Overview: The perceptual ability section of the DAT, or PAT for short, is one of the four sections of the standardized Dental Admission Test used in the United States. This section of the DAT consists of a total 90 questions and must be completed within 60 minutes. Furthermore, the PAT section can be subdivided into 6 unique subtests each contributing 15 questions to the total. Below is a brief description of each subsection (Nielsen, 2018):
1) Apertures (Keyholes):
In this subsection, a 3D rendition of an object will be displayed on the testing screen along with five possible apertures, or openings, in which the object can potentially be inserted. Each object will fit into only one of the five given keyholes and the object may be turned in any direction to allow the object to pass through. However, once the object has entered the aperture it can no longer be rotated and must be inserted in a singular linear motion. The goal of this section is to determine which aperture the object may pass through by visualizing irregular 3D objects and mentally manipulating their spatial orientations. Both objects and apertures are drawn to scale (Nielsen, 2018). As a result, it is possible for an aperture to have the correct shape, but incorrect size or proportions to fit the given object. There will not be irregularities in any hidden sections of the object. However, if the figure has symmetrical features, the hidden surface of the object must be continuously symmetrical with the overall structure (Nielsen, 2018).
2) View Recognition (Top/Front/End):
This test will give you two images of a single object from either the top, front, or end orientations. Ultimately, test takers must use the information given by the two available perspectives in order to derive the expected shape in the third orientation (Nielsen, 2018). Each image will display the object in a flat perspective, in which only points along parallel lines of the solid object’s surface are shown. Points that are not visible in a particular view of the object will be represented as dotted lines in this orientation (Nielsen, 2018). Each view is given a space within a four quadrant grid with the top view being the top left quadrant, front view occupying the bottom left quadrant, and end view resting in the bottom right section in every problem (T. (n.d.), DAT PAT Perceptual Ability Test).
3) Angle Discrimination (Angle Ranking):
This section requires you to evaluate line angles and determine which are smallest and largest. Specifically, during the test you will be shown four interior angles and will be asked to rank them from smallest to largest in terms of degrees (T. (n.d.), DAT PAT Perceptual Ability Test).
4) Paper Folding (Hole Punches):
The Paper Folding subtest gives the scenario of a square-shaped sheet of paper being folded one or more times. Broken lines within the figure signify the main outline of the paper (Nielsen, 2018). Solid lines on the other hand represent the position of the paper as it is being folded. Holes are punched into the newly folded paper in the final step. It is then the task of the test taker to mentally unfold the paper and determine the quantity and position of holes present on the original square sheet (T. (n.d.), DAT PAT Perceptual Ability Test).
5) Cube Counting:
This section will give a scenario in which cubes are stacked on top of one another to form a structure. Once all the cubes are stacked, all the exposed sides, excluding the bottoms, will be painted (Nielsen, 2018). You will then be asked to evaluate the figure and conclude which cubes have either: only one side painted, only two sides painted, only three sides painted, or how many have all five sides painted. You must also take into account cubes that cannot be seen but must exist to support the overall structure (T. (n.d.), DAT PAT Perceptual Abillity Test).
6) 3D Form Development (Pattern Folding):
In this section, a flat pattern will be presented which can then be folded into a three dimensional shape. Sections of the flat pattern will be shaded and we must choose the single possible object that can result from the folding given four options (Nielsen, 2018).
Practice Questions: Test your perceptual ability skills with the following example questions! Be sure to record your answers and check the answer key at the end of the article.
Aperture Questions: Which keyhole will allow the object to pass through with a single motion?
View Recognition Problems: Can you correctly select the missing perspective of the object given the other two images?
Angle Ranking Problems: Can you order each interior angle from smallest to largest?
A.4-1-3-2 B.2-3-1-4 C.1-2-4-3 D.2-4-3-1
A.1-2-4-3 B.3-2-4-1 C.4-3-1-2 D.1-4-3-2
A.2-4-3-1 B.3-4-2-1 C.3-1-4-2 D.1-4-3-2
A.2-1-4-3 B.3-4-2-1 C.4-2-1-3 D.3-2-4-1
A.2-1-3-4 B.1-3-4-2 C.3-4-1-2 D.2-4-3-1
Paper Folding Questions: Can you determine the quantity and location of the holes created in a folded sheet of paper?
Cube Counting Problems: Can you determine how many faces of each cube is painted?
21) In Figure E, how many cubes have one of their exposed sides painted?
22) In Figure E, how many cubes have two of their exposed sides painted?
23) In Figure E, how many cubes have three of their exposed sides painted?
24) In Figure F, how many cubes have two of their exposed sides painted?
25) In Figure F, how many cubes have four of their exposed sides painted?
Pattern Folding Problems: Can you determine which object corresponds to a given folded pattern?
1. A, 2. D, 3. B, 4. C, 5. A, 6. B, 7. C, 8. D, 9. A, 10. A, 11. A, 12. B, 13. D, 14. A, 15. C, 16. A, 17. E, 18. C, 19. D, 20. A, 21. E, 22. B, 23. C, 24. C, 25. C, 26. A, 27. C, 28. D, 29. A, 30. B
PAT Tutorial Videos: These videos can provide you with techniques and tips to excel on the PAT. Best of all, these resources are completely free of charge!
View Recognition Tutorial:
Cube Counting Tutorial:
Hole Punch Tutorial:
Angle Discrimination Tutorial:
Pattern Folding Tutorial:
Nielsen, K. (2018, April 12). The Perceptual Ability Test. Retrieved April 22, 2018, from https://crushthedatexam.com/perceptual-ability-test/
T. (n.d.). DAT PAT - DAT Perceptual Ability Test - Strategies/Practice. Retrieved from http://www.dat-prep.com/dat-pat-perceptual-ability-test.html