Studying for the Dental Admission Test is a daunting rite of passage that all dental students and dentists have faced and overcome. The DAT covers multiple topics: Natural Science (comprised of General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Biology), Quantitative Reasoning, Perceptual Ability, and Reading Comprehension. Since it is required for admission to dental school, it’s never too early to start learning about the contents of the test, study techniques and available resources.
Predental students have different approaches for preparing for the DAT, depending on one’s learning style, the studying approach, types of resources, length of time studying, intensity of studying, among other factors. For this article, we’ll focus on the different resources available for DAT preparation and discuss details about different studying.
Some ways to study for the DAT include: self-directed software resources, textbooks, online courses (including open courseware and free online courses), and other resources to study on your own or with groups. Specific DAT preparation courses through companies and private tutors are another approach, varying from all online group classes to in-person group classes to one-on-one tutoring with a private tutor through a test preparation company.
When comparing study materials, you should consider cost, number and style of practice questions, number of full-length practice tests, whether it has content review preparation, and if the resource has a money-back guarantee.
Below, we’ll discuss commonly used study resources with no particular bias or favoritism towards any products. This list is non-comprehensive of all DAT resources available.
Self-Directed Study Resources
Let’s start with two self-directed resources that ASDA has negotiated discounts for as part of ASDA membership (as of July 2016): CourseSaver and Crack the DAT.
CourseSaver is a collection of content review videos with a few practice questions that concisely teach the main concepts of general chemistry and organic chemistry. It also includes some Quantitative Reasoning review, as well as an incomplete biology review. They have a collection of free videos and all of the biology review videos for you to gauge if you like the style and approach. Using your ASDA membership number, you can reduce the cost for a monthly subscription to $37.50 per month (a 25% discount). You can also cancel your subscription before the end of your monthly subscription to get a partial refund.
Crack the DAT is a software with practice questions and explanations, including video, for each question. This software does not include comprehensive content review, but has general tips for success on the Perceptual Ability section. You purchase your package for download and it’s licensed for use only on one computer. You can buy packages for each subject and full-length practice tests ranging from different prices. There are also two bundles with all of the subjects together for a reduced price. Although the packages are costly, ASDA has negotiated a significant 10% discount on any of the Crack the DAT preparation packages using your ASDA membership number. Furthermore, Crack the DAT has several sales at different times during the year.
Gold Standard DAT Books and datQvault are two other self-directed study resources. Gold Standard DAT offers review books for each subject for about $29.95 (not including shipping) when bought directly from the Gold Standard website. Gold Standard also offers a comprehensive package for $149 (not including shipping) that includes all subjects combined with online access to bonus questions, teaching videos, and an interactive forum. datQvault does not offer comprehensive content review, but has hundreds of practice questions for each section that costs $49 for a 90-day subscription. datQvault also offers a discounted bundle package for $199 for a 100-day subscription that includes all the subjects.
The DAT Destroyer series is another resource that is just practice questions with explanations. It is difficult and really tests your knowledge. The DAT Destroyer includes Quantitative Reasoning, Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry for $149.95. Other books in the Destroyer series include Organic Chemistry Destroyer, General Chemistry Destroyer, and Math Destroyer that can be purchased individually or bundled with other books.
DAT Bootcamp also offers practice tests available for $199 for a 90-day subscription, with discounts available throughout the year. DAT Bootcamp also offers a free practice test for each section, overview of strategies, and some free content review resources after you sign-up for a free membership account.
Comprehensive DAT Preparation Courses
The two major comprehensive DAT preparation companies are Kaplan and Princeton Review. These companies offer different test preparation course packages that are significantly more expensive than purchasing the self-directed resources, but offer content review, instruction, instructor feedback, questions, and full-length practice tests.
Princeton Review has online class packages with live instruction and support starting at $1,399. Princeton Review also offers private one-on-one tutoring. Kaplan offers four options: Self-Paced course for $1,299, In Person traditional classroom course for $1,499, Live Online course for $1,499, or private one-on-one tutoring for $2,999.
There are also several free resources you can use for test preparation for different sections. Some of the resources mentioned above have free access sections or example courses, such as DAT Bootcamp and CourseSaver.
Study Approach for the DAT
Everyone is at a different starting point of knowledge, study skills, and motivation when they begin to prepare for the DAT. There is no correct way to studying for the DAT, but rather you need to determine what areas you need to improve to maximize your score. The most important starting point for effective studying is to know the content of the test and review the ADA DAT Guide.
You can take the DAT as early as the summer after your sophomore year of college (after taking organic chemistry). However, some students wait until the months before the AADSAS application opens up as they are starting to apply to dental school in June of their junior year. Make sure you leave enough time to prepare for the DAT and that you are able to retake the test, if need be.
Schedule the test appointment as far in advance as you can and develop a study plan leading up to your DAT. Some predentals study hours each day through winter break of their junior year to prepare for their DAT to take the January DAT.
~ David Danesh, Harvard ’20, District 1 Predental Chair
Jack Castleman, Ohio State ’19, and Tara Prasad, New England ’18, contributed to this post.
During the week of July 18-22, ASDA will be promoting valuable webinars and resources to prepare students for the Dental Admission Test. Predentals who join ASDA during DAT Week will be eligible for an extended first year of membership ending December 31, 2017. In addition, participate and be eligible for prizes, including DAT resources.
Register here for two free webinars on DAT preparation:
- Ready, Set, DAT! – July 18, 2016
- DAT Day and Beyond – July 20, 2016
DAT Week 2016 is sponsored by: