Blog > ADAT - All you need to know

ADAT - All you need to know

May 06 2022
Dr Aayush Deb
Admission Test

Table of Contents

Through the dark, mystifying corridors of the Internet, a lost dental applicant looks for a click, a click that will, hopefully, lead them to the answers to their aspirations. But the internet is a weird place, and its bounties are often very scattered. If you take its aid to realize your American Dental dream, the massive wave of information that hits you can be too overwhelming. Your questions often go unanswered since what you see on the screen is too general. One of the more specific questions we try to answer with this blog is the mystery surrounding the Advanced Dental Admission Test or the ADAT. Is it different from the INBDE? If it is, then how so?

What is ADAT? 

The ADAT is a nationally standardized and objective admission test designed as a requirement for many advanced dental education programs in the USA in conjunction with other admission tools that provide an overview of a candidate's qualifications as it is tailored to the core program requirements. It is also required by a few residency programs in the US.

The structure of the ADAT

The ADAT is composed of multiple-choice test questions (items) in English.
It consists of the following three sections: Biomedical Sciences; Clinical Sciences; and Data, Research Interpretation, and Evidence-Based Dentistry. 
The exam is a 4 hrs and 30 min exam with a specific number of questions from each of the three sections:

  • Biomedical science- 80 questions in a 95 min interval
  • Clinical sciences - 80 questions in a 90 min interval
  • Data, Research, and Evidence-based Dentistry- 40 questions in a 45 min interval.

Significance of the exam and who should take it?

The ADA created the ADAT for the express purpose of helping dental programs in the USA select the best-qualified applicants- generally for residency/ postgraduate applications. When the NBDE was changed to a pass/fail exam format, the program directors lost the power to make decisions on the admission process. The ADAT is the test to give them that power back since it is a score-based exam. Unlike the INBDE, which is designed only for licensure decisions and tests the minimum basic knowledge needed to be a safe beginning practitioner from those who do not know the minimum, the ADAT is a more advanced exam in terms of the syllabus as it selects applicants for further steps in their professional career.

More than 400 advanced dental programs recognize the ADAT exam score as a compulsory or optional requirement. You can consult the current ADAT Program List to see how each program plans to use ADAT scores. 
If a program is not listed, they have not shared its intended ADAT use with the ADA. In that case, contact the program directly for more information. 
All programs have electronic access to ADAT scores.

So, who runs the show?

A boatload of acronyms is coming your way. Ready? Here we go! The ADAT is governed by the American Dental Association’s (ADAs) Council on Dental Education and Licensure (CDEL). The ADAT is implemented by the Department of Testing Services (DTS), which is a shared service of the American Dental Association. Examinations are administered by Pearson VUE (Administration Vendor) at their certified test centers.

Next up, we discuss eligibility. 

ADAT guide says that Dental students and dentists currently in practice who will graduate or have graduated from a Non-CODA accredited school are eligible to take the test. CODA is the Commission of Dental Accreditation, which provides US-based dental schools' with certifications. International students and dentists like you, the reader, fall into the Non-CODA category.

For an international dental student applying for the test, the student must submit:
 Their school completes a Certification of Eligibility Form. The completed form must include the seal of the university and the signature of the dean or registrar.
The student must also request that an Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE) report be sent directly to the ADAT Program. 

An International dentist does not need a Certification of eligibility form, but they need to have an official dental school transcript verified by the ECE.
Before verifying these transcripts a candidate(student or dentist) must register for a DENTPIN number. More on that in the following section on how to apply.

How to apply for the test?

As discussed in the previous section, a candidate must register for a Dental Personal Identification Number (DENTPIN®). Register for a new DENTPIN or retrieve an existing DENTPIN at Your DENTPIN is a personal identification number, just like a voter ID assigned to you by the ADA as a dental exam candidate used by the U.S. dental education system and standardized testing programs to confidentially and securely report, transmit, and track test scores and academic data. Once a DENTPIN is provided, candidates can apply through the examination program website. A new application must be submitted before each testing attempt. Application processing takes place Monday through Friday during standard business hours. After the application has been processed, candidates will be eligible to take the test for a six-month window, unless other considerations (including retest rules and requirements) limit the eligibility period to a shorter time frame. Changes and corrections to the application must be completed at least two weeks before a scheduled testing appointment. Candidates are responsible for identifying any modifications or omissions and must notify the testing program at You need to confirm your eligibility before scheduling your test. Before you can schedule your test, you must receive eligibility confirmation via email from the Department of Testing Services.  
The test is administered in a specific window and not all year round. This year(2022) it is being conducted from March 31st, 2022, to August 31st, 2022.  The ADA website recommends sending in applications 60 days prior to the date you intend to give the test. The test centers are run by Pearson VUE, a company that runs test centers all over the US and Canada. To book a test center in the candidate’s preferred location in the US or Canada, they have to create an account on the Pearson VUE website, which will require the candidate’s DENTPIN number.

Here are other important details pertaining to the test

The  ADAT fees

 For the test in the year 2022, the fee is $400, which is non-refundable and non-transferable. This fee includes administration and official score reporting to all dental schools and programs selected at application. You can choose multiple programs at the time of application at no additional cost, and any changes made after application submission will incur extra charges.


Scores are calculated based on the responses given and the question's level of difficulty. There are no negative marks for incorrect guesses. The scores aren’t calculated as raw scores but rather as scale scores. Scores range from 200 to 800, with a target mean of 500. Each advanced dental education program makes its determination as to what constitutes acceptable scores on the ADAT. There is no official “passing score” for the ADAT.
ADAT results are reported electronically within three to four weeks of a candidate’s test date. 
Results are posted to the My Account page associated with a candidate’s DENTPIN® and sent to the advanced dental education programs selected on the candidate’s ADAT application. 
Results are reported electronically to the advanced dental education programs selected by a candidate during their ADAT application. The candidate grants the ADAT Program permission to release their results to these entities by making these selections. 
Candidates can review the selected programs by logging into the My Account page and clicking “Display” next to their application.
Candidates who request that their results be shared with an advanced dental education program will also have their results shared with the American Dental Education Association Postdoctoral Application Support Service (ADEA PASS), which benefits the applicants by providing them with a single complete standardized application rather than individual applications to each program. It also helps the dental program conductors select applicants as it assigns uniform parameters for each candidate to be assessed against.
At least one advanced dental education program must be selected as a results recipient for scores to be sent to ADEA PASS.

Study material

There is no specific study material pertaining to the exam, but many participants swear by the ADAT Knockout test, which provides mock questions with explanations for answers( For the Biostatics section, First AID for the USMLE Step 1 is also a good source. 

The ADA website also has a convoluted list of more-than abundant references texts of each subject to prepare for the exam

Here at Caapid Simplified, we have listened to reviews by many applicants and have curated a list of questions to include in our Mock Test pertaining to the exam.
 This test would help assess your clinical knowledge and boost your potential to score higher on your ADAT. Enroll for our online mock test by clicking on the link below.

That’s all for a not-so-brief overview of the ADAT. I hope it helped you in your quest for information, and the metaphorical corridors look a little brighter now.
Here’s to wishing your aspirations grow more robust and your dreams manifest into reality. Soldier on!

For personal queries, visit the ADAT website or check their Candidate guide

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