How To Study For The DAT Reading Comprehension Test?

There are four components of the Dental Admission Test, and one of them is the Reading Comprehension Test. To calculate your Academic Average, the Academic Science Test is combined with the Survey of Natural Sciences and Quantitative Reasoning Test.

How to Study for the DAT Reading Comprehension Test?
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One of the easiest ways to increase your Academic Average score is to score well on Reading Comprehension Tests. This will allow you to mitigate any lower scores on smaller subtests that make up your Academic Average. The Natural Sciences Survey and Perceptual Abilities Test scores, however, are not taken into account equally by dental schools.

Most dental schools prefer to see students achieve a score of at least 19 on this test. This is the easiest section to score well on, and anyone could score a 20 or a higher.

Taking the test does not require knowledge of the topics covered in the paragraphs. With an effective test-taking strategy and time management, you can glean information from an article as quickly as possible.

Identify your best test-taking strategy and take practice tests to find out what works for you. Make sure you check out the rest of the article to learn more about the DAT and get ready to ace it!

Table of Contents

A Breakdown Of DAT's Reading Comprehension Test Section

In this section, you are expected to complete 16-17 questions on each passage, bringing your total to 50 questions. You are given 60 minutes to complete three passages and answer 16-17 questions on each passage. During this test, a student is assessed on the ability to read and comprehend passages, as well as analyze and comprehend the information contained within them. As most of the material on the test will be related to science to some degree, there is no need to have any prior knowledge of the topic. As well as answering the following questions, all the information you need can be obtained directly or indirectly from the passage.

Time Management

Given that you only have 60 minutes to complete this section, we recommend spending no less than eight minutes reading each passage and at least twelve minutes answering the questions. Each question should take you about 40–45 seconds to complete. There is no set of hard and fast rules that must be followed, since not every passage or every question is the same in regards to difficulty and length.

In either case, you should spend no more than three minutes per passage if you are planning on reading the passage in its entirety. As a result, you will have a shorter amount of time to answer questions, but you should still be able to do so within sixty seconds.


Science is the common theme throughout the passages, and they are derived from published works. Most of the time, the author attempts to inform, persuade, or speculate, but if the content is neutral, the tone will also in general be neutral. The writings of an author may contain subtle clues indicating their opinions, but they will rarely be extreme or blatant.

As we mentioned earlier, the purpose of this section is to cover material you have not already learned, so you do not need prior knowledge of each discipline to answer the questions. However, you can build your confidence by becoming acquainted with the general terms and writing styles used in these fields prior to the test.

By reading contemporary journals and magazines, such as those published by the Journal of the American Dental Association, Science, and National Geographic, you will become more familiar with this type of information.

Since this will be right after your scheduled break, you will get an opportunity to take a little mental break before going through the passages and composing your response.

Strategy for Reading Comprehension Test Questions

Every Reading Comprehension section consists of the same types of questions. Some comprehension questions will follow the passage, but there will also be questions that will evaluate the ideas through analysis and evaluation, so it is necessary to prepare for questions on different levels of critical thinking.

By knowing the types of questions, you can better make predictions and avoid wrong answers on Test Day. Examples of the types of questions are as follows:


These questions test your grasp of the passage as a whole, asking you to identify the main idea, conclusion, or thesis of the passage.


By far, detail questions are the most commonly asked questions and require clarification of specific statements in the passage.


In Detail EXCEPT, the question structure is reversed: instead of choosing one statement that is true, they ask you to choose one that is false.


The tone question asks about the author's bias, which is never explicitly stated but often strongly implied in a passage.


To answer a function question, you must assess the author's argumentation. It is possible that you will be asked how the information is presented or why certain pieces of information are included.


An inference question is used to determine your ability to infer meaning and draw conclusions from a passage. Keep in your mind that the correct answers will be closely related to the passage even if they are not in it.


Strengthening/weakening questions ask you to choose the one statement from the options that will strengthen or weaken the argument most strongly.

General Guidelines For DAT Reading Comprehension Test

The following general guidelines will help you to ensure your success when taking a test:

1. Check the potential answers for each question and eliminate the ones that stand out right away. Eliminating answers quickly will minimize distractions and lead you to the correct answer more quickly. Distractors can be found in every question on the DAT, so doing this helps you to better understand the question. For every question, you will have two possible answers to choose from, and you should be able to eliminate the rest of the options.

2. Keep track of the time as you answer the passage and questions. You will be given three reading passages and 50 questions. The answer period for each question is 72 seconds. When preparing for the test, it is crucial that you time yourself and practice time management as this is one of the more challenging tests when it comes to managing your time. Having a good and effective method for handling the test will greatly assist in achieving this.

3. Prepare for the Reading Comprehension Test by taking lots of practice tests. The more exams you take, the better you will be! A good way to form an effective test-taking strategy is to take multiple practice tests. By having a strategy that suits your style and efficiency, you will be able to read questions faster and answer them correctly. You must develop this strategy if you want to succeed.

4. If reading isn't your strongest skill, enrolling in a speed reading course could prove helpful. Your ability to read will improve and you will be able to assemble the necessary information quickly and efficiently. Look for a free course online or you can buy a course.

Reading Comprehension Test Strategies

This section will provide you with a number of strategies for improving your Reading Comprehension skills. It is best to practice these strategies to see which ones are most effective for you.

Search And Destroy Methods

A reading comprehension test typically relies on finding specific elements of a text to answer the questions. If you use these methods, you read a part of the text and then look for answers in the text, or you read the questions first, followed by the answers in the text. Detailed strategies are as follows:

  • Search and destroy strategies require you to read half of the text and then answer questions until you are unable to answer any more questions. You can now return to the passage and read to get answers to the rest of the questions.
  • Alternatively, you could read the first half of the text carefully, then skim the second half and answer as many questions as possible. Adding a number to each paragraph will also make it easier for you to locate what you are looking for when you've finished reading questions. If you use this method, you should be able to answer the first three questions since you will be familiar with the passage. The last questions may pertain to the first half of the text, but you must read the entire text in order to recognize it. Work through the text until you find the answers. In case you aren't able to answer a question, read the passage again quickly.
  • Reading the questions first and skimming the passage is a popular search and destroy method. It is important to keep your eye on the keywords in the questions so that you can find them faster in the passage. This method lets you focus on the DAT's detail-based questions first, before moving on to the applications-, tone-, and inference-based questions. This sort of question involves skimming the text and looking for the answer; when you find the part that relates to your question, you should read carefully and find the answer. When you have finished answering the questions that require detailed information, attempt the rest of the questions.

Vanilla Method

The vanilla method involves reading the passage in full first and answering the questions later. So make sure you should pay attention to keywords and names of places and people as well while reading through the passage.

Recognizing Key Words

Here is a list of keywords that can help you understand the passage's structure. By noticing these words and what they mean, you will be able to better understand the passage:

  1. One possibility would be to recognize proper nouns to phrase questions, such as people's names, places, things, etc.
  2. The text is organized into lists by using words such as first, second, and so forth; try focusing on the list and the categorization rather than getting lost in the details and the volume of text.
  3. Most of the inference questions are derived from parts that begin with transition words. These words signify a shift in tone like despite, however, but, yet, although. An author's argument is continued with a series of words such as: in addition to, plus, even, and many more. The main idea is usually conveyed by these kinds of words: in conclusion, therefore, thus, clearly. In other parts of the text, the author emphasizes certain points and thus these kinds of words are used: especially, strangely, notably, key, especially.

Despite the fact that all these strategies and methods are valid, the best method for you is the one you practice first. If you spend too much time pondering the question and still cannot come up with an answer, just make a guess and move on. An individual question on the DAT cannot consume too much time.

Reading scientific articles can help you practice your reading comprehension skills by getting used to the tone, structure, and vocabulary of such texts. Each RC test might take you 10 to 15 minutes to complete if you read one or two articles daily. Although biology and chemistry would likely be more useful than any other science article, you can read whatever interests you. Furthermore, you can practice time management by doing reading comprehension tests to get familiar with the format and find the method that suits you best. The key is to improve your comprehension speed.

DAT Review Materials

To prepare for the Reading Comprehension Test, you can choose from several different types of materials. In all cases, these materials are similar to the actual DAT, so they are considered good for use in preparation. Kaplan, The Princeton Review, or any other review course is a good choice regardless of who you choose.

When you read Kaplan's materials, you can practice for the Reading Comprehension Test with five full-length practice tests, as well as additional quizzes and section tests. You will gain a great deal of practice and experience from Kaplan for the Reading Comprehension Test.

Princeton Review provides four full-length practice exams with plenty of questions and practice tests. This review course will allow you to prepare adequately as well for this test.

The Crack the DAT testing software includes the Reading Comprehension Test as part of the DAT test. The test practice tests will vary based on which edition of the test you purchase.

Wrapping Up

You can find more sources online, so consider finding one that gives you what you need to get familiar enough with the Reading Comprehension Test to be prepared to ace it.

We would recommend you supplement these courses with other courses if you wish to prepare optimally for the DAT. Using DATPrep materials in combination with other services will maximize efficiency. The services listed in this section can be enhanced using DAT Prep. The DATPrep program can prove to be very effective when used alone or in conjunction with the other reading materials listed above.

So, what are you waiting for? Register today and maximize your DAT scores!

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