Retaking the DAT: You are not alone

So you did not do as well as you had hoped on the Dental Admissions Test (DAT), but it’s not the end of the world. With proper preparation and a good attitude, you can redeem yourself.

If you are planning to retake the DAT, pay attention to the following lessons:

“Failure is not the opposite of success; it’s part of success.” — Arianna Huffington

Excuses may help us justify disappointment, but the only reason we should be looking back is to evaluate our mistakes and learn from them. Instead of falling down after a failure, it’s crucial to jump back up and recover. Allow yourself some personal time and ask yourself why you did not perform the way you would have hoped.

Instead of my poor performance in organic chemistry — both in college and on the DAT — motivating me to do better, it intimidated me. But I quickly learned that I needed to use my failure as a catalyst. I was often left unmotivated or upset that I was never going to understand the material, but each day, I made sure to at least try. This change in attitude resulted in a score that was four points higher!

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” — Alexander Graham Bell

If planning the entire course of your study period didn’t work for you the first time, try planning out each week instead. Rather than sticking to a proper schedule the entire time, I adjusted my study sessions based on my weaknesses. Be sure to jot down the areas you are struggling in the most and set aside time at the end of each day to strengthen your knowledge in those areas. As a way to wind down from reading and taking practice tests all day, I watched videos in the specific areas that I needed help in as a review.

“Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.” — Leonardo da Vinci

If you’ve taken the DAT, then you’ve also taken college courses. By now, each one of us has developed study habits that work for us. Don’t forget about those when it comes to taking this test, too. If reading out of a book has always bored you to death, then don’t rely on that working for you now. Instead, find resources that fit your personality. I found it helpful to draw as a form of note-taking and create colorful summary sheets I could quickly resort to during practice questions.

Also, find a comfortable study position — but not too comfortable! It may be easy to kick back on the couch and watch Chad’s Videos or read a book, but if you’re tired, you won’t remember anything.

“The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed.” — Chinese Proverb

You may find that you feel different about studying this time from the last. Maybe it’s discouragement or defeat, but don’t let these feelings get in the way of your success. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, exercising and trying to maintain a healthy diet. Small changes in your everyday routine may be the perfect adjustment that leads to your victory.

For more information on helpful DAT resources, join ASDA Tuesday, Oct. 10 for its predental webinar, “DAT resources and study habits.”

~ Shelley Johannesson, member, Predental Advisory Committee


2017 Predental Month is sponsored by:

Shelley Johannesson

Shelley Johannesson is a graduate of East Tennessee State University with a bachelor’s degree in biology. She aspires to be a dentist and eventually an owner of a non-profit dental clinic. She has been a member of ASDA for three years and currently serves as a Predental Advisory Committee member. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, painting and backpacking.

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