Aufia Zhowandai | 24 AAWhat is one piece of advice you would give to another student preparing to take the DAT? First of all I want to say congratulations! By choosing dentistry you have decided to enter into a very fulfilling career. Furthermore, taking the DAT is one of the first tangible, specific steps you take towards pursuing dentistry.
My first piece of advice would be to set a schedule for yourself, and do your best to stick with it. I studied for the DAT the summer after my sophomore year so I was lucky enough to have time to devote to studying. I studied from 8 am-12 pm and 1-3 pm every Monday-Saturday for two months before taking the exam. There were times when I was tired and wanted to do nothing but sleep or watch Netflix, but I still held myself accountable to a schedule. The actual DAT is a long exam and spending time studying undivided is important in preparing for the actual test. Just as importantly, I remembered to give myself breaks and everyday after studying I would do something fun.
My second piece of advice would be to place a heavy emphasis on review. There were things that I learned during my first week of studying that I had completely forgotten by the fourth week. Sometimes the most useful thing for me was not to take a new practice set, but rather review the answers from a practice set I had done a while ago. Placing a heavy emphasis on review ensured that I was actually benefiting from the hours I had previously put in studying.
My last, and most important piece, of advice would be to not get discouraged! Parts of the DAT are really tricky and the reading comprehension and PAT sections were initially a huge source of stress for me. Don’t let a bad score on a practice exam mislead you into thinking that you won’t do well on a section. Stay positive, and think about your reasons for pursuing dentistry to help stay motivated.
How did you use Crack the DAT to prepare for the DAT?
One thing that I found really helpful with Crack the DAT was the PAT practice problems they provided. After taking my first DAT practice exam, I did atrociously on the PAT section. However, carefully reading through the explanations on the PAT problems given by Crack the DAT was so incredibly helpful. The way Crack the DAT organizes the PAT section and provides different ways to approach the different concepts is amazing. The more problems that I went through, the more I saw my scores increase.
The videos that Crack the DAT offers are also so helpful! A big part of studying efficiently is using different learning mediums, visual, verbal, written, and more, in conveying information. The videos they provide are very thorough yet easy to get through. Crack the DAT does a really good job of organizing information efficiently and the videos are a nice break from just taking notes on paper or reading information.
What would you do differently to prepare for the DAT?
I honestly don’t have too many things that I wish I had done differently! I think the materials I used, such as the Crack the DAT materials, and the study schedule I implemented, was very effective in getting the score I wanted. I do have a couple of things that I was I had implemented though.
One thing that I wish I would have done differently was incorporate more active learning methods into my studying. The first weeks of my studying consisted of me mostly reading information and watching videos. This is great, but I do wish I had done more problems from the beginning. Writing down concepts is time consuming, but I personally found it helpful to solidify information and wish I had done that from the beginning.
Another thing that I wish I would have done was read articles daily to improve my reading comprehension abilities. The reading passages on the actual DAT are quite dense, and while Crack the DAT does an excellent job in preparing you for the reading comprehension exam, it wasn’t feasible for me to study for that section everyday by doing a full practice set. However, I do wish that I took twenty minutes out every day to read a scientific article so I would have gotten more used to reading them before my actual DAT.
That last thing that I wish I would have done was not stress as much. Yes, the DAT is important but so is staying on the right positive mindset so you actually do well on the exam! Remember to schedule time for mental health and to not compare yourself to others. It can be intimidating hearing about other people who did well and then not so well, but remember to just focus on yourself, stay motivated, do a lot of practice, and everything will be fine.