How is the DAT Scored?

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Reviewed by
Dr. Joel Meyerson
Key Takeaway
Table of Contents

    Overview of the DAT

    Before diving into the scoring details, it's important to understand what the DAT covers. The DAT consists of 6 sections:

    • Biology
    • General Chemistry
    • Organic Chemistry
    • Perceptual Ability Test (PAT)
    • Reading Comprehension
    • Quantitative Reasoning

    You'll get a score for each of these sections on a scale from 1 to 30. A scale score of 18 usually means average performance on a national basis. Scores of 22+ usually mean top 90th percentile performance and are very competitive. See page 15 for a breakdown of scores and percentiles. You'll also get two additional scaled scores after completing the DAT:

    • Total Science (TS): This is a combined score of how you performed on the biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry sections of the exam. It is NOT an average of these 3 scores and uses its own scale.
    • Academic Average: This is the most important score and is the average of all your sections EXCEPT the PAT. It is rounded to the nearest number (ex. 19.5 AA is rounded up to 20 AA).

    How the Scoring Works

    1. Raw Scores: Your raw score is the number of questions you answered correctly in each section. There is no penalty for guessing on the DAT, so it's beneficial to answer every question.
    2. Scaled Scores: The raw scores are then converted to scaled scores through a process called equating. Equating adjusts for any differences in difficulty among the various versions of the DAT. This means it doesn't matter if you get a harder or easier version of the DAT, your score would be the same regardless of which version you take.
    3. Every Test has its Own Scale Conversion: Depending on a test's difficulty, it uses a different scale conversion to convert your raw score into your scaled score. This is why your scaled score may change even if you get the same number of questions correct between different DAT Bootcamp practice tests. We're equating for the difficulty between the exams.

    The Grading Scale is Steep

    The ADA previously released the scoring scale on two official DAT exams. Missing just 5 questions out of 30 on the general chemistry section resulted in a scaled score of 19, average performance. Missing 5 questions out of 30 on the organic chemistry section resulted in a scaled score of 20. The difference between a 20 and a 25 is often just 2 questions. This is why it's so important to study hard and all areas because you don't know what they're going to test you on. Using DAT practice tests will help you build confidence so you can ace the real test.

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    Hannah Brein, DAT Bootcamp Student