ADA Reverses Decision to Update DAT Biology in 2015

Time to breath everybody! Looks like the ADA realized their timetable was rushed in updating the Biology section of the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). When originally reported in 2013, the DAT Biology section was expected to change in 2014. Following several updates, the changes were Postponed until 2015. Now the ADA has revised the DAT Newsletter Volume 4 from 2013 with the following message:


To me it doesn’t seem like the planned changes were cancelled entirely, but that they will not take into effect through 2015, but that is 100% speculation based on the language. I will not be reporting on any Biology changes until more concrete evidence is presented.

Quantitative Reasoning (QR) is believed to be still on track to eliminate and add several topics in an effort to improve critical thinking. The pilot program expected to run through 2015 is testing how students react to these changes and will adapt accordingly. The new critical thinking based QR section will officially be scored starting in 2016. More information can be found here about the upcoming changes to QR.




Upcoming DAT Biology Changes Pushed to 2015

Update (8/30/2014): Planned changes to the DAT Biology section have officially been suspended.

The ADA recently remodeled their website and as a result many of the links around our site are currently broken. In the effort of finding the new locations of these files, I have uncovered a presentation from March 17th, 2014. This presentation has a new slide that indicates the “test specifications” to the biology section of the DAT have been pushed to 2015. At the moment I cannot comment on what they mean by “test specifications”. Although the wording is a bit ambiguous, it also appears the Critical Thinking pilot test initially planned for 2014 has been pushed back to 2015.

For those that do not know, the ADA has been planning a few modifications to the DAT for several years now. The two changes affect the Quantitative Reasoning section in addition to the Biology section. The details regarding the changes have been summarized in the image below.


With the continued extensions, it is hard to say when pre-dental students should start adjusting studying strategies. For the moment, continue studying using the methods and resources mentioned in the DAT Strategies and Resources page.



DAT Review

DAT Prep: Gold Standard Comprehensive Review

DAT-CompletePackage2013DAT Prep: Gold Standard is a newcomer in DAT preparation material. While shopping around for resources to buy, I came across DAT Prep: Gold Standard, but could not see myself investing so much money in an untested system. With the first edition prep books released in the early summer of 2013, there were no reviews before taking my DAT. After my exam, I was presented with an opportunity to review the DAT Prep: Gold Standard system to see what makes it tick. Is there still room for this newcomer in the world of DAT prep material. I hope you find the following comprehensive review helpful in figuring out if DAT Gold Standard is right for you!

With my DAT experience covering a vast amount of resources, I have learned what books or programs effectively teach the material to mastery and in an efficient way. You can read about my breakdown on Dental Admissions Test (DAT) Part 2 – Planning, Strategies, and Resources. In addition to thoroughly reviewing the material personally, I have shared the material with a colleague of mine, Kristine Angeles, who is currently using this series to prepare for her upcoming DAT.

Even though DAT Prep: Gold Standard is new to pre-dents, the company The Gold Standard (RuveneCo.) has been a big name in MCAT preparation since 2001. Gold Standard Multimedia has developed new resources focused specifically on DAT material in addition to revised versions of the MCAT material for the  natural sciences sections.


The DAT Prep: Gold Standard comes in several different flavors:

Complete DAT Prep Home Study Course – $499


Complete package without items in RED (TopScore/bonus items) – $399


Complete 4-Book Set – $199

  • All 4 books covering the topics
  • 2 Practice tests (one physical, one online)
  • Online Access Code (2000+ additional questions, 10 hours of video explanations)


Individual Books (include access codes for online questions)- $49.95


DAT-CompletePackage2013Physical Resources

Quality of Books (Material):

The books are of the highest quality I have ever seen in prep material. The cover is made of a stiff and raised cross-hatch design. Very elegant. The inside of the book  is in full color and large font allows these books to be placed on a book stand and far enough away to reduce eye-strain from long study sessions. Paper quality is thick and glossed making diagrams more vibrant and pages more durable if something minor spills on it. On the other hand, erasing pencil is almost impossible on this paper so try not to mark up the book too much!


Bio5bQuality of Explanations:

All explanations were very straightforward and did not divulge into areas outside of the scope of the DAT. Getting through multiple chapters in a day should not be overly difficult thanks to the format of the books. In some sections like the PAT, difficulty ramps up as you get further into the guided examples. This makes the PAT section of Gold Standard my favorite resource for PAT preparation. Most other prep materials show a really simple question and then immediately ramp up to a problem set. The Gold Standard goes through a number of training questions, with each increasing in difficulty while including an additional component to the technique. When reading through the material, I was surprised  by the accuracy of the “training” using the same techniques I had acquired only after completing hundreds of sample problems.


Quality of Practice Questions:

For BIO, CHEM, RC, QR, and PAT, material is broken down into a number of chapters with “warm-up exercises” immediately after each chapter. These warm-up exercises range from 5-15 questions depending on the depth of the chapter. The difficulty of the material in these warm-up sections is just right for the DAT, but would not recommend using these warm-up questions as your only practice questions prior to taking full length practice exams. I still strongly believe it is essential to use a resource like DAT Destroyer to build speed by challenging you with more difficult questions you will ever see on the DAT. The book has thorough solutions explaining each answer in a paragraph or so. The explanations are very concise and easy to understand and recommends pages to review for more information.


ch6bOrganic Chemistry Section:

I was extremely dissatisfied with the organic chemistry section of this DAT prep material. While it does explain the information, it does not ask a single checkpoint/warm-up question immediately after a chapter. This is crucial to keeping up with the information and seeing how well you understand the concepts. I would strongly recommend supplementing the resources provided by Gold Standard or using another resource for Organic Chemistry. DAT Prep: Gold Standard tried to correct this mistake by including additional online practice questions that complement the chapters. Please read the online resources section below for more information.


Quick Review Notes:

Each section has a number of review pages that are a great resource when you have a few minutes to spare. I found any sort of condensed notes extremely useful the days before my DAT. I recommend using these pages as well. It would be nice if the pages were perforated so they can be easily removed from the book for more convenient use.


pat7bPractice Exams:

The only (physical) full length practice exam is included in the end of the PAT book (referred to as GS1 and also available as an independent online exam for $30 dollars). The other practice test (GS2) can be accessed by purchasing the 4-book set or creating an account on their website and purchasing it for $30 dollars.  Gold standard could benefit from the addition of a practice test to each of their books. Every student preparing for the DAT wants practice tests and a lot of these prep materials do not include more than 1 or 2. A new company like Gold Standard should be including more practice tests with their material. Another newcomer of summer 2013 took advantage of the lack of full practice tests (DAT Bootcamp) and is now one of the resources that many people consider a necessity.


Additional Media:

DAT Gold Standard has a barge of resources available in different forms. This includes 15 hours of natural science videos, 3 hours of audio review to play on the go (digital), flash cards, and an interview guide video.


Additional Digital Resources

Free resources available to everyone:

Registering to create an account on their website allows you to access the following content completely free of charge. Overall I think this is a generous gesture from DAT Gold-Standard and I recommend everybody to take advantage of it.

  • Free Question of the Day
  • DAT Mini-Practice Test (GS-Free)
  • Video of the Week
  • Picture (diagram) of the Week
  • 1 Hour Limit of Recorded (video) Lectures (any topic you want)


Online Questions:

DAT Gold Standard has a barrage of additional resources that are available as part of the individual books or bundled with one of the larger packages above. Individual books (or the box set) can be registered on their website to access hundreds of additional questions for individual sections. A full breakdown of each subsection can be reviewed here, but a summary of the total number of question can be found below.

Book Online Total
Bio 319 57 376
Chem 130 151 281
Ochem 0 373 373
PAT 90 1340 1430
RC 100 400 500
QR 78 80 158


As you can see in the table above, the lack of Ochem questions available directly in the book has been corrected with 373 available online questions. PAT comes with 1,340 questions available online (approximately 13+ practice test worth of questions) , and reading comprehension (RC) comes with an additional 400 questions online (approximately 8 tests).  These extra questions easily push DAT Gold Standard into the top tier providers for PAT and RC questions. QR and general chemistry on the other hand could improve with an expansion of their online question question library.


Online Videos:

Purchasing the 4-book set increases your video limit from 1 hour to 10 hours allowing you to view 2/3’s of the available content online. This is more than enough to review videos for sections you need help with. The $399 and $499 come with DVD copies that you can re-watch as much as you would like.


High Quality PAT Explanations:

The video embedded below is an example of the quality of the material provided by DAT Prep: Gold Standard. This is one of the best videos that explains keyholes in under 10 minutes.



While I am not convinced the Natural Sciences section is the ultimate resource for the DAT, I still believe it is an excellent resource to utilize. The curriculum is well thought out and the quality of the material remains strong throughout the book in addition to the online resources. For the past 6 months I have been recommending the PAT book for those who need help with strategies and  the RC book to everybody who has been looking for more passages to practice with. DAT Gold Standard will get you 10 tests worth (100 questions in book, 400 online) of practice. The QR bundled with the RC book is a welcomed bonus and still recommended as a review resource for most students. You can purchase copies of the book directly from, ebay, amazon, walmart, among other etailers. You can find the 4-book set for as low as $115 shipped on!





A dental student just posted a short video review of the series which includes a giveaway for the 4-book set which runs until May 15th.

Advice DAT Tips

More Details Emerge on the Upcoming Changes to the Dental Admissions Test (DAT)

UPDATE 5/15/2014: DAT Biology Changes Officially Pushed to 2015

Back in October, we announced that the ADA was planning to change the DAT starting in 2014. The changes focused on updating the Biology section in 2014 and the Quantitative Reasoning section in 2015. Other than a short description, no other detail was provided as to what the changes will contain and most importantly, when these changes will take effect.

After some research, it appears that the upcoming changes to the DAT have been planned since early 2012 (or even 2011 although unconfirmed). These changes were focused on  reviewing items and content relative to science courses and science textbooks. New test questions are being developed according to the “Test Item Development Guide”. A copy of the guide can be accessed on the ADA website. This guide appears to be National Board Dental Examinations which supports the motion to make the DAT a better predictor of success in dental school. This is NOT to say that questions will be related to dentistry, but that the format for question may shift in the direction of the guide.

I recently acquired some documents directly from the ADA that give us an insight on the future direction of the DAT. The first of these documents is a presentation titled “Update on the Dental Admission Test (DAT)” which was conducted during the ADEA Fall 2013 Meeting. The information about the upcoming changes to the DAT start on page 9 and extend through page 12. We are going to breakdown each of these pages in full detail.

The biggest update from this batch goes to the Quantitative Reasoning section internally referred to as (QRT). As you can see from the image below. Questions related to Data analysis, interpretation and sufficiency, quantitative comparison, probability, and statistics will begin to appear on the DAT starting in 2014. However, the questions will not contribute to your QR/AA scores up through the end of 2015. Starting in 2016, based on the pilot test conducted during 2014-2015, questions in these sections will begin to contribute to your QR/AA scores. This gives plenty of time for students to adapt to the changes and for preparatory material refinement. A presentation from 2012 notes that the ADA originally estimated that the new questions will contribute to scores beginning in 2015. This indicates a year delay in the process as scores are now expected to contribute no earlier than 2016.

Changes to Critical Thinking Content


Details on the Biology section have not changed much other than to clarify the window for the biology section. The window has now been extended through 2015. At this point, it is likely that any changes that will occur to the DAT will be near the end of 2014. Time to take a breath! There is plenty of time to take the current DAT without any worry of changes.

Changes to Biology Test Specifications

The third picture indicates that the changes are still being developed and refined and that all new items will be pre-tested and reviewed, revised or retired. This indicates that the Biology Section may see a similar pilot  test but in a shorter timeframe.

Test Construction

This fourth image is a bit more unclear. Test Construction Committee (TCC) is the group of individuals responsible for drafting new items as indicated in the previous image. This image shows a “sample representation” indicated by names of universities. I interpret this as one of two ways. Either faculty members at these universities are working to add new content to the DAT or that the pilot test will begin at (or near) these locations. I am inclined to believe it is a list of members involved in the revision process.

TCC Representation

The remainder of the power-point covers post-test survey results as several graphs comparing 2012 to previous years. It appears that over the past 5 years the “apply early” message has been taken very seriously. The graph on page 22 shows a steady increase in tests taken in June and July and a steady decline in tests taken in August, September, and October.

You can download a copy of the DAT Update 2013 Presentation Here

In addition to this presentation, we have also gained access to an FAQ by Kaplan regarding the upcoming changes. I have bolded any interesting components.

DAT Test Changes in 2016
Changes to Quantitative Reasoning

Why is this section changing? 

The ADA wants this section to require more critical thinking. The changes will eliminate some of the easiest questions (numerical calculations and conversions) as well as some content that is not deemed to be critical for success in dental or optometry school (geometry and trig). These questions will be replaced with additional Probability & Statistics questions, presumably of higher difficulty, as well as new critical thinking question types that sound like the quantitative question types on the GMAT and GRE.

What is changing specifically? 

First, all questions from the following categories will be eliminated: Numerical Calculations, Conversions, Geometry, and Trigonometry. These questions will be replaced with more Probability & Statistics as well as the following new question types: Data Analysis, Interpretation & Sufficiency, and Quantitative Comparison.

When will the changes occur? 

In 2014-2015, the DAT and possibly the OAT will pilot experimental items for these questions, though it is currently unclear when exactly these items will begin being piloted and how they will be tested (i.e., whether they will be included within the current section or will be identified as experimental). These questions will not count toward student scores in 2014-2015. The ADA plans to have the full new Quantitative Reasoning section scored beginning in 2016.

How should students prepare for these changes?

Students should continue to prepare for the current version of the DAT & OAT. They may see experimental items on their tests in 2014-2015, but those items will not count toward their score, so students do not need to worry. Once the changes are finalized and an official launch date is announced for 2016, the Kaplan course will be updated to prepare students for the new test content and question types. We will always ensure that our course aligns with the current or immediately upcoming test blueprint.

Changes to Biology
Why is this section changing? 

The ADA notes that college-level biology courses take more of a systems approach, focusing on complex interactions within biology systems. This does not align with the way the Biology subsection of the DAT & OAT tests content. The ADA wants the section to more closely match what students are learning in their introductory biology courses.

What is changing specifically? 

It is not yet known how the changes will impact the section. It may be as minor as changing the way that some questions are asked or may include more substantial changes to the test blueprint.

When will the changes occur? 

The ADA is targeting sometime in 2014-2015, but a specific timeline has not yet been determined.

How should students prepare for these changes?

The test is changing to better align with what students are already learning in their undergraduate courses, so this change should be beneficial to most students. The Kaplan course already teaches biology content using a systems approach, so students will be prepared for both the current test and any upcoming changes. That said, it may be advantageous for students who are already ready to test to take their test sooner rather than later in case any of the changes result in higher difficulty questions.

You can download a copy of the DAT Update FAQ Here


2013 Presentation Source:

Archived Resources:


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