When Can I Take The DAT (Dental Admissions Test)?

August 16, 2008

Now that the DAT is taken as an electronic exam, you are free to take the exam whenever you like. All you need to do is contact a pro-metric testing site and schedule an exam. There are hundreds of sites throughout the United States. For more information visit the ADA website.

Where can you take the DAT?

August 14, 2008

The DAT, or dental admissions test, is administered through pro-metric testing sites for the ADA. Locate a testing site and schedule your DAT. The cost of the exam is $190. Now that the DAT is a computerized exam you will receive your score as soon as the exam is finished. For more information check the ADA website.

What Is The Average Salary of a Dentists?

August 14, 2008


Many dental students are curious about their future earnings potential. According to the 2006 survey of dental practice, the average net income for an independent private practitioner who owned all or part of his (or her) practice was $198,354 general practitioner and $304,024 for a specialist.

Of course, all this is going to depend on many different factors. The area in the country where you practice, the number of days you spend working, the number of years your practice has been open, and your ability to manage your office are all going to be factors that will influence your income.

One of the best resources for finding out the average salary of a dentist where you plan to practice is the website for the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. The site contains a great deal of information about salaries for general dentists as well as the dental specialties. Also, the site contains additional information that can be very useful as well. For example, the site lists Delaware as the top paying state for general dentist. The State of Delaware (at the time data was collected) has 290 general dentists working within the state with an annual mean wage of $184,690 or an hourly mean wage of $88.79. The state with the highest number of general dentists working within the state is Michigan with 4210 dentists.

There is also an excellent tool for creating custom tables where you can compare metropolitan areas, individual states, or the entire nation for variables such as average annual income or employment numbers.

In the Bureau of Labour and statistics website the average annual mean wage for general dentist is listed as 147,010 which differs from the 2006 survey of dental practice. However, the BLS number includes dentists who do not own any part of their own practice.

How Important Is The Essay?

August 6, 2008

Each part of the application process is important. You should approach each part of the process as if it were the most important aspect with regard to your admission. That includes a writing of your personal statement, or essay.

Unlike most of the hoops you must jump through for dental school admission, your personal essay gives you the ability to let your personality show without actually meeting the parties reading your essay. Let’s face it, most people who are applying to dental school are going to have a similar GPA And entrance exam scores. One of the few places where your application can stand out is in your personal statement.

Don’t wait until the last minute to write your essay. Take some time to think about what you’re going to say. Make a rough draft, then revise it once you’ve given a copy to friends, family members, and your undergraduate school’s adviser. Be sure to make the statement “personal”. Don’t just focus on telling the admissions committee how well you did in college and how much time you’ve spent shadowing your dentist. It’s certainly wise to include the reasons you’re interested in the dental profession, but be sure to include other aspects of your life.

Tell an interesting story about yourself. If reading your own personal statement makes you board, and imagine how someone you don’t know will feel when they read it! When you make a trip to a potential school it’s very possible, almost certain, that one or more of your interviewers will ask you questions directly related to something you wrote in your personal essay. If you write about some interesting part of your life you can bet that the interviewer will will focus on that and ask you questions about it. This makes for an easy interview. So, if you recently competed in a triathlon, traveled to Europe, or won a blue ribbon for your prized cow at the 4-H fair, be sure to include something about it in your essay.

As for how much to write, try to use 90% or more of the maximum allowed space. If they say the limit is two pages, then write nearly 2 pages. If they say the limit is 1000 words try to write 990.

NDBE Part I and II

July 25, 2008

Once students are admitted to dental school, their thoughts soon turn toward passing their courses. Soon after that their thoughts turn to getting a good score on the National Dental Board Exam. These scores may make or break a specialty school application.

However, beginning January 1, 2010, this may not be as much a problem. Performance on Part I and Part II of the NDBE will be reported only as pass/fail. This is also true of the exam for Dental Hygiene candidates. The Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations is the agency responsible for the development and administration of the National Board Dental Examinations. The 15-member Commission that includes representatives from dental schools, dental practices, state dental examining boards, hygiene and dental students, as well as the public, made the decision during their meeting in March of 2008.

How Important Is My DAT Score?

June 22, 2008

The importance of your DAT (Dental admission Test) is going to be relative to the schools to which you apply. Take a look at your intended school’s average DAT scores in the past few years. You can find this information in the ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools.

There are a number of study guides for the DAT, including the Kaplan DAT with CD-ROM, 2007-2008 Edition. While Kaplan is probably the most well known, there are a number of other very good study guides. Barron’s How to Prepare for the Dental Admissions Test is also quite good.

During my own preparation for the DAT I was very satisfied with TopScore Pro for the DAT. It contained 3 complete exams that are in the exact format of the DAT. It appeared just as if you were taking the exam, except it includes a small timer in the corner to let you know how your pace is doing compared to where you should be in the exam. With that timer you are aware if you are ahead or behind in your timing.

I might also suggest taking a look at the How To Ace Your DAT blog. You can find some good tips there to help you improve your score.

Can Someone Tell Me, Just How Important Are My Letters Of Recommendation?

April 4, 2008

Knowing the criteria where an individual dental school will place importance is something that isn’t so easy to find out. Schools are not inclined to divulge the answer. Short of becoming a member of the admissions committee in the school you wish to enter, you’re going to have a difficult time finding out the true weight placed on your letters of recommendation.

Instead, focus on making sure that your letters of recommendation show that you are a good candidate for entrance to dental school. How can you do this? Start by selecting writers that know who you are, know your commitment to the profession and your ability to compete with other students.

Let’s address each of those statements one at a time.

Select writers that know who you are.
Waltzing up to a chemistry professor after sitting in the 14th row of the lecture hall of a large university that may have several hundred students is not going to get you the kind of remarks that you want the admissions committee to read. Instead, choose a professor that you have connected with during the semester. This is probably an area where a student that attended a smaller college will have an advantage.

Select writers that know you are committed to the profession of dentistry.
Showing up to your professors door to ask for a letter while letting them know that you’re applying to dental school is not the best way to approach the problem of getting great letters. You should be establishing ties with the faculty long before you approach them with this kind of request. The earlier the better, as this gives them the ability to tell of how they have known of your desire to pursue the profession for some time.

Select writers that are aware of your ability to compete with other students.
In general, you’re going to need to do well in most of your undergraduate classes. While you can still get into dental school with a few blemishes on your record (yes, even D’s or F’s) you certainly do not want to choose one of those professors to write your letter of recommendation! Choose a course where you did excellent work, above and beyond the professor’s expectations if possible. That way you get a glowing report of your ability to handle the academic pressures that you will encounter in professional school.

TIP: Write a letter to the professor that shows your interest in the field, your personal life, your other interests and anything that they may use in their letters. If they choose to use some of the information in their letters it will show the admissions members that the person knows you better than the average student, meaning that you are someone that stands out in that person’s mind.

Financial Planning and Your Dental Education: Part 2

March 31, 2008


About 67% of dental school graduates have more than $100,000.00 in debt at the time of graduation.*

The first place you should go, if you are already applying to dental school or have already been admitted, is the University’s Financial Aid Office. The Financial Aid Office at your dental school can help you begin planning for the enormous debt that you are about to take on. The Financial Aid Office at your dental school will be able to help you to become familiar with the options that are available to you and the good points and bad points of each option.

This enormous debt you are about to amass can be managed if steps are taken early to make sure that you are prepared to repay those debts. If you have some time before you apply, then you have the added ability to start planning now, creating some savings and preparing for your education. For every dollar you save for use in your dental education you will reduce the amount of repayment (from loans) by many times that amount, due to the wonders of compound interest.

Compound Interest & the Rule of 72
In finance there is a useful tool caled “the rule of 72″. The rule of 72 is simple; If you devide the number 72 by the percentage of the interest rate on a loan you will get a number that is equal to the number of years that it will take for your loan to double.

    So let’s assume the example of $141,000.00 of debt at 6% interest:

  • 72 / 6 = 12
  • That means it will take 12 years for your $141,000.00 to turn into $282,000.00!

So, you can see how easily that debt can build upon itself. for every six years you take to pay off the debt, the number will double. Of course this assumes you are making no payments, but it let’s you know how important it is to find the best possible interest rate, and how important it is to reduce the principle of the loan.

The best way to combat this is to keep the loan amount as small as possible. How is that done? You should start by planning how much you will need to borrow. Determine the amount of money that you will need each month in order to pay for your living expenses, then add in the amount of your tuition, books, supplies, instruments and expenses and you will have your total need for the year.

To help you determine your estimated expenses, I have created an excel document that allows you to plug in your figures and determine an estimated need for each year. This is only given as a guide, and you may have expenses that I did not consider, so be aware that your figure could vary by some degree.

*ADEA Survey of Dental School Seniors (2005)

How Important Is My Grade Point Average (GPA)?

December 19, 2006


Many students who are planning to apply to dental school are anxious about their statistics compared to other students who are applying. Some are wondering if they have competitve scores for their DAT, some are wondering how they will compare with regard to volunteer hours and dental shadowing, and some are wondering just how much a “bad GPA” will weigh on their ability to be admitted.

You shouldn’t be worried about whether your GPA is”good” or “bad”. What you should be thinking is “Will my GPA be competitive?”.

If you are serious about getting in to an accredited dental school in the United States, then you will need to have a competitive GPA. Notice I didn’t say good GPA or high GPA. The reason for that is because the GPA score for each entering class is relative. If every student who applies next year has a 2.5 GPA, the class will be filled with students who have 2.5 GPA’s.

In reality, we know this will not happen. In fact, average GPA has been on a steady incline in the past few years, due to increased awareness of dentistry as a career. Issues that face many students interested in a career in medicine are pushing students toward dentistry. That is causing an increase in the competitiveness of scores, with regard to GPA and DAT scores.

When you start to consider which schools you would like to attend, be sure to research the average scores for students admitted in the most recent years. This is an excellent guide for determining if your score is competitive for that school. If you have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 you may not want to apply to the University of Colorado School of Dentistry since the average student admitted to their program carries a 3.7 GPA.

Remember, the number listed is the average GPA for students that were admitted. That means that if the school lists a 3.25 average that some students had a higher GPA, some had a lower GPA. If yours is slightly lower you may still be a competitive applicant if you have a higher DAT score or other factors that make you look like someone they would want to be a part of their program.

You will also want to break you GPA into two units, your overall GPA and your BCP GPA. BCP stands for Biology/Chemistry/Physics, and this is sometimes referred to as your science GPA. Some schools consider your BCP to be a better indicator as to your potential for success in dental school.

There is a page for each US dental school here on this site. Each page has the average GPA’s for students admitted to their schools. Check these pages to see if your GPA and BCP GPA are competitive for the schools you want to attend.

What Are The Top Ten Dental Schools?

December 12, 2006

UPDATE: August 06, 2008
according to blog statistics, this particular post gets 16 times as many views as any other post from this blog. If you are researching which schools are “top ranked” in order to choose a dental school, I offered this personal advice to you: don’t choose a school based on anyone’s opinion of its popularity. Choose a school that suits your personality, learning style, budget, and other factors. Most importantly, visit many schools and you will find one that you like. As long as the school is accredited you will receive a fine education. Also, your future patients will not care what school you attended, only that you are a competent and professional dentist.


What are the dental school rankings? Which dental school is the best? What are the top 10 dental schools? Questions that comes up quite often with undergaduates who are thinking of applying to dental school.

The truth is that dental schools are not ranked in the United States. There have been, in the past, two different rankings for dental schools. Those were listed by US News & World Report and by The Gourman Report.

The last time these figures were reported was in 1993. It was at that time that dental schools decided to stop cooperating with publications that were attempting to rank dental schools. The reason behind this was that dental schools did not feel that the rankings were accurately depicting the quality of the individual institution. Factors that were not necessarily relevant to the institutions quality of teaching were used to make determinations about what is “best”.

The last record by US News & World Report had the rankings as follows:

  1. UNIV. OF TEX. HEALTH SCI. CTR. AT SAN ANTONIO
  2. UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL
  3. UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
    UNIVERSITY OF IOWA
    UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
  4. STATE UNIV. OF N.Y. AT BUFFALO
  5. UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM
    UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA AT TWIN CITIES
    UNIV. OF MARYLAND AT BALTIMORE
    INDIANA UNIVERSITY AT INDIANAPOLIS
    UNIV. OF CALIFORNIA AT LOS ANGELES
    UNIV. OF CALIFORNIA AT SAN FRANCISCO
  6. BAYLOR COLLEGE OF DENTISTRY (Texas)
    OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
    VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIVERSITY
    HARVARD UNIVERSITY
    UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT

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