DAT scoring appears to be rather complex on the surface, but a close review shows that it is comprehensible. It is important that candidates understand that, if they do not know the answer to a question and cannot make an educated guess, any guess is better than leaving a question blank. This is because the test scores reflect the number of the correct answers rather than the ratio of questions answered to correct choices. These standard scores allow schools to see where a particular candidate ranks in comparison to other test-takers.
The score range is from 1 to 30. A score of 17 typically indicates average results. There is no point within the DAT scoring range that is considered a failing or passing score. Candidates are provided with eight scores upon completion of the exam.
- Six of the scores reflect the applicant’s showing in the tested areas of biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning.
- A seventh score, Academic Average, rounds and averages scores in quantitative reasoning, biology, general chemistry and organic chemistry, and reading comprehension. The eighth score, Total Science, is based upon all scored questions in the biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry areas.
Equating questions and pretest questions are also included within each of the tests. Equating questions are designed to group test items in order to standardize DAT scoring among all candidates. Since not all versions of the test are identical, this permits scores in any one area to be equivalent. Pretest questions are not included in the test score. They are used only to gather information. Pretest questions are under consideration as potential scored test items; however, including them as unscored items allows test designers to review them within the context of the test.
Based upon the results of annual reviews, DAT scoring is highly reliable. A reliable performance is indicated by consistency in the range of test scores among multiple test administrations.
The test is also assessed at regular intervals for validity. Test reviewers first consider what the test contends it measures. Next, they determine the degree to which it actually fulfills what it has claimed to measure. One way of doing this is to examine the range of test scores to determine whether they are, through time, indicative of the test taker’s performance in dental school. Because DAT scoring has proven to be reliable, it is possible for college and university dentistry programs to use the test scores predicatively; in this regard, the DAT is considered a valid test.