Admission Test for Dental Hygiene (ATDH) FAQ

Answers to frequently asked questions about the Admission Test for Dental Hygiene (ATDH) are provided below. 
Who oversaw the ATDH during development and deployment?
The ATDH Steering Committee oversaw examination development. The Steering Committee was comprised of the following individuals: 
  • Dr. Paul R. Leary, DMD (Chair, ATDH Steering Committee)
  • Dr. Wanda Cloet, DHSC, RDH
  • Dr. Uri Hangorsky, DDS, MS
  • Ms. Joyce C. Hudson, RDH, MS
  • Dr. Stephen M. Lepowsky, DDS
  • Ms. Donna Warren Morris, RDH, Med
  • Dr. Michelle Roman
  • Ms. Ebony Thomas-Butler
  • Ms. Tammy R. Sanderson, RDH, MSDH (consultant to the Steering Committee)
Why did the ADA Department of Testing Services develop the ATDH?

Dental hygiene program directors requested the development of a standardized, nationally administered admission test for use in evaluating the qualifications of applicants to their programs.

ADA’s Department of Testing Services has the expertise to develop, administer, and score standardized, nationally administered examinations. The DTS worked with the ATDH Steering Committee and a select group of test construction volunteers to clarify the scope of the examination and develop questions for the examination. 

What specific tasks were assigned to the ATDH Steering Committee?

The ATDH Steering Committee was charged with overseeing the development, launch, and validation of the ATDH. Key areas of oversight for the committee included the following: 

  • Examination development 
  • Establishment of operational policies 
  • Accumulation of validity evidence (i.e., psychometric research) 
What scores are possible on the ATDH?
ATDH scores range from 200 to 500.
When will the examination be administered?
The ATDH is administered during fixed time periods referred to as “administration windows.” First-time candidates must complete the ATDH during a “regular” administration window, while repeat examinees may complete the ATDH during either a regular window or a “retake only” window. Upcoming “regular” and “retake” administration windows are listed in the ATDH Candidate Guide (PDF).
 
How do I send additional results?
If you have already submitted an initial application and indicated where scores should be sent, additional score requests can be made by logging into My Account.
Can I get a fee waiver?
In documented cases of severe financial hardship, a limited number of partial fee waivers are available to ATDH examinees each calendar year (January - December). The partial fee waiver covers 50% of the ATDH fee. The partial fee waiver does not apply to any charges associated with rescheduling/canceling a test date or score reporting after the time of initial application. Partial fee waivers are granted on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible examinees who have submitted the required documents. An examinee is eligible to request a partial fee waiver if each of the following criteria are met:

  • First-time examinee
  • Has not previously received a partial fee waiver
  • U.S. citizen or resident alien
  • Has demonstrated financial hardship
  • Received financial aid from their school
To apply, submit the financial information form (DOC) to atdh@ada.org with a copy of the financial aid award letter you received from your school. (The financial aid award letter cannot be older than 18 months.) Alternatively, applicants who have not been enrolled in a college or university in the past 18 months can substitute a copy of their most recent tax return. The ATDH Program will review all partial fee waiver requests and make the final approval/denial decision. After the partial fee waiver request is reviewed, you will receive an email notification of the decision and instructions for submitting an ATDH application online. Please allow up to 10 business days for review of all partial fee waiver requests.
 
Where can I find helpful review materials?
Candidates interested in preparing for the ATDH may download the ATDH practice questions (PDF). The intent of the practice questions is to help candidates understand the types of questions that will be asked on the ATDH.

The review materials for the DAT may be helpful in reviewing for the ATDH. Download a list of DAT reference books (PDF).
Will all dental hygiene programs require the ATDH as part of their admission process?
Each Dental Hygiene program will make its own decision as to whether to require or accept ATDH results as part of the program's admission process.
How long will my results be accepted by dental hygiene programs?
The ATDH is designed to accurately assess candidates' knowledge and skills at the time of administration.  Candidate knowledge and skills can increase or decrease after administrations occur (e.g., if additional coursework is undertaken, or if material is simply forgotten, respectively). It is up to each program to decide whether test results are recent enough for admission purposes.
How do I select my testing appointment date when I submit my application?
Candidates will be able to select any test date within the testing window, based on the availability of seats at test centers.
Are testing sites widely available?
Testing sites are widely available across the US and its territories. Candidates can locate test centers on www.prometric.com.
As I take the exam, will the questions change based on how I answer them?
No. the ATDH is not an adaptive examination. Questions will not increase or decrease in difficulty based on whether questions are answered correctly.
How much time is allotted for each section of the examination?
Please read page 13 of the ATDH Candidate Guide (PDF) to see the administration schedule. Reasonable accommodations (PDF) are also available for individuals with documented disabilities.
Where can I find a list of programs that are requiring the examination in their admission process?
Find a list of programs that accept the ATDH. Candidates should also check the application requirements associated with the programs to which they intend to apply, to determine if it would be necessary or helpful to complete the ATDH.
What is the availability of testing appointments during the testing window?
DTS is not aware of any significant issues or challenges for ATDH candidates, in finding or scheduling ATDH appointments.  As with all testing programs implemented by DTS, candidates are encouraged to apply and schedule their testing appointments as far in advance as possible, to provide the widest selection of available seats.
How will my results be reported?

The ATDH score report is anticipated to contain six topic scores (one for each test section) and two composite scores.  The two composite scores are: 

  1. English Language Skills (based on performance on Reading Comprehension and Language Usage) and
  2. The ATDH Overall Score (based on performance on all test sections, and representing candidate critical thinking in foundational skill areas). 
How do I schedule a testing appointment?
Candidates must first register for a DENTPIN.  Candidates can then submit an application to take the ATDH. Once a candidate's application is processed, testing appointments can be scheduled on Prometric.com 
 
Who do I contact for additional questions?
Questions concerning the ATDH can be emailed to atdh@ada.org.
Can I retake the exam?
Yes. Candidates who wish to retake the ATDH can do so, provided they meet eligibility requirements. The ATDH retake policy is detailed in the ATDH Candidate Guide (PDF).
How is the examination administered?
The ATDH is administered in person at Prometric professional level testing centers in the United States and its territories (including Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands).