Dental Admission Test …Take 2

The summer before my senior year of college was by far the busiest summer of my life. Not only was I studying to retake the DAT on August 8, I was also working 40 hours a week as a research assistant with my chemistry professor AND planning a wedding for July 21, 2012. Talk about busy.

Lets dive into my study strategy for the DAT round 2. A strict schedule was absolutely necessary to make everything fit into the day. I did research at my school from around 8am to 4:30pm. I went home, ate supper and was back up to our campus student center within an hour. I would study for two and a half to three ours and then hang out with my fiancée who had just gotten off work. It was a long day sometimes but it wasn’t too bad.

So what materials did I use?

First and foremost, as I mentioned in my previous post, Chad’s Videos were my number one go to resource for general chemistry and organic chemistry. Chad was pretty much my best friend for a good three months. He is a fantastic teacher and knows exactly what to focus on so you don’t get bogged down by unnecessary detail. Just to give you further proof of his magical powers, I used his videos for my first DAT attempt but did not focus or take studying very seriously so it’s basically like I didn’t use them. I scored a 16…yes a 16 on organic chemistry. Round 2, I buckled down and took full advantage of his videos, the review questions he gives and the concise notes he makes available to users. On my second attempt, I scored a 22 on organic chemistry. I’m not saying this to brag. Chad’s videos are just such an amazing resource, I don’t want anyone to miss out on them when studying for the DAT. It was the only resource I used for chemistry so my improvement can only be attributed to these videos.

I also used Chad’s math videos as well which are good place to start so you know what kind of questions are focused on. More practice is probably necessary beyond his videos for math, though. I didn’t get anymore practice and it showed in my math score.

As for biology, I used an AP study guide from a Campbell biology textbook. It was a general overview of everything that would be on the test. Campbell’s text is actually one used as a reference to make the DAT, can’t go wrong there. I have been looking for that specific review book online but haven’t found it to post a link. If I do, I will link it later. I have read a lot of good things about Cliff’s AP biology, I’m sure it is mostly the same material. I majored in biology for undergrad so I just read through that short review book once and called it good for that section. Chad’s Videos were in the process of posting biology videos which could be a good resource now that they are complete. Chad also works with a current dental student named Alan. Alan came out with Alan’s Notes which are a complete list of biology terms and their definitions. They are a great resource.

On the perceptual ability section, I was already pretty confident. I like those kind of puzzles and am pretty good at them. I ordered Crack the DAT PAT and did two of the ten or so practice tests.

The reading section I didn’t study for at all. I like reading and have good comprehension. I would recommend reading news articles on the computer to get used to reading long documents on a computer screen, although most of you are probably used to that already. Science articles that aren’t too dense would be good practice as well since the articles on the DAT are science oriented. My articles were not like research articles, though. They just talked about a science topic.

I studied every night except Sunday which I took off so I could have a break before starting the week again. I studied each section one at a time; I liked building on what I learned the previous day. Some people I know liked to bounce around, a couple days on bio then a few on gen chem. That’s not my style, but if that works for you, go for it.

I stuck to my routine all summer except for the week I took off for my wedding and honeymoon. We had a strict rule of no studying for that week which I was more than happy to comply with.

I had two weeks after my honeymoon before my test. I used the first to finish up some material I hadn’t covered yet and then reviewed everything on the last week. I also took old DAT tests released by the ADA. One is free the other costs $27. Click the “old DAT tests” link and scroll half way down the page to find these tests.

The day of the test, I felt prepared and ready to go, but still slightly nervous. After buckling down for the whole summer and treating Chad’s Videos as if it were a college course taking detailed notes and periodically reviewing them, I felt really confident coming out of the science section. That confidence more than likely helped on the rest of the test. I ended up with a 21 and was beyond ecstatic. It was a nice improvement from the 18 I got on my first try. If you want to know specifics about my scores in each section, message me and I will let you know.

I hope this break down gives you some ideas about resources! Remember to find what works for you and stick with it.

Good luck studying!

Dental Admission Test …Take 1

As most pre-dental students know, the Dental Admission Test (DAT) is one of the first big hurdles that needs to be crossed before entering dental school. It’s a daunting test. Just about anything science related that we could have ever learned in our lives is fair game. Some study for several weeks, others study for several months. I ended up joining the latter but it was not by choice.

I decided to forgo classes during J-term of my junior year of college in 2012. J-term wasn’t required for upperclassmen. I didn’t need to work, I had enough money saved up for second semester tuition, so I could hide away in the basement of the campus library and pound the information in my head. Good plan, right?

Nope. Not for me anyway.

Through undergrad, I never really developed a specific studying “style” that I could rely on. I did something different for almost every test that I took, so I didn’t know how to handle the large amount of information covered on the DAT. For this test I decided to become a scribe for a month. I took a Kaplan prep book and basically retyped the entire biology section in the first couple weeks. Since it was such a daunting task, my focus turned from absorbing the information to getting a certain amount typed by the end of the day. It was a big waste of time. The fact that I didn’t like the Kaplan prep book in the slightest didn’t help anything either. It was filled with minutia that was unnecessary to learn and it didn’t give any guidance as to what areas were more important than others. You can’t learn everything and some subjects have historically been given more attention on the DAT than others. There were also several mistakes in the book. Some people liked it as a study tool but I don’t recommend it.

From here I turned to chemistry. I used the Kaplan book for about a day and realized that I needed to find a different way. It had been long enough since my last general chemistry class that I needed a better resource that could hold my attention. I turned to the life saving Student Doctor Network (SDN) for help. I found several references to something called Chad’s Videos on Coursesaver.com. This may very well have been the discovery that saved my future career as a dentist. I would recommend this site to anyone taking the DAT. I will discuss it more in later post.

Through second semester of my junior year, I watched all of Chad’s videos on gen chem, o-chem, and math. I took thorough notes but did not focus as much as I probably should have. I mistakenly stuck with the Kaplan review for biology. I have good reading comprehension and perceptual ability skills so I didn’t study for those sections. During this time, I had a full course load including o-chem 2, comparative vertebrate anatomy, microbology among others so I was kept pretty busy.

I took the test on April 21 and was scared to death for the entire hour long drive to the testing center. I felt ok after finishing the science, perceptual ability, and reading…then I came to math. I have always hated math and, after that test, it seemed as though the feeling was mutual. I completely froze. I was not used to using the on screen calculator you are given and that tripped me up causing me to waste time. It is similar to the normal Microsoft calculator on a computer but I didn’t practice with it. I started freaking out about running out of time. The realization that I was minutes away from seeing my scores didn’t help things. Needless to say, I didn’t feel ok after that section.

In the end, I scored fairly well on the first sections and would have gotten a 19, a respectable score and the average accepted at most dental schools. Then I saw the math score. It was dismal. Lower than the cutoff for most schools. (Many schools have certain scores that you cannot score below in any section or you are automatically out of the running for acceptance)

Obviously, a retake was necessary. Unfortunately, ADA rules say that you have to wait 90 days from your test date before you can retake the exam. I wanted to retake the test as soon as possible. The applications opened in early June and the earlier you get all of your materials in, the better your chances are in the rolling admission. As it turned out, 90 days from my first test date landed on July 20, the day before my wedding. That was a problem. My then fiancée probably wouldn’t have appreciated me studying all day long in the weeks leading up to the wedding and then being out of town during our rehearsal.

As you can probably tell by the fact that I was admitted to dental school, I did retake the test and fortunately redeemed myself. The details on that little adventure which added to the busiest summer of my life will have to wait for my next post.

Thanks for reading.