Memorial Day

I hope that whoever you are, you are surrounded by family and those you love today. Today is a day to celebrate life. Celebrate the lives of those still with us, but do not forget those who laid down their lives so that we are alive and free today.

If you are  a pre-dent thinking about how you could serve our country here are some links to check out:

Army

Air Force

Navy

So its time to take the DAT

1.) Make a Plan and Stick to It. 

You have probably heard the saying “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”, its true. My first piece of advice for you is to sit down and make a plan. Studying for the DAT is now your job and you are the manager…make the schedule!

For a great example of a study schedule check out Stephanie’s (author of Mirror & Explorer)

If you are working or going to classes on top of studying for the DAT it might be a good idea to make your schedule out weekly rather than monthly.

2.) Find the Right Study Material

It will be difficult to sort through what you need, don’t get caught up in buying too much stuff. Honestly, you may not have time for all of it! Instead, do your research and select a few resources that you think will be most beneficial based on your strengths and weaknesses. I listed my favorite below:

1.) Kaplan is amazing.  I know several people who scored well and only used the Kaplan program.

Pros:  Very organized, easy to understand and use. It has everything you need to prepare (practice tests, flashcards, practice problems, etc.) Kaplan will keep you focused and on schedule. They also offer extensions and money back guarantees if you do not score well after completing their course.

Cons: Pricey! I got really lucky and the Kaplan program was included in the MCAT/DAT Review program I participated in. I was lucky enough to have an “in person” class but if you decide to go with Kaplan I would definitely recommend at least doing the “live online” course.

2.)  Chad should become your best friend. 

I’m not even going to do a pro/con for this because you need him. Chad’s videos can be accessed through chemistryprep.com. I used him to study for the general chemistry and organic chemistry portions and guess what…they were my highest scores! That is saying a lot considering that I  actually received a C two of those classes (gen chem 2 and ochem 1).

The videos are not expensive and you can even purchase a bundle so you have access to all of the course. I actually purchased the bundle again after taking my DAT because I used his physics and biochemistry lessons.

Everything just makes sense when you learn from Chad.

3.) DAT DESTROYER

When it comes to the math portion of the exam it’s all about practice, practice, practice. The DAT Destroyer gives you just that. If nothing else I highly recommend buying “Math Destroyer”.

4.) Free Material:

https://datbootcamp.com/classroom/perceptual-ability/top-front-end-visualizer/ 

http://datgenius.com/Pledge/cdriver/index.html

http:/khanacademy.org

3.) Take Multiple Practice Exams

This is another reason why I like Kaplan! They provide you with more than enough full-length practice exams and give you a very detailed breakdown of your scores and what types of questions you are missing

How to use practice exams:

  1. Take a practice exam before you study. What are you good at? What did you expect to be higher? lower? are there any trends in the questions you missed?
  2. Study for 2 weeks -take another full-length practice exam.
    • full length is important to condition you mentally and physically to take a 4 hour test.
    • Notice what you did well on but really analyze what you missed. I recommend making a spreadsheet with the subject, the question, the correct answer and your answer. Then write a little note explaining why you missed it and how you can avoid that mistake next time. For example:Screen Shot 2017-05-21 at 7.39.10 PM.png
  3. Study some more and take another practice test. Repeat step 2.
  4. 3 days before exam day: Take a final FULL-LENGTH practice exam, make your spreadsheet. Review areas that you are weakest in. Notice your improvements.

4.) Have a Designated Study Area

It’s summer. You roommates want to relax and binge watch Netflix and everyone else is posting their beach selfies. Not you, your cortisol levels are at an all-time high and you are studying for the most important test of your life (so far).

This is where having a designated study area (DSA) is vital. Go to a cubby in the campus library, the public library, desk at your fav coffee shop, or even the desk in your room. Wherever your quiet place is, make sure that once you enter it you are unplugged and focused. When you come here it is time to study and study only. No facebooking, blogging, or crying….STUDY!

I recommend studying in 3-hour blocks (any more and you probably will lose focus), bring water, all your study supplies, and healthy snacks.  If one DSA gets old, go to another one…but keep the same rules.

5.) Stay Healthy

This one is important. When I am in intense study mode I tend to gain 10 pounds. I start obsessing over vanilla coca-cola and all the chips and chocolate I can get my hands on.

But your brain doesn’t want sugary processed junk….Think about all the ATP you are using, give your brain the nutrients it really needs to do its job.

You also should try to fit in regular exercise and a good sleep schedule. A healthy body is a happy body and a happy body scores well on the DAT.

6.) Enjoy a Day Off

MY NUMBER ONE PIECE OF ADVICE: Take a day off. I know you think I am crazy, but trust me. It’s for the best.

For the day before the test, it is best to not think about the exam (if this scares you too much then you can go over some flash cards…but that’s it!). You have studied hard and you are going to do amazing, take a deep breath and stay positive. Cramming last minute just does not work for a test like this. You would be hurting yourself more than helping at this point…so don’t do it!

Your friends and family are going to be proud and excited for you so you can expect your phone to blow up the day before and the day of the test. Just turn it off.

Most importantly, remember that your DAT score does not define you. It is only one piece of your application. You get to show the admissions board what does define you (your drive, your compassion, your perseverance, and passion) in the interviews and personal statement. I did not score very well on the DAT…but guess what…I’m still going to dental school next year! Of course, you need to try your best but try to stay calm and remember there is more to a dentist than his/her standardized test taking skills.

motivational penguin.gif

as always, let me know if you have any questions or concerns. I know I had about a billion questions about the DAT when I was preparing for it!!

Smile,

Andrea

So you graduated high school!

Now what?

Saturday was graduation day for the high school in my hometown. It is crazy to think that I was standing in their shoes 4 years ago!

In future posts we can go into more detail about choosing a major that is good for (you can major in anything you want!), how to choose your classes, talking to professors, shadowing, interview tips etc. Today, I am going to give you an overview of what you should be doing.



Summer   Freshman Year    Sophomore Year    Junior Year    Senior Year



**Please note that this timeline is only a suggestion .**

 You should consistently speak with your undergraduate advisor ASWELL as the office of admissions for the dental schools you are interested in attending.

The ADEA offers a predental timeline on their website as well.

Pre-dental Timeline.png

Okay, so infographics are good…but I think it’s best that we go into just a little more detail and break down your timeline a little more.

Summer Before Freshman Year. ( and every summer after that):

When I think about the summer before freshman year I get jittery and butterflies all over again! I remember using the little cat emoji and #uk2017 all over twitter (side note: that is how I met my best friend), taking road trips to walk around campus, and buying everything in UK blue I could find.

Getting excited is great, but if you already know you want to be a dentist you can start taking advantage of your summers NOW!

  • Ask your childhood/current dentist if you can shadow them.
  • Get a summer job and save up!
    • Work experience is a bonus for your dental school application!
  • Look for summer enrichment programs to attend
  • Work on your Dexterity
    • Dentists need good hand skills! Use the summer to brush up on yours. Continue a hobby or try out a new one such as:
      • crocheting
      • polymer clay
      • playing an instrument
      • jewelry making
      • painting, drawing, sculpting

 


Freshman Year

  • Enroll in General Chemistry and Intro to Biology Classes (with labs)
    • These classes are rumored to be “weed out classes” so they will be tough. Don’t let them discourage you. Study hard and do your best!
  • Hone in on your study skills
    • As I said, classes will be rough and probably different than what you are used to. You can use Pinterest, Instagram, youtube to see how other people study and try different methods. Use trial and error to figure out what works best for you!
  • Be Social- Join a pre-dental club & attend campus events
    • If your school doesn’t have a predental club..create one! Try to stay active in it throughout your undergrad years! Getting an officer position is a bonus!
    • Yes, your GPA is absolutely important if you want to go to dental (or any professional school). However, all work and no play will leave you sad, depressed, and lonely. It is important for you to start learning how to balance social life and school work.
  • Use your summer wisely

Sophomore Year

  • Continue taking the required courses.
    • Stay on track of the courses required for your major as well as the dental schools you are interested in.
  • Look for Research that interests you
    • Research is not required but it does look good on an application. I did research my senior year on synaptic transmission in drosophila!
    • I recommend looking for research earlier than I did. Professors usually like for their students to stick with them for a couple of years at least, and this gives you time to really learn about what you are doing (You WILL be asked about it during interviews).
  • Draft your personal statement & Clean up your resume.
    •  Next year you will need to start asking your professors for letters of recommendation (LORs). I found that mine really appreciated if you sent them some background info on yourself (even if they know you really well) and your personal statement and resumes are great ways to do so!
    • This is also a great time to start getting feedback about your personal statement. You will need to do A LOT of revisions before submitting the final thing next year.
  • Volunteer
    • If you haven’t started already, start volunteering!
    • Consistency is key here! It’s always great to volunteer with the pre-dent club at outreach programs or with your sorority. However, the admissions committee REALLY likes consistency. They want to see that you were dedicated to a cause. So if you can start volunteering weekly at a hospital, mission clinic or mentoring program DO IT! and stick with it.
  • Again, use your summer wisely
    • When you take the DAT and start applying next year the fees are really going to add up! This summer may be a great time for a summer job. If you get lucky, one of the dentists you worked with might hire you as an assistant.
    • Nothing is wrong with working at a place like Lowe’s or waitressing either. Hard work is hard work and the admissions board will appreciate that.

Junior Year

  • Finish courses needed to take DAT
    • You need to have completed intro biology courses 1&2, general chemistry 1 & 2, and organic chemistry 1 &2. Extra biology or math courses would definitely help in my opinion.
  • Take the DAT
    • Before you can retake the exam you must wait 90 days so it is best to take the DAT for the first time in early spring of your Junior year.
  • Ask Professors, Mentors, Dentists for LORs
    • This is where your resume and personal statement will come in handy!
    • Check each dental school for what they want. You can contact the office of admissions but I advise checking their “prospective students” website. Most schools require 2 from undergrad faculty (preferably science) and 1 dentist or someone who knows you very well. There will be 4 spots on the application so ask wisely. I asked my first generation advisor, my neuro professor and my intro to biology professor (I talked to her a lot and also took additional classes with her).
    • You can email or personally ask. Either way, you need to do it now before everyone leaves for the summer!
  • STAY CONSISTENT
    • just because you have a lot going on this semester doesn’t mean you get to slack in your volunteering hours!

Summer after Junior Year

  • Take the DAT (if you have not already or need to retake)
    • If this is the first time you are taking it (though not recommended) it is ok! My family went through a very rough time my junior year, so I took mine for the first time at the end of June.
  • Do some Mock Interviews
    • I did countless mock interviews with peers and dental school faculty during the MCAT/DAT review program I participated in at Louisville, KY.
  • Go shopping
    • Take a parent along to go shopping for interview outfits during the summer so you are not panicked about it during the semester.
    • TIP FOR GIRLS: I was told NO DRESSES…either a pant suit or a skirt and jacket.
  • Stay Consistent
    • I know, I keep saying that….but I will continue to say that. Try to stay as consistent with shadowing and volunteering as possible. Don’t stress about it if something happens, but the more you get done when you can the less you have to worry about it when you hit those little (or HUGE) bumps in life.

Senior Year

  • Finish any required courses
    • If you are done with all your prereqs look into classes like biochem, anatomy, histology that you can take as an elective (preferably P/F) that might help you next year in dental school.
  • More Mock Interviews
    • You will be attending REAL interviews this year, so be sure that you are comfortable with possible questions and how you want to answer them.
  • Finish Strong
    • Most dental schools ask that you receive a C or better in all of your remaining courses. Some are even stricter and require a B. So continue to do your best!

Wow, that flew by fast. Even writing this for you now, it does not feel like I should be here already! GRADUATED! DONE! SHEW! Next Step: D1 YEAR!

Disclaimer:

Sometimes people do not know they want to be a dentist until their Senior year…that’s ok!

Sometimes life is hard and you may need to reduce your course load…that’s ok!

There WILL be times when you need to adjust your plan…that’s ok!

Do your best and stay true to yourself.

 As always, please do not hesitate to ask me if you have any questions!

Smile,

Andrea

Sources: American Dental Education Associtaion (2017) “Timeline to Apply” Retrieved From:  http://www.adea.org/GoDental/Application_Prep/The_Admissions_Process/Timeline_to_apply.aspx 

So you like teeth…

Why would anyone want to spend their day putting their hands in strangers mouths? Ew, really? Oh, so is flossing really important? Can you tell me if this is a cavity? You really like teeth that much, huh? Were your parents dentists?

Trust me. I have heard it all.

During my time as a pre-dent, I have had to explain countless times that I chose dentistry because it’s the perfect combination of art, science, and helping people. I also have had to explain that while I can tell you all about the central dogma, I know very little about teeth (right now) and am not qualified to tell them if they need a filling or not.

If you can relate to any of the above…you are in the right place.

WELCOME

I am both excited and nervous to take you all through my journey. I really hope that you will gain some valuable insight along the way.  I expect to fill this blog with tips for pre-dental students as well as some healthy recipes and just some general “days in the life of a dental student”.

Most importantly, I am here to help!

As a first generation student pursing a DMD, I have faced a lot of challenges. I have had those feelings of giving up, panic, and frustration. With that said, I made it! If I can do it, you can too. If you ever have any questions, concerns, comments or just need words of encouragement please do not hesitate to contact me!

Smiles,

Andrea