A large part of dental school admissions is the DAT exam. To learn more about what a good DAT score is, read on.
It’s difficult to determine how well a student will perform in dental school. Considering the curriculum is highly specialized, and students are expected to participate in extensive practical training, dental school is known to be demanding.
Accordingly, admissions committees essentially gamble on the most qualified and promising candidates, hoping they will thrive in this challenging environment.
While the other aspects of your dental school application, such as your personal statement, give the admissions committee a better understanding of your personality and character, the DAT is the most significant academic indicator. Your DAT score is the main form of assessment used to predict your academic potential.
This guide will explore what makes a good DAT score further and help you determine which score to aim for to get into your dream dental school!
There will be 280 questions on the DAT. Your raw score is the number of questions you get correct, but this is not the score you’ll see on your report. Instead, you’ll see a scaled score. This score will range between 1-30.
You will receive a scaled score for each section of the DAT, along with a composite score. This will provide you with an average of your overall performance on the exam. The average DAT score is around 17.
The table below shows the conversion from raw scores to standard scores. This indicates the number of questions in each section you need to correctly answer in order to receive the corresponding standard score:
The answer to “What is a good DAT score?” is a little more complicated than just stating a number. A good DAT score depends entirely on the schools you’re applying to.
The higher the ranking of your desired school, the higher your target score should be. However, this is how different score ranges are typically categorized:
Any scores that fall below 16 are considered to be low. With below-average scores, it’s difficult to get accepted into accredited dental schools.
Scores that are slightly above average, between 17-18, are decent scores. While they won’t be considered competitive at the majority of dental schools, they may be accepted at lower-ranking schools.
Scores from 19-20 are considered competitive at the majority of US dental schools. Aiming for a score within this range will ensure you meet the DAT requirements for most schools.
Scores in the 21-25 range are considered to be very high. These top scores are considered competitive enough to get into the most selective dental schools in the nation.
It’s important to note your GPA will also influence the DAT score you should aim for. If you have a GPA that is significantly higher than your school’s median, there’s some leeway with how high your DAT score has to be.
On the other hand, if you have a low GPA, you’ll have to compensate for it with an even higher-than-expected DAT score to prove your academic potential.
To help you prepare well to apply to your desired school, here are the average scores of some of the top dental schools in the US.
If you receive a less-than-satisfactory score on the DAT, you may want to retake the test. However, it’s not always easy to know if retaking the DAT is really a good idea.
If you are unhappy with your DAT score and are confident that you can score higher on another attempt, then you should consider retaking the DAT. You may also want to retake the DAT if the rest of your application is lacking in some way.
You should, however, make sure that you have enough time for another test, as you are required to wait 60 days between testing attempts, which may conflict with your dental school application deadlines.
If you have a satisfactory score and aren’t sure if you would be able to do better, then you are not advised to retake the DAT. A lower score than your past attempt will not look good on dental school applications.
In this guide, we’ve answered the question, “what is a good score on the DAT?” and what to consider when determining your target score. For any remaining questions about this entrance exam, read on to find your answers.
Yes, a 25 on the DAT is an extremely high score to achieve! This score surpasses the DAT medians of all US dental schools.
Yes, this score will likely put you in the competitive range to get into high-ranking dental schools.
A 19 is the median or minimum DAT score for the majority of dental schools. As such, this score can get you into most mid to high-ranking dental schools.
A 20 puts you well above the average DAT score, meaning it is a great score to receive. Some of the highest-ranking dental schools, such as Harvard, prefer DAT scores of 20 and higher.
Practice and patience are essential to improve your DAT score. Ensure you don’t rush the process and give yourself enough time to learn the most effective strategies to master each section of the exam.
Some other tips to improve your score include:
If self-study isn’t getting you to your target score, you may want to call in the big guns, like Inspira’s 99th percentile tutors, who can provide you with personalized DAT support to maximize your score.
Create a DAT study schedule based on your other commitments and how many resources you plan on using. If you’re able to dedicate full-time hours to your studies, around three to four months is typically enough time to prepare for the exam.
On the other hand, if you have other time-consuming responsibilities, you may need to dedicate five to six months to your DAT prep. Don’t be afraid to also change your timeline as you progress in your studies. This is why it’s essential to begin your studies early, so you have time to adjust your plan and retake the exam if necessary!
Students typically struggle with the perceptual ability test the most because it requires them to be able to visualize and interpret two-dimensional representations of three-dimensional objects, a skill most students have never had to develop.
Students also find the reading comprehension section to be challenging because analysis and reading skills aren’t easily improved. Students typically see the least improvement in this section.
Figuring out the DAT score to aim for to get into your dream dental school shouldn’t create more stress in this already nerve-wracking application step. Using the score ranges shared in this guide, you can determine your target score more easily and begin the hard part—studying!