Dental Admissions Test (DAT)

Quick Facts

Get the “need to know” information at a quick glance.


The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is produced by the American Dental Association (ADA) and it is used to evaluate the skills of applicants seeking admission to dental schools. The DAT measures general academic ability in the areas of science, reading, and mathematics, as well as perceptual ability. Dental school admissions offices review DAT scores as part of the process of determining which students to accept into their programs.

All dental schools in the United States require applicants to take the DAT, but your performance on the test is just one factor in determining whether you will be admitted to your school of choice. Dental schools also evaluate other factors, such as your grade point average.


All of the questions on the DAT are in multiple-choice format. Let’s take a look at how many questions you will be given on each test and how much time you will have to complete each section:


The fee to take the DAT is $475. This includes the fee to send score reports to the school(s) of choice that you identify when you apply to take the test.

However, you will be charged $40 per school for any score reports you would like sent to schools if you do not identify those schools until after the exam.

If you need to reschedule your DAT session, you may do so for a fee of $25 if you reschedule your test 31 or more days prior to your test date. If you reschedule 6-30 business days prior to the exam, you will need to pay a fee of $60. In order to reschedule your exam 1-5 days before your test date, you will be asked to pay a fee of $100. 

These fees go to the ADA. If you are unsure of how to register for the DAT, just visit the ADA site; you can register there.


So, how is the DAT scored? Here’s a brief DAT score breakdown:

Each of the tests you take on the DAT, such as the Survey of Natural Sciences, will be scored individually, then averaged. Possible scores range from 1 to 30 on each test, which means that possible overall scores also range from 1 to 30.

Pass rate

There is no passing (or failing) score on the DAT. The school(s) that you apply to will evaluate your score and compare it to the scores of other students. It is up to the school(s) to determine whether your score demonstrates proficiency.

However, it may be useful for you to know that the average score of students accepted to competitive dental schools is between 19 and 21.

Study Time

When preparing to take the DAT, plan to spend a few months studying each day. The DAT is a long, rigorous test, and it is unlikely that you will be prepared for it after only spending a couple of weeks studying. While this might sound boring, think of studying over a long period of time as a good thing.

If you spend plenty of time studying, you will feel more comfortable with the DAT’s format in content, you will be less stressed near and on your test date, and you will perform better on the test.

You can develop a study plan by using our materials to determine your strengths and weakness. Plan to spend the majority of your study time on the sections that you find difficult. To avoid burning out, study a little each day, and take breaks every 20 minutes, or as needed.

Consider studying with a friend–making a plan to study with someone else can help to keep you accountable; it can also make studying more enjoyable!

What test takers wish they would’ve known:

  • If you elect to re-take the DAT, you will need to wait at least 90 days. This 3 month minimum waiting period, coupled with paying the exam fee twice, means that you’ll want to do your best the first time around.
  • Avoid testing stress by being as relaxed as possible during the exam. Get plenty of sleep the night before the test and begin studying long before your test date to feel less tense. Although you will want to avoid taking the test again, it will not be the end of the world if you decide that you need to, and fretting during the test will not raise your score.
  • Definitely take the optional break during the exam. The DAT is a lengthy test that requires endurance. Allow your mind to rest and reset during your break. Think about going on a long jog; wouldn’t you feel better if you broke up the exercise with a quick break? Keep your mind sharp by treating it well, just as you would treat your body well.
  • Answer all of the questions. On some exams, students are penalized for incorrect answers, but not for unanswered items. This is not one of those exams.
  • If you are unsure of an answer choice, eliminate as many choices as possible and “go with your gut.” Often, an answer feels correct because it is correct.
  • Read. The American Dental Education Association, which works with the ADA, encourages students who take the DAT to develop a habit of reading before they take the exam. Reading requires you to process and think critically about written information and it will allow you to refresh your vocabulary.
  • You will have a calculator on the Quantitative Reasoning Test, so there’s no reason to use your study time memorizing square roots or refreshing your long division skills.

Test information obtained from the ADA web site.

Survey of the Natural Sciences

The Survey of Natural Sciences has 100 questions. You will have 90 minutes to complete this content area.

This test will include content related to biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry. Here are some major concepts that you will see on the exam:

  • Cells and Molecular Biology
  • Diversity of Life
  • Structure and Function of Systems
  • Genetics
  • Electronic Structure and the Periodic Table
  • Bonding
  • Acids and Bases

So, let’s talk about them.

Cells and Molecular Biology

When you take the Survey of the Natural Sciences, you should expect to answer biology questions related to cells and molecules. In this section, we’ll explore some important concepts to know.

Generalized Eukaryotic Cell

Every eukaryotic cell has a nucleus, as well as other organelles that are bound by membranes. 

Here are some other features of eukaryotic cells to be familiar with:

  • They contain rod-shaped chromosomes.
  • Vesicles transport waste.
  • The vacuoles are used for storage and provide support.
  • Animal cells have a centrosome (microtubule organizing center or MTOC), but plant cells do not.
  • Animal cells also have lysosomes, while plant cells do not.
  • Unlike an animal cell, a plant cell has a cell wall, a large central vacuole, and chloroplasts.

Use the following diagram of an animal eukaryotic cell to review its parts:

Centriole: involved in the production of spindle fibers during cell division

Plasma membrane: protects the interior of the cell from the exterior environment. The plasma membrane is selectively permeable and it regulates the movement of ions and nutrients in and out of the cell based upon their sizes and/or charges.

Vesicles: consist of fluid and encased in a lipid bilayer. They are involved in transport and enzyme storage.

Golgi apparatus: sorts lipids and proteins. The Golgi apparatus also modifies proteins and packages them for secretion while transporting lipids and synthesizing lysosomes.

Lysosome: contains enzymes that are used for digestion and the removal of waste, such as old organelles and endocytosed pathogens, like bacteria and viruses

Nucleus: stores and replicates deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and preserves chromosomes, enclosed in a protective double membrane. The nucleus also regulates the cell’s growth, metabolism, and reproduction.

Endoplasmic reticulum (smooth): synthesizes lipids and steroid hormones, detoxifies of metabolic byproducts, does not have membrane-bound ribosomes

Endoplasmic reticulum (rough): has ribosomes attached to its membrane, synthesizes proteins through translation

Ribosomes: site of protein synthesis (aka translation); may be free-floating in the cytoplasm or attached to rough endoplasmic reticulum

Cytoplasm: the “jelly-like” liquid in which the cell’s organelles are suspended; helps facilitate cell signaling, communication, and transport

Mitochondrion: responsible for ATP (adenosine triphosphate) production and regulates cell metabolism. Many are found within the cell and referred to collectively as “mitochondria.”

Cytoskeleton: made up of microfilaments, supports the plasma membrane and gives the cell structure

Note that unlike eukaryotic cells, prokaryotic cells (such as those which make up bacteria) do not have organelles, including nuclei. However, they do contain ribosomes and have a plasma membrane.

Protein Synthesis

The synthesization of proteins is a very important cell function. Use the table below to review the major steps of this process. As you read, remember mRNA is messenger RNA, and tRNA is transfer RNA.

Protein synthesis is made possible by translation, the process in which the mRNA is decoded to specify the sequence of the amino acids in a polypeptide.

The codons found in RNA are adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and uracil (U). Adenine and uracil pair (A-U) and cytosine and guanine pair (C-G). 

Cellular Metabolism

Cellular metabolism refers to the biochemical reactions that occur within the cells of living organisms. Biochemical reactions are catalyzed by enzymes, a type of protein. There are two main types of metabolism, catabolism, and anabolism.

Catabolism degrades molecules, usually by the process of oxidation, in which electrons are removed from the molecules. It generally allows energy to be gathered from the molecules. Processes that release energy are exergonic.

Anabolism, on the other hand, usually requires cells to expend energy by transferring electrons to molecules. Reactions that cause cells to expend energy are endergonic.

Anabolic processes build tissue by synthesizing the four classes of macromolecules needed to maintain cells: carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids.

Diversity of Life

On the test, you are very likely to encounter several questions that ask you about plants, animals, evolution, and ecology. Let’s explore some concepts now.

Taxonomy and Biological Organization 

Every living organism may be described by taxonomy, which is the process of identifying, classifying, and naming those organisms.

The main taxonomic categories include domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species.

The following table provides examples of particular organisms. Notice how the classification of each organism compares and contrasts with the classifications of the others.

Domain, the broadest category, is divided into just three groups: Eukaryota, bacteria, and archaea. Archaea are single-celled living organisms similar to those organisms classified under bacteria

There are five Eukaryota kingdoms, including fungi (such as mildew, mold, and mushrooms), Plantae (plants, like sweet potatoes), and Animalia (animals, like jellyfish). The prokaryotae and Protoctista kingdoms, which contain tiny organisms, are also part of the Eukaryota domain.

The various Eukaryota kingdoms, as well as the kingdoms within other domains, are further divided, as you saw in the table of examples.


On the Survey of Natural Sciences, you are very likely to encounter some questions about the evolution of species and natural selection. Recall that natural selection refers to “survival of the fittest.” In other words, members of a species that are the healthiest and have the best characteristics are the most likely members of that species to reproduce, thus passing on their traits to their offspring.

Here is a closer look at Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

  • Populations of species change over time and space. Therefore, contemporary species differ from their ancestors, and populations of species in differing geographic regions vary somewhat in characteristics and/or behavior. 
  • All species share common ancestors with other species. When members of a species differ enough, the species divide into different species.
  • Evolutionary change occurs gradually and slowly. 

According to Darwin, natural selection has four components:

  1. Variation: Individuals within populations differ in appearance and behavior. Variation may be genotypic, in which individuals’ genes differ, or phenotypic, in which environmental factors affect gene expression within individuals differently.
  2. Inheritance: Some traits are heritable (passed from parent to offspring). Other traits are mainly influenced by environmental conditions.
  3. Rate of population growth: When populations produce more offspring than their environments can support, there is a struggle for resources and survival. 
  4. Differential survival and reproduction:  Individual members of a species that have traits that are best suited for survival are more likely to produce offspring than individuals who are less suited for survival.

The definitions of the following evolutionary terms are from the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.

*”Selective breeding” is also known as “artificial selection.”

Convergent evolution is the process in which species that are not closely related, independently develop similar traits as a result of living in similar environments.

Parallel evolution is similar to convergent evolution, except that the species share a common ancestor with closely related traits. Recall that according to the Theory of Evolution, all species have common ancestors. Parallel evolution just refers to two species with relatively recent common ancestors.

Divergent evolution takes place when a species divides into groups that have different traits. An example of divergent evolution is adaptive radiation, when a species spreads to a new geographic region and changes to meet the new environment.

Animal Behavior

Questions about animal behavior often appear on the DAT Survey of Natural Sciences. Animal behavior refers to how animals interact with one another as well as how they interact with other species and various stimuli in their environments. 

You probably remember that some behaviors are innate, while other behaviors are learned through experience. Behaviors influence natural selection because certain behaviors are more likely to ensure survival and reproduction than other behaviors.

Animal behaviors include:

  • Communication, which is often expressed via body language or sound. For example, one pet cat might flatten her ears to express that she is displeased with another cat.
  • Cooperation, when members of a species work together. Think about how ants work together to bring food back to their home.
  • Reproductive behaviors, such as the elaborate dances performed by some of the male members of some bird species to attract the attention of females.
  • Defensive behaviors, which are displayed when an animal tries to defend itself, its offspring, or its territory. Imagine a dog’s hair raising when he sees a potential threat. This reaction makes the dog look bigger and, theoretically, more threatening to the potential enemy.
  • Cyclic behaviors, which can be annual, seasonal, or yearly, include migration and hibernation.


Frequently, questions about plants are included on the DAT. One of the most important general concepts to understand about plants is photosynthesis, a process that requires carbon dioxide (CO₂)

We will review photosynthesis soon, but first let’s take a look at some different types of plants, not all of which use photosynthesis.

Plants that Use Carbon Dioxide (CO₂):

  • Autotrophic plants – These “self-feeding” green plants get their color from chlorophyll. They require only inorganic materials (sunlight, water, carbon dioxide, and some minerals) to stay alive.
  • Semi-parasitic plants – These plants have some green parts and absorb carbon dioxide from the air, but they require an autotrophic host plant, which they take food from. There are several species of mistletoe which are examples of semi-parasitic plants.
  • Insectivorous/carnivorous plants – Like autotrophic plants and semi-parasitic plants, insectivorous plants use carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. Insectivorous plants, like venus flytraps, can feed off of insects and other small animals. They can survive without this additional nutrition, but catching an unfortunate bug now and then makes them a lot healthier.

Plants that Don’t Use Carbon Dioxide (CO₂):

  • Holoparasitic Plants – Unlike semi-parasitic plants, these plants cannot photosynthesize and do not have green parts. Some species of mistletoe fall within this category.
  • Myco-heterophytes – These plants are similar to holoparasitic plants, however, they feed off fungi which, in turn, feed off host plants. Some species of orchids are myco-heterophytes.

Now that we’ve discussed which plants photosynthesize, let’s take a look at the photosynthesis process.

The diagram below can help you review photosynthesis.

Structure and Function of Systems

It is very likely that you will need to answer questions about some of the human body systems on the exam. Let’s briefly review a couple of these systems.

The Respiratory System

Refer to the diagram below as you review this body system.

  • Air first enters the human body through the nostrils and travels to the nasal and oral cavities, where it becomes wetter and warmer.
  • Next, the air travels to the pharynx, a muscular tube shaped like a funnel whose function is to bring the air to the larynx. The opening of the larynx is close to the opening of the esophagus. When a person swallows, a flap called the epiglottis seals off the larynx.
  • The trachea, also known as the windpipe, connects the larynx to the two main bronchial tubes.
  • The left bronchus and right bronchus branch out to the lungs. If there is an irritant in the environment, like smoke, the bronchial tubes tighten.
  • The lungs work constantly to exchange carbon dioxide (which is exhaled) for oxygen (which is inhaled). They fuel cellular functions and nourish tissues throughout the body. Each lung contains tiny sacs called alveoli, which are surrounded by capillaries. The thin capillary walls allow oxygen to pass into the blood and circulate throughout the body.
  • The diaphragm muscle contracts when a person inhales and relaxes to push air out of the lungs when a person exhales.

The Skin as an Organ System

The skin, which is the body’s largest organ, functions as a system. Refer to the diagram below as you review the skin.

The epidermis is the outermost layer of your skin. It helps to protect the other layers of skin, as well as the rest of your body, from elements in the environment. 

The dermis is the middle layer of skin. The dermal papillae are extensions of the dermis which help to nourish the epidermis and connect it to the dermis. 

Sweat glands, sebaceous glands, hair follicles, and pacini corpuscles can be found within the dermis. The pacini corpuscles are nerve endings that help you to detect changes in your environment. Sweat glands help the body to secrete waste, and sebaceous glands help to moisturize and protect the hair shaft and epidermis.

The arrectores pilorum (singular: arrector pili) contract to make the hair stand up in order to generate heat when the body is cold.

The subcutaneous tissue (hypodermis) is not technically part of the skin. It contains fatty tissue and attaches the skin to the underlying muscle. It also supplies the skin with blood.


Genes are segments of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that contain codes for proteins that function in the cells of the body.

DNA is primarily located in a cell’s nucleus, but it can be found in the mitochondria as well. Four chemical bases make up DNA: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T). The bases partner with each other (A with T and C with G) to form base pairs. The sequence of the base pairs describes information to build and maintain the body.

Structurally, DNA has a ladder-like, double-helix appearance. Base pairs form the “rungs” of the structure and sugar and phosphate molecules form the sides.

Chromosomes consist of condensed DNA that is tightly coiled around proteins called histones. Without the chromosomes, DNA molecules would not fit inside cells. The chromosomes also help to ensure that DNA is correctly replicated in cells.

Every human cell typically contains 46 chromosomes arranged into 23 pairs. Just one pair, the sex chromosomes, are different in males and females. The other 22 pairs are called autosomes and they are the same in males and females. 

People receive a pair of chromosomes from each parent. This means that they receive genes from both parents.

Electronic Structure and the Periodic Table

The electronic structure of each element is related to how the element is presented on the periodic table.

Notice the period numbers on the left side of the table and the group numbers on the top of the table. Each row of the periodic table is called a period and each column is called a group.

The period number describes the number of orbitals (or shells) within the electron configuration of an element. The group number refers to the number of electrons in the outermost shell, also known as the valence shell, of an element. The number of electrons in all shells is represented by the atomic number of the element because the element’s number of electrons equals its number of protons.

Because the periodic table is structured this way, you are able to tell which elements have similar characteristics. If you are asked to identify an element with the same number of electrons in its outermost shell as Palladium (Pd), you could look at the table and identify Darmstadtium (Ds) as an example.


You can probably expect to see some questions about chemical bonds on the DAT. Let’s briefly review some related concepts.

There are four main types of chemical bonds: covalent, ionic, metallic, and hydrogen.

Covalent bonds occur when electrons are shared between two atoms and the bond is classified as polar or nonpolar. Pauling Units (PU) are used to measure the electronegativity of a bond.

  • A polar covalent bond usually involves two different types of atoms and occurs when one atom has a stronger pull on the electron, or a greater electronegativity. The stronger atom will have a slightly negative charge and the other atom(s) will be slightly positive, which results in poles on the molecule. Polar bonds have a measurement of 0.5-1.9 PU.
  • A nonpolar covalent bond usually occurs between two atoms of the same element, which pull equally on the electron. Non-polar bonds have a measurement of less than 0.5 PU.

Ionic bonds occur when one atom gives up one or more electrons and another atom accepts the electron. These oppositely charged ions attract each other resulting in a bond. The positively charged atom is called a cation and is usually a metal. The negatively charged atom is an anion and non-metal.

Metallic bonds occur between two metal atoms of the same or different elements. The metals give up electrons which cause them to have a positive charge. The electrons hover near the metals and are all attracted to the same area, which basically bonds them together. 

Hydrogen Bonds are weaker than covalent and ionic bonds, however, they are the strongest intermolecular attractions between charged atoms. The slightly positive charge of hydrogen attracts slightly negative charges, like ions. This attraction is termed hydrogen bonds, attractions between hydrogen within one compound and these attractions are formed with electronegative atoms (mainly fluorine, oxygen, or nitrogen) within another compound or ion. Because the attraction is weak, it is easy to break.

Acids and Bases

On the DAT, it is likely that you will encounter some questions about acids and bases. For example, you may be given some options and directed to choose which is a strong acid or a strong base. Let’s review some concepts related to acids and bases now.

When we think about the difference between acids and bases, we often consider pH levels. While acids and bases do differ in terms of pH, they contrast in other ways as well. Use the chart below to review.

Examples of strong acids:

  • HCl – hydrochloric acid
  • HBr – hydrobromic acid
  • HI – hydroiodic acid
  • HNO – nitric acid

Examples of weak acids:

  • CHCOOH – acetic acid
  • H2CO – carbonic acid
  • CH2O2 – formic acid
  • HCN – hydrocyanic acid

Examples of strong bases:

  • LiOH – lithium hydroxide
  • NaOH – sodium hydroxide
  • KOH – potassium hydroxide
  • RbOH – rubidium hydroxide

Examples of weak bases:

  • NH – ammonia
  • (CHCH₂)₂NH – diethylamine
  • CHNH₂ – methylamine
  • NaHCOsodium bicarbonate

And that’s some basic information about the Survey of Natural Sciences.

Perceptual Ability Test

The Perceptual Ability Test (PAT) has 90 questions. You will have 60 minutes to complete this content area.

This test can be neatly divided into six types of tasks:

  • Apertures
  • View Recognition
  • Angle Discrimination
  • Paper Folding
  • Cube Counting
  • 3D Form Development

The PAT may be quite different from other tests that you have taken in the past. Because the PAT requires students to perform tasks that they are not typically asked to perform on the test, many students find the test difficult. While some students just have “an eye for” perceptive tasks, others can develop perceptive abilities as learned skills.

By familiarizing yourself with the tasks and practicing them, you can definitely improve your chances of PAT success!

So, why is the PAT included on the DAT anyway? 

Dentists need to have spatial reasoning and to understand symmetry and two-dimensional figures and three-dimensional objects and images. Think about interpreting a radiograph or adjusting an instrument in order to place a dental implant–the ability to interpret what one sees while performing these tasks is very important.

Now, let’s look at some of the tasks.


On the DAT you will be given aperture or “keyhole” questions that correspond with two-dimensional figures. When answering an aperture question, save yourself time by considering the simplest keyhole first. After you have chosen your answer, make sure to ask yourself whether or not there is any reason why your answer might be incorrect.

Let’s take a look at an example which is similar to what you’ll encounter on the PAT:

Prior to being inserted into the aperture, the object may be turned. Once the object has started to be inserted into the aperture, it may not be twisted or turned.

Your job is to pick the option (A – E) that describes the hole into which the object on the left may be inserted. In this case, the answer is B. The object would fit through that hole if it were turned upside down. You do not need to worry about the cube-like part of the object. The cube-like part is not important because the object could be inserted with that part either facing the hole or facing away from the hole.

View Recognition

This section of the PAT deals with the top, front, and end views of objects. You will be given two of those views and asked to select which item represents the third view.

Dotted lines indicate what cannot be seen on the surface of an object. Imagine the dotted lines as giving you an “x-ray” view so that you can peer through the object and see what’s on the other side.

Now let’s practice view recognition. The question below is similar to the view recognition questions that you will encounter on the task.

Choose the top view.

The correct answer is A. Remember that the dotted line shows the other side of the figure (in this case, the base of the four-sided figure). The triangles represent the “roof.”

Angle Discrimination

In this section of the test, you will be given visuals of four interior angles. You will rank their degrees from highest to lowest. You will not need to perform any mathematical equations in this section.

Just remember that the wider the angle, the higher the degree. For example:

On the PAT, some of the angles may be facing different directions. One strategy that helps some DAT exam-takers is to sit a little further back from the screen when viewing the angles.

Instead of looking at the answer choices, order the angles yourself first. Then, look at the answer choices. This can help you to avoid the suggestive nature of answer choices. 

Let’s try a sample question that is similar to the questions you will see on the test.

Order the angles from least (in degree measures) to greatest (in degree measures).

  1. 4, 3, 2, 1
  2. 4, 2, 1, 3
  3. 3, 1, 2, 4
  4. 3, 4, 1, 2

The correct answer to this question is D. Remember to use the process of elimination if you are unsure of an answer. In the example question, Angle 2 is clearly greater than a right (L-shaped) angle. None of the other angles are that large.

Therefore, you could immediately eliminate B and C. Even if you were unsure of the other angles, you would have a 50% of answering the question correctly if you choose between A and D.

Paper Folding

The paper folding questions on the PAT will show you a square that represents a piece of paper. The paper will be “folded” and each time the paper is “folded,” you will have an accompanying image.

The solid lines represent the edges of the paper and the dotted lines represent the original position of the paper. The paper will not be rotated, only “folded.”

After the last fold, you will see a circle that represents a hole punched in the “folded” paper.

You will be given images of a paper that has been “unfolded” and has been “hole-punched.” Your job is to choose which image corresponds to the “folding” and “punching.”

Here is an example:

So, if this paper were unfolded into a square, the paper would look like this:

Since the paper has been folded in two, there are two holes that mirror one another. 

Every paper will be a square with dots arranged in a 4 x 4 pattern. Here is an example of how a paper folding question may appear on the exam:

Which of the following options shows the holes (marked in black) of this paper if it is completely unfolded after the punch?

The correct answer to this question is E. Each time the paper was folded, the number of places the hole was punched doubled. The paper was folded twice, so that means there are four holes in the paper. It is also important to think logically about where the four holes would appear.

Cube Counting

Next, let’s take a look at another task you’ll encounter on the PAT–cube counting. There’s a little more to this section than just counting cubes, but not too much more. You will be focusing on the sides of the cubes.

Remember that a cube has six sides: the front, the back, two ends, a top, and a bottom.

On the test, you will be given an image of a group of cubes. You will imagine that the cubes have been glued together, then painted. The bottoms of the cubes are not painted – just imagine that they are stuck to the ground.

When you answer the question, you will also need to think about the cubes which are not shown in the image. Take a look at this example:

The cube with the arrow pointing to it has another cube supporting it–the cubes do not “float.” So, there are four cubes in this example: three visible cubes and one cube which is not visible.

There are never any hidden “trick” cubes that are hidden. The only invisible cubes in the images are the cubes which are necessary to support cubes that are on top of them.

Try this practice question:

How many of the cubes below have exactly two sides painted?

There are 17 cubes, six of which you cannot see in the image. The cubes on the top row all have either three or four sides painted. The middle and end cubes of the bottom row each have three sides painted–remember that the bottoms of the cubes are never painted.

There are four cubes on the bottom row which have two sides painted. Now, think about the invisible row. The middle cube will have no sides painted. The cubes directly on each side of the middle cube will have one side painted. The two end cubes of the invisible row will each have two sides painted.

By adding the four cubes on the visible bottom row and the two cubes from the invisible bottom row, you can determine that there are six cubes with exactly two sides painted.

3D Form Development

This section of the PAT is also referred to as “pattern folding.” You will see a two-dimensional pattern and three-dimensional figures. You will choose which one of the four figures the pattern could make if folded. There is only one correct answer for each question.

Refer to the following images as an example:

If you were to fold the pattern on the left, you would end up with the figure on the right. When deciding whether a figure goes with a pattern, make sure that the top, the front, the bottom, the back, and the sides are all accounted for.

As with all questions, attempt to eliminate any answers that you can before answering. It may help to picture the figure in your head before considering any of the given options.

And that’s some basic information about the Perceptive Ability Test.

Reading Comprehension Test

The Reading Comprehension Test (RCT) has 50 questions. You will have 60 minutes to complete this test.

The following list describes the types of questions that you will see on the RCT:

  • Global Questions
  • Details
  • Tone 
  • Function
  • Inference
  • Support

On the Reading Comprehension Test, you will be presented with three scientific passages, each of which will be accompanied by several questions. You will not need to study or understand the content of the passages ahead of time. 

As you read, it is a good idea to jot down a word or phrase to describe each paragraph in the passage. Your list of main ideas will allow you to refer back to the correct portion of the text quickly when asked about a particular topic in the passage.

If you encounter an unfamiliar word, use context clues to determine its meaning. This means deciding how the word is used in the sentence and using the text around the word to decide what it means.

Another strategy to help you to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words is to break the word into its word parts. If you know the meaning of the parts of a word, you can usually decipher the word. The following chart provides some examples.

Now, let’s talk about the types of questions you will see on the RCT.

Global Questions

Global questions will ask you about the main idea of an entire passage or paragraph. To find the main idea, ask yourself what the passage is primarily about. When looking for the main idea, do not be distracted by details that are only included to support the main idea; look for the “big picture.”

Read the sample excerpt below.

What is the main purpose of this passage?

  1. to describe the difference between complete and incomplete fractures
  2. to describe the symptoms in an animal with a fractured tibia
  3. to explain how fractures may cause an animal to be lame
  4. to explain how fractures may be diagnosed in animals which do not exhibit visible injuries

The correct answer to this question is choice B. The overall point of the passage is to describe the symptoms of an animal with a fractured tibia. Although the author differentiates between complete and incomplete fractures, A is not the main idea. C and D are also ideas that are mentioned in the passage, but like A, they only support the main idea.

Keep in mind that even if you are not asked to find the main idea outright, you will always need to identify the main idea to answer questions correctly.


Some questions on the RCT may ask you how details support the main idea. Other questions about details might ask you how the details relate to one another, or simply what the details state.

Read the sample excerpt below.

Based on the text, how long must the culture plate sit before spots appear in the culture medium?

  1. one hour
  2. at least one day
  3. at least one week
  4. about half an hour

The correct answer is B. The text states that the culture must sit for “twenty-four to thirty-six hours” before the spots appear.


The tone of a passage refers to how the author’s use of words reflects his or her attitude. Words have both connotations and denotations. In order to determine the author’s tone, you should consider the connotations of the words selected by the author.

While denotation refers to the dictionary definition of words, connotation refers to the emotions and ideas typically associated with a word. Since the passages on the DAT are unlikely to include strong opinions or have very obvious tones, understanding word choice is important.

Take a look at the chart below, which provides some examples of connotations and denotations.

Consider the following sample excerpt:

The author’s attitude towards the birds can be described as positive. Notice that the author uses the word “vivacious,” which has a positive connotation, as opposed to “active,” which has a neutral connotation, or “restless,” which has a negative connotation. 

Read the following sample excerpt.

If asked about the author’s attitude towards laypeople, you could say that he is biased against them because he portrays them as being ignorant. According to the author, they “do not comprehend the difficulty or importance of correctly grouping the signs or symptoms of disease.”

The author’s tone and attitude are rarely stated outright; you must be a detective and search for clues in the passages!


You are likely to encounter function questions on the test that evaluate your ability to determine the purpose of a phrase, sentence, or paragraph. Remember that every part of a text is included for a reason. When answering a function question, find and reread the selected words or paragraph and ask yourself why that part of the text is included.

Read the sample excerpt below.

Why does the author include the information that “the one-year-old wood of young plants was killed”?

  1. to support the main idea that the grapes failed
  2. to support the main idea that ripe vines are injured by cold weather
  3. to weaken the counterargument that grapes can be grown in cold climates
  4. to support the opinion that many gardening lessons are learned through trial and error

The correct answer to the question is A. You can eliminate B because it does not accurately state the main idea. The author does not address a counterargument, so you can eliminate C. While D is somewhat correct, it is too far of a stretch.


Inference questions are frequently included on the DAT. Unlike detail questions, which refer to ideas that are stated outright in the text, inference questions require you to come to conclusions that are not stated directly in the text. When making an inference, be sure that there is textual evidence to support your idea, even though it is not stated outright.

Let’s practice with an example. Read the sample excerpt below.

Based solely on the given text, which of the following statements is true?

  1. Bacteria are responsible for the acetic acid found in vinegar.
  2. All of the masses that contain “the mother of vinegar” contain Mycoderma aceti.
  3. Bacteria may cause a number of different substances to oxidize.
  4. All acidic substances are created through oxidation.

Choice A is the correct answer. According to the first paragraph, acetic acid is caused by the oxidation of alcohol. The second paragraph makes it clear that bacteria cause this oxidation because they cause “the alcohol to unite with oxygen.” Whether true or false, the other statements are not supported by the information that can be located in the text.


Authors use details to support their ideas and opinions. For example, let’s say that you are reading an article in which the author is trying to relay the idea that coyotes are not able to reproduce as readily as some people may believe. 

By including the information that female coyotes remain infertile for ten months out of the year, the author can support her point. However, the information that coyotes bear litters of up to 19 pups would weaken the author’s point; if a coyote and her mate produce 19 pups in a litter, they have multiplied exponentially!  

On the Reading Comprehension Test, it is likely that you will be asked to locate support for ideas within passages. You may also be asked to determine whether certain statements would strengthen an argument with support or weaken the argument.

Read the following excerpt and answer the question that follows it.

Which of the following statements would most significantly weaken the author’s main argument?

  1. There are several species of predators that do not eat squirrels.
  2. Many nuts and seeds deposited by squirrels never even develop into seedlings.
  3. Squirrels have value not only because they help other species, but because they are interesting creatures themselves.
  4. Squirrels pose an incredible amount of competition to many species of native and protected birds, which rely on some of the same foods.

The best answer is D. The author’s main argument is that squirrels help the environment. D gives evidence that squirrels can be destructive to the environment; therefore, it weakens the argument. Choices A and B could be used to weaken specific supportive details included by the author, but these choices do not tackle the “big picture.” Choice C does not weaken the argument at all.

And that’s some basic information about the Reading Comprehension Test.

Quantitative Reasoning Test

The Quantitative Reasoning Test (QRT) has 40 questions. You will have 45 minutes to complete this content area.

The QRT will focus on the following content areas:

  • Algebraic Equations and Inequalities
  • Fractions and Decimals
  • Percentage
  • Scientific Notation
  • Conversions
  • Time, Speed, and Distance
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Lines and Slope
  • Perimeter and Area
  • Angles and Circles

So, let’s talk about them.

Algebraic Equations and Inequalities

On the Quantitative Reasoning Test, you will need to use your math skills to answer questions about equations and inequalities. Let’s look at some concepts that you are likely to encounter on the test.

Linear Equations and Inequalities

A linear equation includes an equal (=) sign and linear expressions. Linear equations are written in the standard form ax + by = c and they describe a line when they are graphed.

Here is an example of a linear equation in standard form:

2x – 2y = 2

Not all linear equations are presented in standard form. Here are a few examples of linear equations that are not written in standard form:

y−5 = −3(x+5)
2x = -4y
3x – 4 + 4 = -10 + 4
x + 9 – 9 = 12 – 9

A system of linear equations refers to two or more equations that work together. Let’s look at an example of a system of linear equations and solve it:

y = 2x + 4
y = 3x + 2

Since each equation equals y, each equation is equivalent:

2x + 4 = 3x + 2

Move the x variables to one side by subtracting 2x from 3x. Remember that x by itself means 1x.

4 = x + 2

If 2 is subtracted from each side, we find that x = 2. Now you know that 2 is the value of x, so you can plug 2 into the second equation and solve it.

y = 3x + 2
y = 3(2) + 2
y = 6 + 2
y = 8

We find that in this system of linear equations, x = 2 and y = 8.

Linear inequalities are treated the same way as linear equalities. The only difference is that instead of an equals sign, linear inequalities have a greater than sign (﹥), a greater than or equal to sign(≥), a lesser than sign (﹤), or a lesser than or equal to sign (≤).

Quadratic Equations

Quadratic equations describe parabolas (curves) when they are graphed. These equations contain squares and their standard form is a2 + bx + c = 0. Like linear equations, quadratic equations are not always presented in standard form.

Let’s look at an example of a quadratic equation and solve it:

6x² – 13x = 8

Now you have found the two solutions to the quadratic equation!

Fractions and Decimals

On the test, you may be asked to compare, add, or subtract fractions and decimals. The easiest way to work with fractions and decimals at the same time is to convert all of the numbers to decimals.

In order to convert a fraction to a decimal, remember that the numerator (on top) is being divided by the denominator (on the bottom). For example, ¼ is equivalent to 0.25 because 1 divided by 4 is 0.25.

You do not need to practice long division before the exam. You will have a calculator on your screen.

If your answer choices are given as fractions and you must convert a decimal to a fraction to answer the problem, use the following steps:


Remember that a percentage can be written as a fraction over 100.

So, 65% =

12.5% =

and so on.

To convert a percent to a decimal, just move the decimal 2 places to the left (because there are 2 zeros in 100). So, 34% = .34.

To convert a decimal to a percent, do the opposite and move the decimal 2 places to the right. For example, .24 = 24%.

Practice your knowledge of fractions, decimals, and percentages by answering the following question.

Which of the following numbers is least?

So, let’s convert all of the numbers to percentages in order to compare them more easily. The number .0130 is easy; you just need to move the decimal two places to the right to get 1.3%.

Now, let’s think about

The number 1,000 has three decimal places. We need to see 11.5 represented over 100 to see it as a percentage. Drop 1 zero from 1,000 to get 100 as the new denominator. Then, move the decimal on top 1 place to the right to account for the 1 zero you removed from the denominator.

So, our numbers are 1.15%, 1.3%, and .12%. You can conclude that .12% is the smallest number.

Scientific Notation

The Quantitative Reasoning Test frequently includes questions that are most easily solved by using scientific notation. Scientific notation is used to express very large or very small numbers in a more simplified manner; that is, as a number between 1 and 10 raised to a power of 10.

Use the following chart to review this concept.

Let’s try a sample problem:

(4.2 x 10⁵)(2 x 10⁷)

Multiplication is commutative. That means that it does not matter how we order the numbers.

(4.2 x 10⁵)(2 x 10⁷)   = (10⁷ x 10⁵)(2 x 4.2)  

When we multiply two exponents, we add the exponents (10⁷ x 10⁵ = 10¹²).

(10¹²)(2 x 4.2)  = (10¹²)(8.4) =  8,400,000,000,000

You’re all done – the problem is solved!


The QRT often asks test-takers to convert metric units. The metric system is based on 10s. Use the following chart to review metric units.

Remember the following prefixes:

  • Milli = one thousandth 
  • Centi = one hundredth 
  • Deci = one tenth 
  • Deka = ten
  • Hecto = one hundred
  • Kilo = one thousand

Time, Speed, and Distance

You just reviewed conversions. You will be asked a question related to that concept soon, but first, let’s discuss time, speed, and distance. In the following formulas, t = time, s = speed, and d = distance.

So, as long as you know two of the three variables, you will be able to find the third variable. It is very likely that you will need to use one of these formulas on your test, so be sure to memorize them!

Now, let’s try a sample question that is similar to what you are likely to see on the test.

A member of a track team performs the 100-meter sprint in 13.58 seconds. How long would it take for this person to run a 5-kilometer race at the same speed?

  1. 2½ minutes
  2. 6 minutes
  3. 11 minutes
  4. 11½ minutes

This question is asking us to find the time for the race, but we need to find the runner’s speed first.

She runs 100 meters in 13.58 seconds.

When you divide 100 by 13.58, you find that the runner’s speed is 7.634 meters per second.

Now, we need to use our knowledge of conversions. A kilometer is 1,000 meters, so 5 kilometers is 5,000 meters. So plug the given numbers into the equation:

Now multiply both sides by t to get 7.634t = 5,000. Divide 5,000 by 7.634 to get 654.96. Divide the seconds by 60 to get the minutes: 654.96 divided by 60 = 10.91.

The correct answer is C. It would take the runner about 11 minutes.

Probability and Statistics

Probability deals with the likelihood of future events and statistics involve analyzing the frequency of past events. Let’s review some related concepts.

Measures of Center

Measures of center are used in statistics to describe data. Read the following definitions for mean, median, and mode:

Mean – The mean is the average, which is calculated by adding all of the values in a set of numbers and dividing that sum by the number of values in the set.

Example: 6, 1, 3, 4, 4

The mean of this set is 3.6

Median – The median number is the middle value in a set of values.

Example: 6, 1, 3, 4, 4

When we order the numbers from largest to smallest (1, 3, 4, 4, 6), we find that the median is 4.

Mode – The mode of a set of values is the value that occurs most frequently.

Example: 6, 1, 3, 4, 4

The mode of this set is 4.

Now, let’s try an example question.

An online book club recently rated a historical fiction novel. Members were allowed to rate the book 1-5 stars, using only whole numbers. Using the chart below, what rating was the book most frequently given?

This question is asking you to determine the mode. The mode is 5–the book received a rating of 5 stars more often than any other rating.

Predicting Outcomes

Probability can be used to depict either independent or dependent events. While dependent events have a relationship, independent events do not affect one another.

Use the chart below to review the difference between these types of events.

You can use the following formula to determine the probability of two independent events (x and y) using the following formula.

Probability of both x and y = p(x) × p(y)

So let’s use the marble example and say that Kevin puts the marble he draws back in the bag. What is the probability that Kevin will draw a green marble the first time (x) and a yellow marble the second time (y)?

The probability of drawing a green marble and then a yellow marble is one-ninth.

You can use the same formula to find the probability of a dependent event, but you must make sure that the y value is the y value after x occurs. Here is an example:

What is the probability that Kevin will draw a green marble the first time (x) and a yellow marble the second time (y) if he does NOT put the green marble back?

The probability of drawing a yellow marble the second time is two-fifteenths.

Lines and Slope

On the test, you are likely to encounter questions that involve lines and their slopes. Let’s start by reviewing slope.


The formula y = mx + b can be used to describe a line on a coordinate plane (graph). The x and y values of any two points on the line may be plugged into the equation. The m variable represents the slope and b represents the y-intercept, which is where the line crosses the y-axis.

Let’s look at an example question:

At what point does a line passing through point A (6, –2) and point B (8, 4) intersect the y-axis?

This question is asking us to find the y-intercept of a line. We already know the values of two points, but we need to find the slope.

Here is the equation to find the slope of a line:

Subtract the y value of either point from the y value of the other point. Divide that number by the x value of one point subtracted from the x value of the other point. Whichever point you chose for y₁ should also be used for x₁.

Now, we can plug the slope and the other values into the formula y = mx + b. You can use either point to find the answer. Let’s plug in the values from point B:

y = mx + b
4 = (3)8 + b
4 = 24 + b
-20 = b

The y-intercept is -20.

Points on a Line

The distance formula can be used to describe the distance between two points on a line. The distance formula is:

Let’s use the distance formula to find the distance between points C and D on the graph below.

So, let C be (x₁,y₁) and let D be (x₂, y₂) in the formula:

So, the distance between C and D is 5.

Perimeter and Area

It is very likely that you will be asked to find the perimeter and/or area of figures on the QRT. Remember that perimeter is the sum of all sides of a two-dimensional figure. Area refers to the space inside of a two-dimensional figure. 

Use the chart below to review these concepts and to see some examples.

Let’s try a sample problem. 

What is the length of a fence that encloses a rectangular area measuring 40 meters by 40 meters?

  1. 120 m
  2. 120 m²
  3. 160 m
  4. 160 m²

This question is asking you to find the perimeter of a rectangle. 40 + 40 + 40 + 40 = 160 meters. C is correct. Since this is a perimeter question, not an area question, you do not need to square the meters.

Angles and Circles

Calculations involving angles and circles both frequently involve degree measures. First, we’ll start with some concepts related to angle, then, we’ll review a couple of concepts related to circles.

Sine, Cosine, and Tangent

The sine, cosine, and tangent are used to describe ratios in a right triangle. Remember that a right triangle has an angle that equals 90°.

The hypotenuse is the side opposite the right angle. The adjacent side touches the right angle and the angle of interest. The opposite side is across from the angle of interest.

Use the graphic below to review.

So, imagine that Angle q in the figure is 35° and that the hypotenuse is 9 units and the adjacent side is 6 units.

The cosine of the angle would be Cos(35°) = 6 ÷ 9.

Perimeter and Area of a Circle

Just like angles, degree measures are important when working with circles. We will work with circles and degree measures soon, but it’s important to know a few basic concepts about circles first.

Let’s review.

Next, we’ll review another concept related to circles.

Arc of a Circle

The arc of a circle is part of the circle’s circumference. The formula to find the length of an arc is:

In this formula, the θ symbol refers to the degree of the angle inside the arc. 

Let’s practice with an example.

Let’s find the arc by plugging the given numbers into the formula.

And that’s some basic info about the Dental Admission Test.