There are only 57 accredited dental schools in the U.S., therefore, admission is highly competitive. The admission process is multi-faceted, and while GPA and DAT scores are important, many other factors are brought into play in an effort to identify the most extraordinary candidates.

Map out a plan as early as the junior year in high school. Take challenging course in high school to prepare for college work. Design a well-rounded college course of study in pre-dentistry that includes required courses as well as recommended classes.

Investigate pre-dentistry programs at various colleges and universities. Ask what the rate of acceptance is for dental school applicants. Research the institutions overall performance on the DAT.

Balance the academic course load over all four years of college. Work closely with an advisor to optimize the class schedule each semester so that the demands more evenly distributed. Consider summer school for more challenging coursework.

Take a DAT prep-course. Schedule the course to allow sufficient time between it and the DAT. Incorporate all the advice of the pre-course. Search online for sample tests and spend time getting used to the format.

Check out pre-dental sites online. Join discussion groups and participate in message boards. Visit the ADA site for in-depth information regarding the profession and the DAT.

Demonstrate an interest and understanding of a dental practice by arranging time to observe a practice. Contact area dentists and ask permission to observe for several hours a week over the summer or during a semester in order to gain an appreciation of the profession.

Use the influence of friends or other contacts to secure letters of recommendation from Congressional representatives. Seek letters from one or both U.S. Senators as well as the district representative.