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Preparing for and Applying to Dental School

Admissions Criteria

Aside from the applicant's personal qualifications as reflected in the grade point average, DAT scores, recommendations, and interview rating, the most important factor in determining admission to dental school is the number of people making up the pool of applicants from which the entering class is selected. Therefore this consideration will be discussed first and then the personal attributes next.

Applicant Pool

In 2000 there were 7,772 applicants for admission to dental schools in the United States. Of these, approximately 4,327 were admitted to the freshman class, giving about a 1.7:1 applicant/acceptance ratio. Each of the applicants filed an average of 6 applications to secure a place.

The number of dental school applicants has tended to follow a pattern of cycles. During the post-World War II period (1945–57) there was an abundance of applicants. From 1958 to 1963 there was a sharp decline. Subsequently, from 1964 to 1974 a steady increase in the applicant pool was recorded. Since 1974, there has been a dramatic decrease (about 50%) in the number of male applicants. This has been reflected in the change in the applicant/acceptance ratios from 3.0:1 to 1.2:1 over the past five years. It seems likely that at least for the immediate future the favorable acceptance ratio (from the applicant's point of view) will be maintained since the number of first-year places is projected to remain basically unchanged.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

The applicant's overall and science grade point averages (especially at a school where grade inflation is not a factor) along with the DAT scores (see below) will provide admissions committees with the screening factors necessary to determine if an interview should be granted. Obviously, your college's reputation is an important consideration in assessing the credibility of the applicant's GPA. During recent years, the mean GPA was c. 3.2 (and the mean science GPA was c. 3.1).

DAT Scores

As indicated in Table 18.1, most dental schools place considerable emphasis on the DAT scores. However, the importance of the individual subtest scores varies considerably, as shown in Table 18.2.

The DAT is designed to predict capabilities in two areas, academic and manual. Thus in addition to the nine subtest scores, average scores are reported in both of these categories. The academic average represents the average of all but the two perception ability test (PAT) scores, while the manual ability is summarized by the average of the two- and three-dimensional PAT scores. Table 18.2 suggests that more importance is given to the academic average than to the PAT average.

Recommendations

These are usually provided by a committee and/or the predental advisor. The recommendations may be submitted in the form of a letter incorporating faculty comments and/or an evaluation form. This material serves to provide a personalized evaluation that makes your transcript more meaningful. Recommendations can serve to enhance your chances for admission by bringing to the admissions committee's attention information about your personality, motivation, and innate abilities, as well as clarifying any uncertain aspects relative to your credentials.

Letters of recommendation from former employers (especially dentists, research laboratories, and/or dental clinics) can provide useful information to the admissions committee. However, personal recommendations from your family dentist or religious leader are not especially meaningful.

Interview

Most dental schools require a personal interview as part of the admission procedure. Being granted one implies that the school is seriously considering your application. The interview provides an opportunity for you to “sell yourself” as well as to explain any discrepancies or weaknesses, and to elaborate on your strengths. The discussion of “The Interview” in Chapter 4 is, for the most part, relevant to predental students as well and should be reviewed. It also contains a list of typical and atypical questions.

Table 18.1. THE IMPORTANCE GIVEN TO VARIOUS SOURCES OF INFORMATION CONCERNING THE DENTAL SCHOOL APPLICANT
PRE-DENTAL GRADE POINT AVERAGE
ST DENTAL SCHOOL SCIENCE NON-SCIENCE OVERALL INTERVIEW LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION MANUAL DEXTERITY TEST REQUIRED YEARS OF PRE-DENTAL EDUCATION
1MINIMUM OF 90 HOURS TO APPLY.
2MINIMUM OF 90 SEMESTER HOURS; BACHELOR'S DEGREE PREFERRED.
VI = VERY IMPORTANT SU = SOMEWHAT UNIMPORTANT SI = SOMEWHAT IMPORTANT NI = NOT IMPORTANT N/A = NOT AVAILABLE
  Source: American Dental Association, Survey Center, 2003–04 Survey of Predoctoral Dental Education.
AL UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA VI VI VI VI VI N/A 3 YEARS
AZ ARIZONA SCHOOL OF DENTISTRY AND ORAL HEALTH VI SI SI VI SI SU 3 YEARS
CA UNIVERSITY OF THE PACIFIC VI SI VI VI VI SI 3 YEARS
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN FRANCISCO VI SI VI VI SI N/A 3 YEARS
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES VI VI VI VI VI N/A 3 YEARS
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA VI SI VI VI VI NI 2 YEARS
LOMA LINDA UNIVERSITY VI SI VI VI SI VI 3 YEARS
CO UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO VI SI VI VI SI N/A 3 YEARS
CT UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT VI SU SI VI VI SU 3 YEARS
DC HOWARD UNIVERSITY VI SI VI VI VI N/A 4 YEARS
FL UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA SI SU VI SU VI SU BA/BS
NOVA SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY VI SI VI VI SI N/A 3 YEARS
GA MEDICAL COLLEGE OF GEORGIA VI N/A VI VI SI N/A 3 YEARS
IL SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY VI SI VI VI VI N/A 2 YEARS
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, CHICAGO VI VI VI VI VI SI 3 YEARS
IN INDIANA UNIVERSITY VI SU SI VI SI N/A 3 YEARS
IA UNIVERSITY OF IOWA VI SI VI VI VI NI 3 YEARS
KY UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY VI SI VI VI VI SI 2 YEARS
UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE VI SI VI VI VI SI OTHER1
LA LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY VI SI VI VI VI VI 3 YEARS
MD UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND VI SI VI VI VI N/A OTHER2
MA HARVARD UNIVERSITY VI VI N/A VI VI VI BA/BS
BOSTON UNIVERSITY VI VI VI VI VI N/A 3 YEARS
TUFTS UNIVERSITY VI SI VI VI SI N/A 2 YEARS
MI UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT – MERCY VI SI VI VI SI SI 2 YEARS
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN VI SI VI VI VI VI 2 YEARS
MN UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA VI SI VI VI SI SI 3 YEARS
MS UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI VI SU VI VI SI N/A 3 YEARS
MO UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI, KANSAS CITY VI SU VI VI SI N/A 3 YEARS
NE CREIGHTON UNIVERSITY VI VI VI VI VI SI 2 YEARS
UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA VI N/A VI VI SU SU 3 YEARS
NV UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA, LAS VEGAS VI NI VI VI VI VI 3 YEARS
NJ U. OF MEDICINE & DENTISTRY OF NEW JERSEY VI SI VI VI VI SI 3 YEARS
NY COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY VI NI VI VI SI N/A 3 YEARS
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY VI VI VI VI SI N/A 3 YEARS
STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, STONY BROOK VI SI VI SI SI N/A 2 YEARS
STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, BUFFALO VI SI VI VI VI N/A 3 YEARS
NC UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA VI SI SI VI VI N/A 3 YEARS
OH OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY VI SU SI VI VI SI 2 YEARS
CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY VI SI VI VI SI N/A 2 YEARS
OK UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA VI NI VI VI SI SU 2 YEARS
OR OREGON HEALTH & SCIENCE UNIVERSITY VI SI VI VI SI N/A 3 YEARS
PA TEMPLE UNIVERSITY VI SI VI SI SI VI 3 YEARS
UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA VI SI VI VI SI SI 3 YEARS
UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH VI VI VI VI SI SI 3 YEARS
SC MEDICAL UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA VI SI VI VI SI N/A BA/BS
TN MEHARRY MEDICAL COLLEGE N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2 YEARS
UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE VI SI VI SI NI SI 3 YEARS
TX TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY – BAYLOR COLLEGE VI SU VI VI VI SU 2 YEARS
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, HOUSTON SI SU SI VI SI SU 3 YEARS
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, SAN ANTONIO VI SU VI VI VI SU 3 YEARS
VA VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIVERSITY VI SI VI VI VI VI 3 YEARS
WA UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON VI SI SI VI SI VI 3 YEARS
WV WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY VI SI VI VI SI SI 3 YEARS
WI MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY VI SI VI SI SI SI 3 YEARS
PR UNIVERSITY OF PUERTO RICO SI SI VI VI SI SI 3 YEARS
UNITED STATES TOTAL “VI” ANSWERS 52 8 47 50 26 8 – –
SK UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN N/A N/A VI SI SI VI 2 YEARS
AB UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA N/A N/A VI VI N/A N/A 2 YEARS
BC UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3 YEARS
MB UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA VI SI SI VI N/A N/A 2 YEARS
NS DALHOUSIE UNIVERSITY VI SI SI VI SI SI OTHER
ON UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO N/A N/A VI VI N/A N/A 3 YEARS
UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN ONTARIO N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
PQ MCGILL UNIVERSITY VI SI VI VI VI SI BA/BS
UNIVERSITÉ DE MONTRÉAL SU SU VI N/A N/A SI 2 YEARS
UNIVERSITÉ LAVAL N/A N/A VI SI N/A N/A 2 YEARS
CANADA TOTAL “VI” ANSWERS 3 0 6 5 1 1 – –
Table 18.2. THE IMPORTANCE GIVEN TO DENTAL ADMISSION TEST SCORES
IMPORTANCE
ST DENTAL SCHOOL ACADEMIC AVERAGE PERCEPTUAL ABILITY TOTAL SCIENCE QUANTITATIVE READING COMP BIOLOGY INORGANIC CHEMISTRY ORGANIC CHEMISTRY
VI = VERY IMPORTANT SU = SOMEWHAT UNIMPORTANT N/A = NOT AVAILABLE SI = SOMEWHAT IMPORTANT NI = NOT IMPORTANT
  Source: American Dental Association, Survey Center, 2003–04 Survey of Predoctoral Dental Education.
AL UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA VI SI VI SI VI VI VI VI
AZ ARIZONA SCHOOL OF DENTISTRY AND ORAL SI SI SI SI SI VI VI VI
CA UNIVERSITY OF THE PACIFIC VI VI VI SU VI SI SI SI
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN FRANCISCO VI VI SI SU VI SI SI SI
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES VI VI VI VI VI VI VI VI
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA VI VI SI NI NI SI SI SI
LOMA LINDA UNIVERSITY VI VI SI SU SI SI SI SI
CO UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO SI VI SI SI VI VI SI SI
CT UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT SI SI VI SU SI VI SI SI
DC HOWARD UNIVERSITY VI VI VI SI VI VI VI VI
FL UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA VI SU VI SU SI SI SI VI
NOVA SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY VI SU VI NI VI VI VI VI
GA MEDICAL COLLEGE OF GEORGIA VI VI N/A N/A SI N/A N/A N/A
IL SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY VI VI VI SU SI SI SI SU
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, CHICAGO VI VI VI SI SI VI VI VI
IN INDIANA UNIVERSITY VI VI VI NI SU SI SI SI
IA UNIVERSITY OF IOWA SI SU VI SI SI VI VI VI
KY UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY VI SU VI SU VI VI VI VI
UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE VI SI VI SI VI VI SI SI
LA LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY VI VI VI VI VI VI VI VI
MD UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND VI SI VI SI VI VI SI VI
MA HARVARD UNIVERSITY VI VI VI VI VI VI VI VI
BOSTON UNIVERSITY VI VI VI SI VI SI SI SI
TUFTS UNIVERSITY VI VI VI SI SI SI SI SI
MI UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT – MERCY VI SI VI NI VI VI SI SI
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN VI VI VI SI VI VI VI VI
MN UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA VI VI VI SI VI VI VI VI
MS UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI VI VI VI VI SI SI SI SI
MO UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI, KANSAS CITY VI SI SI SU VI SI SI SI
NE CREIGHTON UNIVERSITY VI VI VI VI VI VI VI VI
UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA SI SI SI SI SI SI SI SI
NV UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA, LAS VEGAS VI VI NI NI NI NI NI NI
NJ U. OF MEDICINE & DENTISTRY OF NEW JERSEY VI SI VI VI VI VI VI VI
NY COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY VI SI SI NI SI SI SU VI
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY VI VI VI VI VI VI VI VI
STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, STONY BROOK VI VI VI SI SI SI SI SI
STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, BUFFALO VI VI VI VI VI SI SI SI
NC UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA SI VI VI SI SI VI SI VI
OH OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY VI VI VI SU VI VI VI VI
CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY VI SI VI SU VI VI VI VI
OK UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA VI SU VI SU VI SI SI SI
OR OREGON HEALTH & SCIENCE UNIVERSITY VI SI VI VI SI VI VI VI
PA TEMPLE UNIVERSITY VI VI VI SI VI VI VI VI
UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA SI SU SI SU SI SU SU SU
UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH VI SI VI SI VI VI VI SI
SC MEDICAL UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA VI VI VI VI VI VI VI VI
TN MEHARRY MEDICAL COLLEGE N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE VI SI VI SI SI SI SI SI
TX TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY – BAYLOR COLLEGE VI SU VI SI VI VI VI VI
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, HOUSTON SI SU SI SU SI SI SI SI
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, SAN ANTONIO VI SU SI SI SI VI VI VI
VA VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIVERSITY VI VI VI SI SI VI VI VI
WA UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON VI VI SI SI VI SI SI SI
WV WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY VI VI VI SI VI VI VI VI
WI MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY VI SI VI SI SI SI SI SI
PR UNIVERSITY OF PUERTO RICO VI VI SI SI SI SI SI SI
UNITED STATES TOTAL “VI” ANSWERS 47 31 40 10 30 31 25 28
SK UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN N/A SI N/A N/A VI N/A N/A N/A
AB UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA N/A VI N/A N/A VI N/A N/A N/A
BC UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
MB UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA VI SI N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
NS DALHOUSIE UNIVERSITY SI SI SI SI SI SI SI N/A
ON UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO VI VI N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN ONTARIO N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
PQ MCGILL UNIVERSITY VI VI SI SI VI SI SI N/A
UNIVERSITÉ DE MONTRÉAL VI SU SI SU VI SI SI N/A
UNIVERSITÉ LAVAL N/A VI N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
CANADA TOTAL “VI” ANSWERS 4 4 0 0 4 0 0 N/A

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesGuide to Medical & Dental SchoolsPreparing for and Applying to Dental School - Educational Preparation, Application Procedures, Admissions Criteria