If you are wondering what is on the DAT, look no further! The DAT, or Dental Admission Test, is a comprehensive exam that dental schools use to help measure your readiness for their program. The DAT covers everything from your basic natural science knowledge to quantitative reasoning, perceptual ability, and reading comprehension.
It might sound like a lot of information, and it is. The DAT takes a whole day to take, including checking in for the test and an hour-long lunch break. All this adds up to mean that you will need to prepare well if you want to pass the DAT. We’ve got you covered there! From the long-term preparation to what you should do the day before your test, we’ve got lots of tips and tricks to help you out.
3 General Tips and Study Notes for the DAT
Studying for the DAT can seem really overwhelming, especially given how long the test is, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We have many tips and tricks to help you feel prepared for the DAT. Here are some of our favorite DAT tips and test-taking strategies:
Read the DAT guide
Every year the ADA, or the American Dental Association, publishes a guide to the DAT. The guide will include the most up-to-date information about scoring and what the test covers. If anything has changed from previous years, this is where you will find out about it.
As soon as you decide that you want to go to dental school and are starting to think about taking the DAT, you should read the DAT guide. The guide is the best place to start since it will be able to help you figure out what your next steps are. Make sure you have the most recent edition of the DAT guide. That way, you know all the information you are reading is accurate.
Take a practice test to see where you are
Before you start thinking about how you want to study and how often you should study, you will need to know what score you are starting out at. This is called your baseline and is essential to know if you are going to create a useful study guide to help you. Taking a practice test will give you valuable insight into what parts of the test you are likely to do the best and what parts of the test you might struggle with.
You should also take another practice test about halfway through your studying. That second practice test will allow you to see how much your score has changed. If your score hasn’t gone up as much as you wanted it to, you will still have time to adjust and make any changes you need to your study routine. You will really be able to see how helpful all your studying has been.
Create a realistic study schedule
Once you have taken a practice test and have a general idea of how much you want your score to increase, you’ll be able to create a study schedule to help you achieve that goal. Make sure your study schedule is realistic in a few ways.
First, you’ll want to have a schedule that fits into your life. Every person has a different routine, so every study schedule will be different and unique. If you have work and school for three days a week, try making a three-day-a-week study schedule and giving yourself one day off.
Secondly, make sure to start your study schedule before your test date so it won’t be rushed. Make sure you know your test date and how much you want your score to go up before starting your study schedule. Generally, you’ll want to study for at least six weeks and no more than three months.
3 Study Tips 2-6 Months Before the DAT
During the months leading up to the DAT, you’ll want to make sure that you are prepared in every way possible. Since parts of the DAT will be covered in your standard college courses, that is generally where you’ll want to start focusing, but there are other DAT tips and tricks that you can work on a few months in advance.
Save your study materials from biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry
Since a large portion of the test will cover the natural sciences of biology, chemistry, and organic chemistry, you’ll want to spend a good amount of your preparation time on these subjects. Luckily for you, you will have also just taken courses covering these subjects during your time in college.
One of the best things you can do as soon as you know you want to go to dental school and take the DAT is to start saving and organizing all your study materials from these courses. This could mean that you keep your textbooks instead of selling them back at the end of the semester. You could just make sure you have all your old notes and exam study guides to help you review. Pick what is going to work best for you and do that.
Figure out what score you want to aim for
Before you start picking the date to take your DAT and paying your entrance fees, you should figure out what score you want to aim for. If you plan on aiming for the highest score, you’ll probably want to give yourself some extra study time.
The best way to determine what score you should be aiming for is by deciding which dental schools you plan to apply to. Do some research on those schools and find out what score they want you to have and the range of scores they tend to accept into their program. Many schools also publish the median scores of their currently enrolled students. This will give you a good idea of what score you should aim for.
Pick out your DAT study materials
Research and determine what study materials will work best for you. Are you someone who likes to study from a book? Do you prefer using a computer? Do you need the motivation of a tutor to help you out? Understanding what you need in order to be successful is a great place to start figuring out what study materials will help you out the most.
Make sure you don’t go out and buy an extensive and expensive study book if you are going to be on the move a lot and are looking for something portable. Jumping on the hottest new book bandwagon isn’t always the best idea. Make sure you figure out precisely what you want from your study materials and what materials will be able to provide that for you the best.
How to Study for the DAT 1 Month Before?
If you have just booked your DAT exam and you only have one month to prepare, there are still things you can do. Some of the best quick DAT study tips are centered around well-focused studying. Start by taking a practice test to determine your starting score. Then decide what score you want to aim for and what parts of the test you will need the most help with.
From there, you will want to focus most of your studying on the areas that you need the most help with and leave the other parts of the test until later. Although you might not get your score quite as high as you originally wanted using this method, you will get a better overall score if you focus on your more challenging sections.
The DAT covers a lot of material, and although there are many answers to “When should I start studying for the DAT?”, no one answer is correct. Make the most of the time you have available to you and cover as much material as you can. Taking practice tests along the way is a great way to gauge your progress and make adjustments along the way.
5 DAT Test Day Tips
One of the best ways to crush the DAT is by controlling your stress levels. This might seem hard, but with our tips and tricks, you’ll be prepared to tackle any significant test, including the DAT! On the day of your DAT, you can do many things to help make the day run smoothly and keep your stress levels down.
1. Pack your bag the night before
Making sure you have everything you need all organized and in one place is a great way to start your morning off on the right foot. Take some time the night before the DAT to pack your test bag. Make sure you include everything you will need during your lunch break and all the information you will need to check in for the test. This will prevent you from flustering as you leave the house in the morning.
2. Don’t cram
As much as you want to cram, try not to cram the night before the DAT. Cramming is not an effective study strategy and is more likely to harm your sleep than it is to actually help you. If you have done your studying, you should feel totally fine taking a night to relax and get into the right headspace for the test. Cramming will only make you more stressed so try not to be concerned with the test at all.
3. Get lots of sleep
Making sure you get a full eight hours of sleep will provide your brain with all the energy it needs to get through the DAT. The DAT requires a lot of focus for an extended period of time, so giving your brain all the help you can really pay off. Try turning off all electronics an hour before bed and just winding down and relaxing. This will help your brain produce the chemicals that signal your body to sleep and will help you stay asleep throughout the night.
4. Eat a good breakfast
Similar to getting a good night’s sleep, your brain needs food to fuel all the thinking and focus during the DAT. You should eat a breakfast that is filling, but not a breakfast that makes you feel so stuffed you can’t move. You should eat some fruits as well as something with complex carbs and something with protein. Having a complete breakfast will set your brain off on the right foot!
5. Leave extra time for traveling
Getting to the testing center can be a massive worry for some people. If you are lucky enough to live in a place without traffic, you will probably easily get to the testing center. If you live somewhere with a lot of traffic, make sure you leave plenty of extra time because they won’t hold the test for you just because you got stuck in traffic.
Wrapping Things Up: DAT Tips and Test Taking Strategies
Getting into dental school can be tricky, but with our dental admission test tips, we know you’ll be well on your way to crushing your DAT! Next time someone asks you, “Is the dental admission test hard?” you’ll be able to tell that it might be challenging depending on the person, but you can show them all the study tips you used to do well. Regardless of if you are someone who has months to study or only one month to study, we have you covered!
If you are a dental student getting ready for the NBDE exam, then you may find our post on the best NBDE books helpful.
If you enjoyed this content, check out more medical study tips here.