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What is the

The perceptual ability test (PAT) is the section of the dental admissions test (DAT) that assesses your ability to analyze objects, visualize structures in 3D, as well as anticipate structures that will form. The PAT consists of 90 items that you have 60 minutes to answer. It always includes these problem types, in order:

What is the perceptual ability test (PAT) on the DAT?
What is the perceptual ability test (PAT) on the DAT?

Items 1-15

Keyhole (KH/aperture) problems

You are shown an object and must select the aperture, or opening, through which an object would fit perfectly if sent on a straight trajectory. The object cannot be turned or rotated to get it through the aperture.

Items 16-30

Top-front-end (TFE) problems

You are given two views of an object and must determine the third, missing view; the three views of the object are the top view, front view, and end view (from the right side).

Items 31-45

Angle ranking (AR) problems

You are given a group of angles, labeled 1-4, and you must put them in order from smallest angle to the largest angle.

Items 46-60

Hole punching (HP) problems

You are shown a piece of paper undergoing various folding steps, followed by one or more hole punches; you must determine the location of the hole punches when the paper is unfolded.

Items 61-75

Cube counting (CC) problems

You are shown a structure composed of cubic blocks; you must determine how many cubes has a certain number of sides showing, or exposed (not touching the ground or other cubes).

Items 75-90

Pattern folding (PF) problems

You are shown an unfolded pattern that, when folded along the black lines, will create a 3D object; you must pick the correct 3D object from a list of choices
The perceptual ability test (PAT) is a useful assessment tool for dental schools, but studying thoughtfully for the PAT is also an excellent way to improve your visuospatial abilities, especially if you take the time to understand the 3D objects tested. So, don’t take it lightly - it may help make you a better dentist!

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Timing on the PAT

You will have 60 minutes to complete the 90 questions that compose the PAT portion of your DAT. Because the PAT consists of 6 different problem types (15 question each), this gives you 10 minutes per problem type.

However, we recommend that you find a few sections that you can complete in only 5 minutes. This will still make it easy to keep track of time, but it will give you extra time at the end to review marked questions.

We recommend that you start studying for the PAT ahead of time. The PAT will be brand new to you, so don’t wait to learn how to do these problems when you’re studying for the rest of your exam. Learning the PAT periodically in the months or year leading up to your main DAT study will familiarize you with these problems and help you become a pro, without a lot of stress involved. You may even find that practicing these problems can be kind of fun!
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More information on PAT problems

Additional links to our resources

Keyhole problems
Top-front-end problems
Angle ranking problems

More information on studying for the PAT

Additional links to our resources

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