January 30, 2021

The Ultimate DAT Insiders' Guide

Three current dental students reveal their highly-effective test taking strategies for passing the Dental Admission Test (DAT) with flying colors.

Samantha Dow

Tackling the Dental Admission Test

Are you feeling overwhelmed by test prep season?

For many dental students, the Dental Admission Test, also known as the DAT is a daunting and intimidating test that is necessary for one’s dental school application. The test covers 5 main areas: natural sciences, perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning. Once taken, it can’t be taken again for a 90-day period. According to the American Dental Education Association, the test should be taken after the spring semester of your junior year or after you have completed your organic chemistry courses.

We reached out to dental classes of 2024 across the country to source some answers about how best to prepare for the DAT, and what tips and tricks future DAT takers can use. Here are some of the themes and responses collected from our three students!

For First-Time Takers

Panteha - NYU College of Dentistry ‘24

Identify your weaknesses and strengths within the common topics covered in DAT (based on DAT Bootcamp material) and start by specifically addressing your weaker areas.

Divide your time accordingly based on all the subjects. In a day, try to balance your effort between different topics and don't spend too much on one topic and less on others.

One important skill for DAT is to have high speed in answering the questions. So try to do whatever works for you to prepare for it (I tried to finish all my resources so that I would be confident enough to not doubt an answer and completed as many timed practice tests as possible)

Learn the PAT tricks and practice them routinely (DAT Bootcamp has a PAT app which is great!) and use earplugs if you are sensitive to any noise when taking an exam!

Honesty is the Best Policy

Gabriella - UPenn Dental School ‘24

My biggest piece of advice is to be honest with yourself about what you don’t know when practicing!

After taking practice exams, I would go through and write out the questions I missed or guessed on (even if it was correct and I got lucky), and also look up the entirety of that concept so that I understood it for future questions that may ask about a different point of that whole concept.

It’s easy to convince yourself that you made a mistake and will get it next time, but just remember you still missed it and want to ensure you understand the concept completely for future questions. It’s all about learning from your mistakes while practicing so you can nail the actual DAT questions!

Figure Out Your GamePlan

Miya - UCSF School of Dentistry ‘24

To study for the DAT, I started off taking a practice exam to gauge how difficult it was and which topics I would need to study the most. Each day, I'd try to study a variety of subjects and rotate through them so it all stays fresh in your mind. I would sign up for your DAT exam at the beginning of your studies. This way, you have a target date that you're working towards and it will help you stay more disciplined.

The BEST resource to prepare for the DAT is @DATBootcamp!! I adjusted Ari's 10-week schedule to focus more time on my weaker subjects. It had been a couple of years since I had taken chemistry courses, so I spent more time relearning that material. I watched Chad's Videos for chemistry, which were a great supplement to Mike's videos on DAT Bootcamp.

Some Prometric centers offer the chance to walk through the process of checking in and sitting down for your exam the day before so that you feel more comfortable and familiar with the testing site. I found this a good way to calm my nerves before my test.

My biggest piece of advice would be to block your daily and weekly schedule of what lessons you'd like to complete and skills you'd like to understand! Having a game plan helps you stay on schedule. I also made sure to keep a balanced lifestyle and stay active & social during this time. I liked to destress by hitting the gym or taking a long lunch break. You'll study more effectively if you give yourself breaks throughout the day.

Thanks to these three incredible dental school students for sharing their advice on how to conquer the DAT! We wish you the best of luck on your test preparation and hope you find these strategies helpful!

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