How Hard is the DAT Exam?

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Are you one of those aspiring future dentists? You must prepare for the dental admissions test if your answer is yes. Being a dentist is a challenging career. That’s why DAT is expected to be a difficult exam. However, if this is your dream, then with great determination, you will be able to pass the exam.

Besides, all the needed study guide materials and guidelines are provided. You must practice and apply all the knowledge you’ve gained. In this article, you will learn more about how hard is the DAT exam and what you need to prepare for.

What Does the DAT Test for?What Does the DAT Test for?

Dental schools maintain quality education. Because of this, they demand high-performing students. Dental schools conduct the dental admissions test as one of the requirements before any students can enroll.

There are four parts of the exam: sciences, perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning, with a time limit of four hours and fifteen minutes.

For the scoring, the maximum score is 30 points, while the average score is 17. Even if the average percentage per section is 50%, most dental schools accept students who get at least 75% in all test parts.

You can register for the exam by requesting your DENTPIN, your identifier, from the ADA website. Once your application is processed, you will receive an email regarding your schedule.

Is DAT Exam Really Hard?

Is DAT Exam Really Hard?

Yes, it is hard. It is considered one of the most challenging admission exams conducted each year. It is a difficult exam because it covers broad subjects, and the time given is only four hours and fifteen minutes to finish the exam. Many students fail to pass the exam. Moreover, the acceptable percentage is high as 75%.

This computer-based exam is divided into four parts. The survey of natural sciences is divided into three subsets, which are 30 items General Chemistry, 30 items organic chemistry, and 40 items biology. The perceptual ability has a total of 90 questions. The reading comprehension has 50 questions, while the quantitative reasoning has a total of 40 questions. The results are released immediately.

Why Do Students Find DAT Exam Difficult?

Why Do Students Find DAT Exam Difficult?

Many students who have taken the DAT exam find it difficult because its coverage is very broad. Thus, there is a need for ample time to study and prepare.

Another reason is the time given to finish the exam is not enough based on the number of questions. You must practice answering DAT exam questions with a timer to check your progress.

The acceptable percentage that you must get is 75% which is high. Overall, the exam is tedious, time-pressured, and challenging.

Which Part of the DAT Exam Do Students Find the Hardest?

Which Part of the DAT Exam Do Students Find the Hardest?

Most students claim that the hardest is the perceptual ability test. Some find the angle ranking the most difficult, while others have problems with the computer graphics due to its pixel. Quantitative reasoning is another difficult part of the exam. Moreover, it is the last part in which most students already had a hard time thinking and analyzing.

How Do You Prepare for the DAT Exam: 9 Study Tips & Guides

How Do You Prepare for the DAT Exam: 9 Study Tips & Guides

Although DAT is a competitive exam, you can make it to your dream dental school with enough preparation. Below are tips you can follow:

Time is precious: Start Early!

Time can be your best friend or enemy. That’s why to use your time wisely! A few months before the exam, you must start with your preparation. You must know everything you need to know to be at your best during the exam.

Prepare ahead of time and during the last six weeks before the exam, stay focused on studying. During this period, you will reach your ideal brain energy and power. Use the time to your advantage.

Moreover, there are a lot of topics to study. Under the survey of natural science are the subjects general chemistry, organic chemistry, and biology. Under these subjects are more topics to study. It would help if you still studied quantitative reasoning, perceptual ability, and reading comprehension. You need ample time to train your brain, hand, and eyes to work together, particularly on math; you need extra attention. That’s why to start the preparation early!

Start from the Basic: Take a Diagnostic Test

It is not just you who will only read and memorize the topics included in the Dental Admissions Test. You also need to take a diagnostic test as a practice. This way, you will be able to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Aside from that, this will also show you the test layout and familiarize you with the format. As a result, you will determine how much time you have and what kind of sections there are.

The diagnostic test is not something that you should be afraid of because this will serve as your baseline on how and what to study.

Practice is the key: Find a practice test

A practice test is helpful for you to be prepared for the exam. You have several options how you can find for a practice test.

  • Go to the ADA website, which offers many practice tests.
  • Look for a review center. You will review in a classroom setting.
  • Search online. There are online review courses that you can take. Some of them are free while others are with corresponding fees.

When you practice, you are training your brain, hands, and eyes to be prepared for the actual exam. You will also encounter several questions and develop a strategy on how to answer each question and how to use your time efficiently.

Study Chemistry

Under chemistry is organic and general chemistry. You can use different resources to do the practice test. After you have chosen your resources, you may be given videos to watch. After each video, you can start one chapter daily and do the practice test. It would be best if you understood each concept on a deeper level. When there are questions that you get stuck with, please look for a detailed explanation so that you can understand everything before the exam comes.

Using study materials like markers, whiteboards, and flashcards is helpful. In general chemistry, you may encounter formulas. It will be best if you write it down on the whiteboard for you to see the formula. Since the exam is computer-based, this is already a practice for you to use the study materials during the exam.

Study Biology

Biology can be the easiest among the parts of the DAT exam. However, it can be the most brutal one to study. You need to memorize everything, and there is no shortcut! You have to be disciplined. As much as you can, spend three hours everyday memorizing. You can divide that time into two. For the first part, which is one hour and thirty minutes, you can write down notes, particularly on those contents which are new to you. You can even write in your own words to quickly understand and memorize the notes. You can start memorizing using the notes you created in the second part, which is another hour and thirty minutes. After that, go through all your summary notes and review everything.

Study Perceptual Ability

This section is another challenging part of the exam. It comes with various subtests, which are the Apertures (keyholes), View recognition (Top/front/end), Angle discrimination (Angle ranking), paper folding (Hole punches), Cube counting, and 3D form development (pattern folding). Please note that for every question, you must answer it in 40 seconds only. The total question is 90 items.

When you answer keyholes and view recognition, start with the obvious plane because it is the correct answer most of the time. For the angle ranking, begin by finding the largest and smallest angles. After that, find the remaining angles just once and then choose your answer.

In perceptual ability, you need to train your speed and accuracy. Another technique when you answer this section is the process of elimination. Using this method, you will have a higher chance of choosing the correct answer. It would be easier for you to look for the wrong answer. It is vital to take serious and consistent practice for this section.

Note: this section is the most time-consuming. If you do not know the answer, make an intelligent guess, and move on to the next.

Study Reading Comprehension

You will be given one hour to finish the fifty questions in this section. Usually, it comes with three passages with sixteen to seventeen questions each. You must practice reading quickly for you to ace this section.

You identify the keywords and then proceed straight to the questions. When you answer, make sure to finish the entire question. Another thing is you must learn how to use the search and destroy method through each statement.

There are several types of questions under reading comprehension. Some questions want to know if you understand the main viewpoint of the author. Other questions like to ask about the author’s tone, purpose, and function based on the passage. Some questions seek specific details regarding the statement provided.

A good tip is to read scientific articles before the exam and digest their content. You can also practice reading comprehension questions to be familiar with the test.

Study Quantitative Reasoning

Like any other sections of the DAT exam, you must choose the right resources to practice. You may find this part the most difficult, especially if you dislike math. However, it is essential to change your views about math. When you say that you don’t like math or that math is difficult, your entire body will follow, making it harder for you to study and understand quantitative reasoning.

You need to memorize the formulas by heart. Memorizing the formula will enhance your speed, giving you more time for difficult questions. You can also use your whiteboard and flashcards in this part to see the formula and your solutions.

Stay healthy both physically and mentally

Although you are stressed, anxious, and pressured for the exam, you must stay physically and mentally healthy. Doing this will allow you to focus more on the test, giving you more chances to think and choose the correct answers.

Before the exam, you must be hydrated by drinking adequate water and eating healthy and balanced meals. Do not deprive your sleep. A night of good sleep will prevent you from stress and anxiety, keeping your mind more relaxed and well-rested. You can even find a study buddy so that you will be motivated, particularly when you get distracted. Most importantly, if you are tired, learn to rest and be kind to your body.

Wrapping Things Up: How Hard is the DAT Exam?

The dental admission test is difficult. However, if you are determined and committed to study and practice, you will be successful.

Do not forget that time is precious. You must apply effective time management. Do not skip the diagnostic test so that you will have baseline data for your progress. Put importance on finding good practice test resources. From there, you must practice consistently to be familiar with the questions. Lastly, it would be best if you mastered each section, such as chemistry, biology, perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning. Lastly, do not forget to study but maintain being healthy. Do not forget that your body and mind are essential!

Picture of Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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