Tailoring your DAT study schedule

Studying for the DAT may seem like a daunting task at first, but with a study plan tailored to your availability, goals, strengths and weaknesses, you can achieve your target score. A quick Google search will reveal several DAT study guides and could be a good tool to help you construct your own. These are our study plans, which show you that there are different ways to prepare for the exam. It’s important that you customize a schedule that works best for you.

Shelley’s study plan (12-15 weeks; 20 hours a week on average)

I took the DAT at the end of May, right before applying to dental school. Since I was a full-time student and full-time employee, I needed to stretch my study time and minimize the amount spent each day to accommodate other responsibilities. I started with a free Kaplan practice test to gauge my strengths and weaknesses.

Organic chemistry was the most intimidating section, so I tackled it first. During winter break, I watched Chad’s Videos (CourseSaver) and used a practice workbook (Organic Chemistry as a Second Language, Parts I, II). I only spent about two hours a day for two or three days a week. It was a relaxed schedule but effective for me.

When the spring semester started, I set aside three hours a day on Tuesday and Thursday, kind of like a study hall course. I rotated through all of the sections and took a section practice test (DAT Bootcamp) at the end of my study sessions.

After each practice test, I reviewed the concepts I wasn’t grasping and slapped a sticky note on my notes. I took a full length test every couple of weeks to see my improvement.

When school ended in the beginning of May, I kicked up the speed and created summary sheets for each section. My study days still stayed short; I studied for about four hours a day, five days a week. I started my morning with a section practice test, reviewed my notes/PowerPoint slides and completed about 30 questions of whichever section I focused on that day in the DAT Destroyer workbook.

As the DAT got closer, I took a full-length practice test every four days or so. I made a plan for each week on Sunday evening and altered it every week based on where my focus needed to be. On the days I was burnt out, I watched Mike’s Videos or Bozeman Science on YouTube and took it easy.

Katherine’s study plan (six weeks; 50 hours a week on average)

I took my DAT the summer before my senior year, right before applying, and took six weeks to study. I studied all day Monday through Friday, with a shorter day on Saturday and took a full-length practice exam on Sunday at the same time of day I took my DAT. Each practice subject test and full-length test I took was timed appropriately and reviewed in its entirety.

I began by taking a full-length Kaplan test to gauge my starting score and which sections I needed to work on more.

The first two weeks of my studies served as a refresher and involved going through my self-paced Kaplan course videos and book, as well as Chad’s Videos and his practice questions.

The next week was spent reinforcing the material I previously reviewed and doing tons of practice questions. I took this time to memorize any formulas or procedures I would need on the test, especially for the general chemistry and quantitative reasoning sections. I also began reading Feralis Biology Notes, making sure to absorb the material I was reading. For practice questions, I used my Kaplan course, DAT Bootcamp basic/free membership and Crack DAT PAT.

For the last three weeks of studying, I focused on practice questions and understanding the material I was going through. I finished the practice questions in my Kaplan course and did more PAT practice. I went through Feralis Notes again, making flashcards for the material I was unsure about. I also worked through DAT Destroyer + Math Destroyer, setting aside a certain number of questions to do and review for each section a day. I made a document for each section with the material I was not confident about to review when I was tired of doing practice questions. I completed DAT Destroyer twice and reviewed the documents I made while going through the book the first time.

Other tips

  • Study how you would for school and don’t change your study habits for the DAT. If you need to write, type, draw or listen to lectures, then find materials that cater to your needs.
  • Get into a routine. Get plenty of sleep, eat well and don’t stress yourself out. If you’re not feeling it, take a break and do something you enjoy.
  • Review every practice question after taking a subject or full-length test, even if you got the correct answer. Make sure to take note of all the questions you struggled with to review later.
  • Whenever you take a subject test or full-length test, make sure to practice with the time allotted on the real DAT.
  • Know what you don’t know. Learn where your knowledge is lacking and focus on this information more than the material you are comfortable with.

For additional help preparing for the DAT, attend ASDA’s DAT week webinars on the PAT, math and science sections.

~Katherine Malyszek, University of Florida ’18, and Shelley Johannesson, East Tennessee University ’17

Join predentals nationwide in celebrating ASDA DAT Week. During the week of April 16-20, ASDA will be offering valuable webinars and resources to prepare students for the Dental Admission Test. Predentals that join ASDA during DAT Week will be eligible for prizes, including DAT resources.

Katherine Malyszek & Shelley Johannesson

Katherine Malyszek is a senior at the University of Florida pursuing a degree in biology with a specialization in biotechnology and a minor in leadership. She will be attending UNC School of Dentistry in the fall. Besides being involved in pre-dental activities, you can find Katherine hiking, running or traveling.

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. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, painting and backpacking.

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