Date of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Type


Director of Thesis

G. Nathan Carnes, Ph.D.

First Reader

Ashley Hubbard

Second Reader

Ashley Hubbard


The objectives of this project were to study the Dental Admission Test (DAT) preparation experience of undergraduate pre-dental students (UPDS) at the University of South Carolina (USC) and to determine actionable steps to raise DAT scores, increase diversity among pre-dental students, reduce financial burdens associated with the DAT, and improve wellbeing in this population.

A quantitative survey was distributed to characterize and create figures about UPDS demographics, use of advising services, preparation experience, and support for university- sponsored preparation resources. Ten phenomenological interviews were conducted to gain insights about the needs of UPDS. Thematic analysis was performed to identify unifying themes and unique occurrences of phenomena.

I mostly captured the experiences of White female UPDS. Stress resonated among all UPDS surveyed and interviewed, and concerns about cost impacted student planning. UPDS enumerated many resources USC could provide, including financial assistance, guidance from the USC Office of Pre-Professional Advising (OPPA), and a network of pre-dental and dental students. Respondents overall desired more support on behalf of USC.

UPDS desired a wide array of resources to feel more supported by USC during their preparation process. The USC OPPA should concentrate its efforts on better equipping UPDS with the knowledge and resources vital to succeed on the DAT. With the resources I created, I intend to catalyze this change with seven measures I identified as most urgent, such as furnishing students with information about the DAT and connecting UPDS with dental students. Further research is necessary to determine actions to better support underrepresented communities and describe the experiences of other UPDS.

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