5 Best DAT Prep Books (2020)
The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is a comprehensive, multiple-choice exam used to evaluate first-year dental students’ admission into both American and Canadian colleges. While the DAT isn’t the only factor that determines entry into dental school, it’s essential to do well in order to prove your academic capabilities and potential dental expertise.
The DAT covers a broad scope of material ranging from science to reading comprehension and quantitative reasoning. Here is a breakdown of the test content:
- Survey of Natural Sciences
- General Chemistry: Stoichiometry and General Concepts
- Organic Chemistry: Mechanisms: Energetics, and Structure
- Perceptual Ability Test
- Reading Comprehension
- Quantitative Reasoning
Even for the most qualified students, the DAT can be daunting. This is why having quality preparation materials to help you study is important. Not to mention, you’re only able to take the DAT three times. After that, you can only take the test once in 12 months after obtaining special permission from the American Dental Association.
The Best Books to Prepare for the DAT
Table of Contents
- Best DAT Prep Books: The Official List
- The Best Buy for Passing the DAT
Best DAT Prep Books: The Official List
Since the DAT covers more than just dental-related science, it’s important that any materials you use to study include a broad range of quality information. To help you spend more time focusing on the test than shopping for a book, we have compiled a list of the five best DAT prep books for 2020.
1. Kaplan DAT Self-Study Toolkit
This all-inclusive DAT Prep Plus Toolkit (2020) by Kaplan Grad Test Prep addresses all the ins-and-outs of the DAT, test-taking strategies, and provides a plethora of practice tools.
Publisher: Kaplan Grad Test Prep
ExamCave Grade: A+
Kaplan’s DAT Prep Plus (2020) is an excellent pick if you’re looking to buy only one book as you prepare for the DAT. Although the price point is higher than the competitors, what you receive is well worth the money.
The book offers a comprehensive review of all topics covered on the DAT, written by veteran teachers who are familiar with the learning and test-taking process. In addition to the academic coverage, Kaplan also makes sure to provide a DAT blueprint, so you know exactly what to expect.
This toolkit provides you with an extensive amount of practice tools. After registering online, you can study on-the-go with access to four full-length practice exams, over 600 practice questions for each topic, and a quiz bank with over 1500 questions.
If you’re struggling with a particular subject more than the others, you can build your own quizzes based on material from the book itself.
- Offers four full-length, online practice exams
- Over 600 questions per subject
- Customizable online quizzes
- 12-page full-color study sheets
- Higher price point
2. The Princeton Review: Cracking the DAT
The Princeton Review: Cracking the DAT (2018) provides you with in-depth coverage on each DAT test section, step-by-step problem-solving guides, a full-color tear-out reference guide, and two online, full-length practice tests with answer explanations.
Publisher: The Princeton Review
ExamCave Grade: A
The Princeton Review has been around since 1981, providing high-quality test preparation content to students of all ages, from kindergarten to graduate school, where we find our dental students.
The content offered by The Princeton Review’s Cracking the DAT (2018) goes far beyond what is printed on the physical pages. You can register online for access to the two full-length, scorable DAT exams and extensive dental school resources.
Throughout the book, you’ll also encounter icons that will indicate whether the subject has additional online articles, practice tests, and recommended study breaks between sections.
This book is well-rounded, making it a great choice for students hoping to improve not only their background in science but also their test-taking strategies. It goes into great detail explaining the DAT basics and plans for both short-term and long-term preparation, scoring, registration, and more.
- Abundant resources both in-book and online
- Covers scientific knowledge and test-taking strategies
- Easy-to-read layout with plenty of illustrations and graphs to accompany material
- Focuses on higher-level science content and is not useful for building base knowledge
- Students have claimed there are minor errors present in some practice questions
3. Mometrix DAT Prep Book
The Mometrix DAT Prep Book (2020) provides an in-depth review and examples for each section of the DAT, along with one practice test and review videos to finish each topic.
Publisher: Mometrix Media LLC
ExamCave Grade: A-
Mometrix’s DAT Prep Book starts with five “secret keys” to help you study and take the DAT before diving into the scientific sections. Although the book is much smaller than the others listed here, Mometrix offsets the size by offering an extremely organized and thorough study guide.
After going over each section, you can take their DAT practice test. This test is included in the book and not online, and is followed by an answer key complete with thorough explanations for each answer. Mometrix complements the physical book with step-by-step review videos for each test topic.
- Well-organized and thorough
- Accompanied by online review videos for each topic
- Full of helpful information and tips for studying habits and test-taking strategies
- Not as many practice tools as other DAT prep books
4. Sterling DAT Biology Review
The Sterling DAT Biology Review (2017) is strategically designed to explain relationships between each scientific concept, written and edited by experienced chemistry instructors.
Publisher: Sterling Test Prep
Our Final Grade: B-
For the confident test-taker, Sterling Test Prep’s DAT Biology Review (2017) is aimed to provide a detailed review of biology topics present on the DAT.
This book is targeted towards providing a thorough review of biology pertinent to the DAT. It covers foundational principles and theories essential for problem-solving and answering questions on the test.
The Sterling series is an excellent choice for someone with lots of time on their hands who is prepared to do a deep-dive into each topic, or someone who needs to focus on specific issues rather than the entire test. Although, this requires you to purchase a variety of books instead of just one. They offer the same review book for general chemistry.
Sterling offers an assortment of books filled with practice questions for each test topic if you’re looking for more practice and less reading. These books guarantee a higher score, providing detailed explanations behind each answer, and discussing test strategies along the way.
- Great review for a student who needs a thorough examination of the science relevant to the DAT
- Written by experts and reviewed by DAT editors
- Requires the purchase of other Sterling books to learn about different subjects on the DAT
- No practice tools or tests
5. Barron’s DAT Test Prep
Barrons provides a basic understanding of all DAT test topics along with three full-length model tests.
Publisher: Barron’s Test Prep
Our Final Grade: C
Barron’s DAT Test Prep (2018) provides a general overview of all DAT test topics and three full-length model tests. Each answer has a detailed explanation, and after registering online, you receive access to one additional practice test and video tutorials from the authors.
Unlike our other choices, Barron’s DAT prep book does not have any sections that focus on test-taking strategies or healthy study habits. Barron’s focuses solely on the educational material on the test itself.
This prep book is placed at a moderate price point. Since it focuses solely on informational content, you could purchase an additional book that focuses on study habits and test-taking strategies to use in tandem.
- Well-rounded coverage of the scientific topics on the test
- Accompanied by video tutorials
- Students have found incorrect answer explanations, meaning you may have to double-check any information given
- Does not cover any test-taking strategies
The DAT isn’t as well-known as the SAT or the ACT, so naturally, there are lots of questions surrounding the test’s details and how to prepare for it.
It’s recommended that you complete your undergraduate degree applying for dental school, but not required. At the very least, you should have taken at least one year of college-level biology and chemistry classes before registering for the DAT. While individual colleges have varying prerequisite requirements for their dental programs, required courses will typically include:
- 8 hours Biology with lab
- 8 hours Physics
- 8 hours English
- 8 hours General Chemistry with lab
- 8 hours Organic Chemistry with lab
How Do I Sign Up For the DAT?
Signing up for the DAT is done through the American Dental Association. Their PDF guide addresses all specifications of the test. The application procedure is as follows:
- Obtain a Dental Personal Identification Number (DENTPIN®) here.
- Use your DENTPIN® to apply for the DAT.
- Submit your application and submit your fee.
- Schedule your test during the allotted testing window.
How Many Times Can I Take the DAT?
You can take the DAT three times using the standard application process explained above. You must wait a minimum of 90 days between each attempt. After your first three attempts, you must obtain special permission from the ADA if you wish to re-test.
Re-testing is a likely scenario if you struggled on your first three attempts, or even if you passed, but your scores weren’t competitive enough for the dental program you hoped to get into. In order to apply for re-testing, you are required to submit a written request accompanied by one form of evidence demonstrating your intent to apply to dental school in the past 18 months:
- Copy of a completed and submitted ADEA AADSAS application
- Letter of rejection from a dental school
- Letter on school letterhead from a dental school admission officer encouraging the applicant to re-test
- Letter on school letterhead from a college or university health profession advisor or instructor verifying the applicant is applying to dental school
How Much Does it Cost to Take the DAT?
The DAT isn’t cheap. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re adequately prepared before your first attempt, and the study materials we have listed above can help achieve that.
The DAT fee is non-refundable and non-transferable. The basic fee amount is $475, which includes official score reporting to all dental schools listed at the time of application, an unofficial score report issued at the testing center, and if selected, score reporting to your pre-dental advisor.
Additional score requests made after your initial test application are $45 per dental school/recipient. To avoid this extra cost, make sure you list all schools you intend to apply to before your first test attempt as these have no additional cost to you (and there’s no limit on the number of schools you can list).
You can also request the DAT program to audit your test results up to 30 days after your testing appointment for a fee of $65. This is beneficial if you’d like additional insight into why your score is what it is.
Rescheduling and Extensions
Life happens. If you need to reschedule your DAT test date or request an extension to your eligibility window, you’ll need to pay an additional fee. Extending your eligibility window costs $125 and gives you an additional 45 days (weekends and holidays included) to schedule your test; you cannot have a scheduled date when requesting an extension.
If you wish to reschedule your selected test date, the fee is dependent on how much notice is provided.
- 31+ business days before testing date: $25
- 6-30 business days before testing date: $60
- 1-5 business days before testing date: $150
In cases of financial hardship, the ADA offers a limited number of partial fee waivers each year. These are given out on a first-come, first-serve basis beginning in January. The waiver covers 50% of the initial DAT fee, but none of the optional costs associated with additional score reports, rescheduling, or extensions.
You must register for your DENTPIN® before submitting a fee waiver request. You can obtain the forms for the waiver here. Unfortunately, there are no more waivers available for 2020, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have the forms filled out and ready to go for 2021.
How is the DAT scored?
Your DAT results are reported as scale scores, meaning that they’re not raw scores (scores representing the number of questions you answered correctly or percentiles). You are given a score out of 30 points.
You’re not penalized for any wrong answers, so make sure you don’t leave anything blank. There are no passing or failing scores, but a score of 18 places you at the academic average. Highly competitive scores are 19 and above.
Should I Buy a DAT Prep Book?
The answer is simple: yes.
Even if you feel you’ve learned everything there is to learn during your college science courses, it’s crucial to study and prepare specifically for the DAT. Going in on test day with prior knowledge of the test layout, question formats, and freshly reviewed material will positively improve your test score.
Whether you’d like to buy just one or multiple prep books, it’s most beneficial to use more than only one resource. Additional resources can include flashcards and online research—covering all your bases will boost your confidence when your test day rolls around.
The Best Buy for Passing the DAT
There are many great books out there to help you prepare for the DAT, but our choice for the best DAT prep book currently available would have to be Kaplan’s DAT Prep Plus Toolkit (2020).
It provides an all-inclusive study experience that combines both paper and online materials and offers the most practice tools out of all of our choices.