The DAT exam, or the Dental Admission Test, is commonly taken after someone’s sophomore or junior year of college. The test is the admission test needed to get into dental school after you finish your undergrad. The DAT is known to be an extended test, so figuring out how to study for the DAT can be overwhelming.
Don’t worry; we’re here to help! We’ve got you covered, from discussing what is covered on the DAT to breaking down how best to study and how long you should study. There is a lot to think about when preparing for such a big test, but this article will give you all the necessary information to set you on the right foot going forward.
What Does the DAT Exam Consist Of?
The DAT exam, or the Dental Admission Test, is a comprehensive exam that tests your readiness to enter dental school. It covers four main sections and will take over four hours to complete. During the test, you will also get an hour-long lunch break, so plan on the test-taking for closer to six hours, including time to check-in.
The sections of the DAT are:
The natural science section of the exam covers biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry. As long as you understand the three subjects covered in this section, this is often considered the most straightforward section of the DAT. This section of the exam will take 90 minutes to complete, making it the most extended section.
The perceptual abilities section tests your ability to see something drawn in 2D and be able to visualize it in 3D. At first, this section might seem the most confusing since it is likely what you are least familiar with, but it is actually super easy to study. There are a number of fantastic computer programs that make studying for the perceptual abilities section a breeze.
The reading comprehension section is like any other reading comprehension test section you’ve ever taken. The test will give you a passage of reading and ask you some questions about the passage. It is then up to you to be able to draw the necessary information out of the passage. This section is also easy to prepare for. It just takes time.
The quantitative abilities section is a math section. It covers basic algebra and statistics. Think of it as similar to any SAT or ACT math section that you’ve taken in the past. It won’t be testing you on calculus, though, so it tends to be a pretty straightforward section for people to study for.
How Hard is it to Pass the DAT?
The DAT is a challenging test, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible to pass. Since the test is designed to be an admission test to get into dental school, the score you receive on the DAT will simply indicate what level of dental school you are ready for. If you ace the DAT, you can most likely get into whatever dental school you want.
On the other hand, if the DAT is more challenging for you for whatever reason and you don’t do as well, it doesn’t mean that you can’t go to dental school. You will probably have less choice in what school you go to, but you can probably find a school to get into.
The other option you have is to retake the test. You are allowed to take the DAT up to three times, but remember that you will be paying the test admission fee every time you take the test. We recommend that you put in the time to study thoroughly the first time you take the test, so you don’t have to spend more money on the test and more time studying.
How Long Should You Review for DAT?
Figuring out how long to review for the DAT is up to you. Remember that the DAT is a prolonged test, and you will want to make sure you take at least two complete practice tests during your studying, so make sure you leave yourself enough time to complete both tests.
Generally, you’ll want to leave yourself anywhere from about six weeks to three months to study, depending on how much time you want to dedicate to studying each week. If you feel more confident in some subjects, such as organic chemistry, you may only need six weeks.
One of the best ways to figure out how much time you’ll have for studying is to look at the DAT schedule near you. While in some areas, it is easier to get a test date, in some areas is harder to get in to take the test. In that case, you may end up with more or less time than you wanted to study unless you plan accordingly.
How to Prepare for the DAT Exam?
Figuring out how to ace the DAT exam can seem overwhelming since the test is so long, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Make sure you give yourself enough time before your test to study and feel prepared without giving yourself too much time. Too much time can lead to you feeling more overwhelmed, which is the opposite of what you want!
Before the Exam
Before the exam, ensure you have spent plenty of time studying. This does not mean that you crammed for a week before the test and did nothing but study. This means that you studied a little bit every day or a few six to ten hours every week for at least six weeks leading up to the test. By spreading out your studying, you are giving your brain the best chance it has to remember all the information you are asking it to remember.
During the days leading up to the exam, you’ll want to ensure that you exercise well, sleep well, and eat good food. Making sure that your body is ready and that your brain is well fed and rested can go a long way towards making you feel less stressed going into exam day.
During Test Day
Figure out what to bring to the DAT exam and pack it up the night before. On the day of the DAT, you’ll want to make sure that you have everything ready the night before so you don’t have to stress when you wake up. Make sure you have a good lunch packed and ready. That way, you can spend as much of your lunch break relaxing as possible without worrying about getting back to the exam late.
Map out how you are going to get to the testing venue and maybe even drive there the day before so you know how long it will take you to get there. Remember to bring two forms of ID, a water bottle, and wear comfortable clothes. It is a good idea to pack all of this the night before to make sure you don’t forget anything important.
Eat a good breakfast and get out into the sunlight at least a little before you head off to take your DAT. That way, your brain will be fed, and you will be as awake as you possibly can be. Since you will have to sit and focus for many hours, it is essential that you set your body up for success.
3 Study Tips for Dental Admission Test (DAT)
There are so many DAT tips and tricks, but these are our favorite study tips to help you crush your upcoming DAT:
Make a DAT study schedule
Making a study schedule is the best way to structure your studying. A study schedule will help hold you accountable for the study you said you would do. Using a study schedule for the DAT and any other significant exam you might have to take is a great way to set yourself up for success.
There are a few things to make sure you include in your study schedule. The first is a few practice tests. By taking a practice test when you start studying and then about halfway through your studying, you’ll be able to get a good idea of how effectively you are studying. If you take your second practice test and your score hasn’t increased the way you wanted, you still have time to adjust your study habits.
Days off will make sure you have the energy you need to keep studying! You’ll also want to make sure that you include rest days in your study schedule. It might seem counterproductive to take days off, but your brain really needs days off to help it fully comprehend the information you are asking it to learn.
Invest in good study materials
Investing in good study materials will make studying so much easier. With so many outstanding programs out there to choose from, make sure you find a book or computer program that works best for you. In general, you’ll want to make sure that your study materials have lots of practice questions for all the sections, are recently published, so it’s not out of date, and have at least one if not more practice test.
Programs like the DAT Destroyer and DAT Bootcamp are super popular, but there are other options out there as well. Most major study book publishers will have a DAT study guide or other study material so if you already have a style of study book that you like, see if they make a DAT version. That way, you will already be familiar with the structure of the book and understand how it works.
Study for lots of short chunks of time
It might seem like you should just sit down and crank through all your studying, but that isn’t how your brain processes information. The best way to get your brain all the information it needs for the DAT or any other extensive test is by studying for lots of short intervals.
This means that you should be studying for no more than two or three hours in one sitting. Try scheduling a few short study sessions throughout each week. That will give your brain the time it needs to process the information and put it into storage without making you feel too drained by the constant studying.
Wrapping Things Up: How to Ace the DAT Exam?
The DAT is a huge test, and it can seem overwhelming. We know that with the proper preparation, anyone can crush the DAT! By creating and sticking to a study schedule and giving yourself at least six weeks to study, you will be setting yourself up for success when you take the DAT.