Time Line for Dental School







 Time lines

The Pre-Dental Curriculum

Pre-dental requirements for the majority of dental schools can be satisfied at SLU. For additional information on planning your pre-dental curriculum, please refer to the SLU student handbook for your entering year or see a DOA officer. Applicants with a college degree often have the best chance of getting into dental school, but it is possible to be accepted after three years of undergraduate work. Choosing a Major. Any major at the University is acceptable, as long as the above requirements are fulfilled. There is no required or preferred major.

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Applying to Schools

The dental school application process begins in the summer of the year preceding the one in which you wish to enrol in dental school.Most dental schools participate in the American Dental Education Association Application Service (AADSAS). This service allows students to submit a single application and college transcripts to AADSAS. This service will collect and collate data, compute grade point averages, and transmit standardised applications to the schools to which you wish to apply.The complete AADSAS application consists of an application booklet, an official transcript of grades from each college you've attended,and a processing fee. At the time you send your AADSAS application, you may be required to submit additional information directly to the AADSAS schools you have designated on your application. Additional materials may include a photograph, additional biographical data, or an additional fee. Your original AADSAS application will contain an Information Booklet that lists each school and its application requirements, including additional materials requested.

Request cards for the AADSAS can be obtained at the Career Center; or by writing to AADSAS, 1625 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Suite 101, Washington, DC 20036-2212; or call (202) 667-1887 or (800) 353-2237 or send email to aadsas.appl@aads.jhu.edu or download from http://www.aads.jhu.edu.

IMPORTANT: Out of over fifty dental schools, only five do not participate with AASSAS, they are: Louisiana State University, Medical College of Georgia, Northwestern University, University of Mississippi, and University of Tennessee.

To apply to the dental schools not participating in the AADSAS, you should write directly to the schools for an application and related materials. Many schools prefer to receive applications no later than September of the calendar year prior to the one for which you are seeking admission. While early application is strongly advised, some deadline dates are as late as March. To check on your AADSAS application, call (800) 353-2237. AADSAS does not have a fee waiver program.

The average number of applications sent by each student is approximately 7 (on a national scale), but that should not stop you from sending out more. A fee is paid based on the number of schools to which applications are sent. Consult the admissions requirement book for information on the number of out-of-state students accepted at schools outside your state of residence. In the 2000's, the increasing number of applicants has made admission much more competitive.

Private schools normally are much more expensive than state schools. Therefore, it is best to check with each school to see what financial help is offered. Costs per year range from $7,000 to well above $20,000 for books, instruments, supplies, tuition, and housing.

Most schools are seeking to increase their enrolments of students traditionally under-represented in dentistry. Refer to individual catalogs.

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Admission Criteria

Grade Point Average - Most schools consider your grades for all courses in pre-dental preparation with particular attention paid to the required science courses. Year-by-year improvement will be considered favorably.

Dental Admission Test (DAT) - This test is administered on computer almost any day of the year. There is no paper and pencil testing. The DAT includes sections on Natural Sciences - biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry; Reading Comprehension (dental and basic sciences); Quantitative Ability (math problems) and Perceptual Ability (two and three dimensional problem solving).

Applicants will be able to test by scheduling a sitting at their convenience. Scores will be available immediately. The linear format is used. That is, the questions do not get harder or easier based on the prior answers.

Most schools will take the highest DAT score; however, some take the most recent test. The DAT should be taken no later than the time the AADSAS application is filed and long before school deadlines.

Application or request cards for the DAT are available at the Testing Center or can be obtained by writing the American Dental Association, Department of Testing Services, 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611-2678. Call the ADA at (312) 440-2689.

Letters of Recommendation - A number of the schools require letters of recommendation from either physics, chemistry or biology professors; however, do not hesitate to submit letters from other professors and practicing dentists with whom you have worked. The schools' specific requirements for letters are outlined in the AADSAS application. You are not penalised for sending letters to schools which do not require them. Average number of recommendations is three.

Interviews - Many schools require interviews.

Experience - All persons considering dentistry (or any other profession) are urged to obtain first-hand experience in the field so that they may test their interest and ability. There are a number of sources for finding places to obtain experience. Contact DOA for internship possibilities through school.

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The Dental Admission Test is administered on computer on almost any day of the year.

The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is conducted by the American Dental Association and has been in operation on a national basis since 1950. The testing program is designed to measure general academic ability, comprehension of scientific information, and perceptual ability. While all dental schools require candidates to participate in the Dental Admission Testing Program, test results are only one factor considered in evaluating the admission potential of a candidate. Validity studies conducted by the testing program have shown that test scores in conjunction with collegiate records are useful in predicting performance. Therefore, the admission process should involve an evaluation of test scores, collegiate records, and other information. The relative importance of these predictors is determined by the dental school.

Retaking Test

A candidate can apply and retake the test as many times as the candidate wishes. Candidates are required to submit a new application and fee for each re-examination. A candidate must wait 90 days before retaking the DAT.


$160 examination fee (five official transcripts of scores, candidate's and advisor's copies), $5 additional (beyond five) official transcripts of scores at the time of application.

Scoring of Examinations

Dental Admission Test scores are based on the number of correct answers, therefore, candidates are not penalised for guessing.

The results are reported to dental schools in terms of standard scores rather than raw scores. Through the use of standard scores it is possible to compare the performance of one applicant with performance of all applicants. Scores used in the testing program range from 1 to 30. While there are no strict passing or failing scores, the standard score of 15 typically signifies average performance on a national basis.

Each test includes equating and pretest questions. The purpose of the equating questions is to form a link among tests administered on different dates so that examinees' standard scores can be placed on the same measurement scale. Because of these equating questions, examinees' scores have the same meaning regardless of the test they were administered. Unscored pretest questions are included on the test in order to gather information. This information is used in the test construction process to insure that these questions are appropriate before they are included among the scored items.

The candidate will have a total of 4 hours and 15 minutes to complete the four tests in the DAT battery. A 15-minute break is optional after completing the second test in the battery. The DAT battery includes:

Survey of Natural Sciences 90 Minutes
Perceptual Ability Test 60 Minutes
Break (optional) 15 Minutes
Reading Comprehension Test 60 Minutes
Quantitative Reasoning Test 45 Minutes

Candidate Score Report

A test report is provided to each candidate immediately following the test. These are the applicant's personal copies and are not to be sent or taken to dental schools. We suggest that each candidate confer with the pre-dental advisor regarding the test results. Scores will be automatically sent directly to the pre-dental advisor if indicated on the application. When a candidate repeats the examination, the results of the four most recent attempts are released on the official transcript forwarded to the dental schools. Also, for all candidates, the total number of attempts is listed.

All U.S. dental schools require an official transcript of DAT scores for each applicant. Official DAT scores are not reported through AADSAS (American Association of Dental Schools Application Service). An official transcript of scores will be sent to the dental schools requested on the Dental Admission Test application form. It is best to have an official transcript of scores sent to each of the dental schools to which you are considering application even though you have not yet completed filing admission applications to these schools. Requests for transcripts after the examination are subject to delay and additional expense. Studies regarding the Dental Admission Test have indicated significant predictive validity relative to performance in dental schools. Therefore, DAT scores are used with other predictors in the admission process for these schools. There is no information of comparable validity which is available to support using DAT scores for other purposes.

Release of Candidate Test Scores

Results of the Computerised DAT will be announced to the candidate immediately upon completion of the test battery. These results will be sent to dental schools within two weeks after the examination.

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The Dental School Interview

Before you are selected to enter dental school, you will most likely be interviewed. While the most important factors determining whether you get in is your college GPA and DAT score, and to a lesser extent, letters of recommendation, the interview for dental school is quite important. There are definitely some do's and don'ts for the interview. For example, you will need to dress in a conservative, professional style. That means a suit for men, and a dress suit for women. Make sure your personal and dental hygiene are good.

You may be asked a wide variety of questions. Always remember to be truthful, and upbeat. Many times it is not what you say, but how you say it. I remember one story where an applicant put down that he liked boating under a hobbies section of an application, which was a lie. The interviewer by chance happened to be an avid boater, and began asking him questions about it. When it was clear that he had lied, he knew he had blown the interview by being dishonest.

Prepare for your interview by asking a few dentists in your area (or your dentist) some questions about their careers, especially what they like about dentistry. This will give you a bit of a background that can help you on the interview. Also, by reading this article, it will give you a great deal of perspective about what it takes to become a dentist.

One question that you will most likely get is, "Why do you want to become a dentist?" You need to come up with a good answer for that one. In general, keep the answer more on the lines of giving patients quality dental care, and not on the financial compensation you might expect as a dentist.

Never come to an interview with a negative attitude, and always show all people involved the utmost respect. Don't ever cast aspersions on any other person or profession; it is in poor taste, and is considered very unprofessional. Lastly, keep in mind that the person who interviews you will most likely be a faculty dentist or administrator that will have to deal with you, and vise-versa, in some capacity, for the next four years if you are accepted.

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Timetable for Application


Make an appointment with an advisor to get acquainted. Explore ways to prepare for the DAT. Open a letter file.


Request letters of recommendation. Take DAT. Most schools will use the highest set of scores; however, others will use the most recent set.

Pick up an AADSAS application request card from the Testing Center or DOA office. Contact AADS.


Make an advising appointment with your advisor, and bring your DAT scores, draft of your personal statement, along with a list of your choice of schools. Write to dental schools not participating in AADSAS to obtain applications.


File application(s). Transcripts of each college attended are to be mailed to AADSAS along with the application and should include Spring work. Mail other information directly to AADSAS schools only as directed in instruction booklet of AADSAS application.


Interviews are usually conducted at the individual dental school. We also have information on succeeding through interviews.


Recheck letters of recommendation if they were not on file earlier. Requests for supplementary information and interviews begin and run through next Spring.


Send postcards to schools to double-check that all requested information has been received.

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Overview of Dental School

Most dental school programs require four academic years. Normally, the first two years deal with the study of biological sciences and the basic principles of oral diagnosis and treatment. The latter two years are spent in a broad clinical training. At the completion of the curriculum, students are awarded either a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or a DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine).

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Ten Tips for Pre-Dental Students

  1. Major in the field which interests you the most, while showing good ability in science.
  2. Explore the field of dentistry; be sure you know the positive and negative aspects of being a dentist, and about the future of dentistry.
  3. Pursue in-depth, extra-curricular activities which interest you. Dental schools like interesting people. Leadership skills and the ability to work with others, particularly in our multicultural society, are valued.
  4. While grades are important, more than academic performance is considered. Grade trends are important; a less than spectacular year can be overcome.
  5. You will need letters of evaluation from teachers and others who know you and your work well. These come best from people with whom you have a "natural relationship," e.g., shared interest in academic and/or professional matters.
  6. Develop your ability to read, write, and think. Only part of dentistry is science.
  7. Pursue an academic interest in depth, e.g., research. However, research need not be in a laboratory.
  8. Selectively enjoy what SLU has to offer. Make friends and do things. Keep alert to opportunities.
  9. Don't let your drive to be a dentist become you. Your worth should not be measured by your success in getting into dental school.
  10. There are many paths to dental school. People of different backgrounds, experiences, and ages, etc. all get there.

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