What is it?


The Advanced Dental Admission Test (ADAT) is a computer-based admission test provided by the American Dental Association. According to the ADA, it is “designed to provide advanced dental education programs with a means to assess applicants’ potential for success.” The ADAT enables programs to quantitatively compare applicants using a nationally standardized and objective test. 2016 was the pilot year of the exam. It was offered twice, one time in May and one time in August 2016.

This exam is comprised of 200 multiple-choice test questions in four main areas: 1) Biomedical Science, 2) Clinical Sciences, 3) Data, Research Interpretation, and Evidence-Based Dentistry, and 4) Principles of Ethics and Patient Management. More information on the specific topics covered in each section is listed in the ADAT Guide, which can be found on the ADA website.


Quick Stats

  • The question breakdown is as follows:
  • Biomedical Sciences- 80
  • Clinical Sciences- 60
  • Data, Research Interpretation, and Evidence-Based Dentistry- 30
  • Principles of Ethics and Patient Management- 30
  • Allotted an average of 1-1.5 minutes per question depending on the section
  • Total exam time is 4 hours and 30 minutes
  • Optional 10 minute breaks offered after each section
  • Target mean score = 500
  • Candidates may test two times per calendar year, and are limited to two testing attempts separated by a minimum of 45 days
  • Exam fee for 2016: $250 (may be subject to change for subsequent years)



Official ADAT scores are based on the number of correct responses obtained; applicants are not penalized for guessing. ADAT results are reported in terms of scale scores. These scale scores are not raw scores (number correct). The conversion of raw scores to scale scores is accomplished using sophisticated equating procedures. Scores used in the testing program range from 200 to 800 with a target mean of 500 and standard deviation of 100. Scores will be reported in increments of 10. Each student will receive 6 scores: an overall score, a critical thinking score (computed based on performance in the combined area of Biomedical Sciences, Clinical Sciences, and Evidence-Based Dentistry), and an individual score for each of the 4 sections. There are no passing or failing scores.


Should you take it?

The ADA encourages third- and fourth-year dental students applying to advanced dental education programs to apply to take the ADAT. Graduate programs are able to make their own decisions as to the use of the ADAT and whether they wish to require, accept, or not accept the exam for their applicants. Due to the newness of the exam, the list of programs requiring and accepting the ADAT is frequently changing. The most updated list was released 10/6/16. According to this list, 4 AEGD, 8 endodontic (including UMSOD), 10 GPR, 8 OMFS, 7 orthodontic, 1 periodontic, and 8 pediatric programs are requiring the exam. Another 98 programs (including many of Maryland’s residency programs) currently accept but do not require the ADAT as part of their application. 63 programs have indicated that they will not accept the results of the ADAT. As more information is released about the exam for 2017, program requirements in regards to the ADAT are likely to update.

Applications for the ADAT are not currently being accepted. The application for the 2017 ADAT testing window will be available by December 2016. Before applying to take the exam you must have a DENTPIN and are required to read the ADAT Guide provided on the ADA website. Exam dates for 2017 will likely be offered for April – July. The ADAT is administered at Pearson VUE test centers.


How should you prepare?—advice from fellow students

Because the exam is still in its pilot year, preparation materials and advice are fairly limited. Students indicated that they prepared for the exam for about 1-2 months. Many students started studying with Dental Decks. According to the ADA, the ADAT test specifications for the Biomedical Sciences and Clinical Sciences sections mirror NBDE Part I and NBDE Part II test specifications, respectively. Some students took the ADAT in close proximity to taking NBDE Part II and found studying for Part II to be very helpful for the ADAT, “since there is a lot of overlap as far as pharmacology, oral path, treatment planning, etc.” Many people indicated that questions about information from the first half of dental school (i.e. questions similar to Part I NBDE) were very detailed. One student said, “there were questions about microbiology, anatomy, etc. that were a little unreasonable I thought.” Another said “there were definitely some questions where I laughed out loud because it was incredibly specific information from so long ago (physiology, biochem, etc.), and there was no way I would have remembered. Those questions were few and far between, though. So I wouldn’t worry about studying it. I did look over my NBDE Part I Board Busters book the day before I took the ADAT, and it just made me more scared since I didn’t remember much. Honestly, not really worth stressing about.” Some other students found Dental Decks to not be as helpful and suggested using Mosby’s Review for NBDE Part II book.

The Evidence-Based Dentistry section has “a small section on interpreting research. Most of it seemed to be common sense.” Another student recommended reviewing a book on dental statistics.

For the Ethics and Practice Management section many students suggested that there was not much to prepare for and that you could reason your way through most of the questions. “[You are] basically just applying the definitions of the words (justice, veracity, beneficence, etc.) to real-world situations,” stated one student.

The ADA offers a 100-item practice test on their website, free of charge. Additionally a new website, called ADATknockout.com, is currently being created by OKU dental students who have taken the ADAT. This website will offer over 1000 questions similar in content and difficulty to questions on the real ADAT. It also features tests with ADAT format and time controls, and thorough explanations to all questions. This program is still under development, but you can submit your email to receive a notification on launch day and an exclusive discount code.


For More Information

Visit the ADA website and search for the ADAT. Their website has links to the official ADAT Guide, list of participating programs, and information on how to apply for the exam.