What is the DAT?

What you need to know about the test, scores, test availability, and sections.

About the DAT

Dental school admissions committees use your score and with your academic record to assess whether you have the foundation to build a successful dental career. The test is taken on a computer and has four sections: Survey of Natural Sciences, Perceptual Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning.

Your DAT Score

The DAT is an average of section scores, each on a 1–30 scale. That includes a score for Reading Comprehension, Perceptual Ability, Quantitative Reasoning, and each of the science disciplines on the Survey of Natural Sciences: biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry.

Taking the Canadian DAT? See how it's scored differently.

[ READ: What's a good DAT score? ]

Getting Your DAT Score Results

You'll get your test results immediately and you can send your official DAT transcripts to all the dental schools you select at the time of your application. Send additional transcripts to schools not selected at the time of application for $36 each. Heads up: you can retake the DAT, however, your scores cannot be voided.

[ RELATED: How to study for the DAT ]

What are the DAT sections?

The content on the DAT is broken down into four test sections that comprise the exam:

  • The Survey of Natural Sciences
  • The Reading Comprehension Section
  • The Perceptual Ability Test
  • The Quantitative Reasoning Section

The Survey of Natural Sciences

You'll have 90 minutes to answer 100 multiple-choice questions on biology, inorganic, and organic chemistry.

Biology on the DAT

The Biology section has 40 questions. Concepts include: cell and molecular biology, diversity of life, vertebrate anatomy, developmental biology, evolution, ecology, and more.

General Chemistry on the DAT

General Chemistry has 30 questions. Concepts include: acids and bases, atomic structure, periodic properties, gases, liquids and solids, nuclear reactions, and more.

Organic Chemistry on the DAT

Often considered the most difficult section, organic chemistry has 30 questions. Concepts include: mechanisms, organic analysis, properties of molecules, stereochemistry, bonding, and more.

Try a sample question for DAT Biology

The P680 chlorophyll A molecule of photosystem II:

A. oxidizes glucose.
B. oxidizes water.
C. best absorbs light with a wavelength of 700nm.
D. provides electrons that reduce NADH+.
E. more than one of the above.

Answer & Explanation:

The answer is B.

The P680 molecule is involved in noncyclic electron flow. Light striking P680 excites electrons which rush off to fill the electron "holes" in the P700 chlorophyll. The P680 with its electron "holes" is a strong enough oxidizing agent to oxidize water, filling its electron holes and producing O2.

Choice A is incorrect because glucose is oxidized in cellular respiration. Photosynthesis is a reductive process. Choice C is incorrect because P680 is named according to its preferred absorption wavelength, namely 680nm. P700 absorbs best at 700nm. Choice D is incorrect because P700, when excited by light, provides the electrons that reduce NADH+. Choice E is incorrect because only choice B is correct.

Reading Comprehension

You'll have 60 minutes to answer three passages, each with 16 to 17 corresponding questions. These excerpts are filled with scientific jargon and technical explanations. Questions may ask you to identify the main idea or a detail, make an inference, or determine the function of a part of the passage.

The Perceptual Ability Test

The Perceptual Ability Test (PAT) is tests your spatial visualization skills, especially your ability to interpret two-dimensional representations of three-dimensional objects. You'll have 60 minutes to answer a total of 90 questions.


With keyhole questions, you are presented with a 3D object and you must determine through which of five openings this object can pass.


This question type presents you with two projections of an object. You are expected to determine the third.

Angle Ranking

Here, you are presented with four angles, labeled 1–4. You are required to rank the angles in increasing order.

Hole Punching

In this section, a square piece of paper is folded one, two, or three times. Then, one or more holes are punched at specific locations. You are required to mentally unfold the paper and determine the locations of the holes.

Cube Counting

Cube counting questions present you with several stacks of cubes. Each stack is constructed by cementing together identical cubes. You are asked to imagine that the stack as a whole is painted on all sides except for the bottom. Then, you must determine how many cubes have a particular number of sides painted.

Pattern Folding

In pattern folding questions, a flat pattern is presented and you are asked to select the 3D figure into which it folds.

Try a sample question for the Perceptual Ability Test

In this question, a flat pattern will be presented. This pattern is to be folded into a three dimensional figure. The correct figure is one of the four given at the right of the pattern. There is only one correct figure. The outside of the pattern is what is seen at the left.

Answer & Explanation:

The answer is C.

Determine how the different faces meet.

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning section tests your proficiency in mathematics and assesses your problem-solving skills. The questions you encounter on this section range from simple arithmetic to more advanced trigonometric problems. You'll have 45 minutes to answer 40 questions.

Try a sample question for DAT Quantitative Reasoning

Which of the following variables cannot be equal to 0 if(v + w)(x - y - z)(x + y + z)z= 3?

A. v
B. w
C. x
D. y
E. z

Answer & Explanation:

The answer is E.

When the product of a group of numbers is nonzero, none of the numbers can be 0. This is because if even just one number is 0, the product is zero. For example, 7 × 10 × 12 × 0 × 4 × 35 = 0, because the fourth factor is a 0. Here, (v + w)(x - y - z)(x + y + z)z = 3, so (v + w)(x - y - z)(x + y + z)z does not equal 0. So each factor of this product must be nonzero. That is:

v + w does not equal 0
x - y - z does not equal 0
x + y + z does not equal 0
z does not equal 0
The last inequality tells us that z can never equal 0. Choice E is correct.

None of the other answer choices must be nonzero. If v = 0, w = -3, x = 0, y = 0, and z = 1, then (v + w)(x - y - z)(x + y + z)z = (-3)(-1)(1)(1) = 3, and choices A, C, and D are seen to be incorrect, because vx, and y can each be 0. If v = -3, w = 0, x = 0, y = 0, and z = 1, then (v + w)(x - y - z)(x + y + z)z = 3 and choice B is seen to be incorrect, because w can be 0.

Only z cannot equal 0, and again, choice E is correct.

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