and dedication, you can achieve any score you set your mind to, so get out there and crush the DAT!