Understanding The ADAT and How to Prepare

Posted by Dr. Patrice Smith on Thu, Jul 14, 2016 @ 11:00 AM

Have you heard of the ADAT exam? ADAT stands for Advanced Dental Admission Test and is a new computer-based examination that is now being required for entry into many post-doctoral education programs. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the exam is designed to provide advanced dental education providers with insight into applicant’s potential for success in their programs.

This exam was implemented due to a lack of scores from other standardized exams, namely the NBDE I and NBDE II. Some of us may recall that in January of 2012 the NBDE exams changed from having scores to a Pass/Fail system. Since then, a number of dental schools moved away from GPA and started reporting grades as Pass/Fail. Thus, advanced education programs have been faced with the difficult task of comparing and selecting program-seeking candidates. The exam will enable programs to quantitatively compare applicants using a nationally standardized and objective test.

The ADAT exam comprises multiple-choice questions and consists of two broad categories: Critical Thinking and Principles of Ethics & Patient Management. The Critical Thinking portion is then further broken down into: Biomedical Sciences, Clinical Sciences, Data, Research Interpretation, and Evidence-Based Dentistry.


Concept adapted from ADAT Guide; © 2016 American Dental Association

The exam consists of 200 questions to be completed over a four-and-a-half-hour period. There are 80 items in the Biomedical Sciences section, 60 items in the Clinical Sciences section, 30 items in the Data, Research Interpretation, and Evidence-Based Dentistry section and 30 items in the Principles of Ethics and Patient Management section. The specifications of each section can be found below:


Concept adapted from ADAT Guide; © 2016 American Dental Association

The ADAT exam is in its pilot year and will be offered from May 2016 through August 2016 and April through July of 2017. According to the ADA, 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. Scores will be reported for six scales:

  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

The number of correct responses will not be reported, and examinees will not be privy to immediate feedback of test results. However, scores will be reported to the advanced education program to which the applicant applied. Though test administrators will hold the exam this year, official scores will be available on September 15, 2016 on the ADAT website.

While the ADAT is still in its early form, it is anticipated that this test will become the standard for students applying to advanced dental education programs. Many changes will most likely occur as the ADAT continues to be developed. As previously stated, this test will enable programs to quantitatively compare applicants using a nationally standardized and objective test.

The ADA has done a good job of providing resources that will aid applicants in preparing for this test. You may find a list of schools that will be participating in the ADAT for the 2016-2017 cycle via this link. You may also find guidelines of the ADAT exam here; sample practice items here; an ADAT practice test here, and an interactive tutorial may be downloaded on the Pearson Vue website here.

Good luck and all the best in your future endeavors!

Tags: ADAT

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