Are you sitting for the Dental Admission Test (DAT) this year? Are you a little confused about how to prepare for it? Worry not, because this article discusses a few tips for studying for the DAT 2021.
Strategies for studying
DON’T CRAM! This is something I cannot emphasize enough. When you cram and pull all-nighters, you feel like you are retaining and learning a lot of information, but this is fleeting. Instead, you will find yourself forgetting vital information during a very crucial time in your exam. The only thing cramming successfully does is overload your brain and cause anxiety as you try to fit an entire course’s worth of studying into a night or two. When you are cramming, you become more concerned about finishing your syllabus and how much you are studying instead of what you are studying.
Therefore it is a good idea to learn your study materials by breaking it up into smaller portions. Try studying consistently, and regularly over a longer period of time.
Sit for mocks frequently. There are two main advantages of frequently taking mock tests. The first is the fact that you are automatically revising and touching up on material you have previously studied. The second being the fact that mocks are a great way to gauge your progress. Good performance in your mock tests is an indication that the studying strategies you are currently using is working and you can continue as is. However, if you are earning subpar results in your mocks, then it might be time to reevaluate your strategy and proceed accordingly. Mock tests also have a habit of exposing your weaknesses. So, use your mock test results as a bearing to figure out which sections require more focus and time.
Choosing a Study Plan
Your study plan has to be specially catered to meet your need. Everyone’s study plans differ from each other because it entirely depends on the person’s learning habits, situation, weaknesses, strengths, and routines.
Different people study and prepare for exams differently. While some may prefer self-study, others seek help from professionals and veterans who have already given the exam. If you are someone who prefers self-studying, enrolling in a test preparation course is a good idea. Test preparation courses have a positive and negative side. The positive side is that it creates the illusion of a class-like structure compelling you to study. A drawback of test preparation courses is that you will be stuck with their material for better or worse and they usually cost a pretty penny. Therefore, it is up to you do figure out which study plan best works for you.
An important tip in the list of tips for studying for the DAT 2021 is that you must choose your study plan wisely. A good example to a study plan is featured on DAT prep and will help you to get started.
Time management is key to acing the DAT. Time management is also crucial in successfully preparing for the DAT. Therefore, make a study schedule and then stick to it!
Prepare for the DAT like it is your full-time job. This means putting in at least 40 hours of study time each week. This adds up to about a total of 200 to 250 hours of study time, which should be more than enough to effectively prepare for the DAT.
6 to 8 weeks is the recommended prep time for the DAT. So, register for the test with this timeline in mind.
Create a schedule and stick to it.
Creating a good, functional study schedule is imperative for your preparation process. Here is an article on how to create a good study schedule.
The human attention span is notoriously short and as mentioned before, cramming is never a good idea. Therefore when creating your DAT study schedule, try breaking up the syllabus into little portions and span your entire prep schedule over the course of a couple of weeks (roughly 6-8 weeks).
The recommended total preparation time is about 200-250 hours, which means you should roughly 36 to 40 hours a week. Putting in 3 to 4 hours of study time a day is optimal. Further break down these 3 to 4 hours of daily study time into shorter study sessions, each lasting for about 40-50 minutes. Really focus on what you are studying during the study session. You can download apps such as Forest and Focus to make sure you aren’t distracted by notifications popping up on your phone.
Take a 10-15 minute long break after each study session. These breaks are equally important because they help rejuvenate your brain allowing you to retain information better. Avoid looking at social media during your breaks. Instead, go on walks and get some fresh air. Stretch your legs and rest your eyes for a bit, you will feel a lot better.
Make sure that your breaks are no longer than 15 minutes at a time. Taking frequents breaks that last longer than 15 minutes threatens your concentration and can destroy your study flow. However, if you do want to take breaks that are longer than 15 minutes, try fitting in about 2 or 3 study sessions (each lasting for about 40-50 minutes) beforehand.
The environment you study plays an important role in how well you study and prepare for your exam. Make sure you have a dedicated study corner that is comfortable and is equipped with proper lighting (this is to avoid eye strain). But, avoid studying on your bed, because while you should be comfortable in your study space, you shouldn’t fall asleep.
Some students prefer studying in a quiet, secluded place like home, while others prefer a coffee shop or even the library. Go wherever you feel most comfortable and be in whatever environment that makes you the most productive.
Sometimes a change of scenery goes a long way. So, don’t be afraid to change up your study spot every once in a while and amp up your productivity.
Use diverse material to prepare for the DAT.
Make interactive notes that summarize the content covered in various sections of the DAT syllabus. You can create flashcards to remember small facts easily.
Some students prefer studying alone, while others study better in groups. In case you prefer the latter, go ahead and connect with other pre-dental students who are also going to be sitting for the DAT very soon and create study groups to study with them.
Study out loud, sit for mocks, discuss with your friends. Do whatever you feel is best for you. Try and allocate more time to the sections you are weak at.
In the end, always remember that consistency is key. So, practice, practice then practice some more. I hope these tips for studying for the DAT 2021 will come in handy when you implement them in real life. Prepare with dedication and patience and you will find yourself acing the DAT with flying colors.