Canadian DAT Topics and Format

The Canadian Dental Admissions Test (DAT) is a 3-hour and 20 minutes online exam administered by the Canadian Dental Association and offered throughout the year. It is used as a standardized test for students wishing to enter into any of the Canadian dental schools and some American dental schools. The format and topics covered in this exam are slightly different than their American counterpart. This post contains a complete outline of how the exam is formatted as well as the topics covered for anyone interested in taking the Canadian DAT.

The Canadian DAT is broken into 4 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
  1. Manual Dexterity (Optional) – Students are given 30 minutes to carve 1 soap pattern to measured specifications.
  2. The Survey of Natural Sciences – Students are given 60 minutes to complete 40 Biology and 30 Chemistry questions.
  3. The Perceptual Ability Test – Students are given 60 minutes to complete 90 questions perceptual ability questions.
  4. The Reading Comprehension Test – Students are given 50 minutes to read 3 passages (1200-1500 words each) and complete 50 questions reading comprehension questions.

Canadian DAT Section 1: Manual Dexterity (Optional)

The manual dexterity section is unique to the Canadian DAT and is an optional portion of the test. Some Canadian universities do not require the soap carving section of the DAT so it is important to check the requirements for dental schools in Canada to see if this section is one that you have to take.

Students are given a cylindrical piece of soap approximately 8 centimetres in length and asked to carve the soap to meet specific requirements. The only tools that can be used in the carving process are those that are provided for the test, a paper ruler, a black sharpie, a carving knife, and a pencil. If you would like to see examples of what to expect in this section of the test take a look at our free DAT practice test and scroll down to the manual dexterity section.

Canadian DAT Section 2: Survey of Natural Sciences (SNS)

The survey of natural sciences section of the Canadian DAT is a 70-question test completed over a 60-minute time period. Most topics covered in this section are representative of what undergraduate university students will learn in their 1st-year biology and chemistry courses. Practice questions for both biology and chemistry can be found at these links. A full list of topics on this test includes:

Biology (40 questions)

  • Cell and Molecular Biology: the origin of life, cell metabolism (including photosynthesis/enzymology), cellular processes, thermodynamics, organelle structure and function, mitosis/meiosis, cell structure, experimental cell biology, biomolecules, and integrated relationships
  • Diversity of Life: Biological Organization and Relationship of Major Taxa (Six-Kingdom, Three-Domain System) – Plantae, Animalia, Protista, Fungi, Eubacteria (bacteria), Archaea, and integrated relationships
  • Structure and Function of Systems: integumentary, skeletal, muscular, circulatory, immunological, digestive, respiratory, urinary, nervous/senses, endocrine, reproductive, and integrated relationships
  • Developmental Biology: fertilization, descriptive embryology, developmental mechanisms, and integrated relationships
  • Genetics: molecular genetics, human genetics, classical genetics, chromosomal genetics, and genetic technology, and integrated relationships
  • Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior: natural selection, population genetics/speciation, population and community ecology, ecosystems, and animal behaviour (including social behaviour), and integrated relationship

Chemistry (30 questions)

  • Stoichiometry and General Concepts: percent composition, empirical formulae, balancing equations, moles and molecular formulas, molar mass, density, and calculations from balanced equations
  • Gases: kinetic molecular theory of gases, Dalton’s, Boyle’s, Charles’s, and ideal gas law
  • Liquids and Solids: intermolecular forces, phase changes, vapour pressure, structures, polarity, and properties
  • Solutions: polarity, properties (colligative, noncolligative), forces, and concentration calculations
  • Acids and Bases: pH, strength, Brønsted-Lowry reactions, and calculations
  • Chemical Equilibria: molecular, acid/base, precipitation, calculations, and Le Chatelier’s principle
  • Thermodynamics and Thermochemistry: laws of thermodynamics, Hess’s law, spontaneity, enthalpies and entropies, and heat transfer
  • Chemical Kinetics: rate laws, activation energy, and half-life
  • Oxidation-Reduction Reactions: balancing equations, determination of oxidation numbers, electrochemical calculations, and electrochemical concepts and terminology
  • Atomic and Molecular Structure: electron con guration, orbital types, Lewis-Dot diagrams, atomic theory, quantum theory, molecular geometry, bond types, and sub-atomic particles
  • Periodic Properties: representative elements, transition elements, periodic trends, and descriptive chemistry
  • Nuclear Reactions: balancing equations, binding energy, decay processes, particles, and terminology
  • Laboratory: basic techniques, equipment, error analysis, safety, and data analysis

Canadian DAT Section 3: Perceptual Ability Test (PAT)

The Perceptual Ability Test is a visualization test designed specifically for dental admission. Test takers are given 60 minutes to complete 90 questions, split evenly into 6 different subsets. A full breakdown of the PAT can be found here. These subsets are listed below.

  • Keyholes (apertures)
  • Top-Front-End (view recognition)
  • Angle-Ranking (angle discrimination)
  • Hole Punching
  • Cube Counting
  • Pattern Folding (3D form development)

If you would like to see examples of what to expect in this section of the test take a look at our free DAT practice test and scroll down to the perceptual ability section.

Canadian DAT Section 4: Reading Comprehension

The Reading Comprehension Test contains three reading passages, approximately 14-16 paragraphs in length, taken as excerpts from published literature, and in some way relate to the sciences. Topics might include things such as lightning rods, the invention of stethoscopes, or the discovery of the DNA double helix. Knowing the topics that are discussed beforehand is not a requirement of this section as all answers can be inferred from the passages. However, prior knowledge may make understanding what is discussed in the passages easier for some test takers. The purpose of these reading passages is to determine one’s ability to read, comprehend, and analyze basic scientific information. You are given 60 minutes to read all three passages and complete 50 questions based on what you read. It is recommended that to study for the actual tests students read published articles such as those from the Journal of the American Dental Association

Frequently Asked Questions about the DAT

How is the DAT Scored?

The Canadian DAT score ranges from 1 to 30 in each of the 4 sections; biology, chemistry, reading comprehension, and perceptual ability. The 2 science sections are then combined to create an overall “survey of natural sciences” score. This can further be combined with the reading comprehension score to create an “academic average score”. Typically dental schools will first look at the academic average and perceptual ability scores when making admission decisions. For more information about DAT Scores click here.

What is the max DAT score?

The maximum score possible on the DAT is 30. This score is extremely difficult to achieve and would be highly competitive for all dental schools. Most test-takers will score a 17 on the DAT while a competitive DAT score is typically 21, or higher, depending on the school. For more information about DAT Scores click here.

What does DAT stand for?

DAT stands for the Dental Admissions Test. The American DAT is used for application to all dental schools in the United States and some in Canada. The Canadian DAT is used for application to all dental schools in Canada and some in the United States.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Emily BLAIR

    I would just like an fill.out for dental schools within Ontario please.

    1. Master Student

      Hi Emily. If you are only applying to the two dental schools in Ontario we recommend you apply through their individual websites. If you plan on also applying to multiple US dental schools create your application through the AADSAS to save money.

  2. Aysha

    Is the Canadian DAT and ADAT (Advanced Dental Admission Test; which is what is mentioned as a requirement for admissions in UoT’s and McGill’s website) the same exam ?

    1. Master Student

      Hi Aysha. No these are two separate exams. The CDAT is required for admission to the undergraduate dental program (where you get your DDS/DMD). The ADAT is required for admission to post-graduate dental programs (specialization). Hope this helps

  3. sue

    I had first dat this summer. I got 24 academic( RC 21, Bio 21, chem 30), 22 PAT. I am going to apply ontario dental school next year but I do not have extaculicular, researches, shadowing and so on. I do not know what i can do more.

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