The Importance of Manual Dexterity

What is Manual Dexterity?

According to workplacetesting.com, manual dexterity is one's ability to execute controlled movement using hand-eye coordination under specific conditions. A person develops manual dexterity from early childhood by learning tasks such as writing, grasping and releasing objects, and assembling puzzles and construction toys. This ability can be further honed in adults who require advanced manual dexterity for their profession. Dentistry is one such profession where manual dexterity skills are highly valued. This article, therefore, highlights the importance of manual dexterity in a dentist's career.

Why is Manual Dexterity necessary in our day to day life?

We are using our hands every day at every moment for a variety of reasons. Manual dexterity is what lets us use our hands at our commands to perform various tasks.

Manual dexterity is what allows us to perform our most mundane day-to-day tasks. It enables us to pick up a pen and use it to write a sentence. It allows us to hold our spoons so that we can feed ourselves. Without a certain level of manual dexterity, we would be I'm able to function normally in our daily lives.

Why is Manual Dexterity necessary in dentistry?

A doctor's hands, in general, are known as “Healing Hands” because doctors- whether they are surgeons or dentists or physicians of any sort- use their hands to give high-quality treatment to their patients.

In order to perform dental procedures, a dentist must be able to work with precision on an extremely small scale. Additionally, superior hand-eye coordination is critical in ensuring the safety of patients and the integrity of the profession. Therefore it is safe to say dentistry is one such profession where the importance of manual dexterity is very high.

Dentistry is a profession that demands fantastic oral communication, keen attention to detail, excellent bedside manners, clear conception to solve problems, and, most importantly, excellent manual dexterity. This is because working in the limited space of a patient's mouth requires a high degree of precision. Therefore, it is imperative that your manual dexterity is developed and doesn't waver for you to be a competent and confident dentist who provides their patient with the best possible treatment.

How can you improve?

The dental admission test contains a section that has been designed to test this skill, mainly. Moreover, after the written exam and during the sit-in or on-campus interviews, the interviewers will be asking you more about your manual dexterity. So, yes, it is vital for you to improve your manual dexterity before you apply to dental school.

Here are a few ways you can do so-

  1. Drawing
  2. Painting
  3. Sculpting
  4. Wood carving
  5. Soap carving
  6. Sewing
  7. Cross-stitching
  8. Knitting
  9. Crocheting
  10. Learning to tie various knots
  11. Learning a musical instrument that requires extensive hand-eye coordination such as the piano or the violin.

Besides this, there are a few exercises that you can perform to help develop your manual dexterity and flexibility. these include the following-

  1. Squeeze a ball - grab a softball and hold it in your palm, squeezing it as hard as possible. Make sure not to hurt yourself and hold the position for three to five seconds. Repeat this exercise 10 to 12 times for each hand.
  1. Make a fist - make a gentle fist with your thumb wrapped across your fingers. Hold the position for a minute, then let go opening your fingers one by one and as wide as possible.
  2. The finger lifts - place one of your hands on a flat surface, pawn face down. Then lift one finger from that surface and hold the position for one or two seconds then lower that finger. Do this for each finger one after another and repeat for the other hand.
  3. Stretch your wrists- overworking your hands can lead to injury and wrist pain. To help with these, perform the wrist-extending stretches, as shown in the diagrams below. Perform each set at least four times per arm, holding each position for 15 to 30 seconds.

However, I am here to provide you with some good news. According to this study, manual dexterity is not essential (but valued) in the selection of dental students. Students who could follow training significantly improved their manual ability. What this means is that as you practice dentistry, your manual dexterity will increase over the years with experience and practice. So even if your hand-eye coordination isn't the best right now, don't fret.

The importance of manual dexterity should be evident for you now. One thing to note is that, like with every skill, the only way you can improve and develop is through practice. So pick up that paintbrush and start painting, or pick up a new hobby such as knitting!

DAT - PERCEPTUAL ABILITY (PAT)

The perceptual ability test or PAT for short is one of the four main sections of the Dental Admission Test. This test is for gauging your visual acuity. The perceptual ability section is further divided into six subsections. You will not be allowed to use any form of measuring instruments, such as a scale or a pencil or even your own fingers, during the examination. Therefore to help you along, we will be breaking down each of the six subsections and provide you with little tips and tricks that you can use to ace the DAT- Perceptual Ability (PAT) test.

Syllabus/ format for DAT- Perceptual Ability (PAT)

The DAT- Perceptual Ability (PAT) contains 90 questions in total. It is further divided into six subsections each containing 15 questions. These include the following-

  1. Apertures (Keyholes): You will be shown a 3D object along with the outline of 5 different apertures. Your job is to determine which aperture the 3D object will fit through. You are allowed to turn and flip the object in any direction you desire before you move it through the aperture. Once it has entered the aperture, the object cannot be turned, flipped or twisted. The object will smoothly move through the aperture because the outline of the aperture and the external shape of the object is the same. However, the drawings are drawn to scale. Therefore, a certain aperture might be the perfect fit for the 3D object, only smaller. On the other hand, because you will not be allowed to take any form of measuring instruments into the exam hall, any difference in size will be prominent enough to be detected by the human eye. There will be no irregularities in the part of the shape not visible in the picture.
  1. View Recognition (Top/Front/End): You will be given pictures of various objects from various viewing angles such as the top, front, and side view. The pictures provided will be without perspective which means that the points on the viewed surface are viewed along parallel lines of vision. You will usually be given two views of an object and will have to figure out the missing view from the given options. Dashed lines represent the hidden lines.
  1. Angle Discrimination (Angle Ranking): You must arrange the given angles in ascending order, i.e. smallest to largest.
  1. Paper Folding (Hole Punches): A flat piece of square paper is folded once or multiple times with a hole punched through it. Your job is to unfold the paper and identify the position of the punched hole in the original paper. The solid lines on the diagram represent the folds of the paper. Remember, the paper was never twisted or turned and it always remains within the edges of the original square.
  1. Cube Counting: Various figures are created by attaching a number of cubes of the same size together. All outer sides of the cube, except the bottom part, are painted. Your job is to figure out how many cubes have how many of their sides painted.
  1. 3D Form Development (Pattern Folding): A flat, 2D pattern of a 3D object will be given. The flat pattern can be folded to form the 3D object. You will have to correctly choose the 3D object that will be formed from the given flat pattern.

Understanding what each part represents can be a little difficult. Therefore, refer to the given pictures to get a clearer understanding of the six subsets of The DAT- Perceptual Ability Test (PAT).

Tips and tricks to ace DAT- Perceptual Ability (PAT)

Here are some tricks you can employ in various sections to answer them correctly and quickly. But keep in mind, what works for someone else doesn’t necessarily have to work for you. So try out various methods to see what works best for you.

Apertures

This is, perhaps, the hardest part of the PAT. There is no ingenious shortcut to this. Simply look at the picture and try to envision what the object would look like from the top and bottom and other angles. Practice over and over again to increase your expertise in imagining 3D objects.

View Recognition (Top/Front/End)

There are a couple of different approaches to this. Starting with-

Line counting method

This was once a tried and tested method of approaching the view recognition part of the PAT. However, the DAT exam has evolved over the years and now this subset includes questions that cannot be solved using the line counting method. Therefore it is recommended that you don’t solely rely on this method. Here is how the line counting method works-

Top/ front/ end method

It is a method where you work backward. Instead of visualizing what the top view of the given 3D object looks like try visualizing the given options as 3D objects. Then from your visualized objects figure out which one most closely resembles the objects given in the question. The corresponding option with that visualized object is your answer.

Angle Discrimination

Laptop Method

This is a rather deductive method where the accuracy of your answer depends On your visual perceptual ability. For this method simply imagine each of the given diagrams as a laptop being viewed from the side. The base of the laptop is the baseline and it is fixed whereas the screen moves to represent different angles. Then ask yourself which laptop would be the easiest to close? Of course, it would be the one whose screen is closest to the baseline or the base of the laptop therefore this would have the smallest angle.

Laser Method

This method can be especially handy when you are trying to differentiate between two angles that don’t look all that different. Simply count the horizontal or vertical line as the fixed baseline. The laser or the line created by the laser begins at the point where the baseline ends and the angular line begins as shown in the diagram above (the red line represents the laser line). Then simply extend the existing line at the same angle i.e. cast a laser from that point to see which line is steeper to differentiate the two angles.

Circle Method

This method can be used to determine which angle is smaller between two very similar looking angles. Mentally draw a circle around the innermost part of the angle, and then quickly look back and forth between the two circles and the two angles and you should be able to determine which one is smaller. Refer to the picture given above if you have any confusion.

Looking at the diagrams from a distance

Another way you can figure out which angle is the largest and which one is the smallest is by sitting back from your computer screen and examining the diagrams from a distance. This method can be especially helpful for those who are using the laser method. Because it allows you to sit back and observe the extended lines from a distance.

Paper folding (Hole Punches)

The idea is to fold your piece of paper according to the dotted lines given in the diagram and then mark in X on the paper where the hole is punched in the diagram. Then unfold the paper one step at a time each time marking where the X where the hole is supposed to be. Then match the pattern of X’s drawn by you on the paper with the given options.

Cube counting

Cube counting is probably the easiest subset with the simplest measuring method. As mentioned above only the outdoor exposed sides of the cubes are painted. Therefore on the given diagram mark the number of exposed sides for each cube. This is also the number of the colored side for that cube. Here is a picture so that you can understand better.

Just Draw a table that looks like the following –

The numbers in the column represent the numbers of the colored sides on the diagram. Then tally the number of sides colored for each representative number. Be wary of the hidden cubes. If you are careful and count vigilantly and correctly you will be able to ace this subset without breaking a sweat.

3D form or pattern development

This subset can be a little tricky at times. Therefore, here are three different methods of approaching the questions in this subset.

Side counting method

This method may be applicable to some problems but might not work for others. The idea is to find the largest shape within the pattern and then count the number of sides of that shape. Then compare the number with the given options. Even if you are unable to find the correct answer in the first try you will be able to eliminate the majority of the wrong answers.

Shape Matching Method

Find the largest shape in the given pattern and then compare it with the largest shape of each of the given answer options. Again you might not be able to determine the correct answer in one go but you will be able to eliminate some of the wrong choices.

Color matching method

This method is similar to the previous one. The only difference is that you compare the shaded part of the flat design with the shaded part on the answer options. If all the shaded parts correctly correspond with the shaded parts on the given options then you have your answer.

The key to answering this subset and acing it is through deduction. Most of the time you will not be able to determine the correct answer in one go. Instead, you will have to use to process of elimination.

Things to remember about DAT- Perceptual Ability (PAT)

Conclusion

These DAT Perceptual Ability skills will be very useful to you as a dentist since you will need to construct mental images of teeth from X-rays, deal with casts and fillings, and otherwise work with complicated 2D and 3D objects.

The DAT- Perceptual Ability (PAT) part of the test may seem difficult for some but the key to cracking any exam, as mentioned before, is to practice, practice, and then practice some more.

PAT Angle Ranking

Angle ranking is a simple test that is used on the Perceptual Ability Test. I’m sure that by now you’re pretty familiar with what an angle is and what it can represent. If that’s not the case don’t worry. All that you need to know to know about angles to ace this section is how far apart, or together, two lines are. Aside from that, you’ll also need to order the angles from smallest to largest.

Below there’s a brief introduction to the angle ranking section. Take full advantage of this guide and check out PATCrusher for more examples, solutions, and strategies about angle ranking.

Introduction to Angle Ranking.

In this section of the Perceptual Ability Test, you will see four interior angles. You can expect to find a problem like this one.

PATCrusher Angle ranking Practice Question #1

This is a fairly easy section and you’ll most likely be able to master it really quickly, with the right preparation. Just in case you’re having problems or want to check the right answers for this example, let’s look at the image below.

Angle ranking Practice Explanation #1

As you may see the correct answer is D. This means that the angles can be ranked as follows. 1<2<4<3. During a real test, you will be expected to mentally determine this. The example image above shows what the measurements of the angles would have been if a protractor was used. There are a lot of tricks and strategies that work wonders for this section of the PAT. For now, you can use this example of angle ranking as a guideline.

Concluding.

Remember that this example is just meant as a demonstration of what you can expect during the DAT. If you want to properly prepare for problems like the example above, you have to do a lot of practice questions. Learning a few great strategies will do wonders as well.

DAT Keyholes

The first of the six Perceptual Ability Test (PAT) sections when taking the Dental Admission Test (DAT exam) is called the Keyholes . In this article we will introduce you to the section and teach you how to go about solving the keyholes game. You will be dealing with different spatial skills tests that you need to pass in order to get a good score. Luckily for you, we’ve got a few tips for you in this introduction to DAT keyholes.

What you’re about to read is meant only as an introduction to the Keyhole questions. To skip through the guide and go directly to solving practice questions you can find great material by clicking the link below the article.

Introduction to PAT Keyholes.

If you pay attention to the image below, you’ll notice that for a 3D object there are five outlines being shown. These outlines represent the keyholes of the exercise. You’ll need to imagine how the object looks from all directions and the pick an option that shows an opening through which the object can pass directly if at the correct side.

pat keyholes
Keyholes

PAT Keyholes Rules.

There are several rules that you’ll need to follow for the keyholes questions while solving the practice or the real exam. Let’s begin with them as follows:

  1. You can turn or twist the object however you like before passing it through the keyhole. Incidentally, the object may even be inserted through the opening side not shown.
  2. Once you begin to insert the object through the keyhole, then it cannot be twisted or turned anymore.
  3. Everything that you see in the problem is drawn at scale. This means that it's technically possible for a side to have to correct shape but be too large or too small for the keyhole.
  4. You will not find any irregularities in the figures. You do need to be aware of the symmetry of the figure. It's very likely that if the figure seems symmetrical, the hidden side is the same as the shown side.
  5. Every single problem of this section has one and only one correct answer This is pretty much the same for all other problems in the PAT.

Recommended Study Schedule for PAT Keyhole.

To best be equipped for the keyhole section it is advised that you do at least 10-15 questions everyday before taking the exam. We usually recommend a minimum of 1 month to prepare for the entire DAT exam and incorporating 10-20 minutes of keyhole seems like a small price to pay to crush this section. So, everyday try to do 15 questions which will get you to 450 over the course of a month, allowing you to remember the techniques and practice them before the exam.

Next.

Remember that this has only been an introduction to the part of the PAT that deals with keyholes. You can get much more help for this and other sections of the Perceptual Ability test from PATCrusher Keyhole Generator and by taking practice exams. There’s definitely a lot more to this than just an example. So, feel free to check out other examples and strategies to ace the DAT keyholes in your PAT.