PAT Breakdown #6: The key to keyholes

What to expect

On the the Dental Admission Test (DAT), you will have a total of 15 keyhole questions (#1–15 of the PAT section — the first question type you will encounter). You will see a 3D figure. Your goal is to determine through which opening (aperture) that 3D figure could pass. You’ll have 5 answers to choose from. You’re looking for the opening that would be a perfect fit, much like a keyhole is the perfect fit for its corresponding key. Here’s an example of this PAT question type:

An example of a DAT keyhole question. We’ll walk you through it step-by-step to determine the correct answer.

The rules

There are a few rules to keep in mind:

  1. Once you’ve started “passing” the object through the aperture, you cannot rotate or manipulate it further. You must “pass” it straight through the aperture.
  2. The aperture must be a perfect fit for the 3D object in both shape and size.

The strategies

  • Practice makes perfect. It’s true for every PAT question type! With time and practice, you will be able to visualize how the 3D figures fit into their corresponding keyholes. Do practice sets, including the keyhole practice tests on (being sure to pay attention to the explanations for the questions you miss or guess on), and download the CrackDAT app to practice and review in your spare time. You will improve your speed and accuracy as you familiarize yourself with keyholes, so set aside at least 10–15 minutes each day to practice and learn from your mistakes, and don’t give up!
  • Get comfortable visualizing the top-bottom, left-right, and front-back projections of each object. This is the key to keyholes! Here’s what we mean. First, we’re going to shade the top-bottom projection of the example above.
Top-bottom projection.
Left-right projection.
Front-back projection.
What would the top-bottom projection of this cylinder look like? Imagine crushing a soda can flat from the top.
It would be a circle!
If we imagine “crushing” this 3D figure from the top, like crushing an aluminum object, we would get a square.
If we shined a light at this object from the front, this is the shadow that the object would cast. The shadow corresponds to the front-back projection!
Rule out C — it is an incorrect depiction of the top-bottom projection.
Group together similar answer choices and try to determine which ones are incorrect. B, D, and E all resemble our front-back projection, but only B is a perfect match.
  • Manage your time. You can budget more time for the keyhole questions since they require more time than the strictly 2D questions, like angle ranking. But don’t dwell on a question if you’re stumped — just mark it, take your best guess, and move on! Also, remember that speed comes with practice, so don’t be discouraged if you need a lot of time per question at the beginning of your preparation.



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CrackDAT Dental Admission Test

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