AADSAS Application Advice Dental School Tips

The 2014 AADSAS Application is NOW OPEN! 5/2/2014: This article is from the 2013-2014 cycle. An updated page for the 2014-2015 cycle can be accessed here.

Good morning! Today is the most important day for every pre-dental student planning on attending dental school for the 2014-2015 school year! The 2014 AADSAS application season has begun! By now you should have most of the application completed; if not, don’t hesitate to make an account and start filling out the application as you collect all the required information for the application! There is still plenty of time to turn everything in so don’t panic just yet!

Keep in mind that dental school admissions are based on a rolling admissions system, in which fewer people are admitted as time passes. In essence, it is easier to get into dental schools if you apply right away rather than a few months in.

Here are a few question compiled from our FAQ section:

How do I make a DENTPIN?

A DENTPIN is needed in order to apply and take the DAT as well as opening an AADSAS application. Most of you should have a DENTPIN from taking the DAT; however, for those taking the DAT after submitting their AADSAS please visit the DENTPIN registration page now and pay for the DAT soon! There is a bit of processing time involved.

I forgot my DENTPIN. What should I do?

If you forgot your DENTPIN search your email inbox for the subject “DENTPIN Registration Successful” or click one of the links below to resend the information:

How do I make a Portal account?

When the application opens at 12:00 PM EST on June 3, 2013, the option to “Create New Account” will be activated and can be found immediately under the login on the left hand side. This is when you’ll be able to create a username and password. Make sure you have your DENTPIN handy, you’ll need it to create an AADSAS application account!

I keep hearing apply early. What does “early” mean when it comes to submitting my application?

Generally, if you apply before the end of the month of July, you are considered an early applicant. Applications within the first month are immediately processed but not reviewed by dental schools for roughly another month (It varies for each dental school). As a result, submitting on the first day does not have a significant advantage over submitting than the end of June. However, the rule of thumb is that if you have all the sections ready, then you should submit it as soon as the application is available.

There isn’t a distinct cut-off for what is defined as an early applicant. Think of it as a gradient throughout the cycle. The later it is in the cycle one submits, the less early an applicant is.

When should I take my DAT if I have not done it yet?

It is highly recommended that the DAT is completed as early as possible. Having a DAT score is not a requirement to submit the application. You can indicate that you plan to take it in the near future. To still be considered a moderately-early applicant, you should have your DAT done no later than the end of July. You can take your exam later than that, but your application will lose its early advantage it had when you initially submitted it. Applications missing sections are put on hold until the section missing is received. I have heard of people taking the DAT as late as October or November of their application cycle!

What is a good DAT score?

You should aim for as high as possible, however a nice“safe” score is 20 and above. This applies to virtually all dental schools. Rule of thumb is that if you score 17 or under on any section, then you should retake the test. Anything that low is not considered a competitive score and is immediately rejected at many dental schools.

Should I Retake the DAT?

You can take the DAT once every 90 days and are only allowed 3 attempts. Your last attempt is the score that is reviewed by dental schools. Please be aware that any regression in score will override any higher scores previously earned. Only take the test if you are ready to take it again, do not do it just because you can! If you are taking the DAT while applying, make sure you give yourself adequate time to prepare. Extending your test date by a week will be more beneficial than waiting 3 months in order to retake it.

How long does it take for dental schools to receive my application?

Your application’s delivery time can vary significantly. Some schools fall under a 3-6 week window while other schools fall under a 6-8 week window. Since the delivery window can vary over a month, it is best to have the mindset that all of your desired dental schools will receive your application no later than 3 weeks after applications open June 4th. This way, you give yourself a specific goal that will prevent your applications completion from dragging on weeks or months longer than it should!

During this time period, your transcripts will be compared to the grades entered on the AADSAS application. This can take a significant amount of time especially during the peak of the application season.

Side note: Applications seem to be sent to schools in batches made up by a few weeks of applications. This batch delivery system is frequently talked about by applicants and seems to be based on similar status changes occurring at the same time on the AADSAS website.

Can I submit my official transcripts before the AADSAS application opens?

No, official transcripts will not be accepted unless they are sent along with the AADSAS “Transcript Matching Form”. Once the AADSAS application is submitted, you will be provided with a form to deliver to all the schools you have attended. The form includes a barcode that allows AADSAS to locate and verify your application.

Can I submit my Letters of Recommendation/Evaluation before the AADSAS application opens?

No, Letters of Recommendation and Letters of Evaluation will not be accepted unless they are sent along with the AADSAS “Letter of Evaluation Matching Form”. Once the AADSAS application is submitted, you will be provided with the form to give to all recommenders or to interfolio or similar services offered by most colleges. The form includes a barcode that allows AADSAS to locate and verify your application.

What should I do while I am waiting for dental schools to receive my application?

After submitting your application through AADSAS, check all the websites of the dental schools you are applying to to learn more about their secondary application. Many schools view a secondary application as a REQUIRED supplemental application in order for an application to be viewed. Other schools may send a secondary application after an applicant meets their initial requirements like GPA and DAT scores. You can find basic information (e.g. cost of application and if the application is invite only vs. public) about any dental school’s supplemental application on the ADEA Supplemental Information webpage. Begin filling out any secondary applications that are available. You can find information about supplemental applications before they are released on resources like or from your pre-dental/dental student colleages.

Where can I find supplemental applications for the dental schools I am applying to?

Many schools have a supplemental or secondary application which is a requirement to begin viewing an application. Other schools may send a secondary application after meeting initial requirements like GPA and DAT scores. You can find basic information (e.g. cost of application and if the application is invite only vs. public) about any dental school’s supplemental application on the ADEA Supplemental Information webpage. Begin filling out any secondary applications as soon as they become available.

Supplemental applications that are available openly to all applicants can be found through the dental school’s website. These supplemental applications usually open up around the same time as the AADSAS application. To find out more information about a particular school’s supplemental application, go to the prospecting students section of the website or search the phrase “[dental school name] dental supplemental/secondary application” using a search engine like google. You can also add “Student Doctor Network” to the end of the search phase to read discussions about the secondary/supplemental application from fellow dental school applicants.

Please note that some supplemental applications are invitation only which requires the dental school applicant to pass the initial screening of academic performance before being approved to fill it out.

What if I submit my application immediately, but I am waiting for a letter of recommendation?

Every requirement of the application must be ready in order to have the application viewed by dental school admissions. If any part of the application is missing, the whole application is put on hold until the required pieces are submitted. This most commonly happens due to a late letter recommendation. It is highly recommended that you request a letter of recommendation very early on in the process and give the writer a deadline a few weeks prior to the actual June 4th deadline. This gives you a little safety window in the case that the individual may have forgotten to write the recommendation letter.

The key message to this is that you should have EVERYTHING ready to go!

That said, if this is no longer an option, it is alright. If the letter is a physical copy or is a committee letter of some sort that will be mailed to AADSAS, all you need is the contact information of the letter of recommendation writer/service and AADSAS will provide you with a “Letter of Evaluation Matching Form” that must be included with the letter of recommendation. Give this form to the writer and let them know that your application is on hold until their letter is received by the AADSAS system.

I have a few C’s. Will that prevent me from getting into dental school?

1 or 2 C’s will not hinder your application much. Depending on the difficulty of the class, a C can be considered acceptable.

Can I get into dental school with a failing grade (D or F)?

Yes you can! Make sure to retake the course and get a high grade. Unlike most colleges, dental schools will not replace the failing grade. They will request both the failing grade and the repeat grade. Be prepared to explain why you may have failed the course and what you have done to improve. Do not make excuses!!

What factors make up a strong dental school applicant in the eyes of dental school admissions?

Fulfilling all these categories will put you and your application in a very good standing. Being solid in all of these categories will make you an extremely strong applicant anywhere.

  • Coursework
    • Gives the admissions officers an idea about the difficulty of your classes, types of classes, and diversity of classes.
  • Course Load Sufficiency
    • Maintaining a dense course load throughout college is very important. This shows dental schools that you can perform strongly in very intense and demanding situations.
  • GPA
    • A numerical value calculated based on your performance in classes. Several versions of your GPA are evaluated. Mainly a science GPA and total GPA.
  • DAT
    • Standardized testing score helps balance the inconsistency in GPAs across hundreds of schools.
  • Letter of Recommendation
    • 2 Science Curriculum letters of recommendation
    • 1 Other letter of recommendation
    • You can submit more, but some schools may only review 3 out of however many you have.
    • It is better to have 3 very strong ones rather than 5 moderately strong letters.
  • Personal Statement
    • A high quality personal statement can show a lot about you and your personality. This is a great place to show to admissions officers that you are passionate about becoming a dentist.
  • Extra-Curricular activities
    • Community service is a great way to show admissions that you are doing other things than just studying. Contributions to the community go a long way especially when they know you are busy doing everything else mentioned in this list.
  • Leadership
    • Having leadership positions in organizations shows your ability to manage others and lead a team. This is vital to becoming a dentist as dentists who own private practices are the boss and are the leaders of a dental team.
  • Dental Experience
    • It is important to have some shadowing hours. Minimum recommended is 40+ hours; strong candidates have 100+ hours.  I would recommend doing as much as you can. Spending as much time in a dental environment as possible will really help you feel confident in your decision to pursue a career in dentistry and give you an idea about the daily nature of the profession.
    • My dental experience is the reason why I know dentistry is the career for me. An answer to the question “Why Dentistry” is much stronger when you have experiences that tell your story for you. This is a great way to perfect your personal statement.
  • Dexterity
    • Proving you have fine motor skills is vital. Pick up a hobby that involves complicated and precise movements. Hobbies like painting, sculpting, or playing an instrument not only show fine motor skills, but they also show admissions officers that you have developed an artistic edge over other dental students.
    • My hobby has been soldering and repairing small electronics. To me, it is like performing surgeries. Very precise movements in very tight areas are needed to perform the repairs and built electronics. Research may open up opportunities to perform surgeries on animals for various reasons. I later took on the role of performing catheterization surgeries on rats by implanting a catheter into their jugular vein. Although practicing challenges like these may be difficult to do at first, it is a great way to develop dexterity skills in a stressful environment.

Does applying for a second cycle hurt my chances?

While most schools will see that you have applied previously, they will treat your application similarly to first timers. They may also use another factor to help their decision by looking into how you have bettered yourself since your previous application. This is done by pulling up your previous application and comparing the two to see where developments have been made. If you are applying for a second cycle, be sure to emphasize your improvements during your time off and to spend time making your application look as “fresh” as possible in comparison to your previous application. This includes reworking your personal statement and descriptions, adding more activities, updating with extra classes since the last application, etc.

Does taking a year off between undergraduate and dental school hurt my chances of getting in?

Taking a year off is completely acceptable; in fact, you can take as many years off as you would like! The only catch is that you have to show that you have grown as an individual during that time period. As long as you did not spend the entire year sitting in front of the TV, there should be absolutely nothing to be concerned with when it comes to taking a break from school.

Where can I get status updates for each dental school I applied to?

AADSAS itself has a decent status update system that indicates the current status of your application at every dental school. Please note that it is common for the status to change a few days before or after a milestone occurs (like being accepted or receiving an interview).

You can also join the member driven DDS Applicants resource by Student Doctor Network to get the latest updates from the current pool of applicants. This website will indicate members’ GPA, DAT Scores, the day they submitted their AADSAS application, as well as many other details allowing participants to get a good idea about each dental schools’ stage in the admissions process.


Filling out the AADSAS is fairly straightforward. And if you need any help you can access their guide posted on the AADSAS website. Or our AADSAS application simulator with character limit counters.


Other resources offered by the ADEA:


As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask them through the Ask Elias page. I will prioritize any application questions for the next few months.

AADSAS Application Advice Dental School Portfolio Tips

ADEA AADSAS Unofficial Blank Application with Character Limit Fields

aadsas_logoHey everybody!

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. Life has been very hectic trying to get everything together to apply for dental school. Any free time I have had has been going towards my research.

I have been working on a file for the past few days to help pre-dental students prepare for the AADSAS application. The document has fields as well as descriptions of every section of the application. On the areas of the application with a character limits, I have incorporated a character limit fields to help applicants know where the limit is and hopefully write better and more concise descriptions.

I would recommend any pre-dental student at ANY stage to download this file and begin to fill it out. It is a great way to help you keep track of your achievements, work experience, volunteer hours, etc. I wish I had a document like this to fill out over the past four years. Regardless if you use it or not, PLEASE make sure to keep good records of  volunteer services including hours and dates!

Download the ADEA AADSAS Unofficial Blank Application with Character Limit Fields (v1.0) HERE!

I would also recommend using this wonderful Unofficial AADSAS GPA Calculator I found. Ortho88 on made it a few years back. Ortho88 is a pre-dental student at UC Berkley and a member of the UC Berkeley Pre-Dental Society. For those on the quarter system, please use the unit conversion box in the top right corner to convert quarter system units to semester system equivalent units.

AADSAS Unofficial GPA Calculator

I am nearing my DAT testing date and will most likely remain fairly inactive until mid July. If you have any questions please submit them through the Ask Elias page!

High School Tips

So you want to be a dentist? – High School Edition #2

A high GPA lead to success in college and beyond
A high GPA lead to success in college and beyond

The greatest way to succeed in college is doing well in high school. Perfecting your study skills in high school will help you start college with higher grades and make it easier to maintain those grades. Doing well in high school has many benefits that are commonly overlooked and may help you get into your dream dental school.

Honors Classes

Taking honors classes is a great benefit towards your GPA. As a result I highly recommend taking as many honors classes as possible! Honors classes are an easy way to inflate a GPA and make you a strong applicant. In most high schools, nearly every subject in the “a-g” categories have honors courses. The benefit of taking these courses is that they are weighted equally to AP classes at a fraction of the difficulty. They are great classes to take before an AP course as they typically build a foundation that will give you an advantage over those who started learning the subject during the AP course.

AP Classes

While still in high school, many of my friends in college told me that AP courses and AP tests were a waste of time and money since in most cases, the class must be retaken to continue to the next series. Most of my friends at this time were computer science majors at various universities. However, this is NOT TRUE for pre-medical students. Taking these classes works as an advantage in the sciences and allows you to start off with a high college science GPA due to the familiarity of the material.

Just like honors courses, AP courses are also weighed on a 5.0 scale. This can inflate your grade making you a strong application, but this is not the main benefit of taking these classes. Material covered in basic bio, chemistry, math, and physics is very similar, if not identical, to that taught in AP classes. Scoring high enough on the AP exam will also earn you college units which in most cases still allow you the option to take the class in college. RETAKE THEM! Retaking these classes in a college atmosphere will help you do several things:

  • Recall the material that you once knew and spend more time understanding details that were unfamiliar. This is important because it will help you retain the information with make up the majority of the Dental Admissions Test (DAT).
  • Gives you an advantage in getting a high grade that will go towards your college GPA that dental schools will evaluate you by.
  • Gives you units towards your college degree and the benefit of registering for classes earlier.

With colleges accepting more students than ever before, science classes have now become difficult to get in. In college, units are an influential factor in deciding which students get to select their classes first. Fighting for one of the last few spots in a class every quarter can be a stressful experience and many times make the quarter more difficult since you have to resort to the more challenging, less experienced, or a less engaged professor. The conversion of AP classes to college units differ from college to college so be sure to do a bit of research on your top schools to know what classes will benefit you the most. For example I quickly found the UC Irvine AP Credit Chart by performing a simple google search for “University of California, Irvine AP Credit”. Focus on taking the AP courses that will benefit you the most in college as well as the AP courses that give you the most units like the language or history courses typically worth 8 units (quarter system conversion, equal to two college courses).

Many of my friends at UC Irvine began college with over 60 units even though they took the same amount of AP courses, but took the courses that were worth 8 units each. In the three years I have picked classes they have never struggled to get the courses they want while I have been fighting for the last few spots left in classes I want.

Automatic Acceptance to College

In California, there is a fantastic program called ELC (Eligibility in the Local Context) designed to help students get into the UC System.

Eligibility in the Local Context (ELC) is a program by which the University of California identifies top-performing California high school students. Unlike the broader statewide eligibility pathway, which seeks to recognize top students from throughout the state, ELC draws qualified students from among the top 9 percent of each participating high school.

Check to see if your state has a similar program that automatically awards admissions to academic achievers.

Honors Programs

Doing well in high school also opens doors to university honors programs. These programs offer early admissions to college as well as many wonderful perks like private study rooms and early class registration. Students in these programs get to pick classes before graduating seniors which guarantees any class you want and the freedom to conveniently pick your schedule.

The honors programs do require a few extra classes, but in most cases the extra requirements are fairly minimal and are classes also taken by non-honors students.


High grades also open many doors for scholarships. Not many high school students take advantage of these opportunities and there are many scholarship opportunities available. PLEASE take advantage of scholarships during high school. There are many search engines for scholarships like that will notify you about new opportunities based on certain criteria that you specify on your profile.


Actually study for the SAT/ACT! I cannot stress this enough. I know many individuals who “winged” the SAT or ACT and scored decently. However, studies have shown that even a little bit of preparation dramatically increases one’s score. Join a coaching program or if you feel comfortable, self-study using the plethora of resources online and in books, and sign up for the free SAT question of the day email program.


Doing excellent in high school has a tremendous effect on your college experience and has the potential to make college easier to handle. Your performance in college is an important step in becoming a dentist and a high GPA really improves your chances of getting into dental school. Its never too early to plan ahead!