Dentistry is a highly rewarding career path. When you become a dentist, you're helping people smile with confidence. You play a critical role in diagnosing potentially serious oral conditions, and you can give patients much-needed relief from pain, discomfort, and even life-threatening infections.
The challenge? Well, it's no easy path, becoming a dentist. Most students complete at least four years at college before applying for dental school, and the admissions process can be grueling. You must provide letters of recommendation, achieve certain grades, and undertake a personal interview at your desired school. What's more, you must pass the Dental Admission Test (DAT).
Not only is the DAT challenging on an academic level, but it comes with a significant number of rules you must follow to gain a passing grade. A failure to abide by these rules could mean you're forced to retake the test, or, in the worst-case scenario, you may be prevented from entering dental school at all.
You haven't come this far in your academic and professional journey to fall at this hurdle. At the Lento Law Firm, Joseph Lento wants to help you overcome DAT misconduct accusations that could jeopardize your career before it even begins. If you're facing allegations of misconduct relating to the DAT, call us at 888-535-3686 for advice from an experienced attorney-advisor. But in the meantime, here's what you should know about DAT testing irregularities and how the Lento Law Firm can help.
What Is the Dental Admission Test (DAT)?
The DAT is a computer-based, multiple-choice examination taken by aspiring dental students. This lengthy test is designed to measure three specific skills: academic abilities, perceptual skills, and scientific understanding. These skills offer insight into a person's suitability for studying dentistry, and so the exam is of the utmost importance to any student dreaming of a dental career.
There are six parts to the test:
- General Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Perceptual ability
- Quantitative reasoning
- Reading comprehension
Each element is designed to put even the brightest student through their paces. The American Dental Association (ADA) expects candidates to study widely across a variety of scientific subjects before attempting the test. Candidates are advised to try out the practice tests first, so they know what to expect on the day.
To take the DAT, you must apply for a “DENTPIN” before submitting your application. Your DENTPIN is unique to you and should not be shared with anyone else. The test is available year-round, and you can take it at Prometric test centers across the US. In total, the exam takes over five hours to complete.
How Much Does the DAT Cost?
It costs around $495 to sit the DAT. If you wish the DAT Program to audit your test results, you must pay an extra $65.
Clearly, it's not cheap to sit the DAT. If you're taking this test, it means you're serious about becoming a dentist and joining this respected profession. Misconduct accusations are a significant threat to your investment in your future – you need legal advice if you're facing allegations that call your application or results into question.
Who Takes the DAT?
The DAT helps to determine how students will perform in dental school and, later, as dentists. As such, it's normally only pre-dental students who take the DAT. Before taking the DAT, you should complete prerequisite courses in organic chemistry, biology, and general chemistry. Otherwise, you may struggle to understand some of the subject matter – the DAT presumes you already have a reasonable grasp of these core subjects.
According to the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), it's best to take the DAT at least a year before you plan on applying to dental school. For many students, this means taking the DAT at some point after completing their third year at college.
How Many Times Can I Take the DAT?
You can take the DAT three times. You must submit a new application (and pay the required fee) for every testing attempt.
If you want to sit the test more than three times, you must submit evidence showing just how serious you are about getting into dental school. You need to provide a dental school rejection letter and evidence from the school that they have encouraged you to retake the DAT.
What Happens if I Fail the DAT?
Unfortunately, if you fail the DAT three times, there's no guarantee you will be permitted to sit the test again. Unless you pass the DAT, you can't enter dental school in the US, which may have serious implications for your long-term career plans. To minimize your chances of failing the DAT, make sure you read the rules carefully and don't take the test until you feel ready.
Types of DAT Misconduct
The ADA provides Rules of Conduct for students taking the DAT. These rules are set out in the DAT examination guide, and they're designed to standardize the testing process across the country.
Misconduct allegations may arise before, during, or after taking the test. The most common types of DAT misconduct accusations include:
- Application discrepancies
- Exam misconduct
- Failure to follow examination guidelines
We'll cover these types of misconduct below.
It's also worth noting that candidates are expected to abide by the ADA's own Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct. The ADA expects dental students to behave openly, honestly, and professionally, and so any DAT misconduct may be considered a violation of the ADA's own conduct codes.
DAT Application Misconduct
Before applying to sit the DAT, students must agree to the ADA's rules governing the application process. Examples of application misconduct include:
- Registering to take the DAT on someone else's behalf
- Letting someone take the DAT on your behalf
- Taking the test for any reason other than applying to dental school, e.g., for research purposes to help other students pass the exam
- Submitting false names or identifying information
- Using another applicant's DENTPIN
- Falsifying test results or supporting documents
The ADA holds aspiring dental students to rigorous standards. They expect a high level of professionalism and attention to detail. Even if you accidentally make an error, any act or omission could be considered an attempt to mislead or misrepresent yourself to the testing body. You could be prevented from sitting the test, or your result may be voided if the error is discovered after the exam.
Misconduct During the DAT
As the DAT is designed to give students a fair chance to demonstrate their skills and learning potential, exam misconduct can be punished severely. Exam misconduct includes:
- Taking unauthorized materials into the exam room
- Accessing secure exam content without permission
- Sharing answers with other candidates
- Accessing personal items during an unscheduled break
- Talking to others during the test or during an unscheduled break
- Touching the computer screen during the test
- Using pencils, paper, or markers which are not supplied by the test center
Test center administrators are highly vigilant. They will be alert to any behavior which may be deemed suspicious, even if it's entirely innocent. Conduct that could give rise to exam misconduct allegations includes:
- Surprising improvements in your result from one attempt to the next
- Unusual answer patterns, e.g., two or more tests with identical answers
- Multiple requests for unscheduled breaks
DAT exam misconduct accusations can arise long after you sit the test, and the sooner you deal with the problem, the better.
Rules for Investigating Testing and Exam Misconduct
The Rules of Conduct specify what should happen if there's an “irregularity” detected in a candidate's performance. An irregularity is any incident that raises the question of whether the result is a true reflection of a candidate's abilities. This could be, for example, an error or admission at the application stage, or it could be an exam-based accusation.
- First, the Examination Program voids the result(s) of any students involved in the incident, pending an appeals process.
- Students receive notice, in writing, of the Examination Program's decision to void their results. At this point, students have the chance to appeal the decision.
- If the Examination Program finds that a candidate cheated, their results may be voided permanently. Otherwise, their result may be reinstated.
What happens during the appeals process for DAT examination misconduct? Let's break it down.
Appealing Exam Misconduct Allegations
If candidates want to appeal misconduct allegations, they must do so within 30 days of receiving written notice of the alleged irregularity.
- Your appeal must specify what relief you're seeking, e.g., reinstatement of your exam results.
- You must also include evidence to support your appeal, such as documentation or written statements.
- The Examination Program will inform you of its decision within 60 days.
The Examination Program will void your result if it finds there is a “reasonable and good faith basis” for doing so. So, if there's no “valid” reason for voiding your result, it will be reinstated.
That said, the Examination Program may choose to void your result unfairly. If your appeal is unsuccessful, and you believe your result should be reinstated, don't panic. There is the option to move to arbitration.
The DAT and Arbitration
Arbitration is a type of dispute resolution. It's less formal – and less expensive – than court proceedings.
- Parties present their arguments before an impartial arbitrator who decides whether the result should be reinstated.
- The arbitrator's decision in a DAT misconduct case is final.
Joseph Lento is highly experienced in negotiating favorable outcomes for students facing misconduct accusations. He believes that all students deserve the chance to reach their full potential, and they should not be unfairly – or disproportionately – punished for their mistakes. Contact him at 888-535-3686 to discuss representation.
Misconduct After the Test
It's against the ADA's Rules of Conduct to discuss test content with friends, family, or classmates after the exam. Students should not discuss, for example, what questions they were asked or how they answered them, as this may give aspiring candidates an unfair advantage over their peers.
If in doubt, don't disclose what happened during the test to anyone.
The Consequences of DAT Misconduct
The ADA's Examination Program treats all DAT misconduct seriously. If a candidate violates the DAT rules, the ADA can:
- Void the candidate's test result
- Prevent the candidate from retaking the test for a specified period
- Prohibit the candidate from taking the test again
There are personal consequences, too. For one thing, students accused of exam misconduct may feel stigmatized and alienated from their peers. They may be discouraged from retaking the DAT or applying to dental school – even if this has been their dream for many years. Contact Joseph Lento, an experienced attorney-advisor, to learn how he might help you with DAT misconduct issues so you can get the second chance you deserve.
DAT Misconduct: How the Lento Law Firm Can Help
DAT testing irregularities can shatter a student's hopes of becoming a dentist and entering this highly respected profession. So, if you're facing warnings or accusations of DAT-related misconduct, it's natural to feel intimidated or anxious about what to do now.
Rather than allowing the stress of the situation to overwhelm you, though, just remember how far you've come to reach this point in your academic career. You deserve a shot at securing a fair DAT score and continuing with your professional aspirations – and the Lento Law Firm wants to help you do just that. As an experienced attorney-advisor, Joseph D. Lento has worked with numerous students facing misconduct allegations. He knows how to negotiate an equitable outcome where possible, and he'll ensure you're treated fairly throughout the entire process.
Don't feel like you need to face DAT irregularities alone. Let Joseph Lento stand with you. To learn more about his services, contact him at 888-535-3686 or leave him a message through the online form.