DAT Reading Comprehension Section

Before taking part in the DAT, it’s important to ensure you’ve prepared thoroughly for each section. With this thought in mind, taking the time to prepare for the DAT reading comprehension section is crucial. Indeed, this aspect of the assessment is often considered relatively difficult due to the complex nature of the passages. As such, knowing how this section works in advance can be highly important to optimize your overall approach.

What is the Reading Comprehension Section?

Before we go any further, we first need to consider the basics of the DAT. The comprehension section of the dental admission test, otherwise known as the reading comprehension section, focuses on interpreting and analyzing a passage of text. The section runs for a total of one hour, and it has a total of around 50 questions. In other words, including reading time, you have just over one minute per question. The core focus of the reading comprehension section is on scientific studies.

What is the Purpose of the Comprehension Section?

The purpose of the comprehension section in the DAT is to provide an analysis of an individual’s ability to interpret and utilize scientific research. During your dental care studies, understanding these resources will prove hugely important, and as such, there’s no room for error in this regard.

it’s not only during your dental studies that scientific comprehension will prove important, though. Indeed, in many aspects of a future dental career, interpreting and understanding medical and patient records will prove integral to providing successful treatment. As such, this is a critical skill for the success of dental careers, and the section thereby aims to ensure that

Parts of the Comprehension Section

The comprehension section of the DAT is relatively simple in terms of structure, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that it is an easy part of the overall test. The section is split into three, with each part looking at a different passage of text.

There are several focuses of the DAT reading comprehension section. Keeping these in mind can help you prepare for the examination more successfully.

In each part of the comprehension section, you will need to complete around sixteen to seventeen questions. Each of these will be based on one of several different question types. We’ll look at those a little later. The most critical thing to remember as part of this is that there’s no single question structure. As such, you’ll need to study and hone your skills on each question type during your preparations.

What are the Different Types of Questions in the DAT?

During the DAT’s comprehension section, you will be asked a selection of different questions. These will naturally be different from year to year; however, they tend to fall into pre-determined categories.

          Detail: One of the most prevalent questions in the DAT comprehension section will focus on information defined within the passage. Generally speaking, this will often relate to a specific point, such as a statement. This shouldn’t be too hard to find if you have read the passage clearly.

          Core focus: Another common question that’s frequently asked during DAT examinations relates to the core focus of a passage. In other words – what is the main message of the text? What is the author trying to convey? Why did the author choose to create the text in the first place? In many cases, these questions require some level of inference, so you may need to look closely to define the core focus accurately.

          Tone: Some things can’t be written directly in a text, but they may still come through regardless. The author’s tone is one such example, and as a dental student, you will need to learn how to interpret this. Not only does this provide information about the author’s thoughts and feelings – hopefully verifying their statements – but it’s also vital to be aware of. Unconscious bias can often slip into writing, and identifying this is vital to prevent biased decisions.

          Inference: While many questions in the comprehension section will need some degree of analysis and interpretation, inference questions typically need more than the norm to answer. These questions will usually require you to form a conclusion about the text or the author’s thoughts and express why a particular argument may have been made. These questions can be a lot more difficult to address.

How Should You Prepare for Reading Comprehension Section?

The comprehension section can be a little harder to study than the other parts of the DAT. This is because it tends to rely on a far greater amount of inference, analysis, and interpretation. As such, just knowing the facts alone likely won’t be enough to help you get through the comprehension section successfully.

So, what should comprehension section study look like? Well, the first thing you’ll probably want to do to practice for this section is to begin reading scientific articles and learn to extract the key pieces of information from such texts. This skill will prove invaluable during the examination, as you will need a quick mind to interpret information on the spot with limited time allowances.

In addition to this, we strongly recommend that you consider taking practice DAT assessments to help. These can allow you to manage your time more appropriately and give you an idea about the type of questions that may arise.

Finally, it’s worth considering that you will also need to brush up on your reading skills and speeds to reduce the chances of getting behind. Since you will need to read three passages during this section, there’s no time to waste here.

Ideally, you’ll want to take in as much information from the passage the first time you read it. However, while completing questions on the text, don’t be afraid to go back through to help you find the answers. Remember: this section is based on inferences, not just your ability to memorize facts!

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Final Thoughts

Finding the optimal solutions for your own DAT can often seem challenging, which may leave many people at risk of missing the mark. However, as part of your study preparation, taking simple steps – like learning about the structure of the comprehension section – can help. With this thought in mind, make sure you’ve kept today’s key points in mind to help inform your overall decision.


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