[ANSWERED] How Hard is the DAT Really?

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Written by John Reed
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The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is one of the most difficult exams out there.

There is no doubt about that.

But, how hard is the DAT really?

We try our best to answer that question in the following lines.

Spoiler alert: Yes it is!

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How Hard Is The DAT: Determining Factors

There is not straight up answer to this question really.

Because we are all different. And what I find difficult, can be less difficult to you and vice versa.

But in some cases, we can share the same opinion, and that will count.

So if I tell you DAT isn’t hard, and you decide only to study for a few days before the test, chances are you will probably not going to pass it. It’s simple as that.

But if you follow an disciplined review schedule for a couple of months, you’re likely to get a high score.

In short, we can say that the difficulty of the DAT will depend on two main factors: your past capabilities and how well you prepare. That’s all there is to it.

Past capabilities here refers to how good you were in your high school days with scientific subjects. This is a major factor as some people are just not into science and they need to work harder to compete with passionate science nerds (nerds here is a compliment ;))

The second factor is preparation.

DAT test changes every year. Not entirely, but there are always some new sections or things to consider that were not present in the previous year.

For preparation, this is where there is a lot of room for improvement for most pre-dental students. How well you prepare is definitely the single most important factor in determining how hard the DAT test will be for you.

Fortunately, there are a lot of great DAT prep resources that make preparation a lot easier.

How Hard Is It Get A High Score on The DAT?

There is no way to really know for sure as DAT scores depend not only on how many right answers you get, but also on how all students who passed the test that year performed.

It’s all about which percentile you were able to position yourself in.

I am not going to get into the details of that, as I am preparing a dedicated article just about that topic.

But generally, if you want to get +20 score, then you can only afford getting 2-3 questions wrong on each section of the DAT. That’s not a lot of room to make mistakes.

That’s definitely very difficult to do and it requires you really be well prepared for the test as well as being a smart student.

On the other hand, getting an average score of 17-19 is a lot easier as you can afford to make more mistakes.

Also, remember that no matter how smart you are or how prepared you are, there’s always room for surprises. Some questions might just hit you below the belt, and there’s really nothing you can do about it.

To understand further how DAT scoring works, feel free to use our DAT score calculator that we created just recently.

So, the best thing you can do for yourself is to study as hard as you can (see our recommended DAT study schedule) to help you gain the confidence to face the test. That way, it would be easy to face whatever question that comes your way, with the mind of a winner.

Also, we did a comparison with the MCAT to see which one is more difficult. You can read about it here: DAT vs MCAT comparison

What Is The Most Difficult Section In The DAT?

Well, I think we can finally have something that most pre-dental students will agree on.

I think if you have spent some time in DAT forums whether in Reddit or Facebook, then you have definitely noticed how much students complain about the biology section.

I think the biology section is the most overwhelming section in preparing for the DAT. There’s just so many things to review and you never know what they will put in the test.

Another section that some people struggle with is the Quantitative Reasoning. The main reason is because some people are just not comfortable with Maths.

Another reason might be that the Quantitative Reasoning section is located at the end of the test. It’s the last section you will answer, so you will be probably tired from answering all the biology and chemistry questions.

How To Make The DAT Less Difficult?

One word. Money.

In my experience, and also the experience of so many successful students, the easiest way to make the DAT less stressful and speed up your preparation is to buy yourself a great prep course.

Nowadays, there are so many study materials and prep books to help you with the DAT.

We did most of the research work and we were able to create a shortlist of the best DAT prep resources that will make your life easier. Read about it here.

If you do not have time to read another article, let me just say that it all came down to three main courses that we think are the best in this 2024

FAQs About How Hard is The DAT

How hard is it to get a 20 on the DAT?

When it comes to DAT, the little mistakes can cause your score to drop gradually. For example, getting 2-3 questions wrong can get you a score of 16 down from 20.

So, it’s usually difficult for students to balance their scores throughout the four sections.

That’s why it’s important to get mentally disciplined before sitting for the exam to avoiding making silly mistakes. Memorizing is key.

If you get a question wrong in your practice tests, review to find out why and avoid making the same mistake more than twice.

What is a good score on the DAT?

An average score in DAT is around 17 in each section, which will give you the 50th percentile.

So, a good score has to be above that and be around the 70th percentile for most competitive dental schools.

To be on the safer side, however, ensure to evenly distribute your scores across all sections, as most schools find this attractive.

Also, don’t forget to check the admission requirements for most schools. They all aren’t the same.

How many times can you take the DAT?

When it comes to DAT, you can only take it three times, without seeking special permission from DAT. And for this, you’ve to wait for at least 90 days.

If you have to retake the test more than 3 times, then you’ve to apply for permission from DAT.


DAT might not be as easy as those nursery tunes, but it isn’t impossible to crack either. All you need is a strategy to help you study adequately, and you can confidently face the test.

Also, the level of difficulty one experiences during their test prep and actual exam depends on how good they’re in sciences.

For example, an awesome science background will make it easy for you to understand concepts and vice versa.

But whichever group you belong to, you stand an equal passing chance with resilience and dedication.

So, because of this, I can say DAT is doable for any passionate dental student.

Does this sound like you? If yes, go out there and smash it!

Up to $90 OFF


dat bootcamp testimonial 2
datbootcamp testimonial 1

The all-in-one DAT prep that everyone is talking about is here, plus with a discount


Offers excellent answer explanations.

Top-notch chemistry videos.

High-yield practice tests.


Sometimes the videos can be too detailed.

Use code at checkout: TESTPREPPAL10

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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