The 3 letters that still make me cringe: DAT. I was never good at taking standardized exams. I always did so well in school, so naturally when it came to standardized tests, I put so much pressure on myself to do well. What you need to know is that the DAT tests nothing but your ability to take the DAT.
I took the DAT my 3rd year of undergrad. Knowing that I wasn?t good at taking standardized exams, I signed up for a Princeton review course. I took a combination of group classes, and private tutoring. Then I went off on my own and studied for 4-6 weeks before taking the exam. I drove myself crazy over this exam out of desperation to get into dental school. What I remember being the most difficult was the reading comprehension portion. For some reason, this was always the part I struggled with when it came to the DAT. I?m not sure why, but it had something to do with the fact that this portion of the exam was extremely long, had way too many questions, and there wasn’t enough time allotted for the questions. Even during my prep course they had said that they felt the reading comprehension portion of the exam was unfair.
I took this test about 11 years ago, but I remember taking the reading comprehension portion of this exam like it was yesterday. I had a little break right before this section. I knew I nailed the math and science portion (I always did), and I knew that the reading comprehension was up next. To prep for this, I drank 3 red bulls in hopes that it would somehow make me very awake and able to focus. I?m not sure why I thought that would be a good idea, but it did the opposite. It made me more anxious, and also made me have to pee. I had to pee so bad that I could hardly read the first paragraph. I remember being embarrassed because there was a video camera video taping each test taker in the room, and I know that my face had a worried look, and I kept think about how the person watching the videos could see the worried look on my face. I ended up skimming the paragraphs and barely finishing answering the questions before I darted out the door to the restroom.
Let?s just say that my score for this portion of the exam was embarrassingly low. So low that on one of my dental school interviews they asked me why I scored so high on every part of the DAT except the reading comprehension portion. I was literally asked if I was ?competent.?
I didn?t let that experience define me. Even though I did well on the DAT, I did have a horribly low score in the reading comprehension section. And now you have a successful dentist that went to her to #1 School of choice for dentistry, telling you that you are allowed to be human, and that sometimes your test scores don?t define you. I can also tell you that the DAT doesn?t predict your success in dental school. My daily practice as a dentist does not include the concepts that were covered in the DAT. The test is important to gain admissions into dental school, but once it?s over, IT?S OVER!
Now that you know my experience with the DAT, here are some tips I have for mastering the DAT:
1. Understand what type of test taker you are.
If you learn better in a group setting, take a group review course, if you learn better one-on-one, sign up for some private tutoring. If that?s too expensive, you can buy some review books online and study from them.
2. Do a lot of practice questions.
You can never do enough practice questions. Review the ones you got wrong and understand why you got them wrong. This is the best way to learn.
3. Stay positive and motivated.
If you want to get into dental school bad enough, you will find a way to conquer this test.
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