|Requirements for DAT
and Dental School
Timeline for Application
Dental Admissions Test (DAT)
Students who wish to pursue dental medicine must take the DAT (Dental Admissions Test) standardized exam which measures academic ability, scientific understanding and perceptual ability. To do well on the exam, you must have completed all of the pre-requisite courses before taking the exam.
- When and where do I take the exam?
The test is administered throughout the country at Prometric testing centers. You must first apply to take the test and you will be asked to create a DENTPIN Dental Personal Identification Number before you can complete the application to register to sit for the DAT exam. You should schedule the test 60-90 days in advance. See the ADEA website for specifics.
Note that you can only take the test once every 90 days and you are only allowed to take the test a maximum of three times.
- How do I prepare for the exam?
There is no magic way that works for all students. Some students choose to enroll in a course like Kaplan or Examkrackers, but this can be costly. Other students chose to buy the preparation books and work on their own. You need to ask yourself what type of learner you are and what approach you are dedicated to.
Information on DAT preparation and obtaining practice exams can be found on the ADEA website.
- How long does it take to get my score back?
Test scores are available to you in unofficial form as soon as you finish the test at the Prometric testing center. Official scores are reported three to four weeks after the test. Please be advised that committee letters will not be completed until after you receive your DAT score and meet with your advisor to determine if your score is competitive (see Policies).
- Am I competitive?
To be accepted into dental school you need a complete package. You must have the grades and GPA, a good DAT score, good letters of recommendation, clinical/shadowing experiences and a good personal statement. Students must meet with their Pre-Health Advisor after receiving their DAT score to discuss if your score is competitive. Applying to dental school is very expensive and we may advise holding off to address deficiencies in your application.
Kaplan offers a breakdown of DAT scores and competitiveness for your reference.
Although not a requirement, students are encouraged to undertake undergraduate research with a faculty mentor. In many departments, students can receive course credit for the completion of 3 credits of research. Not only does this give you a valuable experience, but students can present their work at regional and national science conferences and many students have been published authors with their faculty mentor in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Additionally, having a letter of recommendation from your faculty mentor regarding your research, work ethic and skills will be a valuable addition to your committee packet.
At the end of the academic year, we also have internal conferences, which showcase and highlight research across disciplines on campus in the CASCon (College of Arts and Sciences Conference) and the Academic Festival. We encourage you to investigate research being performed and become involved!
Dental Internships, Shadowing & Clinical Experiences
Dental schools will require that you have some first-hand knowledge of what it is like to be a dentist. These experiences will allow you to truly get a feel for the dental profession and determine if it is right for you. It falls on the student to be proactive and seek out experiences. Most students contact their family dentists for shadowing hours. Below are some other dental locations where our students have shadowed and/or interned.
- Family Dental Group, Bridgeport, CT
- Baum Orthodontics, Monroe, CT
- Patel's Dental Center, Torrington, CT
- Gentle Family Dentistry, Briarcliff Manor, NY
- Paulo Orthodontics, Peabody, MA
- New England Oral Surgery Associates, Westford, MA
- D&D Dental Office, Sleepy Hollow, NY
- Torres Dental Group, Jackson Heights, NY
The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) notes that “Each year, a substantial number of applicants express regret that they felt rushed and lost critical time working on their statement; when they realize how much time it involves, it’s often too late.”
Writing a personal statement on why you want to be a dentist may sound like a simple task, but in reality to do this and do it well takes time, multiple drafts and revisions in coordination with your Pre-Health advisor. Students often underestimate the time involved or the importance of having a good personal statement. The personal statement is an area of your application that is not black and white, it is not a GPA or a DAT score. It is where you can reflect on your decision to become a dentist, what lead you down this path and reflect on your research and clinical experiences.
The ADEA (American Dental Education Association) GoDental website offers advice and tips on writing a dental personal statement.
However, because of the importance of the personal statement, we have incorporated writing personal statements into course content in BI191, Advanced Seminar in the Health Professions. We highly recommend students enroll in the course as we cover personal statement mechanics, content, do’s and don’ts and perform critiques and draft revisions over several weeks.
Many students fear the gap year or see this as “wasted time” and incorrectly think that taking a gap year would have a negative impact of their application. However, it is quite the opposite and most students take a gap year after college. To check off all the boxes needed for dental school (good GPA and DAT score, clinical experiences) within three years of college is difficult. If you are hoping to start dental school right after college, you must have all your pre-requisite courses, have taken the DAT and complete the application before your senior year! Thus, most students focus on getting good grades and shadowing during college and use the gap year to study for the DAT while doing something meaningful in dental medicine (working with a dentist, orthodontist, periodontist, oral surgeon, etc). Having a gap year while doing something medically meaningful makes you a stronger, more competitive candidate. The average age of students matriculating into dental school is 24 demonstrating a national trend of students applying after graduation. Admissions committees look for more mature candidates with real world experiences. Thus, a gap year is often to your benefit. The ADEA (American Dental Education Association) GoDental website offers advice for gap years.