Candidates for the DAT should have completed pre-requisite courses in biology, general chemistry, and organic organic chemistry. If your goal is to obtain an undergraduate degree in four years and matriculate to dental school upon graduation ("direct-entry" applicant), the DAT and the AADSAS application need to be completed during the summer following the third year of your undergraduate degree. 

AADSAS: Associated American Dental Schools Application Services

  • This application is used for the majority of dental schools in the United States and some international schools.

TMDSAS: Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service

  • This application is used to apply to medical, dental, and veterinary schools in the state of Texas.

Application opens each year in early June. Although closing deadlines are not until February, you should apply in early summer due to the application verification and rolling admission cycle.

Admissions Criteria and Academic Record

Dental admissions committees assess the biographical information provided by the applicant and the academic record from the undergraduate school(s) attended. Of particular importance are grade point averages (GPA), scores on the Dental Admission Test (DAT), dentistry-related experience and service activities, letters of evaluation, and interviews. Academic performance records encompass cumulative and science GPAs, subjects and credit hours completed, rigor of the baccalaureate program, as well as upward trends in performance (e.g. Was average first-year academic performance followed by improvement during subsequent years? Was the level of performance relatively constant or irregular?). A strong undergraduate academic record is considered evidence of both ability and motivation.

Dental Admissions Test (DAT)

The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is required for admission to all dental schools. The DAT is conducted by the American Dental Association (ADA) and is designed to measure general academic ability, comprehension of scientific information, and perceptual ability. The DAT is administered year round at test centers operated by Prometric Test Centers.

The DAT is a four-part multiple choice test that measures:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Quantitative reasoning
  • Perceptual ability
  • Aptitude in science disciplines (biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry).
DAT Preparation Resources

The best study plan is one that is tailored to your personal learning style and schedule. To understand the content of the DAT for which to prepare, review the DAT Guide.

JMU School of Professional and Continuing Education and the office of Pre-Professional Health Advising have established an educational partnership with Kaplan Test Prep Services to offer discounted DAT test prep services. To learn more, please follow this link.

There are many types of test preparation resources that vary in cost and approach. Pre-Health Advisors do not endorse any of the providers below, but are happy to speak with you about how you might identify the style of preparation that best fits your needs.

DAT Test Prep


Cost Level

ADA Resources: DAT Practice Exam and Tutorial

Free - Low

Khan Academy




DAT Destroyer


DAT Genius

Free - Low

DAT Bootcamp

Free - Mid

Crack the DAT

Low - Mid

Princeton Review

Free - High

Letters of Recommendation/Evaluation

All dental schools require submission of letters of evaluation (LOE) as part of the application. JMU students and alumni are encouraged to utilize the PPH Evaluation Service to assemble an packet of evaluation letters that will fulfill the requirement of all U.S. dental schools. For information please contact

You should determine any specific LOR requirements from programs of choice. However, letters are most commonly required by:

  • Science Faculty (2)
  • Non-Science Faculty (1)
  • Practicing Dentist (1)
Personal Statement

Your personal statement is a distinctive aspect of your application. It begins with reflection. Consider the following questions to begin:

  • Why do you want to become a dentist? Why is this the profession you have chosen instead of another?
  • Think back to your experiences volunteering, shadowing, researching, studying abroad. Can you provide a specific story that deeply impacted you and your decision to become a dentist?
  • What do you want the committee to know about you as a person or future colleague? What makes you a good fit for the profession?

The AADSAS personal statement section includes a 4,500 character limit (including spaces). While there is no formal prompt, AADSAS additionally suggests considering the following topics:

  • Do you have any special talents or leadership skills that could be transferable to the practice of dentistry? 
  • Express your commitment to helping others and mention any efforts made that enforce that commitment.
  • Did you have to work to pay for your education? How has that made you a stronger applicant? 
  • To get where you are today, have you had to overcome hardships or obstacles? If so, how has this influenced your motivation for advanced education?

Back to Top