Difference between the DAT and MCAT

This was captured well waiting for the doctor who was busy at the time
Photographer: Hush Naidoo | Source: Unsplash

Getting into medical school or dental school isn’t a simple one-step process. The DAT and MCAT are stepping stones in the application process of Dental and Medical Schools, respectively. Are you confused about what the difference between the DAT and MCAT is? This article answers just that! The DAT and MCAT are similar in some aspects and different in others. Details of both their similarities are differences are discussed further in this article.

What is DAT?

The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is a multiple-choice test that is mandatory for admission into most US and Canadian Dental Schools. It is administered by the American Dental Association (ADA). DAT judges your scientific understanding and your academic and perceptual ability. It is a computer-based multiple-choice exam that can be given at almost any time of the year. You can learn more about the DAT here.

What is the MCAT?

The Medical College Admission Test or MCAT, for short, is the most common standardized test for admission into medical schools in America and Canada. It is administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The MCAT assesses your understanding of natural, biological, and physiological sciences along with aspects of psychology and sociology. To know more about the MCAT go here.

What are the similarities between the DAT and MCAT?


Both tests are fairly expensive to take. The DAT is a little more expensive than MCAT. The former costs about $475 to take whereas the latter can be taken with $310. Moreover, as time passes, the costing for both of these exams are gradually rising too.

Graduate School Admissions

You take both the exams while in studying your undergraduate or after you have finished it. The MCAT is for medical school and the DAT is for dental school, both of which are graduate schools.

Computer-based exams

Both the DAT and MCAT is taken on a computer. No written version of these exams are available.


The overall content of both the tests is fairly similar. You will come across the same questions related to general chemistry, biology, and organic chemistry. The DAT and MCAT both have a reading comprehension section.

What is the difference between the DAT and MCAT

The primary difference, as already mentioned, is the fact that you take the DAT to get into dental school, and you take the MCAT to get into medical school. Besides this very obvious reason, there are a few other differences between the two admission tests. These are discussed in the table below.

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Differences in content

MCAT is a lot more passage oriented. It contains a passage in every single section. What this means is that how well you do in the MCAT heavily relies on your comprehensive abilities. You will come across something called a Perceptual Ability section in the DAT, which tests your ability to gauge and interpret 2D and 3D shapes. This section is unique to the DAT.

Also, the number of math questions is significantly higher in the DAT than in the MCAT. However, candidates sitting for the MCAT will have to answer questions relating to physics, which is not applicable for students taking the DAT.

That covers the fundamental similarity and differences between MCAT and the DAT. Keep these points in mind when trying to decide between medical school and dental school.

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