Loyola University Maryland

Pre-Health Program

Dental School Application Process

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During your junior year, you will need to take the Dental Admission Test (DAT), obtain strong letters of recommendation, write your personal essay and submit your primary application through the American Association for Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS). After receiving your primary application, some schools may request a secondary application or an interview.

Admission Examination (DAT)

The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is required for dental schools. This exam is offered on a computer year round at various testing centers. The exam should be taken in the spring or early summer of the year before you plan to enter dental school, typically in the junior year. The DAT may be retaken, but only after 90 days have passed.

The DAT consists of four sections, each made up of multiple choice questions: survey of the natural sciences, including biology, general chemistry and organic chemistry (note that there are no physics questions); perceptual ability; reading comprehension; and quantitative reasoning. The maximum score on each part of the DAT test is 30, and a score of 17 is considered average.

Letters of Recommendation

Most dental schools also require letters of recommendation. Loyola has a Pre-Health Committee, which submits one committee letter based off individual letters from faculty members, physicians you have worked with, or organizations where you have done volunteer or part-time work.

Some dental schools may request individual letters from professors. It is important to include recommendations from both science and non-science professors who can address your ability to read, write, support your ideas, logically draw conclusions and organize your work.

The Application

Most dental schools have a central application service, called the American Association for Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS). They do not make admission decisions. Their only responsibility is to process, duplicate and send your application, admission test scores and transcripts to the schools to which you apply. Please check with the individual school to see if they participate in the centralized application service.

The application must be completed the year prior to beginning medical school, typically in the junior year. You must provide your demographic information, submit transcripts, pay the fee, write a personal statement and choose the dental schools to which you want to apply.

Volunteer or Part-Time Work

Dental schools have large numbers of applicants, so good grades are extremely important. However, it is recommended that you strengthen your application by listing any volunteer or part-time work. Some ideas are to observe a dentist; volunteer at a hospital or medical clinic; volunteer at a hospice program; participate in a community activity such as Habitat for Humanity or serve as a committee member on a local club or student organization. Participating in research during the summer months is also great exposure and can help you gain valuable experience.

Secondary Application

About five weeks after you submit your application materials, you may receive secondary applications from some schools. The secondary application often includes another essay along with questions specific to their school. Return the secondary application promptly, as many school will not consider applications returned after more than three weeks.


Most dental schools interview applicants. Characteristics that interviewers most commonly assess are evidence of extracurricular activities; communication skills; empathy and concern for others; social awareness and self-awareness; and judgment and problem-solving abilities. Talk with your advisor for more information on what to expect and how to prepare for the interview. View information about how to prepare for the interview.