MCAT vs. DAT: Which One Is Harder? The Ultimate Debate

MCAT vs. DAT still holds the first position among any debate in the medical education sector. Both tests are a parameter to select students for careers in the medical sector.

While many argue that MCAT is harder than DAT, the truth is both the tests are equally challenging and competitive. Hence, only aspirants with top-tier preparation can get selected for their dream school.

Book Pages - MCAT vs. DAT

These two exams are crucial in getting elected for pursuing a career in medicine or dentistry in the USA and Canada.

In this guide, we will cover:


  • DAT vs. MCAT still remains the hottest debate topic.
  • DAT and MCAT are two tests for choosing eligible students for dentistry and medicine respectively.
  • DAT is ranged on a scale of 1-30.
  • MCAT has 528 marks in total.
  • Both the exams have some similarities and some dissimilarities.
  • DAT and MCAT are equally hard since both the exams are challenging and competitive.
  • Students should choose one based on their passion and future goals.

Overview of the MCAT

MCAT is the acronym for Medical College Admission Test. This is also an online-based test that presents MCQs as questions. MCAT is a standardized exam for aspiring physicians. Countries like the USA, Canada, Australia, and Caribbean Islands conduct this test every year.

MCAT focuses on students’ problem solving, understanding scientific concepts and principles, and critical thinking. A good understanding of natural, behavioral, and social science concepts is necessary for aspiring physicians. MCAT tests the said knowledge as well.

MCAT questions breakdown
Source: https://madamewinnell.com/

Most of the syllabus of the MCAT is covered in introductory courses of undergraduate programs.

Applicants from any educational background can take the DAT. However, applicants’ who had courses like physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, and sociology in undergraduate programs will always remain one step ahead.

There are four sections in MCAT, each having a score of 132. The average score for each section is 127; and 508 in total for all four sections.

MCAT vs. DAT: Things To Know Before Appearing For The DAT

Test Pattern, Syllabus, and Number of Questions:

DAT is a computer-based exam. Candidates have to answer 280 multiple choice questions from four different sections-

  • Perceptual Ability,
  • Reading Comprehension,
  • Quantitative Reasoning, and
  • Mathematics.

Score Validity:

DAT scores have a validation period of three years.

Attempt Restrictions:

A person can sit for the DAT only three times in their lifetime. After that, they will require special permission from the authority.

Registration Fee:

Candidates have to pay 475 USD as their DAT registration fee.

Test Length:

DAT has a time frame of 4 hours and 15 minutes without the recommended break.

Score Range:

DAT score is scaled from 1 to 30, 1 being the lowest and 30 being the highest. A great DAT score to crack any dental college is 22-29. A score between 19-21 is considered a good score. An average DAT score is 17-18. However, candidates must obtain 21 to secure admission in most dental colleges.

DAT Exam Date:

There is no fixed date for the exam. A candidate can select any day to sit for the DAT. It is a year-round exam.

DAT Result:

Students get access to an unofficial result immediately after taking the test. But they are not allowed to use it for admission purposes in dental colleges.

DAT Preparation Materials:

Since DAT has adopted a Computer-based Test method, it is recommended to prepare accordingly. There are a lot of online tools available for DAT preparation.

DATPrep is one of them. The fantastic tool lets you prepare yourself online, take practice tests, consult with experts, take video lessons, and much more.

Additionally, PATCrusher is a specialized tool for PAT preparation. With unlimited questions for practice, we also provide features like-

  • Detailed Explanation- To understand the process behind every answer.
  • Growth Analytics- To identify the strong and weak zones through metrics.
  • Goal Analysis- To set benchmarks for being focused till achieving perfection.

Overview of the DAT

DAT or the Dental Admission Test is taken to select students eligible for pursuing a career in dentistry. Prometric test centers all over the USA and Canada conduct this test. The test consists of four sections. Candidates will face MCQs from each section. The sections are-

DAT questions breakdown
Source: https://www.slideserve.com/
  • Survey of Natural Sciences,
  • Perceptual Ability,
  • Reading Comprehension, and
  • Quantitative Reasoning.

The score is scaled on a scale of 1-30. There is no pass mark for the test. Usually, a score of 17 is considered the average score.

The DAT syllabus is not limited to the academic ability of a student. It focuses on students’ scientific understanding, perceptual Ability, and quantitative reasoning.

DAT is an online test. Candidates will receive their rough scores right after they finish the test.

MCAT vs. DAT: Things To Know Before Appearing For The MCAT

Exam Style:

MCAT has been conducted on-screen since 2007. The official name of this pattern is CBT or a Computer-based Test.

Question Style:

Candidates of MCAT will face Multiple Choice Questions or MCQs. The MCQs will be based on the passage.

Official Website:

The official website for the Association of American Medical Colleges or AAMc is www.aamc.org.

MCAT Registration:

To register for the MCAT-

Three Dental Students Discussing About Study
  • Visit the official website of the examination to create an account.
  • After that, log in to your account using the verification link sent to you via email.
  • Click on “Start Exam Registration” and fill in your information. It will create your appointment.
  • Tick on the terms and conditions.
  • Pick an exam schedule and test center.
  • Complete the registration process by paying the registration fees. For this, you will need a MasterCard or Visa Card.

Note: Students must mention that they are registering for MCATs in the verification statement.

Refund Policy:

Based on the admission deadlines, there are three categories-

  • Gold,
  • Bronze, and
  • Silver

The gold zone provides partial refunds after cancellation. The bronze and silver zone does not allow any refund.

Exam Time Per Year:

The MCAT is held up to 25 times in 21 countries every year.

MCAT Cost:

The Medical College Admission Test or MCAT costs more than 300 USD per student. However, the amount can vary depending on the country.

Appointment Change:

It is possible to change the appointment of your MCAT. However, you will have to pay a service fee for that.


Candidates are only allowed to cancel their appointment before the gold zone’s deadline.

The Number of Questions and Syllabus:

Candidates will face 221 MCQs from four separate sections. The sections are

  • Chemistry and Physics,
  • Psychology and Social Sciences,
  • Biology and Biochemistry,
  • Critical analysis and Reasoning Skills.

Eligibility Criteria:

MCAT requires its candidates to pursue a career in medicine. It includes veterinary medicine as well. The international students must possess or pursue MBBS to sit for MCAT. Students of the USA and Canada must obtain an undergraduate degree to sit for the MCAT.

Preparation Materials:

There is tons of preparation material available for students to prepare for the MCAT. The materials are in different formats. Some are mock tests; some are sample papers. Barron’s new MCAT, MCAT practice tests by Sterling Test Prep, are great tools for MCAT preparation.

Result Validity:

MCAT results obtain a validity of three years. However, medical colleges held the authority to decide the score validity to process admissions.

Attempts Restrictions:

A student can sit for MCAT 3 times in one year, four times in two years, and seven times in a lifetime.

Test Length:

The time frame of the MCAT is seven and a half hours.

Score Range and Rescoring:

The optimum score range for MCAT starts from 472 to 528 in total. For the individual section, the score range is 118 to 132.

If any candidate feels they got fewer scores than they performed, contact AAMC. They will get a reply within three weeks of contact.

Score Voiding:

There is a “void the MCAT” section on the examination site of the MCAT. By selecting that, students can choose to void their scores.

Test Day Instruction:

Applicants are expected to arrive 30 minutes before the exam time at the exam venue. Additionally, they must show a valid ID to pass the exam hall.

MCAT vs. DAT: Similarities


Both the exams are expensive. If you sit for DAT, you will have to pay 360 USD as fees. Contrarily, if you sit for MCATs, you will have to pay 325 USD as fees. Both these fees are non-refundable. Note that the amount of fees is subject to change over time.


As much as the exams are costly, they are lengthy as well. The DAT ranges for 5 hours with the recommended breaks. On the other hand, the MCAT can range from 7.5 hours.

Since the tests are lengthy, you will need patience to get positive results. However, students with good mental stamina will do well in these tests.


Both these exams are online-based. There will not be any exam papers. Instead, you will face the questions on the screen and reply to them on the screen as well. Hence, if you are a pre-health aspirant, practice online tests as much as possible.

Similar Content:

The syllabus of both these tests is alike. You will have to cover general chemistry, organic chemistry, and biology for both of these tests.

Moreover, both the tests have questions from reading comprehension. Therefore, you have to answer questions by reading and understanding the given passage.

MCAT vs. DAT: Differences

Now that you know the similarities of DAT and MCAT let's get to the differences between these two tests.

MCAT Syllabus Consists Of Physics

Candidates for MCAT exams need to know physics because the question consists of an array of physics questions.

MCAT Syllabus
Source: C/articles/mcat-syllabus

Contrarily, DAT students do not need to prepare for Physics during the exam. However, they might be required to study Physics once they are elected.

Each section of MCAT Exams Are Passage Based

MCAT is a passage-based test. Therefore, students will face passages from every section of the question. In comparison, DAT has passages only in the reading comprehension section. This is the reason why most students find DAT easier than MCAT. Moreover, this is also why MCAT takes so much more time than the DAT. Because, to answer the questions, students need to go through the passage first, analyze the questions and then find the answers.

DAT Contains More Mathematical Problems than the MCAT

The DAT exam evaluates the knowledge and understanding of mathematics. But MCAT does not rely on math. The questions generally come from science sections.

This creates a logistical difference as well. Since DAT students face mathematical problems, they can use calculators in the exam hall. Whereas using a calculator is prohibited in the MCAT exam.

DAT Exam Is Available Throughout The Year

Any student can appear at any given time for the DAT. It is available year-round. On the contrary, the MCAT exam is taken 20 to 25 different times every year.

MCAT Takes More Time To Publish The Score

The DAT students get a rough estimate of marks when they complete the exam. But MCAT aspirants have to wait nearly a month to get the results.

The rough estimate pre-dental gets right after finishing the exam is unofficial. You can not apply that report to get into dental schools. However, they let you analyze how your exam went and what your next step should be.

DAT Focuses On Perceptual Ability

The DAT focuses on students' visualization ability. In addition, they evaluate the perception of the students. This is why DAT is known as one of the best-standardized exams.

But MCAT students do not need to go through such a thing. This is a significant difference between these two exams.

MCAT vs. DAT: How To Crack?

MCAT and DAT are two challenging and competitive exams. Hence, you need efficient preparation to crack the exam. The following techniques have proven to be efficient for a big hit in both the tests-

  • Make an efficient routine and stick to it.
  • Be consistent.
  • Go through practice tests.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy diet and an 8-hours sleeping cycle.
  • Join a study group.
  • Subscribe to online tools or get a private tutor.

MCAT vs. DAT: Which Test Should You Opt For?

According to most test-takers, MCATs are considered harder than the DAT. MCAT has passage-based questions. Therefore, you will need to understand and analyze the reading comprehension quickly. Moreover, the exam length may prove a more significant challenge for students suffering from anxiety.

MCAT vs. DAT: Which Test Should You Opt For?

On the other hand, students who struggle with visuospatial perception will have difficulty preparing for the DAT because this standardized test has a particular segment named PAT that tests the visuospatial perception ability of students. Moreover, the dental school admission authority elects students based on this section. Hence, it is crucial to do well in the section.

DAT remains specific to dental schools only. But students who have taken MCAT can pursue other professions of medical disciplines as well.

Do Dental Schools Accept The MCATs?

If you are a dental aspirant, you should never sit for MCATs. It will show the dental admission committee that you are confused about your career goals. Besides, the perceptual ability test or the PAT section of the DAT is significant while getting into an excellent dental college.

Key Takeaways

The MCAT vs. DAT debate has always been the peak of attention among the pre-health student community.

Both tests are standardized assessments of many characteristics and abilities of applicants applying for admission to medical and dentistry schools, respectively. These tests focus on different career paths; hence both have reasonable differences.

However, the only common thing of both these tests is that you have to be persistent, patient, diligent, and hardworking as a candidate.

Candidates with high scores on both tests, on the other hand, will have a better chance of admission. Therefore, understand your passion and choose your career path accordingly.

patcrusher logo
Copyright 2021 PATCrusher
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram