Preparing yourself to apply to the dental schools of your choice involves completing dental school prerequisite courses, getting good grades in all of your courses, gaining experience in the field of dentistry, and taking the DAT test. This information has been prepared to assist you in that effort. Here you will find details about what common dental school prerequisite courses are and what UW Bothell and UW Seattle courses fulfill those requirements, information about electives, and more information about the DAT and gaining dentistry experience.
Admissions requirements are different at all dental schools and are subject to change without notice, as are the contents of the DAT test, so it is very important for all dental school applicants to carefully research the requirements for admission at all prospective dental schools early enough to address any deficiencies in preparation for admission to the schools of your choice.
Common Dental School Prerequisite Courses*:
• Calculus (1 course)
• General Chemistry, with labs (1 year)
• Organic Chemistry, with labs (1 year)
• Physics, with labs (calculus or non-calculus based) (1 year)
• General Biology, with labs (1 year)
• English Composition and/or English Literature (1 year)
• Statistics (1 course)
• Biochemistry (2 course sequence)
• Microbiology (2 course sequence)
* Although this coursework will meet the requirements for many schools, students should research the prerequisites of the schools to which they hope to apply.
Note: Schools have differing policies for accepting AP or IB credits to meet program prerequisites. Students should contact the schools to which they would like to apply to find out that school's policy. Since most students will not know what schools they will apply to when they are planning their schedules, many students choose to retake the science prerequisites or take the honors version of the course. The decision should be made on an individual basis and it is recommended that students speak to an adviser when making this choice.
What to Major in?
Dental schools do not select or give preference to any particular majors. Therefore, you do not have to major in a science area. You should be thinking of alternate future careers in the event you change your mind, or are not accepted to dental school. Choose to major in something that you enjoy and where you do well. Although most dental schools don't require a bachelor's degree, it is highly recommended that you have plans to complete an undergraduate degree.
Applying to Dental School
Dental Admission Test (DAT)
The DAT is offered only by computer at Prometric Testing Centers and students sign up through the ADA website. The test is usually taken by October of the senior year. UW DAT deadline is October 31 for the year prior to entry. The test covers four areas: survey of natural sciences (biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry), reading comprehension, quantitative ability, and perceptual ability. In the future there may be a section on the DAT to assess critical thinking skills. Physics is not covered on the DAT.
The average DAT score in each area for students admitted to the UW Dental School is between a 19–22.
Students can prepare for the DAT in a variety of ways, including taking a test preparatory course, or by purchasing study materials individually. Students can be successful using either strategy, so you will want to consider your personal needs as you decide on an approach. Do you study well individually? Or should you try to form a group? Will you benefit from additional tutoring sessions?
Primary Application — Application to dental school begins the summer of the year before the year of entry. For example, you would apply in summer of 2011 to enter dental school in autumn of 2012. Most dental schools belong to the American Association of Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS); students apply to these schools through the online application. The AADSAS application is available in late May, and can submit the form in June.
The timing of your application is important! Many schools use rolling admissions, which means that they will review applications as they are submitted. Students who submit well before the deadlines may receive earlier interviews and consideration for admission! We recommend that your primary application is complete by July 4th for early consideration.
Secondary Applications — If a school is interested in you after reviewing your primary application, they will send you secondary applications that are specific to that school. Secondary applications typically include further essays and an application fee for the school. These are not usually due until Winter, however, you should plan to submit the secondary application as soon as possible to secure an interview.
Letters of Recommendation
Most admission committees require academic and character recommendations. The minimum UW Dental School requirement is for letters from one science teacher, and two character references (one of whom must be a member of the dental profession). It is a good idea to have at least two letters from science faculty and one letter from non-science faculty to meet the requirements of many schools. You will normally gather letters of recommendation during your junior year in order to meet application deadlines early in your senior year. You can send 4 letters to all schools through the AADSAS application and additional letters can be sent with the secondary application.
Experience in a dental setting, such as a dentist's office or clinic, is an admission factor. It is assumed that a qualified applicant will have a clear understanding of the profession, a demonstrated interest in the field, and knowledge of what dentistry is about. You should be prepared to answer such questions as, "Why do you want to be a dentist?"
If a school is considering you for admission after reviewing the primary and secondary applications, you will be invited to an interview. Interviews vary in length and method. The Student Doctor Network is a great resource to research a school's interviewing process.
Here are some helpful websites to learn about the dental field, the application process and more: