Application to dental school begins a full year prior to your intended start date. For example, you would apply in summer of 2013 to enter dental school in autumn of 2014. 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, but cannot be submitted until June.
The earlier you submit your application, the better. 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. It is recommended that your primary application is complete by July 4th for early consideration.
If a school is interested in you after reviewing your primary application, they will invite you to submit a secondary applications that are specific to that school. Secondary applications usually include more essays and an application fee for the school. 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.
Completing the Dental Admission Test (DAT) is required for admission to dental schools. You should plan to take the test no later than the Spring or Summer of the year before you are planning to start dental school. The test currently covers the following topics: Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning. More information about the test may be found at http://www.ada.org/dat.
Gaining Dentistry Experience
It is extremely important for all dental school applicants to gain experience in a dental setting, such as a dentist's office or clinic, prior to application, as it is an admission factor for all dental schools. Applicants can gain experience by volunteer or paid work. Other options for gaining experience include completing the course DPHS 201 Planning a Career in Dentistry (2 credits), taught by the UW Seattle School of Dentistry every Spring quarter. This course is open to all second and third year undergraduate students.