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How to Get into Dental School

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Preparation. Of the 54 dental schools accredited by the Council on Dental Education of the American Dental Association in the United States, a majority require 8 semester hours (lecture and lab) of general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and biology. Qualifications vary for each school, but most require some English, mathematics, and social sciences courses. Previous undergraduate experience in biochemistry, genetics, and physiology may also help the first-year dental student. Specific requirements for each school as well as tuition and class statistics are found in Admission Requirements of U.S. and Canadian Dental Schools from the American Dental Association.
Most dental schools have a four-year curriculum of basic sciences (two years) followed by clinical exposure for two years. To prepare for this, consider a Bachelor of Science or Arts in the natural sciences while completing specific school requirements. However, your major will only be one component of your application. Your GPA and performance on the Dental Admission Test will also factor into an acceptance decision.

Admissions. All dental schools consider students who exhibit intellectual competence, manual dexterity, and personal trait s appealing to patients. Other important factors include communication skills, leadership abilities in extracurricular activities, good character, motivation, and interest/experience in the dentistry field. Overall, four factors directly affect admission: 1) academic performance, 2) DAT score(s), 3) letters of recommendation (your HPEC file from the University of Scranton) from faculty members and personal references, 4) and impressions made during a personal interview. Work experience and extracurricular a ctivities may also contribute to your acceptance. In the end, the actual GPA number will not be important as the total academic difficulty (i.e. Cooking 101 vs. Metaphysics), part-time employment, participation in varsity sports or other activities encompassing your time as a student.
In conjunction with your GPA, the DAT affects admission. However, there is no way to evaluate a competitive score because each dental school will evaluate the whole student: GPA, DAT, and letters of recommendation from HPEC at the University of Scranton.

After evaluating these pieces of your application, dental schools invite the most promising applicants for an interview at the school. Remember to "be yourself" when speaking with the interviewer, and look at it as an opportunity to convince the Admissions Committee of your commitment to dentistry.

Applications through the American Association of Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS) usually begin on June 1st the year before matriculation. During the summer, most students must complete secondary applications in addition to the AADSAS application. Be honest in your secondary essays and work quickly to return them.

Acceptance. After you complete your application file, you should hear from the dental schools confirming completion. Then, the dental schools will contact you if they request an interview. In the end, applicants begin receiving first notifications of acceptance starting on December 1. Wait list and rejection letters are also sent from this date. Dental schools may remove some applicants from the wait list to the acceptance list. Most schools require an acceptance deposit to hold your seat in the class.

Conclusion. Despite the difficult process to pursue dental school, the most successful predental students retain a positive attitude even if things do not go as planned. When truly motivated, they can achieve the rewards, financial security, and personal satisfaction after reaching their goal.


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