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Advanced Dental Admission Test


The Advanced Dental Admission Test (ADAT) is a new computer-based examination that will provide advanced dental education programs with insight on an applicant’s potential success in their program. This particular test is a new examination program developed by the American Dental Association (ADA). The test was created by experts in dental subject matter and will provide quantitative data regarding applicants by using a nationally standardized and objective test.

Since January 1, 2012, the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations switched from reporting a score for the NBDE Part I and Part II tests to as pass/fail exam. In addition, many dental schools have also started using a pass/fail system of reporting grades instead of using GPAs. With these changes, it has made it more difficult for advanced dental education programs to compare program-seeking applicants. There has been a concern expressed by both dental students and program directors on how qualifications of applicants will be assessed by admissions committees.

The ADAT was partially developed by a survey given to dental students who were the last class to take the score-based NBDE Part 1 and the first class to take the pass/fail NBDE Part 1. Eighty percent of respondents expressed an interest in having some sort of score-based exam. Students felt their chances of getting an interview at an advanced specialty program without any kind of standardized measure would hurt their chances.

Candidates taking the ADAT will include those who are seeking admissions into advanced dental education programs. These candidates will include current 3rd or 4th year dental students, US dentists interested in post-graduate training, and international dental students or graduates applying to advanced dental education programs.

Actual content of the ADAT will be broken down into critical thinking, professional ethics, and patient management. The contents of critical thinking will be further broken down into biomedical sciences, clinical sciences, as well as data and research interpretation. There will be a total of 200 questions and the breakdown is as follows: Biomedical sciences (80 questions), clinical sciences (60 questions), data and research interpretation (30 questions), and professional ethics and patient management (30 questions).

Test Construction Committees (TCC) have been created for each section of the ADAT. TCC members will be made annually on the basis of the ADA’s Department of Testing Services (DTS). The TCCs will utilize existing guidelines from the DTS Item Writing Guidelines. Most likely test changes will occur over time and will be based off recommendations from the TCCs, and final approvals will be given by the ADA’s Council on Dental Education and Licensure (CDEL).

The testing format is still in the pilot form but will be as follows:


ADAT Testing Schedule (Pilot)


15 minutes

Session One- 110 items

  Biomedical Sciences

  Data and Research Interpretation

1 hour, 50 minutes

Scheduled Break

30 minutes

Session Two – 90 items

 Clinical Sciences

 Professional Ethics and Patient   Management

1 hour, 30 minutes

Post-exam survey

15 minutes


4 hours, 20 minutes


Scoring will be based on a scaled system in a range from 200 to 800 with a target mean of 500 and a standard deviation of 100. Scores will be reported in increments of 10. There will be six scales in which scores will be reported:

  1. ADAT Score: an overall score that is computed based on performance on all ADAT items.
  2. Critical Thinking
  3. Professional Ethics and Patient Management
  4. Biomedical Sciences
  5. Clinical Sciences
  6. Data and Research Interpretation

Upon completion of the exam, the number of correct responses will not be reported, and there will not be immediate test feedback for examinees. Quantitative scores can be reported to programs of the applicant’s choice.

The ADAT is anticipated to be administered twice per year during testing windows. It is believed testing windows will lessen the possibility of test content security breaches. Initial testing dates will be in May 2016, August 2016, April 2017, and July 2017. The ADAT will be available for two one-week periods. For instance, the first and third week of each month indicated above.

While the ADAT is still in its pilot form, it is anticipated that this test will become the standard for students applying to advanced dental education programs. As the pilot form is being released, many changes will most likely occur as the ADAT continues to be developed. This test will hopefully provide a more standardized measurement for both applicants and advanced dental education programs.

The American Dental Association (ADA) has posted the list of the advanced dental education programs that require applicants to take the ADAT for the 2016-2017 application cycle. The ADAT participation list includes schools that “require,” “accept,” and “do not accept” ADAT across the U.S. These advanced dental education programs include advanced education in general dentistry, dental anesthesiology, endodontics, general practice residency, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, pediatric dentistry, and periodontics.

The list for the advanced dental education programs can be found here.

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