Students usually apply to dental school during their senior year of college. Like other types of graduate schools, dental programs don’t look at your SAT scores, since they’re concerned with your college academic performance, rather than high school. As business schools use the Graduate Management Test, law schools use the Law School Admission Test and Ph.D. programs use the Graduate Record Examinations, dentistry programs use the Dental Admission Test to gauge your likelihood of success in dental school.
Breakdown of the DAT
The DAT consists of four tests, each with scores ranging from one to 30 points: Survey of the Natural Sciences, Reading Comprehension, Quantitative Reasoning and Perceptual Ability. Schools usually group scores on these tests into three measurements. The Academic Average averages scores on the science, reading and quantitative tests. Perceptual Ability accounts only for the perceptual section, and Total Science includes just the science section.
Average DAT Scores
A combined score of 19 on three of these sections -- Academic Average, Perceptual Ability, and Total Science -- is considered competitive for most programs; the national average for test-takers is 17. Nearly all dental programs post the DAT scores for the latest entering class on their website. For example, the class of 2016 at California's Loma Linda University, had average scores of 20.04 for the Academic Average, 21.12 for Perceptual Ability and 20.0 for Total Science.