The USC Upstate Pre-Dental program is an advisement track within the biology degree program. Although many dental schools do not require a bachelor’s degree, few students enter dental school without completing one. Students already having a degree and aiming for dental school should concentrate on taking the courses that will best prepare them for taking the Dental Admission Test (DAT).
Dental school admission is on a competitive basis. Important factors considered by admission committees are grade point averages (GPA), DAT scores and letters of recommendation. Recent entering classes at the MUSC (Medical University of South Carolina) College of Dental Medicine had an average undergraduate GPA of 3.09 and averaged 17 on both the academic and perceptual ability sections of the DAT.
Pre-dental students should complete their applications to dental schools no later than October of the year before they expect to enter dental school. Students apply through a centralized application service, AADSAS (American Association of Dental Schools Application Service).
The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is comprised exclusively of multiple-choice test items and consists of four sections: Survey of the Natural Sciences, Perceptual Ability, Reading Comprehension and Quantitative Reasoning.
DAT results are reported in terms of scale scores. 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.
The minimum core of courses that are needed before the DAT is taken are:
Mathematics 126+127 (Precalculus I & II)
Chemistry 331+332 (Organic Chemistry)
Physics 201+202 or Physics 211+212
This core of courses plus eight additional hours in science electives also represent the required pre-dental courses for the Medical University of South Carolina College of Dental Medicine.
Pre-dental students must start their math and chemistry sequences as soon as possible in order to take the DAT exam at the appropriate time. Students must have organic chemistry and physics completed by the end of the junior year, as the DAT exam should be taken the spring semester of the junior year (preferred) or no later than the fall semester of the senior year.
More information on the dentistry profession can be found at the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.