When Is the Best Time to Take the DAT?

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Written by John Reed
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Aspiring dental students are very particular about doing well at it. So, the timing of taking the DAT is hence an important matter for students to accommodate all requirements.

In this article we shall explore when is the best time to take the DAT and also learn some important things in relation to the test.

Quick Summary

  • The DAT can be taken anytime during the year.
  • You may apply for the DAT after completing at least 1 year of your undergraduate university studies.
  • You can take the DAT within 2-6 months from when you register for it.
  • The best times to take the DAT are during the summer of your Sophomore or Junior year.

When Is the DAT Offered 2024?

The DAT is offered all year-round.

American Dental Association (ADA) is the body where students need to register for the test. They may take the test at a Prometric testing center near them in the US or Canada.

When is the best time to take the DAT?

Freshman Year

You aren’t eligible to take the DAT just yet.

You are only eligible to take the DAT once you have completed at least one year of your undergraduate studies. So, this is not the time to take the DAT yet.

But, there are important things to do now to equip yourself to take the DAT and be ready for your application

  • Volunteering
  • Shadowing
  • Taking up courses in General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and General Biology

Taking up these courses is highly recommended since they are on the DAT.

Sophomore Year

It is ideal to take the DAT at the end of your sophomore year, i.e. the summer following it.

Now you may be eligible to take up your DAT starting from the Fall of your Sophomore year. But, most likely, you would not be done taking the recommended science courses yet.

Taking the DAT in the summer of the Sophomore is advantageous because:

  • You remember what you studied in the science classes well due to fresh recall.
  • You can take the DAT now and have a year at hand to prepare for your application (which opens the following summer).
  • You will have time in hand to retake the test if this one does not work out well. We strongly recommend taking the DAT test once and getting done with it though—it can be quite taxing to study again.

Junior Year

The summer following your junior year is also a great time to take the DAT.

You may decide to take the DAT during your semesters or the summer break based on your situation and preference.

If you take it during the semester, you would need to pull up your socks and balance college studies with DAT preparation. But, then, you will have your summer free to take up a job to support yourself, or volunteer.

Most students opt for taking the DAT in the summer following the Junior year. In case you are also taking the test around this time, you may want to know the following:

  • Besides the main general biology & the chemistry courses, you would have taken some additional courses like Physiology, Human Anatomy, Biochemistry, Physics, etc. They would help you gain a more well-rounded knowledge of science before the test date.
  • Since the main science courses were most likely taken over a year ago, your memories of them may get faint.
  • Complete your application and submit it as it opens in June. You may take the exam as late as mid-July, and get your results by 3 weeks in August. The application review is mostly done after that.

Senior Year

It is advisable to take your DAT exam and send in your applications before your senior year. However, if you got a bad score, this would be a great time to re-test.

Starting from the fall of your Senior year, you can prepare for your re-test.

In case you are happy with your result—awesome! Now you can start preparing for your interview. You can keep traveling for your interview as early as the fall of your senior year.

During the rest of the year, you may take up additional science courses and relax as your reach your undergraduate school graduation.

Things you should know before taking the DAT

Eligibility For DAT

Eligibility For DAT

Students should note the following eligibility criteria for appearing for this exam:

  • They must have completed at least 1 year of study in an undergraduate program.
  • They must have taken courses in General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Biology.

DAT Exam Registration Fee 

There is a one-time registration fee of $495 for DAT and obtaining the score distribution.

Option For A Fee Waiver For Selected Students

Students can request the ADA to waive off 50% of their fee if they meet all of these 5 criteria:

  • They are appearing for the DAT for the first time.
  • They have not received a fee waiver in the past.
  • The applicant must be a US citizen or a foreigner residing in the US.
  • The applicant is able to demonstrate financial challenges.
  • They have received financial aid from their school and can reproduce the documents for the same.

The fee waiver is provided to a limited number of students on a first come first serve basis. You may request for the waiver over an email and expect ADA to reply within 5-10 business days.

General Tips For Taking The DAT 

  • Meet a health professions advisor. They can give you personalized advice to navigate your journey to dental school.
  • Take up pre-dental classes. Some of them might be available at your college or university.
  • Do not solely focus on the DAT to the exclusivity of preparing your documents like a personal statement, and letters of recommendation.
  • Take the required courses as early as possible.
  • Thoroughly follow the application process as prescribed by the ADA.

How to Apply for the DAT?

To apply for the DAT, you start by visiting the official website of ADA. There you may obtain your unique DENTPIN or Dental Personal Identification Number.

This would be used for the whole application process, tests, etc till your admission to dental school. Fill out the application form. Post that, you can obtain the eligibility letter from the ADA.

You would first have to sit for a testing appointment prior to the actual test. The gap between the two must be 60-90 days. The registration is valid up to 6 months from the date of registration.

There are nearly 500 Prometric Testing Centers in the US and Canada. So, it must not be much of a difficulty to find a test center near you. Choose the one which suits you.

It is important to factor in the application due dates of the dental school you wish to apply for. You should have your test scores before you submit your application. So, you ought to schedule your DAT accordingly.

FAQs About when to take the DAT

When Should I Take The DAT If I Am Taking A Gap Year?

If you are taking a gap year, you should take the DAT in the summer of your Senior year.

This is the most ideal time because you will have enough time after a gap year’s time to work on your interviews and admission process. In case you are not sure how long your gap will be, you may also opt to take the DAT anytime during your gap.

Pro Tip: Utilize your gap year to develop skills for the dental school and justify your gap year well in your application and interviews.

Is 2 Months Enough Time To Study For The DAT?

Two months can be enough time to study for the DAT if you have taken all the necessary classes and already perform well in them.

However, you will need a strict study schedule of 6-7 hours of studying for the DAT per day (without compromising on sleeping).

Most students find it comfortable to take out 3 months to cover the curriculum and take a sufficient number of mock tests for success.

What Month Do You Take DAT?

You can take the DAT any time during the year.

Most people prefer to take it towards the middle, or the end of summer, i.e. late June or July. It gives them enough time to study for the exam.

But, you can very well take the DAT in August and get the results in time to complete your application.

How Long Are DAT Scores Valid?

DAT scores are valid for 2 years.

How Many Times Can You Take The DAT Exam?

You can take the DAT exam up to 3 times.

For taking the test yet again, you may seek permission from the ADA over email. Notably, there should be a gap of 90 days between each DAT test you appear for.

Categories DAT
John Reed
The chief editor of TestPrepPal.com. I am an alumni of the university of Pennsylvania and my goal with the website is to help future graduates with their tests.

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