How Hard Is The DAT? [ANSWERED]

Different career plans require different preparations. If you are opting for business schools, then you must sit for GMAT; if you are thinking of pursuing Law, you have to sit for the LSAT. Likewise, if you want to pursue a career in dentistry, you have to prepare for DAT.

rectangular white and green cardboard box
Photographer: Quang Tri NGUYEN | Source: Unsplash

Like any other competitive exam, the Dental Admission Test or DAT is hard and requires perseverance and dedication.

You will not see one single blog claiming DAT is easy. However, with proper guidelines and preparatory materials, you will also succeed in becoming eligible to pursue your career in dentistry.

In this article, we will talk about how hard DAT is and how you can fight the fear. Hence, without further ado, let’s begin.

Table of Contents:


  • DAT is one of the most competitive exams held every year.
  • The exam is 5 hours long and divided into six sections.
  • Since DAT covers a large array of subjects it is bound to be hard.
  • The time frame for preparation varies from student to student.
  • With the right tool and proper strategy, DAT can appear less frightening.
  • DAT and MCAT both are competitive exams, hence, they are individually tough.
  • The ideal percentage to be eligible in most dental schools is 75%.

Is The DAT Hard?

Yes, it is. There is no doubt that DAT is reasonably difficult. The test itself is 5 hours divided into four sections consisting of optional.

The sections are:

The Survey Of The Natural Sciences

This section is divided into 3 sections

  • General Chemistry-30
  • Organic Chemistry-30
  • Biology- 40

The perceptual ability

This section is prepared to examine the intuition of students. This section covers topics such as paper folding, 3D form development, cube counting, angle discrimination, etc.

Reading Comprehension

The section contains 3 reading passages with 50 questions that check students’ comprehension and analytical ability of science.

Quantitative Reasoning

This section includes mathematical problems from algebra, statistics, interpretation, probability, and data analysis.

You get one point for every correctly answered question. The raw scores will be converted to scale scores, and the scale score will be reported to dental schools.

The 1-30 range of scale scores provides the dental schools accurate information regarding students/ performance and abilities that will be utilized in their admission decisions.

The participants of the DAT exam will get 8 separate mark sheets consisting of

  1. Six individual section scores
  2. An academic average
  3. A total science score

The academic average score includes-

  • Biology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Quantitative Reasoning

The total science score is taken from the Survey of Natural Sciences section.

The average percentage for most sections is 50%. If you end up getting that percentage, it means you are performing better than 50% of examinees.

If you get 75%, it implies you are scoring better than three-quarters of students.

If you end up getting 98%, that would be a cherry on the top. It means you are among the top 2% of the examinees.

Although the average percentage per section is 50%, you should achieve at least 75% in all sections to be eligible for most dental schools.

The dental schools will consider your DAT Academic Average and your undergrad GPA as primary factors.

To get into prestigious dental schools like Harvard School of Dental Medicine or the UCLA School of Dentistry will require 98% marks in all sections.

Why Is DAT Hard?

The length of the test is tedious. And what’s more frightening is a large number of subjects the exam covers. This implies you have to be prepared with a lot of information.

Along with the recommendation breaks into 6 sections, the exam is 5 hours. Excluding the break, the total time is 4 hours 15 minutes.

Although it seems like a lot of time, it isn’t. You will understand it when you sit for the exam.

According to many pre-dental, you need to prepare yourself for months if you sit for the DAT. However, some students claim that they were able to score sufficiently with a month of preparation.

Well, the preparation time varies from person to person. Because every student has their own learning mechanism. Hence, you should create your own study plan.

Another factor that makes DAT hard is that a student can only sit a maximum of three times for DAT. If anyone exceeds the limit, they have to seek permission from DAT.

Which Section Of The DAT Exam Is Hardest?

According to many students, biology is the most complicated section of the DAT exam. Because the study material is vast. On the other hand, Chemistry is inherently difficult.

Quantitative reasoning is not necessarily hard, but since the section appears at the end, it is evident that you will be fatigued by then and make mistakes.

Some students also expressed frustration that it is hard to complete the section within 45 minutes.

How To Make The DAT Less Frightening?

Nowadays, online preparatory tools have an array of preparatory materials that are very handy for DAT preparation. Take DATPrep, for instance. We have designed the courses to provide you with professional support and in-depth resources for DAT.

Additionally, you get to experience giving exams on the computer. You must prepare for online exams because the DAT exam is held online.

The DATPrep has thousands of questions to prepare yourself for the exam. Moreover, you will be able to measure your DAT success rate with the metrics.

Besides, video lessons and the DATPrep app will be helpful for studying on the go.

With consistency, dedication, and perfect study materials, there is no chance that you won’t be able to clear the DAT exam.

What Is An Ideal Score For The DAT?

The average score is 17 for each section which is getting 50%. But you should at least score 75% to be eligible for most schools. Even distribution of score across all sections marks you safe. However, if you are opting for any particular dental school, check out their website to know their requirements. Because eligibility criteria differ from school to school.

DAT vs. MCAT: Which One Is Harder?

MCAT is the medical admission test for Pre-med.

It is hard to tell which test is more challenging among these two.

Because MCAT accommodates the physics section. Moreover, the majority of the questions are science-based.

On the other hand, the biology section and the perceptual ability of the DAT are more complex.

Yet DAT is easier than MCAT. Because dental schools are less competitive than medical schools.

The preparation time for both exams depends on your basics of sciences.

A student from a science background will master the subjects quicker than a student from another background.

Whatever background you may come from, you would definitely succeed with honest dedication and hard work.

The only trick to clear both the tests is to work smart.

MCAT Or DAT: Which One Should You Opt For?

The answer lies in your passion. If you want to pursue dentistry, you should definitely sit for DAT. If your dream is to become a doctor, I would instead suggest you go for MCAT.

However, if you are confused and running ahead of time, then you should be a little smart and analyze which one you find easy. Is it physics? Then opt for MCAT. You will pass with flying colors. Are you a biology geek? Then DAT is the right option for you.

The Common Myths About MCAT & DAT

Well, there is a common assumption that students who didn’t perform well in MCAT will perform better in DAT.

We don’t know where it came from, but it’s a lie.

Dental students will not face any problem in clearing the MCAT. They chose to pursue dentistry, which is why they chose DAT.

Hence, whether you should sit for MCAT or DAT, that decision entirely depends on your passion and not how hard the tests are.

Both tests are hard, and in both tests, the students who work hard score well.


A competitive exam like DAT will not be a piece of cake. It is supposed to be complex and intimidating.

But it is not impossible.

Every year, many students are successfully cracking the exam. You will work as well.

All you need is a proper strategy, adequate study materials, and confidence to face the test.

While the students from science backgrounds are more confident, the students from other backgrounds might find it more intimidating to sit in the exam.

Hence, they have to work more to achieve their precedent result and build a career in dentistry.

Looking for a tool to help you ace the DAT test while providing you with a vast array of materials and resources? You can give DATPrep a shot!

Register today and make your dream come true.

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