The Ultimate Canadian DAT Topics & Format

The Dental Admissions Test is abbreviated as DAT. All dental schools in the United States and several in Canada accept the American DAT. Likewise, all dental schools in Canada and several in the United States take the Canadian DAT. In addition, dental universities in North America use the DAT tests to assess their potential students.

Canadian DAT Topics & Format

However, the Canadian DAT has some distinctions from its American counterpart. You've come to the right place if you’re in Canada and want to know more about the Canadian DAT. In this article, we will discuss the following:

So, if you’re interested, keep reading.

What Is The Canadian DAT?

The Canadian Dental Admissions Test (DAT) is a 200-minute long (3 hours and 20 minutes) online examination conducted year-round by the Canadian Dental Association. It is a systemized test for candidates applying to Canadian & American dentistry universities.

This test differs slightly from its American half in terms of the format and topics it covers. For the prospective applicants eager to take the Canadian DAT, we will go through the entire framework of how the test is structured and the subjects included in this article.

The Canadian DAT Structure

The Canadian DAT is divided into the following sections -

  • The Manual Dexterity Test (Not being offered at the moment): For this section, you will be granted 30 minutes total and will have to carve a soap into specific requirements.
  • Survey Of National Sciences: In this section, applicants are given 60 minutes to answer 70 questions (30 questions from Chemistry and 40 from Biology)
  • The Perceptual Ability Test: In this section, applicants are given an hour to answer 90 perceptual ability questions.
  • The Reading Comprehension Test: Candidates are allocated 50 minutes to answer 50 questions after reading three passages (1200-1500 words each).

Each of the following portions is followed by a 15-minute break during which all candidates need to leave the room. But, based on the testing center and the time required for the instructors to set up for the following section, you may have a somewhat extended break.

Section 1: Manual Dexterity Test (Optional)

The manual dexterity portion of the Canadian DAT is an elective section. Candidates are provided an 8-centimeter-long cylindrical piece of soap and allocated 30 minutes to sculpt a particular soap shape with the correct specifications. In addition, equipment will be provided to assist you with the carving procedure (A paper ruler, a black sharpie, a carving knife, and a pencil).

Although the soap carving component of the DAT is not required for admission to most Canadian dentistry schools, it is vital to examine which schools do. For instance, the UofT announced in 2021 that the MDT segment would be required as part of the admissions process for students applying in 2022.

Section 2: Survey Of Natural Sciences (SNS)

The Canadian DAT's Survey of Natural Sciences component is a 70-question test that should take 60 minutes to answer. The majority of the subjects addressed in this part reflect what first-year university biology and chemistry students will study. This test covers the following topics in detail:

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, genetic technology, and integrated relationships.
  • Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior: natural selection, population genetics/speciation, population and community ecology, ecosystems, animal behavior (including social behavior), 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, vapor pressure, structures, polarity, and properties
  • Solutions: polarity, properties (colligative, non-colligative), 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 gyration, 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

Section 3: Perceptual Ability Test (PAT)

The Canadian DAT's Perceptual Ability Test (PAT) is different from the other sections of the test you've been preparing for. You have 60 minutes to attempt 90 perceptual ability questions that are organized into six divisions. It's worth noting that the PAT component, like the remainder of the test, will be entirely digital starting from 2022. As a result, you must study for these questions, practice them online and devise techniques to help you succeed.

Perceptual Ability Test

These are the topics you will need to review:

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

Section 4: Reading Comprehension

The Reading Comprehension Test consists of three literature passages ranging in length from 14 to 16 paragraphs, selected from existing literature and relating to the sciences somehow. For example, electric cars, Lightning rods, the discovery of penicillin, and the discovery of the structure of an atom are all possible topics.

This part does not require prior knowledge of the subjects presented because all answers may be deduced from the texts. On the other hand, familiarity may simplify some candidates to comprehend what is stated in the chapters. These reading passages assess a student's capacity to read, grasp, and interpret basic scientific knowledge.

After analyzing what you read, you have one hour (60 minutes) to go through all three sections and answer 50 questions. Students should read published publications like those from the Journal of the American Dental Association to prepare for the real tests.

How Is The DAT Scored?

Each of the four areas of the Canadian DAT - biology, chemistry, reading comprehension, and perceptual ability, has a score ranging from 1 to 30. The results of the two science sections are afterward integrated to provide a "Survey of Natural Sciences" score. An 'academic average score' can be created by combining this with the 'Reading Comprehension’ score. While making admission decisions, dental schools generally view the academic average and perceptual ability scores first and then consider the candidates.

What Is A Good DAT Score?

All the sections of the DAT are graded on a scale of 1 to 30, and the total score is calculated by averaging the scores. This indicates that the highest score of 30 is the best you can hope for. It is quite uncommon for someone to receive a flawless score. If you get a perfect score, you'll be accepted into any university you'd apply.

A score of 17-18 on the DAT would put you in the middle range of examinees. This means you scored around 50% higher than everyone else who took the test and 50% lower than the rest who took the test. However, this isn't exactly a compelling argument for admission to dental school.

The higher you can rise above the 50th percentile, the more likely you are to be accepted into your preferred dental school. A DAT score of 20 will rank you around the 75th percentile. This is excellent news because it will give you more alternatives when picking which dental school to enroll in.

It's important to remember that these percentiles can change from year to year. Although a perfect score is 30, a 25 will almost certainly rank you in the 100th percentile because few people notice this number on the exam. Moreover, a score of more than 25 is almost unheard of.


Although the syllabus for the Canadian DAT may look somewhat imposing at first glance, it really isn’t that hard to obtain great scores if you study diligently and retain your focus during the duration of your revision process. Moreover, it also helps if you use a good DAT prep resource to help you along your journey.

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This is where PATCrusher comes in. PATCrusher provides you with unlimited prep questions, analytics on your performance, and detailed explanations for each solution. PATCrusher has helped over 1400 students so far and has an average score of 23.

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