MCAT vs DAT: Differences & Difficulty Level

MCAT vs DAT - MyClassTracks

The MCAT and DAT are two standardized entrance exams required for admission to medical and dental schools, respectively. 

While both exams share some similarities, they also have distinct differences in terms of their content, format, and scoring.

To help you understand the key differences between these two exams, I have compared the MCAT and DAT with their key differences and similarities.

Let’s quickly get into it!

MCAT vs DAT: Key Differentiation!

The table will break down the major differences between MCAT and DAT. Have a look at it to acknowledge all terms at once. 

Purpose Admission into medical schoolAdmission into dental school
Format Computer-based testComputer-based test
Duration 7 hours 30 minutes 4 hours 15 minutes 
Cost 310$495$
Maximum scoreRanges between 472-528Ranges between 1-30
Attempt restrictions 7 times3 times
Voidable scoresYes No 
Exam dates Available between January to September, usually around 25 times in a year. Available whole year

A Quick Overview Of MCAT 

MCAT (Medical college admission test) is a multiple-choice, computer-based standardized exam for medical student applicants. This exam is conducted in countries like the USA, Canada, Australia, and the Caribbean islands. 

The exam assesses each individual capabilities in critical thinking, problem-solving, written analysis, and scientific approach solutions to the matter. 

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) will administer this exam to test the perspectives of M.D and D.O students’ knowledge in natural and physical sciences along with psychology, sociology, and biological understanding.

The exam also includes general and organic chemistry. While each practice test of the MCAT costs around 25$, the actual test cost is 310$. 

MCAT vs DAT - MCAT Overview

Across all the health care disciplines, the MCAT exam is considered the gold standard as this exam represents which students would be admitted into national medical schools.

The MCAT test is often considered a prerequisite for your constructive study in the medical field. Students can consider different courses to top the exam, but registering and taking the exam is not mandatory. 

A Quick Overview Of DAT 

The DAT (Dental admission test) is developed for aspiring dental school students to assess each student’s potential capabilities for his/her success in the dental school program. T

The DTA exam is written and administered by the American Dental Association (ADA). 66 in the US and 10 dental schools in Canada are accepting the DTA test. 

DAT comprises four sections of multiple choice questions: quantitative reasoning, perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and survey of natural science. The test accesses all applicants’ comprehensive knowledge in these four sections. Exam scores range from 1-30.

The test is also compromised with 30% genuine tough questions; the rest lies between easy to medium-range questions. 

MCAT vs DAT - DAT Overview

The national level’s average performance score for the DAT exam is 17. The DAT test is a must-take program for all US dental schools because it measures each student’s overall credibility and scientific understanding. Prometric, a testing and assessment company, charges 37$ for each practice test.

The DTA test will cost around 495$, depending on the time of your booking. Students can attempt the test 3 times with a gap of 90 days between each attempt. 

Bonus read: Learn what is a good DAT score with our detailed guide!

Similarities Between MCAT And DAT

Both tests, MCAT and DAT tests are commonly standardized and required for pre-health students to get into graduate schools or advanced medical schools. While MCAT is designated for students to get into medical schools, DAT is considered for dental school admissions. 

Currently, MCAT costs around 310$ and DAT costs around 495$, which shows both are still expensive to take. Also, both tests are extremely long and exhausting. Preparing and competing for both tests would take extensive hours and undisturbed dedication.

Also, MCAT and DAT tests have similar content sections, but the comprehensive reading in MCAT is a bit deep compared to DAT. 

Both tests are multiple choice questions and computer-based examinations without including pen and paper. The other common thing between both tests is the concern about mental stability. Students must handle the pressure of long examination hours. 

Differences Between MCAT And DAT 

Although both MCAT and DAT tests share similar content areas like quantitative reasoning, natural sciences, and reading comprehension, both also have notable differences to consider. For instance, the MCAT includes physics, psychology, and sociology questions, whereas the DAT doesn’t. 

As mentioned, unlike DAT, reading comprehension in MCAT is longer in each section of the test. MCAT is more passage-based than DAT; students must read and comprehend passages before answering quickly. If you are a test taker, remember to answer with background knowledge of the conceptual approach. 

Perhaps the biggest differentiation between both exams is the DATs’ perceptual ability test, which examines students’ two-dimensional and three-dimensional perceptions. Students often consider this difficult, as it requires measuring angular differences and answering questions about geometry using only visual perception. 

In its quantitative reasoning, DAT contains more math questions than MCAT, and you can use a calculator with the DAT test but not in the MCAT.

Another logistical difference between MCAT and DAT is that MCAT tests only offered a limited number of times per year, while DAT is offered year-round. In addition, pre-med students should wait for a month to get official scores, while pre-dental students can get an unofficial score right after finishing the exam. 

Which Test Is Harder To Crack: MCAT Or DAT?

While many test takers consider the MCAT significantly harder than DAT, we believe both are equally challenging tests to prepare to undertake. The MCAT tests empathize with lengthy passages to answer, unlike DAT. Also, the length of the MCAT is much longer than the DAT. 

As mentioned above, the perception ability test or the two-dimensional and three-dimensional visuospatial visual sections in the DAT test can be remarkably challenging for students who are considering DAT. This test includes measuring angular differences of geometrical nature. However, as there are no physics and biochemistry questions in MCAT, it can benefit students preparing for this test. 

Consider the future career prospects associated with both tests before picking which one to pursue and which has a better potential career than the other. While the MCAT test offers variable career options in all medical specialties, DAT specializes in dental perspective, applying to dental schools. Overall, we, too, admit that students must put more effort into the MCAT as you can explore numerous medical opportunities once you get in.

Scoring System in MCAT vs DAT

When talking about the scoring system of MCAT and DAT, both hugely differ from each other. 

DAT is scored out of 30. You will be scored between 1 to 30. DAT uses a scaled system, which means your scaled score is reported to the Dental schools as your DAT score.

DAT calculates your raw score, scaled scores, academic average, and total science score. 18 is the average DAT score considered. 

The MCAT uses a numerical scoring system. The total score ranges from 472 to 528, with the average score typically falling around 500. Scores are based on the number of questions answered correctly in the four MCAT sections.

Scoring Scale 118-1321-30
Average Score 50017-19
Score calculationRaw scores are converted to scaled scores using a complex algorithm that takes into account the difficulty of each question and the performance of all test-takers.Raw scores are converted to scaled scores using a formula that takes into account the difficulty of each question.
Score ReportingScores are reported in 1-point increments.Scores are reported in 1-point increments.
Percentile ranksPercentiles are provided for each section score and the total score.Percentiles are not provided.
Score validityScores are valid for 3 years.Scores are valid for 2 years.

DAT vs MCAT: Test Requirements

To become eligible for the DAT, you must have completed or be in the process of completing a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.

In addition to meeting the eligibility requirements, you must also create a DENTPIN (Dental Personal Identifier Number). Your DENTPIN will be used throughout the dental school application process.

The MCAT exam accepts a variety of IDs compared to the DAT. 

On test day, you will need to present an ID that meets the AAMC’s requirements for valid identification to be admitted into the testing room.

Exam Cost: DAT vs MCAT

The DAT exam fee will cost you around $49, while the MCAT fee is around $315. Here is a detailed comparison of the exam cost of both examinations.

Exam Cost$495$315
Late Registration Fee$100$50

Do Dental Schools Accept MCAT Students?

You shouldn’t be applying for dental schools if your primary concern is MCAT and the same applies to dentistry; you shouldn’t consider the MCAT if your primary choice is DAT. Be very clear about your career goals.

If not, you might not get into anything by making both admission committees wonder about your career choice.

MCAT vs DAT - MCAT Student

Again, the perceptual ability test of DAT is significantly important for students who want to pursue a career in dentistry, so be very specific about the choice of your application and attempt. 

Do Dentists Take The MCAT?

As mentioned, you shouldn’t choose the MCAT if you wish to pursue dentistry, but in some cases, students who have already explored the MCAT can pick a DAT for specialization in dentistry. They might be looking for a career shift in the same industry by applying to dental schools.

However, the institution committee may or may not consider his/her application, but you can definitely give it a try; after all, we all have the liberty to pursue any stream of education in the system. 

Exam Outline 

Both exams have had several similarities and differences regarding the subject and psychology patterns. Let us acknowledge the content of both tests in this section. 

  • Physics 

MCAT exams assess each student’s knowledge of physics as the test includes many physics concepts. However, dental students who also prepare for physics don’t have to bother with the test because there’s no physics in the DAT test. 

  • Mathematics:

In this case, MCAT students are free from maths because the MCAT test primarily focuses on science-related questions. No maths is included in the test for them to analyze and answer. On the DAT exam, you are bound to encounter various math questions that will analyze your conceptual knowledge in mathematics.

This could be why the DAT test allows pre-dental students to carry a calculator, unlike the pre-medical students who write the MCAT test. 

  • Passages: 

As mentioned before, there’s only a single section in the DAT test dedicated to passages and answers: the reading comprehension section. In contrast, you’ll find passages to analyze, observe, and answer in every single section of the MCAT test. Thus, the MCAT test takers find it difficult to take this test compared to the DAT test. 

  • Perceptual ability test 

As mentioned before, this test examines pre-dental students’ perception abilities for their further advancement; it is pretty challenging yet necessary for DAT students. It’ll ensure you have the right skills to assess the two and three-dimensional points of view, which is absolutely necessary for dentistry. 

Passing the MCAT exam requires analytical and critical thinking, conceptualizing learning, and scientific approach answers to the subject. However, the DAT test will ensure your academic ability, comprehensive information, and most importantly, perceptual ability in the subject. 

Exam Availability And Attempt Restrictions 

The DAT test is available year-long; slots are there for you to reserve any day, whenever you are ready to attempt it.

When it comes to the MCAT test, there are limitations, making it more scheduled and restricted. Unlike the DAT, the MCAT test is only available 20-25 times between January and September. 

For the MCAT,  the test results will be released after 30 of the given attempt, and for the DAT, you can get an unofficial scorecard just after finishing the exam. 

Although you can apply for the MCAT and DAT test’s committee representatives to exceed the exam lifetime limits, you only have 3 attempts for the DAT test and 7 for the MCAT test in general.

For the DAT test, you can attempt every it for 90 days; for the MCAT test, you can attempt 3 times a year and 4 times in two calendar years. 

Related Read:

Wrapping Up! MCAT vs DAT

There you go, as mentioned in the beginning, with all the detailed information for you to understand the MCAT and the DAT tests.

You must be sure by now which exam to consider and which could be potentially beneficial for you to succeed hereafter. Also, be very particular about your choice of learning in medicine.

 Whatever you choose, hard work, diligence, and dedication are always essential in the medical field. Be conscious about what direction you want to travel and where you want to see yourself after a brief period of time. Neither of them is effortlessly easy nor extremely tough to pursue. 


Which test is easy to take among both?

The chances of knowing previous exam patterns, their answers, and test takers’ experiences are plentiful in today’s internet era. You must have heard all over the internet that the MCAT test is a tough nut to crack, but we believe that both MCAT and DAT are equally challenging in their respective ways. 

What are the chances of Dental school students’ acceptance rate in Medical schools?

It is firmly believed that students who apply for Medical schools with experience in dental school must ace the MCAT examination, but we’re truly not sure about the percentage criteria. However, please address the administrators of the exam branch for more information. 

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