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How Long Is The DAT?

To best prepare yourself for exam day, it is important to know how many hours the Dental Admission Test (DAT) takes to complete.

While preparing to take the Dental Admission Test, you’ll want to know how long it is and how much time you will need to dedicate to the test. Being prepared with testing information before the day of your exam will enable you know exactly what to expect while at the testing center. In this guide, we will provide you with information regarding total testing time, individual section testing times, and more.

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How Long Does the DAT Take?

In a standard format, the DAT takes 4 hours and 30 minutes to complete. This does not include the optional 15-minute tutorial, optional 30-minute break, or optional 15-minute post-test survey.

Length of Time by DAT Section

The DAT is broken down into four different sections, which vary in length of time. Below is a quick overview of each section so you know what to expect.

dat section time
Source: ADA.org

Survey of Natural Sciences – 90 Minutes

The first section of the DAT is the Survey of Natural Sciences. This section covers all of the basic sciences and contains a total of 100 questions. The questions are broken down into 30 chemistry, 30 organic chemistry, and 40 biology. When working on this category, it is important that you move through the questions quickly. Each question is independent of each other and none of them have multiple answers. Skipping questions is not advised, as there are no penalties for guessing. As long as you have taken and passed the science prerequisites for taking the DAT, you should have no problem passing this section.

Perceptual Ability Test – 60 Minutes

The Perceptual Ability Test is all about reasoning and spatial ability. Each question is like a puzzle or mind game, so it is important that you spend plenty of time practicing. The PAT section contains 90 questions covering paper folding, view recognition, angle discrimination, 3D form development, apertures, and cube counting. This test can be difficult without practice so be sure to use plenty of your prep time focusing on it. Repetition will be advantageous in meeting your goal of passing this section. The PAT is used less for assessing your academic abilities and more for gauging clinical skills.

Reading Comprehension Test – 60 Minutes

Up next, you have reading comprehension. This section contains three passages you’ll need to read and has 50 questions overall. There are many subjects that could be covered, included sciences and economics. Because of how many subjects could be covered, you won’t be able to work on a study guide covering the exact contents, but you can find prep books that contain passages and questions similar to what is found on the DAT. These reading comprehension prep books also cover tips on how to skim the different sections, create an outline, and improve your time management. Being able to skim rather than reading every single word will save you time and help you to look for specific information, enabling you to get through the questions for the passage more quickly.

Quantitative Reasoning Test – 45 Minutes

The final section of the DAT is created to test the math skills that will be needed for dental school. There are 40 questions and 45 minutes to answer them in, so you will need to keep a brisk pace. The content covered in the QR section includes algebra, basic calculations, and conversions, word problems, along with small amounts of geometry, trigonometry, statistics, and probability. Efficient testing strategies will need to be employed for this section in particular since you need to answer a question every 67 seconds in order to finish on time. This section can be difficult since it is last and most testers are exhausted by this point.

Are There Any Breaks During the DAT?

There is a single 30-minute break in the standard DAT testing block. This can be used for a bathroom break, snack, and so on, and is optional. If you bring a snack for your break you will need to leave in your locker, so packaged items are best. This 30-minute break is the only break in the testing schedule, and while it is optional, it is highly recommended to utilize this time to stretch, breath, eat a healthy snack, hydrate, and clear your mind before moving forward with the remainder of the exam.

Tips to Ensure You Are Prepared for Test Day

As the timer ticks down to test day, it is normal to get the pre-test jitters. If you have prepared adequately, simply acknowledge these feelings and let them pass. Take a day or two before DAT day to prepare your mind and body. If you feel particularly unprepared, review some flashcards for a few minutes but make a concerted effort to not stress your brain with practice tests or trying to cover new material.

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For test day, make sure you bring a healthy snack or two, with a drink as well. This will be a good incentive to actually take your break and give you something to look forward to at about the halfway point in your test. This is a great chance to clear your mind of the material you have just covered, and give you a mental and physical respite from the exam.

When it comes to choosing your test day breakfast and breaktime snacks, stay away from anything that is sugar-heavy like cereal or donuts, which will lead to a mid-test sugar crash. Good options for breakfast would be proteins or long term carbs like eggs and bacon, or some oatmeal. These will provide great early-day energy, optimal mental acuity, and will not lead to a significant crash at a time when you need it the least.

One last tip for test day is to arrive early. At least 30 minutes, but closer to 60 will allow you ample time to check in with the staff, find an available locker, use the restroom, review any notes you brought with you, and finally, relax for a few minutes to collect yourself, so you can meet with the proctor and enter the testing room calm and ready to conquer the DAT.