Dental school admissions committees look for students who have the academic strength needed to succeed in a difficult dental program. Looking at an applicant's GPA is one way the committees assess a student's academic strength. In 2006, the average GPA of students accepted into dental school was 3.5, although some schools accepted students with GPAs in the 3.0 to 3.5 range. Despite these rigorous academic requirements, it is still possible for you to get into a dental school with bad grades if you have other qualities that make you a competitive applicant.
Make an appointment with a pre-dental, pre-medical or other science counselor at your school. Talk to her about your grades, completed coursework and other academic information. Ask for advice about future courses to take and strategies to improve your grade point average.
Complete basic science courses, including general biology, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, physics and calculus. Try to receive a grade of B or better in all of them.
Retake any science courses in which you receive a grade below B. Take remedial courses or find a tutor to bring up your science GPA.
Take additional science coursework, such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, microbiology, biochemistry, nutrition or histology. Demonstrate your academic abilities to a dental school admissions committee by getting an A or B in these advanced science courses.
Take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). Use a DAT preparation book to review the material on the test. Dental school admissions committees may admit you despite your bad grades if you score well on the DAT. Retake the test if you think you can study harder and improve your score. Scoring a 20 or above improves your chances of getting into dental school with bad grades.
Volunteer or work in a medical setting. Work as an office assistant at a dental clinic or volunteer at a local hospital. Gain experience working in a medical office setting and communicating with patients.
Shadow a dentist in your community. Ask him about his daily schedule, favorite things about dentistry and advice for a prospective dental student. Think carefully about your decision to become a dentist before applying.
Write a personal statement for dental school admission. Address your poor grades and any extenuating circumstances, such as the death of a family member or a learning disability. Do not give excuses for poor performance; simply provide information that will help the admissions committee understand the context surrounding your grades.
Apply to a variety of dental schools to improve your chances of gaining admission to a dental school. Consider applying to Caribbean dental schools, which may have lower admissions criteria than domestic schools.
Take supplementary coursework or get your master's degree if you do not get into dental school. Earning a master's degree in biology, physiology, nutrition, dental hygiene or another science field can make you better prepared for dental school. Demonstrate your academic abilities by getting high grades in advanced coursework.