A few things to consider: The path to becoming a dentist is a long and rewarding one. Once a student determines that dentistry might be in their future, we recommend that you come in and make an appointment with the PSA pre-dental advisor. This advisor will be able to pick you up where you are, whether you are a freshman, junior, or former student, and determine what path is best for you in your pursuit of dentistry.
What major should I choose? Texas A&M does not have a pre-dental academic track, and dental schools have no preference in what major you choose. It is our suggestion that students choose a major that they will enjoy and will do well in while completing the prerequisite course requirements.
Being a strong applicant: Dental schools typically take a holistic view of applicants, so to be a strong applicant you not only need a competitive GPA and DAT test scores, you also need exposure to the dental field, community service, and leadership. You will also need strong letters of recommendation.
Shadowing and Volunteering - Students gain experience by shadowing a dentist, volunteering in a clinic/private practice, or working in the field. Many pre-dental students start this process with their personal dentist while at home during the semester breaks. Virtual shadowing has also become popular and is a great way to view different areas of dentistry when you're not able to find in-person opportunities.
Another good way to obtain shadowing/volunteering, along with leadership, is through the TAMU Pre-Dental Society student organization.
- Tip: Keep an extensive record of where and who you shadowed, volunteered, and worked with; what you learned from it; and when you had this experience. You will need all of this information when it comes time to complete your dental school application. We recommend that you write these experiences down as soon as you go through them, so you don't forget anything when you complete your PSA medica/dental portal and dental school application.
While there is no magic number of shadowing hours the dental schools require, a good goal would be to have at least 50 general dentistry shadowing hours before you apply.
Community Service - Dental schools want to know what you're doing to give back to your community. You can do this individually, with a group, or with a student organization.
Letters of Recommendation (LOR) - Get to know your professors because you will be required to have at least two positive letters of recommendation from professors you've had in class. So, it is important to get to know your professors, and equally important that they get to know you and your personal aspirations, so your application does not have "cookie cutter" letters of recommendation.
You are also required to have a letter of recommendation from a dentist you have shadowed.
You can also view our What Do I Need to be Working On worksheet.
Texas Dental School prerequisites:
- Introductory Biology (BIOL 111 & 112)
- General Chemistry (CHEM 119 & 120, or CHEM107/117 & 120)
- Organic Chemistry (CHEM 227/237 & 228/238)
- Physics (PHYS 201 & 202, or PHYS 206/216 & 207/217)
- Biochemistry (BICH 409, 410, or 440)
- English (6 credits from the English department - not Speech)
- Statistics (STAT 201, 211, 301, 302, or 303, or BMEN 350, BUSN 203, PHLT 315, PSYC 301, or SCMT 303)
- Microbiology (BIOL 351 or VTPB 405)
- Anatomy & Physiology (BIOL 319 & 320 or VIBS 305 & VTPP 423)1
1 UT Health and Texas A&M Dental both require microbiology. Texas A&M Dental requires A&P. These courses will satisfy upper-level biological sciences for any dental school.
If applying to out of state programs, students will have to check their websites for more information on required courses. However, 90% of out of state schools have the same prerequisites that the Texas schools have.
Texas schools accept credit-by-exam for prerequisites. Dental schools in other states may have additional prerequisites and may not accept credit-by-exam for some prerequisite courses, so check with individual schools.
This process typically begins either the fall of the students junior year, or two years before they want to apply to dental school. Generally speaking, students follow the below timeline:
- Fall of junior year (or two years before applying to dental school) - Attend PSA Med/Dent Portal workshop (mandatory) and begin studying and preparing to take the DAT the following spring
- Spring of junior year - Complete portal information and take the DAT
- Summer between junior and senior year - Apply to dental school and attend OPSA interview workshop (recommended)
- Fall of senior year - Dental school interviews
- Spring of senior year - Dental school match submission deadline
- Summer after senior year - Receive notification from dental schools
Getting started early and developing a timeline is key to staying on track.
PSA Portal Workshop - Students are required to attend a Portal Workshop to begin preparing for the application process. These workshops are held in the fall and early spring semesters prior to the summer in which students will apply for dental school.
Application and Interview Workshops (Recommended) - We offer Application and Interview Workshops that will help students through the application process.
Click here to register for one of these workshops.
DAT Scores: These are based on the number of correct responses; applicants are not penalized for guessing. DAT results are reported in terms of scale scores. These scale scores are neither raw (number correct) nor percentiles. Scores used in the testing program range from 1 to 30. There are no passing or failing scores; a scale score of 18 typically signifies average performance on a national basis.
Scope of the test: The DAT is strictly multiple choice and in the English language. Each section of the test is developed according to established test specifications, and consist of these 4 areas:
When to take the DAT? If you are a student on a 4-year schedule and wish to start dental school after graduation, then the spring of your junior year will most likely be when you will take your test. Most of the prerequisite courses will be required to take your DAT; however, there is no Physics on the test. The cost of taking the test is currently $385.
Testing Schedule: The following table indicates the testing schedule for the DAT. You will have 4 hours and 15 minutes to complete the test. If you choose to take the optional break, the testing session will resume automatically after 15 minutes have passed.
Optional Tutorial 15 minutes
Survey of Natural Sciences 90 minutes
Perceptual Ability Test 60 minutes
Scheduled Break (optional) 15 minutes
Reading Comprehension Test 60 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning Test 45 minutes
Optional Post Test Survey 15 minutes
You must report to the testing center at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment. See Test Specifications for an outline of the test.