Noah Barrett | 20 AAWhat is one piece of advice you would give to another student preparing to take the DAT?
The best advice I could give to someone preparing to take the DAT is to be realistic about your goals/timeline and plan to make studying your main focus amongst the other things you are doing. Everyone’s schedule is different, so everyone has different things that they must accommodate for when studying, whether that entails classes for school, a part-time or full-time job, volunteering, or other commitments that you might have. I didn’t have the time to follow a strict plan like the Crack the DAT 4/8/12 week study plan, so I made my own to fit my schedule. I had to find a balance between working my full-time summer job and studying for the DAT, while still maintaining my sanity from staying indoors during the nicest part of the year for weather.
The other thing that is essential is finding the time to take a break from studying! Burnout can happen so quickly in an intense studying plan, so do yourself a favor and make it a priority to take care of yourself! Give yourself a few little breaks in your studying each night and at least one day off during the week to do something you want to do. Don’t feel guilty… you’ve earned it!
Finally, I think the best thing to do in preparation is to take on as many practice problems as possible and to do so within similar time constraints to the test, whether that is an actual practice test or a makeshift one that you created. It gives you something tangible to see how you would be doing on the actual exam and you can use it as checkpoints along the way to see how ready you are come test day.
How did you use Crack the DAT to prepare for the DAT?
Crack the DAT was very helpful for me in preparing to take the DAT. It provided me a LOT of practice problems and practice tests, which ultimately, gave me the best idea of what the test would look like and how I would fare on it. I did my best to take a practice test once every 2 weeks at the start of the summer, and as it got closer to my test day, I began to take either a half or full practice test every week. This helped me to build up my stamina for the test as well, so that I wouldn’t be drained and searching for energy on test day.
The best part of Crack the DAT was the help it specifically provided for the Perceptual Abilities Test portion, which is also where I saw the most improvement in my scores from the beginning of the summer to the end. The PAT is unlike anything I had ever been tested on, and I would imagine that is true for most people taking the exam! I used the practice tests and the generators to become familiar with patterns that would help me discern answers quicker on the test than if I had actually taken the time to fold things correctly in my head, count the proper number of boxes, etc. So use your resources!!!
What would you do differently to prepare for the DAT?
If I was to take the DAT again, I would prepare much differently. First off, I don’t suggest working full-time and trying to study in the remaining hours of your day, even if you give yourself 8-10 weeks for preparation like I did. It was difficult to find the energy to study 4-5 hours, eat, get ready for the next day, and get the proper amount of sleep after a full day of working. If working is a priority for you to save up some money, then I would suggest working part-time… in hindsight, I think that definitely would have worked out better for me. I also would have given myself a couple more days off to help maintain sanity and recharge the batteries after really intense weeks. I can’t stress how important those breaks are as well as getting a full night’s rest as many nights as you can. I felt like I was “burning the midnight oil” almost every night, which left me tired on most days at work and probably affected my ability to study as well.
The other thing that I would have done differently is to ignore comparisons that I was making with other people. I knew a few friends that had taken the DAT and what their study schedule looked like; inherently, I began to compare my schedule, stress level, practice test scores to them instead of worrying about nailing down the key concepts and blocking out the extra noise. The more you can focus on you and your abilities, the better you should be able to conquer the DAT and move one step closer to your dream of attending dental school.