The Dental Admissions Test (DAT) is Changing in 2014!

UPDATE (3/10/2014): New details have been summarized in More Details Emerge on the Upcoming Changes to the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) 


A recent publication by the ADA titled “DAT Newsletter – Volume 4” sheds light on several large changes to the DAT. The document states that these changes are expected to begin in 2014, less than 3 months away.

The ADA puts out a newsletter regarding policy changes for the DAT on, what seems to be, an annual basis. This newsletter summarizes the upcoming changes discussed by the DAT Committee since the last summary.  A past example of the DAT Newsletter from 2012 can still be accessed on the ADA website. Usually the newsletter consists of updated test taking policies and does not discuss changes to the content of the DAT. However, the DAT Newsletter for 2013 brings some interesting test subject changes alongside a few policy changes. A summary of the key changes can be found below.


Biology test specifications will be changed for 2014. Biology survey courses have shifted to a systems approach (i.e., focusing on complex interactions within biological systems, rather than viewing biology in a reductionist manner), and thus the biology test specifications are being adjusted to conform to this holistic approach. The Examinee Guides will be reviewed and revised to ensure clarity.”

Based on this quote from the newsletter, we believe the biology section of the DAT will likely have less “random” factoids to commit to memory such as material from lower division biology courses covering the topics of  “Organism to Ecosystem”. It is expected that topics such as physiology are to become a larger focus on the DAT biology section. This change may make it more difficult for many students to take the DAT following their 2nd year (as currently advised) since only a handful of core biology courses have been taken alongside the general and organic chemistry classes.

When contacting the ADA regarding more clarity on the biology section changes, we received a canned response:

The Biology Test Construction Committee has some recommendations regarding changes in the test specifications, and they will be up for discussion and approval by the DAT Committee in early 2014. We will keep test takers posted as to when it will take effect.”

Our only advice at the moment to those planning on taking the DAT is to take several of the core upper division biology classes such as physiology and microbiology prior to taking the DAT. Preparing for the exam in early 2014 may be difficult due to a lack of new preparation material and a well rounded understanding of biology is a must to perform well in this case! Keep an eye peeled for an updated iteration of The Examinee Guide. It is also likely that other material on the ADA’s main DAT Information Page, such as the sample test, will be updated to provide more information regarding these changes.



Quantitative Reasoning Test (QRT) specifications have been revised to eliminate the sections for numerical calculations, conversions, geometry, and trigonometry. Items will be added in the following areas: data analysis, interpretation, and sufficiency; quantitative comparison; and probability and statistics.”

This change has been rumored for a while and some preparation materials such as Math Destroyer have been adding tests with questions focused on the concepts listed above. The ADA explicitly states that “These changes will be implemented no sooner than 2015.” More information will be added regarding this change in the near future.
As more information becomes available, it will be posted on the DAT website


By Elias Almaz

I am a dentist in Sacramento, CA. During undergrad, I served as the President of my local Pre-Dental Society and learned the intricacies of the dental admissions process. documents much of what I learned during that time.

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