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Admission Test for Dental Hygiene

The Admission Test for Dental Hygiene (ATDH) is taken before entering dental hygiene school and is:

  • a nationally administered standardized admission test for individuals applying to dental hygiene programs (find program locations)
  • administered to understand the skill levels of the dental hygiene applicants
  • used to assist with admissions decisions

Partial Fee Waiver Information

The 2021 ATDH partial fee waiver information is available. Please read the information below carefully and complete the form if you are eligible.

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

A financial information form is located below. The form must be completed and submitted to atdh@ada.org with a copy of the financial aid award letter you received from your school (financial aid award letter cannot be older than 18 months*). 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.

*A copy of a tax return from the most recent filing can be substituted for a financial aid award letter for applicants who have not been enrolled at a college or university in the past 18 months. 

Program Locations

Currently, the following Dental Hygiene education programs accept the ATDH:

College of Dupage - IL Community College of Denver - CO
Des Moines Area Community College - IA El Centro College - TX
Florence-Darlington Technical College - SC Hocking College - OH
Indiana University (Fort Wayne Campus) - IN Indiana University School of Dentistry - IN
Johnson County Community College - KS Manor College - PA
Ozarks Technical Community College - MO Seattle Central College - WA
Texas State Technical College at Harlingen - TX Tunxis Community College-Allied Health - CT
University of Louisiana at Monroe - LA University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry - NE
University of Tennessee College of Dentistry - TN Pierce College - WA Louisiana State University - LA Tennessee Wesleyan University - TN

 edited map of atdh programs

 

Using the ATDH for Admission Decisions 

Dental Hygiene education programs often use a variety of tools to assist with admission decisions.  Interested programs can download Utilization of ATDH Results in Admission Decisions (PDF) to see helpful guidance on relevant considerations for using the ATDH to inform admission decisions. 

Supported by Content Validity Evidence

The ATDH is a standardized measure that is supported by content validity evidence, with content developed by teams of highly qualified subject matter experts. The ATDH is built in accordance with the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (“Standards”) (AERA, APA, NCME, 2014). In accordance with professionally established validation procedures—as promulgated by the Standards—data on candidate ATDH performance will be obtained during each test administration window. The ATDH User’s Guide will be made available in December 2021, and will present information on candidate performance and the psychometric performance of the ATDH, with additional forms of validity evidence provided as they become available over time.  Programs can also review the document entitled “Utilization of ATDH Results in Dental Hygiene Admission Decisions” for additional information.  In considering these issues, programs should also consider the available evidence supporting each admission tool they are currently using, and how this evidence compares to the evidence supporting the ATDH.

CODA Accreditation Standards for Dental Hygiene Education Programs

CODA accreditation standards for dental hygiene education programs (2019) indicate that “previous academic performance and/or performance on standardized national tests of scholastic aptitude or other predictors of scholastic aptitude and ability must be utilized as criteria in selecting students who have the potential for successfully completing the program” (CODA Standard 2-3).

2021 ATDH Candidate Guide

The document below is the official guide to policies for the ATDH. It provides information about application and testing procedures, examination content and scoring.

You are required to read this document before you apply to take the test. At the time of application, you will be required to confirm that you have read this document, understood its contents, and agree to the policies and procedures contained herein.

Changes to ATDH program policies occurring after publication of the ATDH Guide will be announced on this page. Test takers are subject to the policies and procedures currently in effect at the time they test.

2021 ATDH Guide (PDF)

To apply for the ATDH, you must obtain a DENTPIN® and read the official ATDH Guide. 

Additional Resources

Download the ATDH Quick Facts (PDF) to learn more about the test.

Also, you may download Practice Questions (PDF). These practice questions mirror the types of questions and question formats which will be used in the actual test.  

Subject matter experts are needed to write test questions. Consider volunteering to serve on a test construction committee. 

View ATDH On Demand Webinars

Informative webinars covering this new test were presented on March 31 and August 25, 2021. You may view a recording of each by clicking on their respective links below. The speakers at each webinar were Paul R. Leary, DMD, Chair, Admission Test for Dental Hygiene Steering Committee, and David M. Waldschmidt, Ph.D., Director, Testing Services.

The March webinar was written for Dental Hygiene Program Directors, and includes the following topics:

  • ATDH purpose and Governance 
  • ATDH Development and Validity Evidence
  • Examination Content
  • ATDH Administration
  • ATDH Scoring and Score Reporting


ATDH Program Director Webinar

The August webinar was designed for candidates who will be taking the ATDH, with the goal of helping such candidates prepare for the examination. It includes the following topics:

  • Introduction to the ATDH Candidate Guide
  • Topics covered by the examination
  • ATDH practice questions
  • Administration schedule and procedures
  • Partial fee waiver
  • Q & A 

ATDH Candidate Webinar

Speakers were able to answer a portion of the many questions that arose during the webinar. Download FAQs for ATDH Candidates (PDF) for additional answers to questions from the webinar.