The DAT scoring method can be a bit confusing. If you’ve just graduated from high school and want to secure a position in one of the best dental schools in the US, then you’ve come to the right place. We'll guide you through all you will require to get your ideal score on the DAT. The first stage in reaching this goal is understanding the DAT scoring. In this blog you will learn about the DAT test, how DAT scoring works, what’s the importance of a good DAT score, and how you can get one. 

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8 min read

What Is the DAT? DAT Scoring: The DAT Score Range DAT Scoring: What is a Good DAT Score? DAT Scoring: What is the Best DAT Score? DAT Scoring: What is a Competitive DAT Score? DAT Scoring: What is a Poor DAT Score? Why Do You Need to Score Well on the DAT? How Many Times Should I Take the DAT? How To Achieve a Good DAT Score? DAT Practice Questions Conclusion FAQs

What Is the DAT? 

The Dental Admissions Test or DAT is a multiple-choice standardized exam required for admission to dental school in the United States and Canada. The test assesses your knowledge and skills in the different domains that include:

  • Biology
  • General Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Perceptual Ability
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Quantitative Reasoning

The American Dental Association (ADA) conducts this exam. You can apply for this exam up to three times a year, and in case of an extra attempt in the same year, you will have to ask for special permission. However, you will have to wait for 90 days for each new attempt. The tests are taken throughout the United States and cost a non-refundable fee.

It is one of the criteria, along with admissions essays, undergraduate GPA, coursework, and a personal statement. So, getting dental school admission help is necessary if you want to know how a cumulative blend of these factors can make you a stronger candidate for admission.

The DAT standard score scale is an ability-referenced scale that ranges from 1 to 30. The scores have the same meaning regardless of the ability distribution of the cohort examined in the same time frame as your test date. It is a competitive process that can pose real-life stress if you want to secure admission to a high-ranking dental institute in the US.

The DAT will be one of the first obstacles you must overcome to secure your seat in a dental program. You must prepare and perform extraordinarily on the test to stand out from other students within the score range.

DAT Scoring: The DAT Score Range

You must understand how the DAT scoring works before applying for the test, so you know what to aim for during the exam and how much time you need to dedicate to each section. Test-takers receive a DAT scaled score that range from 1 to 30 immediately after the test is finished. Your DAT scaled score is based on the total scores in each section of the DAT.

There are also unscored questions on the DAT that make up a small percentage of the total number of questions. You will not know which questions are unscored when taking the test, and these are not factored into your scores.

Candidates planning to take the DAT exam need to know that a score of 19 signifies average performance, and scoring higher than that can improve their chances of getting an admission.

Academic Average Score and Total Sciences Score

While test-takers receive their DAT scaled score once completing the test, dental schools receive different scores based on your performance. Your academic average score, total sciences score, and perceptual ability (PAT) section scores are the ones that dental schools use when evaluating dental school applicants.

Your academic average score is the rounded average of your total scores in the Biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, quantitative reasoning and reading comprehension sections of the DAT.

The total sciences score is based on your overall performance on the Survey of Natural Sciences section (Biology, Chemistry), NOT your rounded average of the test’s science sections.

DAT Scoring: What is a Good DAT Score?

When considering your DAT score goal, it’s wise to look at the average scores for the schools you are applying to. So, with that in mind, let’s look at some of the things you need to know about the DAT score.

First of all, the exam is graded on a scale, with possible scores ranging from 1 to 30. A score of 20 or more than 20 is often regarded as a "good" score and often means that your chances of getting into a dental institute are great.

A score of 17 or 18, on the other hand, is considered average. You must receive a score of at least 18 to be considered a qualified candidate for some of the easiest dental schools to get into.

If you want to enroll in a reputable dental program, you should aim for a score that’s higher than the minimum requirement. Almost all dental schools weigh the DAT score quite heavily when it comes to deciding since the exam serves as a comprehensive analysis of the candidate’s knowledge and abilities. 

DAT Scoring: What is the Best DAT Score?

You should achieve the best score range in order to confirm your acceptance in dental schools ranked on factors like acceptance rate, average GPA, and DAT scores. You would need to obtain the following marks in each section of the DAT exam to rank among the top test takers:

These results show high competence and knowledge throughout different topics of the DAT exam. These are impressive results in the competitive area of dentistry and would place you among the top performers on the DAT. One of the most important things you need to remember is that DAT results can change from one testing cycle to the next. 

DAT Scoring: What is a Competitive DAT Score?

You would aim for the following score ranges in each area to be seen as competent for admissions, often ranking in the top 25% of all test takers for the DAT:

A score with this range suggests that you have a solid academic and scientific background, good perceptual ability, and reading comprehension abilities. Getting these challenging test results can help you stand out as a candidate for admission to dental programs. Remember that the precise score ranges that are considered competitive may change slightly depending on the dental schools you are applying to.

Here's how to ace your dental school personal statement!

DAT Scoring: What is a Poor DAT Score?

The following DAT scores are considered below the average and can drastically reduce the chance of being accepted by a dental institute.

The admissions procedure for dental institutes frequently considers several elements, such as GPA, personal statements, and a dental school interview. So, you have a chance even when your scores are below average. Additionally, some dental schools could give some DAT portions more weight than others.

It's critical to examine the admission standards of the dental schools you're interested in. Once you’ve done that, you should consider applying to ones that best match your test results and overall profile.

Why Do You Need to Score Well on the DAT?

For most institutions, admission to dental school requires a score of at least 18. While some colleges will accept lower results, you should aim for a higher score to attend a reputable institution. You must score 21 or better to be admitted to your specialty program or a more prominent dentistry school.

To stand out, applicants must showcase how they utilize their spare time with meaningful application experiences or profile enrichment via volunteering, job shadowing, and research.DAT score is the basic criteria for applying to dental school, and things like admissions essays, undergraduate GPA and coursework, and a personal statement are also valuable. But remember that additional elements like a dental school letter of recommendation could also be considered throughout the admissions process. But that’s not all. You can also learn how to shadow a dentist to gain experience and make your profile more appealing.

Spending enough time preparing for the exam is the best way to guarantee you will receive a sufficient score to enter your favorite school. Consider seeking guidance from a dental school advisor or finding a classmate to study with if you need help.

How Many Times Should I Take the DAT?

The number of times you take the test depends on the score you have achieved. If you get a highly competent score in the first attempt, then you don't need to retake the exam. However, in case of below-average scores, you can consider retaking the exam.

Considering Retaking the DAT for Improvement

If you've received a below-average score, you can take the DAT multiple times. However, as you know, you'll need special permission after taking the test three times. Before applying for a retake, start by identifying your weakness and strengths.

Then, focus on challenging subjects rather than cramming. You need use study guides or flashcards for efficient learning. However, you need to remember that there's a gap of 90 days between each attempt.

DAT score is the basic criteria for applying to dental school. This means that preparing a dental school application checklist can help. All students who apply to dental schools achieve strong grades and DAT scores. professional experiences, so going through some can help.

How To Achieve a Good DAT Score?

The DAT score is not the only factor that comes into play when dental institutes decide whether to accept a candidate or not, but a higher score can improve your chances. However, it’s important to understand that getting a good score on the DAT exam can be challenging, but effective study sessions can help.

Some strategies for making the most of your study sessions include time management, understanding the exam format, and practicing as much as possible. Let’s look at them in more detail.

1. Schedule Your DAT Study Plan

Consider preparing for the exam by creating a DAT study schedule. With your test date in mind, set up your calendar to plan practice tests and schedule time to review your results. The recommended amount of time you should study for your DAT exam is around 200 to 250 hours.

So, three hours a day, five days per week, for about three months should be enough. However, you need to apply various study methods so your study routine does not get boring, and keep in mind to pace yourself, as there’s much ground to cover.

2. Adjust Your DAT Study Time

Time management is all about working smarter rather than working harder or longer. It's about creating a better balance. You must manage your time effectively, not burdening yourself with too much all at once, as it will create mundane effects or raise your anxiety levels. It is best advised to divide your study sessions into small sections by taking a 5-minute break every 45 minutes.

3. Understand the DAT Format

One of the best things you can do when preparing for your DAT exam is to understand the format. Most candidates overlook this aspect during preparation but studying it can help you get a better score.

It basically serves as a heads-up for what’s to be expected and can help you pace yourself during the exam. The DAT test consists of numerous multiple-choice test questions that test your knowledge and expertise in different domains.

So, with that in mind, let’s look at the exam’s format in more detail.

DAT Practice Questions

As they say, practice makes perfect. So, the more you practice, the better your chances will be of achieving the desired score. Practice tests are one of the best ways to study for the DAT exam. It is better to familiarize yourself with as many questions as possible, and when reviewing your practice test results, study questions you got right and those you got wrong as well.

This will allow you to identify what your strengths and weaknesses are and help make your study sessions more effective. Some common DAT practice test questions include:


DAT is the obstacle that you have to overcome with excellent scores to secure your place in a dental school. Your DAT results heavily influence your eligibility for dentistry programs across the United States and Canada. You are allowed to take the test three times in a year without special permission. We can help you achieve your desired score with our expert-level guides and years of experience.


1. How can I secure my seat in a US Dental School?

You typically need a GPA anywhere from 3.0 to 3.5, while your DAT scores should be at or above 20. You could secure a seat if you score lower, but other application factors, such as your personal statement, are outstanding. So, you should go over some dental school personal statement examples

2. What is DAT Scoring?

It is an ability-referenced scale that ranges from 1 to 30. Scores above 22 are ideal, and those below 17 would require a retake. 

3. What DAT score do I need to get into dental school?

The exact DAT score you need to get into dental school may vary from one institute to another, but a score of 21 or more might help you secure a seat in a reputable dental institute. 

4. Who takes DAT, and how can I register for DAT?

The American Dental Association administers DAT, and you can register at its official website. 

5. How should I prepare to enter dental school?

You should start by preparing for the DAT exam as a prerequisite. You should take part in some of the best dental school extracurriculars to add experience and work on extra qualities like resilience, communication skills, and leadership.

6. What do I need to get into dental school?

It is strongly recommended to have a bachelor's degree, but it is not a necessity. Some programs require you to only complete 90 credits of a bachelor’s degree, while others either recommend or require that you finish a bachelor’s degree regardless of the subject.

7. When should I start preparing for the DAT?

You must have the habit of planning and preparing in advance! The best time to start preparing for your DAT exam is as early as possible.

8. When should I retake the DAT?

If a person’s score is below average and they have no significant value in supplementary factors like personal statements, then you must retake the DAT.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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