Inquiring minds want to know about what methods lead to good results on the DAT!
The DAT is a comprehensive exam and covers a lot of material. You may feel lost or confused as you begin to look at the breadth of the information examined. How do you start? What is the best way of going about it? Please note that the DAT is relatively easy to pass. Passing is not the goal of this examination, you must do relatively well on this exam to be considered for admission to dental schools in the US and Canada. What kind of a score are you aiming for? I would suggest at least a 20 or more in each section should be your goal. Canadian readers should note that the Canadian DAT does not include an organic chemistry section but does include a soap carving manual dexterity section. The soap carving will be covered under the last point on this list as a special category.
Top 10 Methods on How You Can Do Well on the DAT Examination and Score High
1. Get your bearings straight
This exam is NOT DIFFICULT. Keep in mind that for most pre-dental students, this exam is simply a review of what you have already learned. In fact, for most biology majors, the exams you encountered in class are much more difficult than the questions you will encounter on the DAT. Start by doing some old exam questions. You can find these in a multitude of places - try doing a simple Google search (feel free to use the Google search provided on this site above). A quick search will yield a few sites that can provide you with samples of the types of questions asked. If you feel lost at this point, be prepared to study a bit harder. Keep in mind that dental schools have pre-requisite courses, and these courses are the foundation for this exam. Just as an aside, you should try to study in the range of at at least 1-2 months or more for this exam. Keep yourself organized, and write down your goals as you go along...
2. Kaplan DAT Blue Book
The infamous Kaplan blue book for the DAT. Purchase it and use it. Personally, this book was the ONLY STUDY MATERIAL THAT I USED (I am a dental student, I achieved about an average of 23 per section, my lowest score was in the perceptual ability test in which I scored a 19). I borrowed mine from a friend who already took the exam. It was a few years old and it did not matter at all that it was an older book. Don't get me wrong, stick to a recent version of this study book, but don't be so concerned that you feel that you have to go out and get the most recent version to get a solid score. If you are a strong student, read this book once and you should get in the range of 18-20 per section. Read it twice and you should do really well. If you are the type of person who requires more studying time than your peers, you may want to consider some of the other options presented in this Top 10 list as well. I am not in any way affiliated to Kaplan. I simply know this book to be the best resource available for people who want to study the least amount of time and have the highest score.
2. Get access to the Kaplan DAT Quiz Bank
I never did this myself, however, I have friends who got access to the quiz bank available through Kaplan and have highly recommended it. What's the point? The strength of this quiz bank lies in the sample chemistry questions. Organic chemistry and inorganic chemistry isn't fun and the best way to do well in these sections is to do lots of questions and to get a sense of what is going on.
3. Realize that time is a factor
For most exams you might have encountered up to this point, time may have not been a factor. For the DAT, it can be a problem. Do your research! Read the DAT Examinee Guide provided by the ADA. Each section is timed, and you may run out of time easily. Learn to manage your time and answer questions not only accurately, but quickly.
4. Barron's DAT Book
I have not used this book myself, but again, insiders recommend this book strongly for the PAT section. The PAT section requires a certain specialized knowledge that one can obtain by practicing constantly. This book gives you the BEST EDGE that you can get for the perceptual ability test section of the DAT. Please note that due to some biomedical or hormonal, or unknown reason, females tend to do poorer on this section than males. I am a strong proponent of getting more females into dental school :) Females should strongly look into getting their hands on this book to improve their PAT section scores.
5. Do NOT take a DAT tutoring course
Well, unless you seriously have no motivation on your own. In which case, you should reconsider your choice to go on into dental school anyways. If you need a tutoring course that bad, then keep in mind that dental school will likely be the hardest thing you will encounter in your life. You won't have the chance to get tutoring to make your way through dental school. So save your money and dig that motivation out of that cave now, because this is just the beginning. You should not need to take any expensive tutoring courses to do well on this examination. For the rest of you who still think this is bad advice... if you have money to waste, and if you like the structure of a classroom to motivate you, a DAT course won't hurt, so go for it!
6. Join a pre-dental society
Pre-dental student clubs or associations at your school may be holding mock DAT exams. These mock exams can help you prepare for the exam day by letting you experience first-hand what it feels like to be examined for so long. These are better than setting exams up yourself because you don't have the option of 'cheating' and taking quick breaks here and there! Top 10 Nation personally recommends local pre-dental ASDA (American Student Dental Association) chapters for pre-dental students who are looking for support.
7. Set up mock exams for yourself
The same reasoning applies here, especially if you don't have the oppurtunity to join a pre-dental student society. A few mock exams interspersed into your study schedule can help you greatly. This is especially important for those students who may tend to get anxious during exams. Do yourself a favor and don't take breaks when you are not supposed to.
8. Take the optional break
There is an optional break somewhere in the middle of the exam. Take this optional break, even if you think you don't need to. Just relax and maybe have a bite to eat. It will give your brain a chance to rest, and a small bite can refuel your body and mind. Some people tend to skip this break, but my advice is to take the break to its fullest extent. Also be sure to take a sweater with you as the testing room may be chilly.
9. Realize that it is hard to study for Reading Comprehension
It's practically pointless to study for this. If you struggle with this section in mock test scenarios, consider completing more English courses before you take the DAT. Actually I don't really know what else to suggest when it comes to this part. It takes a long time to develop these skills, not a short stint reading some book full of hints. English, biomedical terminology, and vocabulary skills may help to improve your performance on this section of the DAT.
10. *For Canadian DAT takers only * Practice carving by purchasing soap and equipment from the CDA
Purchase the soap and knife directly from the CDA. This will be the same soap that you will get during the DAT. Use only the recommended sharpie to mark up the soap, as this is the only writing tool that you may use during the exam. Purchase any DAT carving study book to help you get through this section. Any relevant study book will help show you techniques to mark up and carve the soap. Keep in mind that courses are sometimes offered to help with this section, I suggest them especially if you think that this section may pose difficulty for you. Practice makes perfect, and hardly anyone is perfect at first. Also stay on top of rules governing this section, as I am aware that certain aspects such as the permission to wear latex or nitrile gloves during this examination section may change.
There you have it! With this advice, and your good head on your shoulders, you shouldn't need any good luck, but here it is anyways... Good luck from everyone at Top 10 Nation!
Inquiring minds want to know about what methods lead to good results on the DAT!