DAT Reading Comprehension: What’s On It & How to Study It

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Written by John Reed
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The DAT Reading Comprehension is considered to be the easiest section in the DAT exam. This makes it an essential section where you can boost your overall Dental Admission Test score.

In this article, we will share with you everything you need to know about the Reading Comprehension DAT and how to prepare for it.

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Quick Summary

  • The DAT Reading Comprehension is a one-hour-long test that tests you on your reading, observation, analysis, and speed.
  • The DAT reading section has three passages with a total of 50 questions.
  • To crack the DAT reading section, you need to read a lot of scientific journals, take practice tests, and learn effective strategies.

What Is Reading Comprehension DAT?

The DAT Reading Comprehension is the 3rd section of the DAT exam. It tests the students to assess how well they can understand the key messages and information presented in the text passages.

The intent of this exam is to test how well a student is prepared to grasp complex text quickly. This is an important skill for a dental student and a dentist.

How Is The Reading Comprehension DAT Structured?

The duration of the Reading Comprehension DAT section is 1 hour.

There are three passages on this exam. Each of them has around 10-14 paragraphs. Each of the passages has around 16-17 multiple choice questions totaling 50 questions for this exam.

Types Of Reading Comprehension DAT Questions

To do well in this section, it is first and foremost useful to understand the reading comprehension question type you are likely to encounter. Over the years, the following types have been a part of this exam:

a) Detail

These are questions that ask you for a specific detail mentioned somewhere in the passage. They are usually easy to find. For example, the particular date of an event described in the passage.

b) Core Point

Here, your examiner wishes to see if you can grasp the most important message or the main point that the author is trying to convey through the passage. Figure out the answer to the “what” for such questions.

c) Tone

Often the author’s opinion is biased but indirect. The purpose of these questions is to find out if you have understood how the author feels about the topic. Is the author against it, optimistic, or pessimistic about it, and so on.

d) Core Purpose

Here you are required to understand the main reason the author decided to write the passage. Is it to inform the readers about a development, present an argument, convince the reader to take any action, etc.

This again is indirectly expressed and you need to figure this out through reading. Think about the “why” here.

e) Function

Now, these questions intend to find out the intent of certain examples given in the passage.. You need to answer why a certain argument or example was given and how that impacts the text’s message.

f) Inference

Inference questions are ones that ask you to draw conclusions from what you read in the passage. It may be related to a part of the passage or the core conclusion.

How To Study For DAT Reading Comprehension

How to Study For DAT Reading Comprehension

Read Scientific Journals

Since most of the passages in DAT Reading Comprehension have been from scientific journals, it is a good idea to get comfortable with them.

Read the recent edition of scientific journals and magazines like National Geographic, Scientific American, or Journal of American Dental Association every week.

Take Practice Tests

Taking practice tests is crucial to doing well on this exam. It helps you to take as many numbers and types of tests as you can. You can try some online courses and books that provide an amazing set of tests.

Sharpen Time Management

The DAT is a game of time management as much as your knowledge. Always use a clock, or a watch when taking this test and time yourself.

As you progress, challenge yourself to complete the test in say 55 or 50 minutes. But, do not let go of your accuracy.

Learn Speed Reading

Did you know that there are a host of online courses that can teach you how to read faster? If you are slow at reading, this can be a game-changer for you.

You will learn strategies to read faster and retain the text for longer in your mind.

Experiment with Different Strategies

Try working at the reading comprehension section in different ways. You can make up your own strategies, or follow the ones we have shared in this article.

Being adept at different strategies would give you an upper hand in crushing the RC section. You may combine several strategies, using different combos for different question types in your final exam.

Strategies To Ace The Reading Comprehension DAT Section

There are a few different methods by which you can approach your reading comprehension test. We are describing some of the strategies that work for most students. But, you need to pick a strategy that works for you.

Reading & Note Taking

Works well for speed readers.

In this strategy, you read the whole passage first. This works well for speed readers. But, alongside reading, you can take down 1-2 word quick notes alongside each paragraph.

These notes may contain the main themes or keywords used in each paragraph. When you answer the questions, you can refer to the notes and quickly figure out your answer.

Batch Reading & Answering

Works well for those who are good at cramming.

This strategy involves reading a paragraph or two, or even half of the passage first. Then you begin to answer as many questions as you can.

Then you go back to the passage again and read the following paragraphs and answer the next set of questions. In this way, you retain the text more clearly as opposed to reading the whole lengthy passage.

Question-Based Reading

Works well for answering detail-type questions.

Here you flip the above strategy and instead of reading the passage first, you read a question and then go look for the answer in the passage.

This strategy works well for answering the detail-type questions first. You can spot the answer easily and save time.

However, to answer other question types like inference-based, and tone-based, you may need to also incorporate other strategies.

Keyword Based Reading

Works well for when you are running out of time.

A lot of students prefer to use keyword-based strategies. Here you can focus on the main keywords in the question and find them in the passage.

Start skimming the passage until you find the desired keyword. To make this strategy work for inference-based and function-based questions, look for transition words in the passage. For example, “therefore”, “alternatively”, “but”, etc.

FAQs About Reading Comprehension DAT

How Can I Practice For Reading Comprehension DAT?

You can practice for the DAT Reading Comprehension test by reading scientific journals every day, as well as taking practice tests occasionally for at least one hour every couple of days.

How Many Reading Comprehension DAT Questions Are There?

There are a total of 50 questions on the DAT Reading Comprehension. There are three text passages that contain around 16-17 questions each. 

Is Reading Comprehension DAT Hard?

No, the DAT Reading Comprehension is not that hard. 

Students usually find it to be a lot easier compared to the other sections like quantitative reasoning and survey of natural sciences. 

How Many Questions Can You Miss On The Reading Comprehension On The DAT?

If you aim to score over 20 on this section, you should not miss more than 10 questions in the Reading Comprehension section of the DAT.

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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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