Preparing for the Dental Admission Test (DAT) can be a daunting process. The DAT demands excellent time-management skills as well as grace under pressure, both during the test as well as while you’re studying for it. It’s specifically designed to predict success in the first year of dental school, so it’s high-speed and time-intensive since the first year of dental school is a frenzied experience for most students.
Most sources recommend that you spend 200-250 hours studying for the test over a period of about three months. That’s a long amount of time to work on something that’s designed to directly challenge you. Here are our top 10 tips for how you can keep your focus throughout your DAT prep in order to achieve your score goal.
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Top DAT Study Tip #10: Have the right attitude.
Your attitude toward the test really does affect your performance. Work to develop confidence and a positive mental stance toward the DAT.
Top DAT Study Tip #9: Make the most of your noteboard and computer-based testing tools.
Keep track of all the notes you need on your noteboard by being neat and methodical. You aren’t given many resources to use, so take full advantage of those provided.
Top DAT Study Tip #8: Keep track of time.
Pace yourself to avoid spending too much time on any individual question. Don’t let the clock add stress on Test Day.
Top DAT Study Tip #7: Use the process of elimination judiciously.
Most wrong answer choices are logical twists on the correct choice. Quickly move past any obvious traps to more easily match your prediction (Tip #5), but only use the full process of elimination when you cannot find a match.
Top DAT Study Tip #6: Skip around within each section by seeking out questions you can answer correctly.
Attack each section confidently. You’re in charge. Since every question is worth the same amount, work your best areas first to maximize your opportunity for DAT points. Don’t be a passive victim of the test structure, and don’t let any one question drag you down.
Top DAT Study Tip #5: Master the art of predicting.
Before you look at the answer choices, carefully determine what a question is really asking, then anticipate the answer. This helps protect you from persuasive, tricky, and time-consuming incorrect choices.
Top DAT Study Tip #4: Build your stamina.
Prepare your mind for Test Day by completing practice tests and studying in three-hour blocks while remembering to take breaks every hour and taking one day off per week.
Top DAT Study Tip #3: Develop the DAT mindset.
The DAT is designed to let you show off everything you’ve learned so far. Don’t let your spirit fall, or your attitude will slow you down. Don’t let yourself worry about a question or section once you’ve finished it; instead, change your mindset and tackle the next item as if you’re just starting anew.
Top DAT Study Tip #2: Know what the DAT tests.
Never forget the purpose of the DAT: to test your powers of analytical reasoning. You need to know the content because each section has its own particular language, but the underlying DAT intention is consistent throughout the test.
For more information about each section of the DAT, check out the following:
- What’s Tested on the DAT: Survey of Natural Sciences
- What’s Tested on the DAT: Perceptual Ability (PAT)
- What’s Tested on the DAT: Reading Comprehension
- What’s Tested on the DAT: Quantitative Reasoning
Just by finding yourself here, looking for strategies and tips on how you can improve your DAT prep, you are already taking steps towards success on the actual DAT. Equipping yourself with the right resources for how you study best—whether it be a class taught by an expert teacher or books—can help structure your prep and ease your stress.
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