American DAT vs Canadian DAT: Similarities and Differences

Both the American DAT and Canadian DAT have many similarities. In fact, if you check the requirements for some Canadian dental schools you will find that both the Canadian and American DATs are accepted. Similarly, most American dental schools will accept the Canadian DAT. This post provides an in-depth look into both the similarities and differences between the two standardized tests. All information found in this article is from the Canadian Dental Association or American Dental Association which are the governing bodies responsible for administrating their respective DATs.

American DAT vs Canadian DAT Differences

Difference 1: Different Components

The American DAT and Canadian DAT contain slightly different topics and components. Firstly, the Canadian DAT includes a manual dexterity component that involves carving a piece of soap to designated specifications. This section is not found on the American DAT. The American DAT, by contrast, includes a quantitative reasoning (math) component and an organic chemistry section in its survey of natural sciences component which is not found in the Canadian DAT. A full outline of both the Canadian and American DAT components is summarized below.

American DAT Sections:

ComponentNumber of QuestionsTime allotted
Survey of Natural Sciences (SNS)100 questions (Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry)90 minutes
Perceptual Ability Test  (PAT)90 questions60 minutes
Reading Comprehension Test (RCT)50 questions60 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning40 Questions45 Minutes

Canadian DAT Sections:

ComponentNumber of QuestionsTime allotted
Manual Dexterity Test (MDT)N/A30 minutes
Survey of Natural Sciences (SNS)70 questions ( Biology 1-40 chemistry 41-70)60 minutes
Perceptual Ability Test  (PAT)90 questions60 minutes
Reading Comprehension Test (RCT)50 questions50 minutes

Difference 2: Different Test Taking Mediums

A big difference between the American DAT and Canadian DAT is the medium on which the DAT is taken on. The Canadian DAT is completed on paper while the American DAT is completed on a computer. Many test-takers find paper to be the preferred method to take the test as it is less strenuous on the eyes and also allows for test-takers to use the test medium as a place to do rough work.

The use of paper in the Canadian DAT is especially useful on the PAT section of the DAT where test-takers will be able to directly write on the paper. For, example in the hole punching section of the DAT you will be able to directly write where the holes unfold on the paper instead of in your head.

Difference 3: Reading Comprehension Length

Largely due to the fact that the American DAT is taken on a computer, the reading comprehension section is given an additional 10 minutes to be completed. The American DAT gives a total of 60 minutes to complete the reading comprehension section while the Canadian DAT only gives 50 minutes.

From what test takers have said, this change is justified as it is much easier to move between the passage and questions on the Canadian DAT compared to the American DAT.

Difference 4: Biology Topics Covered

Although the biology sections in the Canadian and American DATs largely cover the same topics there are a few small differences. The American DAT includes the topics of experimental cell biology, embryology, and biomolecules, which are not covered in the Canadian DAT. The Canadian DAT includes cladistics and ecosystems, which are not covered in the American DAT. 

Difference 5: Test Taking Dates

The final difference between the American and Canadian DAT is the dates that you can take them. The Canadian DAT is held only twice a year (Nov and Feb of each year) while the American DAT can be taken almost every day. This means that test takers who are looking to take the Canadian DAT must book well in advance and allot their studying time appropriately as midterms tend to occur during the DAT test-taking periods.

American DAT vs Canadian DAT Similarities

Besides the small differences between the two biology DAT sections if a topic is covered in both DATs they cover the same topics and are of similar difficulty. This means that the general chemistry, PAT, and reading comprehension sections are extremely similar between the two tests. 

Free DAT Practice Tests

Students looking to test their knowledge in preparation for the DAT can click on any of the following links below to prepare for both the Canadian DAT and American DAT. These questions are curated by dental students and dentists and can provide an excellent source of information for what you can expect on the real DAT:

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