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DAT Quantitative Reasoning section

Photographer: Mika Baumeister | Source: Unsplash

The DAT Quantitative Reasoning section is one of the four sections tested on the Dental Admissions Test. This section assesses your ability to interpret numbers, manipulate numerical relationships, and deal with quantitative matters.

The section contains 40 multiple-choice questions, and you will have just 45 minutes to complete it. You are not permitted to carry a calculator. So, a pop-up calculator will be provided on your screen during the exam. Note that the calculator can only perform basic mathematical functions such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and a few advanced functions such as root, math involving percentage, and reciprocals. The calculator is incapable of performing complex functions that a scientific or graphing calculator can perform.

Moreover, you cannot enter numerical values into the ccalculator by typing. Instead, you will have to individually press the buttons on the screen to enter your values. This is not only time consuming but quite frustrating at times and can lead to mistakes. Therefore it is a good idea to practice and learn how to do the math in this section without a calculator.

What is tested on the quantitative reasoning section?

According to the 2020 Program Guide published by the American Dental Association, here is breakdown off that usually appears on the quantitative reasoning section of the DAT.

#1 Word Problems- make up the majority of the 40 questions in this section.

This section requires knowledge from just the content topics and areas listed below. Therefore try and practice a wide variety of maths.

#2 Algebra- you will get nine questions from this topic. Subtopics in Algebra include the following.

  1. Inequalities
  2. Equation and expressions
  3. Exponential Notation
  4. Absolute value
  5. Ratios and Proportions
  6. Graphical Analysis

#3 Conversions- only 3 questions from the topic appear in the exam.

  1. Time
  2. Temperature
  3. Distance
  4. Weight

#4 Numerical Calculations- 6 questions are expected from this topic. Things you should be studying from this topic include-

  1. Percentages
  2. Fractions and Decimals
  3. Approximation
  4. Scientific Notation

#5 Probability and Statistics

Expect about 4 questions from this topic.

#6 Geometry

4 questions appear from this topic.

#7 Trigonometry

And 4 expected questions from this topic adds up to a total of 40 questions for this section.

Since 2017, a new type of question was introduced into the DAT called Quantitative Comparision. These new question types only take up a small amount of the test – the QR section is mostly unchanged. Candidates are still taking the test and scoring well in the QR section. It’s possible these new question types are not even being counted towards your score right now while the ADA gathers data on these questions.

Strategies to ace the quantitative reasoning section

In order to successfully prepare and ace the quantitative, you need to read the correct revision material. You will find a great listing of books dedicated to the DAT quantitative reasoning section here.

You will have to complete 40 questions withing 45 minutes for this section. Which means you will get about a minute for each question. Therefore, time management in this section is crucial. You will have to perform calculations with difficulty ranging from relatively simple to slightly complicated. Thus, most students, and rightly so, find time management during this section the most difficult. This is reinforced by the fact that the Quantitative Reasoning section is the very last one. So, by the time candidates reach this section, they are exhausted, and their brains start to lag, making time management even more difficult.

While you may feel more at ease by solving maths traditionally, you will realize doing so is not very useful. There are so many questions and so little time. So work smarter, not harder. Find out the faster and most straightforward way to solve each question, using the fact that all the questions are multiple choices to your advantage. Try the process of elimination to remove the wrong answers first, or even try working backward from the answer.

Since there is no deduction for wrong answers, sometimes the best solution is a well- placed guess.

Maintaining a steady pace due to the time constraints is imperative. If you fall behind on any question, catching up, later on, will become very difficult. Therefore if you are incapable of solving a problem at first glance, skip it. Mark it so that you can come back to it later on and not fall behind.

Test makers deliberately word the questions in a complicated way. Therefore, while you should be wary of falling behind, do not rush. Rush may cause you to misunderstand the question and answer incorrectly.

Sometimes after reading a question, you may find yourself lost with no idea how even to approach the solution. In such cases, instead of wasting precious minutes, try making a well-placed guess.

Try not to feel frustrated if you are unable to answer a question. Instead, focus on the ones you can. Practice very hard before the actual test to increase your speed and ability to perform maths mentally without aid from calculator. Most importantly, try not to rush through a section! Practice, practice, then practice some more to breeze through the DAT Quantitative Reasoning Section.

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