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The Best DAT Prep Books For 2019

Article by Jane Newsom. Last Updated: Monday, Oct 15, 2018.

Overview Of The DAT Exam

The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is conducted by the American Dental Association, and has been taken nationally since the 1950s. It measures general academic ability, science comprehension, and perceptual ability.

The DAT is offered year round, and is given at Prometric Testing Centers via computer.

Quality study aides are a key factor in scoring well. Knowing what to expect walking in to the exam is a huge plus.

Below, we’ll cover the exam in detail, and give you our picks for the best DAT review books to help you crack the DAT, but if you just can’t wait, here’s the short list:

DAT Exam Details

For prospective dental program applicants, the DAT in conjunction with your academic records form the cornerstone of your application. While each school weights the exam differently, it’s most definitely in your best interest to achieve your best possible score. Given the cost associated with the exam, it’s also a good idea to minimize the number of times you take the exam.

The DAT Exam is computerized and given at Prometric test centers. It consists of 280 multiple choice questions, and spans 4 broad topics:

  • Survey of the Natural Sciences
  • Perceptual Ability
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Quantitative Reasoning

Exam Sections

The DAT Exam contains 4 sections, each of which account for between 40 and 100 questions. Those sections are:

Survey of The Natural Sciences (100 questions)

This section lasts 90 minutes, and covers a breadth of material from college level science courses. It is further broken down into 3 subtopics:

1) Biology (40 questions)

  • Cellular and molecular biology
  • Diversity of life
  • Structure and function of systems
  • Developmental biology
  • Genetics
  • Evolution, ecology, and behavior

2) General Chemistry (30 questions)

  • Stoichiometry and general concepts
  • Gasses, Liquids and Solids, Solutions, Acids and Bases
  • Chemical equilibria
  • Thermodynamics
  • Chemical kinetics
  • Oxidation-reduction reactions
  • Atomic and molecular structure
  • Periodic properties
  • Nuclear reactions
  • Laboratory work

3) Organic Chemistry (30 questions)

  • Mechanisms
  • Chemical and Physical Properties of Molecules
  • Stereochemistry
  • Nomenclature
  • Acid-Base Chemistry
  • Aromatics and Bonding

Perceptual Ability (90 questions)

The perceptual ability section lasts 60 minutes and tests the students aptitude for perceiving multi-dimensional space. The main sub-sections are:

  • Apertures
  • View recognition
  • Angle discrimination
  • Paper folding
  • Cube counting
  • 3D form development

Reading Comprehension (50 questions)

The reading comprehension section lasts 60 minutes and presents 3 written passages which the student must understand and analyze to answer the questions. The passages are science based, but no pre-knowledge of the topics is required.

Quantitative Reasoning (40 questions)

The quantitative reasoning section of the exam lasts 45 minutes and contains a mathematical problem and applied mathematics (word) problem section. The topics covered include algebra, data analysis, probability and statistics, and quantitative comparison.

This section allows the use of a 4 function calculator (provided for you).

Exam Scoring

DAT scores are based on the number of correct responses, with no penalty for wrong answers. As such, basic multiple-choice question strategies should be employed (i.e. eliminate as many options as possible and guess from the remaining items). The results are reported as a “scaled score”, ranging from 1-30. The ADA doesn’t publish exact figures, but an 18 on any given section is typically considered “average”.

You’ll receive an unofficial score report as soon as you complete the exam, and that’s the only copy you will get directly. Around 1 month after your exam, the official score results will be added to your DAT account and sent to the schools you select on the DAT application.

Applicants are allowed to retake the exam up to 3 times without special permission. The only limit to this is that there must be 90 days between each exam attempt. Once you’ve taken it 3 times, additional attempts require permission to test again and a minimum of 12 months between attempts.

Best DAT Study Guides

DAT Prep Plus

DAT Prep Plus
2019-2020
by Kaplan Test Prep
Price:$33.25
(as of 17 Jul 19 10:20 GMT)

Pros: Fantastic quality and number of online and print resources.
Cons: Small number of typographical errors.
Our Rating: 5.0 / 5

Kaplan is has been the defacto best recommendation for DAT prep for years, and this year’s edition continues that tradition. It’s hands down the most comprehensive review guide, and has a fantastic number and quality of online and print resources to help you succeed. The full list of features include:

  • 2 full length online exams
  • Over 600 practice questions across all topics
  • 12-page study sheets for on the go review
  • Comprehensive review of all exam topics
  • Guide to the DAT exam with tips and what to expect on exam day

With 2 full length practice tests that accurately reflect the length and difficulty of the actual exam, that alone is worth the price. When you factor in all the other amazing content, picking up this guide is a no-brainer. There’s a reason this has been the best selling guide year after year, see it for yourself!

Cracking The DAT

Cracking The DAT
2nd Edition
by Princeton Review
Price:$36.91
(as of 17 Jul 19 10:20 GMT)

Pros: Good online resources and practice exams.
Cons: Some typographical and other errors.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5

Cracking The DAT takes our second place spot for study guides. As with our top pick, it provides a full review of the important exam content and has plenty of practice materials. The full list of features include:

  • 2 full length practice tests online
  • Examples with step by step explanations
  • Full color tear out reference guide
  • In depth review of all test topics

This is a solid overall review book, and good alternative to the Kaplan guide in our top spot. It does well as either a last minute crash course, or as a longer term detailed study guide. The online tests are pretty well done, but some of the questions can be a little overly simplistic relative to the actual exam.

Generally, this is a good pick and you won’t be disappointed with it!

DAT Secrets Study Guide

DAT Secrets Study Guide
Psc Edition
by Mometrix Test Prep
Price:$60.00
(as of 17 Jul 19 10:20 GMT)

Pros: Good number of practice questions and exams.
Cons: Not as comprehensive as other resources on this list.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5

DAT Secrets Study Guide is another great option for DAT exam takers preparing for the exam. It lacking a bit in full length practice test content, but does a good job of covering the material included on the exam. Features include:

  • Detailed overview of the exam content and structure
  • Proven test taking strategies
  • Embedded video tutorial codes for alternative learning styles
  • Realistic practice questions

It didn’t quite make it into our top pick due to stiff competition from other players, but this is definitely a great resource. If you’re not interested in the practice tests and some of the other online content offered in the top two picks, this is a good alternative.

Barron’s DAT

Barron's DAT
3rd Edition
by Various
Price:$32.25
(as of 17 Jul 19 10:20 GMT)

Pros: Access to lots of practice tests and questions.
Cons: Practice questions and exams are not always representative of the actual exam difficulty.
Our Rating: 4.0 / 5

Barron’s DAT rounds out our picks for best DAT review books this year. They’re a major player in the exam prep area, and they do a good job with this title. It has a good number of full length exams, which can be quite handy in the final days leading up to your test. Features include:

  • 3 full length practice tests (including 1 diagnostic test)
  • Hundreds of practice questions with detailed answer explanations
  • Thorough review of all exam topics
  • Access to video tutorials by the authors

Between the online exams and solid overall content, this study guide is fully worth your consideration. We generally recommend one of the choices higher up the list, but it’s a great book if you’ve found success with other Baron’s books in other subjects.

Best DAT Flashcards and Practice Question Booklets

In addition to the excellent books mentioned above, Dentistry students will see significant benefits in prepping for the exam using flashcards and practice question supplements Our top picks for Best DAT Flashcards are outlined below.

DAT Flashcard Study System

DAT Flashcard Study System
1st Edition
by DAT Exam Secrets
Price:$49.69
(as of 17 Jul 19 10:20 GMT)

Pros: Comprehensive list of terms covering major exam topics.
Cons: Cards are relatively dense and contain a lot of info.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5

Flashcard Study System for the DAT Exam is our top pick for flashcards to help you prepare for the DAT exam. It has over 650 cards containing key information across all test topics. Key features include:

  • Over 650 flashcards.
  • Covers all major topics and themes covered by the exam.

If you plan to pick up flashcards to help in your studies, these are your best bet. Repetitive drilling on major topics is a good way to help in the days leading up to the exam. Flashcards have a tremendous benefit for students who elect to use them in their test preparation.

DAT General Chemistry Practice Questions

DAT General Chemistry Practice Questions
8th Edition
by Sterling Test Prep
Price:$35.95
(as of 17 Jul 19 10:20 GMT)

Pros: Tons of practice questions for drilling on general chemistry.
Cons: Not a comprehensive written review guide.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5

DAT General Chemistry Practice Questions is a supplemental practice question booklet for the general chemistry topic. It has over 1150 practice questions covering all general chemistry subtopics. Key features include:

  • Over 1150 practice questions.
  • Covers all major topics and themes covered by the exam.

If general chemistry is a sticking point for you going into the exam, or you don’t do as well as you’d like on your first attempt at the DAT, this book can be a huge help. With over one thousand questions similar in difficulty and structure to the actual exam, this is a great way to drill in the days leading up to your test date.

DAT Biology Practice Questions

DAT Biology Practice Questions
2018 Edition
by Sterling Test Prep
Price:$32.22
(as of 17 Jul 19 10:20 GMT)

Pros: Tons of practice questions for drilling on biology.
Cons: Not a comprehensive written review guide.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5

DAT Biology Practice Questions is another supplemental practice question booklet for the biology topic. It has over 1500 practice questions covering all biology subtopics. Key features include:

  • Over 1500 practice questions.
  • Covers all major topics and themes covered by the exam.

If biology is a sticking point for you going into the exam, or you don’t do as well as you’d like on your first attempt at the DAT, this book can be a huge help. With over 1500 questions similar in difficulty and structure to the actual exam, this is a great way to drill in the days leading up to your test date.

DAT Organic Chemistry Practice Questions

DAT Organic Chemistry Practice Questions
2018 Edition
by Sterling Test Prep
Price:$36.95
(as of 17 Jul 19 10:20 GMT)

Pros: Tons of practice questions for drilling on organic chemistry.
Cons: Not a comprehensive written review guide.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5

DAT Organic Chemistry Practice Questions is another supplemental practice question booklet for the Organic Chemistry topic. It has over 720 practice questions covering all Organic Chemistry subtopics. Key features include:

  • Over 720 practice questions.
  • Covers all major topics and themes covered by the exam.

If Organic Chemistry is a sticking point for you going into the exam, or you don’t do as well as you’d like on your first attempt at the DAT, this book can be a huge help. With over 720 questions similar in difficulty and structure to the actual exam, this is a great way to drill in the days leading up to your test date.

Wrapping Up

For prospective dentistry students, the DAT is one of the most important exams you need to prepare for. Study manuals, flashcards, and practice tests are a huge help to many people, and if you’ve read this far you’re probably one of them.

We’ve rounded up the top DAT study guides, flashcards, and practice questions and presented them above. To recap our recommendations:

Top Study Guide RecommendationDAT Prep Plus
Top Flashcard RecommendationDAT Flashcard Study System

Our top pick for best DAT Study Guide is DAT Prep Plus from Kaplan. It’s the most comprehensive and accurate guide on our list, and is the most well-rounded resource available.

For top flashcard pick, we recommend Flashcard Study System for the DAT Exam. It’s got over 600 highly relevant cards covering all topics from the exam.

Whatever your circumstance, supplemental study and review materials are a key part of ensuring success on the exam. We’ve listed some of the best DAT resources available. Good luck, and study hard!

Sources and Further Reading

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