These are frequently asked questions about applying to dental school and the Vanderbilt PreDental Society.

If you have a question that isn’t answered here, feel free to leave a comment below.

What are the required courses a pre-dent has to take in order to apply to dental school?

  • General Chemistry + lab (2 semesters)
    Biology + lab (2 semesters – note that Texas schools require more)
    Physics + lab (2 semesters)
    Organic Chemistry + lab (2 semesters)
  • Some dental schools also require Biochemistry, English, and Psychology
  • It is also in your best interest to take courses like Anatomy, Immunology, Calculus, etc.

What is the format of the DAT?

  • Survey of Natural Sciences: 90 Minutes (Bio, Gen Chem, and Orgo)
    Perceptual Ability Test: 60 Minutes (cube counting, pattern folding, hole-punching, angle ranking, key-holes)
    Break (optional): 15 Minutes
    Reading Comprehension Test: 60 Minutes (3 passages)
    Quantitative Reasoning Test: 45 Minutes

How do I register for the DAT? When should I take it?

  • To register for the DAT, which is pretty much offered any day of the year, go to http://www.ada.org and register for a DENTPIN and testing center. You will then go to the Prometric website to register for a specific date.
  • The best time to take the DAT is the summer after your sophomore year if possible, however, there are many applicants who take the DAT the summer after their junior year.

What can I do to prepare for a career in dentistry and find out more about the profession?

  • Join the Pre-Dental Society! 🙂
  • Meet with Dr. Baum, the pre-health adviser at Vanderbilt
  • Shadow dentists either close to campus or close to home (try to shadow general dentists and other specialties you may be interested in)
  • Look into dental/medical mission trips that may be run through your religious organization
  • Volunteer at a dental clinic
  • Borrow from the HPAO or buy a copy of the ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools to look at specific school’s stats, strengths, weaknesses, requirements and locations

Is shadowing important?

  • Yes! Dental schools want to see that you are committed to the field of dentistry. Try to shadow at least 3-5 dentists, with at least one of them being a general dentist.The average number of hours to shadow each dentist will vary, but at least try to have a minimum of about 20 hours per dentist.
  • Some dental schools have a required minimum number of shadowing hours, so check with schools you are interested in to make sure you have enough hours.

What are some dental specialties I can pursue?

  • There are 9 recognized specialties:
  • Dental public health
  • Endodontics
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Orthodontics
  • Pediatric dentistry
  • Periodontics
  • Prosthodontics

2 Responses to “FAQ”

  1. MaryEvan Thacker September 3, 2008 at 1:35 am #

    The email given under the “Join” tab does not work.
    —– The following addresses had permanent fatal errors —–


  2. predental September 9, 2008 at 9:11 pm #


    I’m sorry about that – it looks like somebody mis-spelled my name when this website was created. If you would like to be added to the list serve to recieve notice of future meetings, please email me at daniel.j.zaffetti@vanderbilt.edu. Thanks for pointing that out.

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