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8 tips for DAT success

There is no magic formula for getting a high score on the Dental Admission Test (DAT), but there are things you can do to set yourself up for success. The following tips are intended to help you fully prepare for the DAT so that you can feel relaxed and confident on test day.

1. Review the test specifications. The Candidate Guide includes an in-depth breakdown of all the subjects covered on the test. You should review the specifications to make sure that you know what you will be expected to know when taking the test.

2. Identify your areas of strength and weakness. Based on the test specification, decide where you are strong and where you are weak. Doing so should help inform your study plan.

3. Consult with faculty and advisors. If you are in school, consult with faculty who know you well and your prehealth advisor if your program has one. Ask them for preparation advice and tips on finding helpful resources.

4. Make a plan. Based on your review of the test specifications, your assessment of your strengths and weaknesses, and your consultation with faculty and advisors, devise a study plan. Students who have scored well on the DAT have shared that they studied for 10-12 weeks prior to their exam for four to eight hours a day. Figure out what you will study and in what order. This is where a third-party study course can be helpful if you struggle to set or stick to a schedule.

5. Know the rules. As you prepare for the test, be sure to familiarize yourself with the DAT website and the DAT Guide. You will be expected to abide by the rules outlined in the guide. If you violate a rule, even inadvertently, it could result in your scores being voided and a retest penalty could be assessed.

6. Give yourself time. Be honest with yourself about how much you will be able to study per day and per week. Make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to prepare. If you make a realistic plan and are meeting all of your study goals, it will help you build confidence and reduce anxiety as your test date approaches. The reverse also is true; if you are not meeting your study goals, you may begin to feel overwhelmed and forced to cram. That could raise your anxiety level and negatively impact your performance on the test.

7. Be prepared. Make sure that you have studied all necessary subjects and familiarized yourself with both the rules of the test and the procedures you will follow at the test center. You want to do everything you can to make sure that you feel confident and relaxed when you take the test.

8. Study differently if you retake the test. If you do not attain your desired score on your first attempt, unless you felt unprepared in one or more subject areas, studying in the same way is unlikely to change your score. Think of it this way: The DAT is designed to be an accurate measure of your ability level. In order to raise your score, you need to raise your ability level.

The ADA does not endorse any third-party study courses or materials. This is not to say that those courses or materials would not be helpful, but the information they provide has not been vetted by the ADA and may not be accurate. Be sure to read through the Candidate Guide available on www.ada.org/dat to familiarize yourself with the rules governing the DAT. Contact the Department of Testing Services (DTS) at datexam@ada.org or 800-232-1694 with any questions.

~American Dental Association

This content is sponsored and does not necessarily reflect the views of ASDA.

American Dental Association

The American Dental Association (ADA) powers the profession of dentistry to advance the overall oral health of the public. Our vision is to empower dental professionals to achieve optimal health for all. Members of ASDA are also student members of the ADA! Learn more at ADA.org/student.

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