Remember studying for the SATs? Or maybe you don’t because you didn’t need to. Now we’re older and smarter, and have made the decision to pursue dentistry as a career. With that though comes its own set of preparation, most notably the Dental Admission Test (DAT). This past summer, I prepped and took the DAT. This exam is certainly no SAT, and anyone who’s set on taking it has to prepare. In my preparations for the DAT, I acquired some helpful strategies and tips that I have compiled into five simple steps to help you succeed on the DAT.
1. Time management. This tops just about everything in your preparation for the DAT. Without a set schedule for yourself, you can easily become overwhelmed. Before you even begin to think about taking the DAT, make a plan as to when you’re going to study for it and take the DAT right after you finish studying. Once you have a time frame in mind, your next move should be to create a study schedule. Having each day planned out, knowing what you’ll be focusing on and for how long is imperative to your success. This will help relieve stress and make you feel more organized and responsible while you study.
2. Study the right way. If you think back to the days of studying for the SATs, you may remember purchasing big books filled with practice exams. So while you might be tempted to do the same for the DAT, you should strongly consider studying on a computer, being that the DAT is offered exclusively on a computer. Try taking practice tests on a computer, get used to seeing only one question at a time and having to click between each question. Get used to an online calculator with no shortcut keys for the Quantitative Reasoning section. Studying for the DAT by using the equipment the exam uses will only serve to help you feel more prepared and confident on exam day.
3. Take a practice test first. Before you begin studying, take a full or condensed practice exam to get your feet wet. This may seem counterintuitive but it will get you more acquainted with the test format. In addition, this can serve as a baseline for tweaking your study schedule to focus on areas that need the most improvement.
4. Find your studying sweet spot. Know whether you study more effectively with others or secluded in a room, or some combination of both (like me). Knowing this is crucial to your success because the DAT requires you to focus on and understand a lot of information, and you want to be as prepared as possible come exam day. You want to make sure you’re providing yourself with the most optimal environment you can possibly be in to thrive in succeeding in your studies.
5. Take breaks. As an extremely involved college student, I struggle to take breaks from all of my commitments and just go out for dinner with friends or out to a movie with a loved one. Find time for yourself to decompress from all the studying and to take care of your body. Try going to the gym or simply walking around after a few hours of studying. This will help keep your mind sharp and your blood flowing to your extremities. Studying so much information can be a daunting task. However, a strong DAT score is worth the investment.