American Vs. Canadian DAT

Students often ask me what’s the difference between the Canadian and American DAT?

To start, both exams are very different. For one, they are operated by two different independent organizations: the American DAT is operated by the ADA (American Dental Association) and the Canadian DAT is operated by the CDA (Canadian Dental Association).

Now, when you take a closer look at both exams, you can see that there are major differences that can impact your DAT scores if you use techniques and strategies meant for the American DAT on the Canadian DAT. This is why I always recommend using Canadian DAT resources to prepare for the Canadian DAT rather than American resources. But in case you were wondering what exactly these differences are, we will take a closer look at them below:

1. The Canadian DAT has a completely different format

One major difference is that the Canadian DAT has a different format than the American DAT, as shown below:
Canadian DAT vs American DAT format

2. Canadian DAT is on paper, American DAT is on a computer

This is an IMPORTANT difference because you can write on the actual paper of the Canadian DAT! This means your strategies for tackling certain problems, such as cube-counting or hole-punching completely changes.

It even makes your life better for the reading comprehension section since you won’t have to glare at a computer screen for 255 minutes. Trust me, it’s better to look at a piece of paper for 170 minutes than stare at a computer screen for 255 minutes.

3. Canadian DAT requires different strategies

Since the Canadian DAT is a paper exam, this means for certain sections you will need to develop different strategies. For example, in the cube-counting section, you can write directly on the cubes within the paper on the Canadian DAT. This means that you’ll be able to breeze through the cube-counting section instead of having to use tedious tallying techniques used by students writing the American DAT! Heck, it even makes your life easier for the hole-punching section since you can draw where the holes unfold directly on the paper instead of doing this mentally.

4. Canadian DAT Reading Comp. is 50 min., American DAT Reading Comp. is 60 min. 

If you take a closer look at the reading comprehension section, the American DAT gives you 60 minutes to read through 3 passages and finish 50 questions. In comparison, you have 50 minutes to do this on the Canadian DAT. This becomes a big difference in time when the passages are about the same size. Furthermore, the reading comprehension layout resembles what you would see in the CDA manual rather than what American DAT resources use.

5. Biology section covers different topics on both exams

You can expect different Biology topics to be covered on the Canadian DAT versus the American DAT. For example, the Canadian DAT does NOT cover microscopes, experimental cell biology, biomolecules, experimental embryology, and genetic technologies, whereas the American DAT does. However, the Canadian DAT covers a few extra sections that the American DAT does not, such as cladistics and ecosystems. For more information, you can check out the CDA website.

6. Cube Counting section is a different format 

One thing that threw me off about the Canadian DAT was how the cube-counting figures were massive on the paper. In fact, some figures covered most of the entire paper. More importantly, the Canadian DAT in recent years had some figures with only one question!

7. Canadian DAT can be used to apply to almost every dental school

One of the biggest benefits of writing the Canadian DAT is that it can be used to apply to every Canadian dental school and almost every American dental school. However, the American DAT is not accepted by most Canadian dental schools, so it’s HIGHLY recommended that you write the Canadian DAT if you are applying to dental schools in Canada.