DAT Study Strategies

DAT Study Strategies

Summertime! For typical undergraduate students, that means beaches and barbeques. For predental students on the verge of applying, it’s time to start studying for your Dental Admissions Test (DAT). Poor you. Well, I’m here to help. I will review how to choose the best study materials, methods, and a few tips and tricks for the test that will get you back outside having fun in no time. 

When choosing study materials for an exam such as this, more is not always better. Keep the following in mind as you make your shopping list of study materials:

  1. There are numerous comprehensive reference materials for the DAT available (e.g. Kaplan, Barron’s, Cliff’s, etc.) but they all have similar information. Pick one or two and get to know them backwards and forwards.
  2. Practice questions are worth their weight in gold. Be sure to not only know the right answers but know why the other answer choices are wrong.
  3. Know your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the different sections. If you got Bs and Cs in your classes or even if you got As but crammed it all in the day before the final, you may have to pick more in-depth study materials for those sections.

When I took the DAT, I begged and borrowed almost every study material for the DAT that was available. This was a terrible idea and only overwhelmed me to the point where I had to re-take the DAT. Of all the materials I used, I narrowed it down to my top three:

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  1. Crack DAT PAT from
    There are other sections available from the same company but the Crack DAT PAT software is probably the most valuable because of the rarity that is PAT practice materials. There are different bundles available on the website containing numerous full-length practice exams, solutions and explanations. The format is similar to the actual exam. I would highly recommend this software if you just need some extra practice or are struggling with the PAT section.
  2. DAT Destroyer, MATH Destroyer, Organic Odyssey from The Destroyer series are probably the most popular Q&A books for DAT preparation available. DAT Destroyer features a bunch of practice questions available for biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry and quantitative reasoning with answers and explanations for each. Math destroyer and Organic Odyssey are books filled with practice questions devoted to the quantitative reasoning sections and organic chemistry sections respectively. If you are struggling in either of these two areas, it might not be a bad idea to spring for the extra practice problems.
  3. DAT Achiever from and Topscore from Each software package contains three full-length practice tests. In your study schedule, I would recommend blocking out the two weeks before your DAT to sit down and take a full-length practice test every other day until it is test day. Most of us are not used to taking a 280 multiple choice question test in four hours, which makes it important to simulate the real thing. This will prepare you mentally and physically for a test such as this.

Can’t stop procrastinating? Here are a few ways to break out of it:

  1. Set a time frame of about six weeks to outline your study schedule. Most people cannot study eight hours a day, seven days a week. Know your limits and study habits.
  2. Don’t delay your DAT date. It’s impossible to know everything about every subject without going crazy. Schedule a major vacation or event that cannot be delayed for the day after the DAT. This will give you extra incentive to not procrastinate while studying so you can enjoy a guilt-free vacation.
  3. Maintain a balance in your life. Make sure you leave room on your schedule to work out, eat right, sleep eight hours a day and spend time with loved ones.

Now that you know, the rest is up to you. Good luck!

This article is reprinted with permission from the American Student Dental Association. It originally appeared in Mouth.

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