Hero image background
BlogStudy Guides
17 October, 2023

What Is a Good DAT Score?

The DAT is an important standardized exam required for admission into Dental School. In this article we will discuss what is a good DAT score?
Storyteller Avatar
DATBooster
Booster Prep
Storyteller Avatar
DATBooster
Booster Prep
DATBooster is the #1 study tool for the DAT and contains everything you need to prepare for the DAT. See why DATBooster is used by most pre-dental students.

For the student looking to apply to dental school, understanding what different DAT scores mean for one’s application is crucial. This article will discuss DAT score ranges and their relation to application competitiveness.

Prior to reading further, we recommend checking out our other article, which outlines how the DAT is scored. You can view this article here.

πŸ“ˆ DAT Score Trends

When setting goals for the DAT, it is important to understand the historical trend of DAT scores. Looking at data from the ADA, a clear uptrend in all sections of the DAT for all dental school applicants can be seen. The DAT is becoming more competitive over time, requiring higher performance from each subsequent year of applicants.

With this context in mind, we have created five categories that DAT scores fall into in terms of competitiveness. The categories are grouped by the Academic Average (AA) score; however, the reasoning behind each category can be applied to all sections.

  • πŸ”„ Retake (<17)
  •  
  • With an AA of less than 17, a retake is necessary. This score is significantly below the average for all test takers and will prohibit your entry to dental school. In fact, many schools will not consider an application if a single subject is less than 17.
  •  
  • πŸ‘Ž Below Average & Uncompetitive (17-18)
  •  
  • An AA of 17-18 means you underperformed the average for all applicants. Unfortunately, this is no longer competitive as the average DAT score is increasing. A retake is strongly recommended. However, there are plenty of dental students who have gained admission with these scores. While your chances of admission are low, a score in this category is a liability to your application rather than an asset.
  •  
  • βœ… Average (19-20)
  •  
  • Receiving a 19-20 AA on the DAT puts one at the lower end of the competitive range for admission. Many students gain admission with a 19-20 AA, which is great news! The main thing to ensure you have with this score is a well-rounded, pristine application that is submitted early. While this score range is not necessarily negative, it does not distinguish an applicant from the general pool. Therefore, you will need to use the rest of your application to highlight your strengths and qualifications to convince admissions committees to admit you.
  •  
  • Since it is possible to get into dental school with this score, a retake is not 100% necessary. In fact, serious thought should be given before a retake attempt, as a lower second score will severely hurt your application. However, if you applied and had an unsuccessful cycle with a 19-20 AA, improving your score will significantly raise your chances of admission.
  •  
  • ⭐ Competitive (21-23)
  •  
  • Receiving a 21-23 AA is a major accomplishment and should be celebrated as such! With this score, you have sufficiently demonstrated your ability to learn, understand and apply the foundational knowledge necessary to succeed in dental school. There is no need for a retake with this score; in fact, I advise against it, as it is not worth the risk of receiving a lower score. If you have a 21-23 AA and are still having trouble gaining acceptance, improving other aspects of your application or interview is a more productive use of your time than retaking the DAT.
  •  
  • 🌟 Highly Competitive (24+)
  •  
  • Scoring a 24+ AA distinguishes one from the entire application pool. This score is reserved for the top 1-3 percentiles of test-takers. Dental schools will take your application very seriously and your probability of acceptance is high. You are also in a competitive position to take advantage of merit-based scholarships offered by your school(s) of acceptance. With this score, you can definitively check the DAT off your application to-do list. A lack of acceptance with this score means there is a glaring issue with the rest of your application. For such a situation, I recommend utilizing any free or paid application review resources to identify and remedy such weaknesses, such as our application services.

Conclusion

These five categories are general guidelines to appraise one’s DAT score and to help set goals at the onset of studying. Despite which category you may fall into post-DAT, remember that it is only a fraction of your entire application. With the trend of reviewing applications holistically, making sure the rest of your application is of high quality is necessary, no matter your DAT score.