Meet Kenji O’Brien, a happy DAT Bootcamp customer who recently conquered the DAT. I’ve asked Kenji to share his DAT experience with us as the featured student of June.
What is one piece of advice you would give to another student preparing to take the DAT?
1st piece of advice: Take a full-length test a month before your actual DAT. The rescheduling fee is a lot less 30 days in advance. Ideally, this should be a test that you have not taken before either so that it is truly diagnostic. My exam was on a Friday and I took a full-length exam each Friday during the month leading up to the exam. I then adjusted my studying for the following week based on my results from the Friday test.
2nd piece of advice: Prioritize studying the science section. In the last 2 weeks of studying I decided to prioritize the science sections over the PAT. This was a strategic decision, so I would to build up test confidence on test day during the first section. Additionally, the 3 parts of the science section are weighted 60% of the Academic Average (the PAT on the other hand does not factor into the Academic Average). On test day, I felt confident during the science section and the rest of the test went smoothly from there!
3rd piece of advice: Don’t apply unless you have your DAT scores. It seems to have become common practice to submit your applications in June and take the DAT in July or August. I think this is a huge mistake. To use a poker metaphor, this is like going “all in” without even looking at your hand. I know a pre-dent student who had a good GPA, research experience, and a ton of extracurriculars. They submitted apps in June, took the DAT in August, scored poorly, and didn’t get a single interview. Additionally, dental school applications are on a rolling basis and your application won’t even be processed on AADSAS without your DAT scores. It’s better to submit your applications later with a competitive DAT score than submit them before you know your score.
What words of advice do you have for other non-traditional students who haven’t studied the sciences in a while?
1st Piece of Advice: Take a full-length practice test at the beginning of your studying to figure out where you stand. I took the 2007 released DAT a full 9 months before my tentative DAT date. After taking that test, I realized that my weakest areas were biology and organic chemistry. After that I started reviewing organic chemistry 7 months before my DAT date. I signed up to take Anatomy, Microbiology, and Developmental Biology 6 months before my test. As a career changer it’s gonna take longer to review all of the content. 10 weeks just wasn’t enough for me to re-learn material that I hadn’t studied in 10 years.
2nd Piece of Advice: Schedule your DAT to give yourself opportunities to modify your plan. I knew that I wanted to apply in June 2017, so I decided to take the DAT in February. The February date allowed for me to re-schedule if I wasn’t feeling ready in OR take it again (after 90 days) if I didn’t score as well as I wanted. I ended up taking it in February, met my target score, and used March through June to observe dental offices, visit dental schools, and write my personal statement.
3rd Piece of Advice: Use your time studying to gauge your commitment to dentistry. When I started this year, I was still making up my mind about dentistry and I wanted to use this time to test my commitment to dental school. Studying for the DAT and taking pre-dent classes will be a lot like studying for the dental boards and taking didactic classes during my first 2 years of dental school. I told myself that if I didn’t feel motivated or the coursework felt too challenging, then that probably was an indicator that dental school wasn’t for me. Fortunately, the process was very affirming of my choice but I always wanted to keep an open mind. It is a lot cheaper and easier to realize that now than when I’ve already taken out loans and am in the middle of dental school.
How did you use DAT Bootcamp to prepare for the DAT?
I used Ari’s 10 week study plan religiously. I printed out the 3 month calendar and checked off each of the recommended assignments as I completed. I also recorded my scores on the calendar so I could see my trends in my data.
The hardest section for me on the PAT was angle ranking. Each day for two months I started my study regimen with Ari’s PAT Trainer Game (proudest moment was beating his high score with a 1.97!) and I did 30 angle ranking questions. Over time I saw my angle ranking ability gradually improve.
Lastly, the full length test really helped me build my testing stamina for test day. I realized after my first full-length test that I needed to drink less coffee and use the bathroom before I started (the science and PAT sections last 2.5 hours without a break!). I also got in the habit of using a whiteboard and wet erase marker for scratch paper during the practice tests. All this helped make test day go smoothly.
Book Recommendation to help with Personal Statement: Teeth by Mary Otto (2017)
The book provides a fascinating and heart-breaking examination of dental health disparities and the history of the dental health profession in the United States. It’s a quick read and full of interesting anecdotes. Perfect for a study break from the DAT and food for thought as you write your personal statement! Here is a link from the NYTimes and the Atlantic about the book and a link to the book on Amazon.
- General Chemistry24
- Organic Chemistry22
- Reading Comprehension23
- Perceptual Ability20
- Quantitative Reasoning27
- Academic Average24
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