The Dental Admissions Test (DAT) is an important part of applying to dental school. It does not matter if you have a high GPA or a lot of volunteering experience, if your DAT scores are low you will have difficulty landing an interview and essentially getting into dental school.
According to the ADA statistics, the average DAT score of a dental applicant is 17.59 for the academic average, 17.56 total science, and 18.17 perceptual ability. What does this mean to you? As of right now, it does not mean much. Lets first take a look at the average scores of matriculating dental students.
The average academic score for someone who is accepted into dental school is about a 19. There are several schools with higher averages and some with lower averages. This means that if you want to have a good chance at being accepted into dental school, and you have an average or slightly below average GPA, you will need to score at least a 19 overall. Am I saying that if you score an 18 that you will not get accepted into dental school? No, there are is a great number of dental students who scored an 18 on their DAT and were accepted into dental school. However, if you only want to apply one cycle and have some choices, I would highly recommend aiming for a 20+ on your DAT.
So, why do I write this? My one purpose in writing this post is to help open the eyes of pre-dental students who do not know what they should be aiming for on their DAT. Do not take the DAT lightly! If the average score is around 17.5, that means that there are many students scoring below this and they will eventually need to retake the DAT if they want to have a fighting chance at getting accepted into dental school. You do not want to put yourself in this position! The ADA statistics also show that students who retake the DAT have nearly the same average as that of students taking the DAT for the first time. Does this mean give up if you have already taken it and scored low? Absolutely not because your score will reflect the effort that you put into studying. However, I would highly recommend studying for the DAT like you only have one chance at taking it. This is not a test that you want to prepare for more than one time.
For more statistics and information on the DAT visit the ADA at http://www.ada.org/3746.aspx.