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By James Ashenhurst

Organic Chemistry For The DAT [Dental Admissions Test]

Last updated: December 22nd, 2014

I get a lot of questions from students about preparing for the organic chemistry section of the DAT, so I asked Jon Chay to come here to share his expertise in this area.  Jon is a dental student and runs , a resource for students planning to write the Dental Admissions Test [DAT].

[Note from James Dec 2014: I’m being told that Google is giving warnings about harming your computer. I tried to contact Jon to no avail. Regardless, because it still contains useful advice,  I’m keeping the post that Jon wrote here in its entirety except I’ve disabled links to the site until this issue is sorted out. ]

Hello students!

My name is Jon. I am currently a second year dental student and maintain a blog in my spare time about how to do well on the Dental Admissions Test . I’m here to talk to you today about the Organic Chemistry portion of the Dental Admissions Test.
Most of you reading this excellent blog, Master Organic Chemistry,  are probably either  currently taking Organic Chemistry or reviewing for some sort of test that requires you to have  sufficient Organic Chemistry knowledge, like the DAT.

Before I get into specifics about Organic Chemistry on the DAT, let me dish out some general advice for any pre-health students out there.
Organic Chemistry is often viewed as the epitome of a hard college class by the masses, and for good reason. It is a very difficult class for those who can’t discipline themselves to study each day after new material is presented. It is not a class where one can pull an “all nighter” and do
well in. If you have plans of going into the health field, this is definitely a class you want to do well in! Not only is it a pre-requisite for most programs that prepare you for going into healthcare, but it is also a chance to make a favorable impression to Admission Committee members who read your application and set you apart from your peers that didn’t make an “A” in Organic Chemistry.

You might wonder “Why would making an “A” in this class be much different from making an “A” in other classes?” Doing well in Organic Chemistry sends a positive signal to AdCom members that you have the skills and discipline to handle a lot of material and understand it well, something you will be required to have in post-graduate programs! So if you are a procrastinator, this message is especially geared towards you! You are not going to be able to postpone your studies till the last minute and do well in many classes in post-graduate programs!

Anyways, I digress, more about Organic Chemistry on the Dental Admissions Test. Those of you who are currently struggling with memorizing and reproducing the long-winded electron movements of some reactions will be relieved to know that questions on the DAT will not ask you to do this since all answers are multiple choice (however it is only for your benefit to understand these movements). Rather than describe different kinds of questions that can be asked on the test, I will let you see for yourself.

Below is a link to an actual DAT test (administered in 2007). Questions #70-100 of the Survey of Natural Sciences Test are all Organic Chemistry questions.
Click to See A Sample DAT Test  [note: safe link to ADA]

Below is a list provided by the ADA for topics that can potentially be tested on the DAT.


  • Energetics
  • Structure – elimination, addition, free radical, substitution mechanisms

Chemical and Physical Properties of Molecules

  • Spectroscopy (1H NMR, 13C NMR, infrared, and multi-spectra)
  • Structure (polarity, intermolecular forces, solubility, melting/boiling point, etc.)
  • Laboratory theory and techniques (i.e. TLC, separations, etc.)

Stereochemistry (structure evaluation)

  • Chirality
  • Isomer relationships
  • Conformations


  • IUPAC rules and functional groups in molecules

Individual Reactions of the Major Functional Groups and Combinations of Reactions to Synthesize Compounds

  • Alkyne/alkene
  • Aromatic
  • Substitution/elimination
  • Carboxylic acids and derivatives
  • Others

For each area listed above, the following sub-areas apply: general, one-step, and multi step.

  • Ranking acidity/basicity (structure analysis and pH/pKa data analysis)
  • Prediction of products and equilibria

Aromatics and Bonding

  • Concept of aromaticity
  • Resonance
  • Atomic/molecular orbitals
  • Hybridization
  • Bond angles/lengths


For those of you not familiar with the DAT, 100 science questions will be asked and 30 of the 100 will be about Organic Chemistry. If you plan on taking the DAT in the future, make sure to study hard in your undergraduate class, as preparing for your DAT will be that much easier! If
you are a pre-dental student preparing for your DAT, make sure to check out! Also, make sure to make the use of the great resources provided to you by

Especially useful are the summary sheets that have been made here:

Summary Sheets

The price is a bargain for the convenience and quality of these sheets. I paid over $200 for my organic chemistry review book and the reactions and information covered was nowhere near as extensive as the information covered by these summary sheets and by the information on the website! I honestly wish that I would have known about this website during my prep for the DAT.

One last closing remark, if you can, take the DAT the summer/semester RIGHT AFTER your last Organic Chemistry class while the material is still fresh in your head! It will save you from all of the stress of relearning all the material that you forgot over the course of time.

Thanks to Jon for writing the guest post and I would encourage anyone planning on writing the DAT to visit his website, AceDat.Com for plenty of useful advice and links to helpful resources far beyond just organic chemistry. If you have any further questions for Jon, feel free to email him at


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