So, you’ve decided to take the Dental Admissions Exam (DAT) and now you’re trying to figure out the best strategy for approaching your DAT test prep. Of course, one of the first things you’re going to have to determine is when the right time to take your exam is. Once you know the exam date, you can work backwards to create a study schedule that will give you the best chance at success on your exams.
Below we’ve outlined two main ways to figure out the right time for you to schedule your exam: qualitatively and quantitatively. Both have their own pros and cons, so it will be up to you to decide which method works better for your learning style and scheduling needs.
Option #1: Qualitatively
This option is based purely on how you feel about the exam. When going through your DAT test prep, if you find yourself getting more and more focused on the idea of being finished with the exam, then that is a good indicator. There will then be a moment when you can think about the DAT test day and just be excited about passing the exam without thinking about possibly failing the exam. This is the moment when you’ll know you’re finally ready. This shows that you have confidence in your studying abilities and are ready to move into the next phase of your academics.
Of course, you may never feel completely ready for the DAT and this is completely normal. The trick is to acknowledge when you feel more ready to be done with the test prep and the exam than to be focused on possibly failing. That thought of freedom is what shows you are ready for the next step.
Option #2: Quantitatively
This option certainly doesn’t work for everybody, but it never hurts to use as an assessment for yourself. For this option, you should pay attention to your practice exam scores. As long as you’re simulating real life testing conditions (keeping yourself isolated, timing yourself, etc.) then these scores are going to give you a fairly accurate idea of what you will be scoring on your actual exam. If you are scoring 20+ on your practice sections, then that’s a good indication that you are ready.
On the other hand, if you are not satisfied with your scores on the full-length practice exams, you may want to consider postponing your test date. Take some time to analyze your progress so far and decide whether a couple of extra weeks doing DAT test prep would help you. You want to make sure that your decision to reschedule the test date isn’t because of procrastination or nerves, but because the extra time will truly be beneficial to you.
The option you choose is going to completely depend on the kind of person you are and how you study. One method isn’t in any way better than the other, so it is up to you to decide the best way to assess yourself. If you aren’t sure you can always consult your DAT tutor to help you decide as well. Ultimately, the important thing is to make sure that you aren’t letting test anxiety get in your way of success. You’ve worked very hard to get to this point, so stay determined and finish strong. Good luck!