Issues regarding practical validity and gender bias of the Perceptual Abilities Test (PAT)

J Dent Educ. 2003 Jan;67(1):31-7.


A brief history of the Dental Admission Test is provided, with emphasis on the development and utilization of the Perceptual Abilities Test (PAT). Concerns regarding the predictive utility of the PAT are discussed, and alternative approaches to assessing perceptual and motor skills are examined. To assess the predictive validity of the PAT, scores were collected for 492 students who graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry over a ten-year period. Scores were compared to Preclinical Operative Dentistry practical exam scores for each subject. Correlational analysis indicated the PAT maintains a statistically significant capacity for predicting technical performance in dental school, but the practical significance of the predictive capacity is limited. The results also indicate a gender bias favoring male applicants. Implications regarding continued reliance by admissions committees on the Perceptual Abilities Test are discussed and recommendations are provided, including modification of the PAT, use of the PAT only as a gross screening tool, and discontinuing the use of the PAT in making dental school admission decisions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Aptitude Tests
  • College Admission Test*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oklahoma
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prejudice
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Schools, Dental*
  • Sex Factors
  • Students, Dental* / psychology
  • Students, Dental* / statistics & numerical data