Prerequisites for Dental School


Each Dental School Has Their Own Prerequisites

Does this mean that you are going to be in school, the remainder of your life
trying to complete the prerequisite courses for all the schools you want to apply to? Of course not! However, because each school does have slight variations of the requirements it is important that you check with each school to see the exact requirements. Preferably, you will want to do this sooner than later so that there will be no surprises when you decide to put in your application. There is no need to call every school asking for these. Each school has them posted on their website so that they are easy to access. The following is a list of general requirements including needed courses.

General Prerequisite Courses

2 Semesters (3 quarters)- English

2 Semesters (3 quarters)- Physics

2 Semesters (3 quarters)- General Biology

2 Semesters (3 quarters)- General Chemistry with a Lab

2 Semesters (3 quarters)- Organic Chemistry with a Lab

Depending on the school there may be other courses required such as; Biochemistry, Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Biochemistry, Psychology, and Microbiology just to name a few.

Some schools will also have a separate list of recommended courses. Taking those courses will help prepare you for dental school. It is not that feasible to complete all of them but taking some of them may help increase your chances of getting an interview.

Along with the prerequisite courses most dental schools look for someone that has or will be completing a four-year degree. They may also list a minimum credit limit such as 120 semester credits.

Letters of Recommendation

Most schools require 3 letters of recommendation that may come from science professors, dentists, or community/religious leaders. Some of the schools will require at least two letters from science professors while others will have a different combination that is required. Check with each school in order to be certain of how many of each letter you need.

Dental Admissions Test (DAT)

The DAT is required for all schools and will play heavily on whether you are a competitive applicant or not. The DAT is scored on a scale from 1 to 30. The average score according to the ADA is an Academic Average (AA) of 17. This does not mean that 17 is the average score for students getting into dental schools. Each school’s average is different but generally, a competitive score is a 19.

What is included on the DAT?

Subject Number of
Time per
Tutorial 15 minutes
Survey of Natural Science 100 90 minutes
Biology 40
Perceptual Ability Test 90 60 Minutes
Keyhole 15
Top/Front/End 15
Hole Punch 15
Optional Break 15 Minutes
Reading Comprehension 50 60 Minutes
Quantitative Reasoning 40 45 Minutes
Post-Test Survey 15 Minutes
Entire Test 280 5 Hours

The following link to the ADA has resources posted that will help you to orient yourself to the DAT. I highly recommend reading the sources before beginning to study. A few important ones include DAT User’s Manual and Reference Texts.

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