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:
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:
- 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?
- 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:
- Study some more and take another practice test. Repeat step 2.
- 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.
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!!