Month: October 2016

The Hottest DAT Study Material 2016

I would like to present the top 10 most useful study materials for the DAT. The study material was chosen by your peers. Those who participated in choosing the top ten where students who previously studied for and took the DAT. Each of these students knows the time, money and effort that goes into being successful on the test. Likewise, they know which materials did and did not work for them and which ones best prepared them for the DAT. Without further adieu, I present to you the Hottest DAT Study Material for 2016!

**Click Here for 2017 Results**

#1- DAT Achiever

dat-achiever

 This was a huge surprise in my book! I suspected that DAT Achiever might make the top 5 on the list but never would have guessed that it would come in at #1. After all, DAT Achiever is demeaning and demoralizing to students who take these tests for the first time, but I guess this is what makes it so great! It is called “Achiever” for a reason. If you look at breakdowns of students who used DAT Achiever and compare their scores to that of their actual DAT scores you will see that, on average, they score 2 to 4 points higher. The questions presented are challenging but not unrealistic. DAT Achiever is preparing students for the difficult questions because those are the questions that can make a difference between getting 18 or a 21 academic average. In order to make DAT Achiever an effective study tool, it is essential that you know why each answer given is either correct or incorrect. Feel like you have organic chemistry down? What about general chemistry or perceptual ability? DAT Achiever will challenge you in any section, so if you are looking for an edge over the other dental students this is the program for you. DAT Achiever accelerates in several areas including usability, question clarity, consistent upgrades, and solid customer support. For all these reasons and more DAT Achiever is the #1 Hottest DAT Study Material for 2016!

 

#2 – Crack DAT PAT

You are going to hear enough about this program on all my other posts and tutorials. Whether you feel that you can succeed or do not have the perceptual ability skills to succeed Crack DAT PAT will help you to improve. There are 10 full-length tests along with thousands of bonus practice problems. The problems are unbelievably close to the real DAT. In fact, when I was taking the DAT I felt as if I was just taking another Crack DAT PAT test. This program is more than enough to do well on the PAT and believe it deserves to
be in the #2 Hottest DAT Study Materials for 2016. (Buy here)

 
 

#3 – DAT Destroyer

Overall, DAT Destroyer is an excellent source for the sciences. The problems are difficult and as it states it will “destroy” you your first time through. It is essential that you don’t just memorize the answers but understand everything possible about each answer choice given. The problems are organized according to Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Quantitative Reasoning. However, the problems within each section are not organized by topic but randomized. Because of this and the difficulty of the problems it is important that you have a good base knowledge of the subject before you begin. If you do not have a base knowledge DAT Destroyer will only frustrate you and make studying difficult. Excellent resource if you are looking to score high on your DAT. It includes biology, organic chemistry, general chemistry, and math all of which are an excellent resource and highly recommended by the pre-dental community. This is definitely a top 5 Hottest DAT Study Material in my book! (Buy here)

#4 – Chad’s Videos (Organic and General Chemistry)

Were you ever frustrated because your chemistry professors did not seem to be able to make chemistry simple, interesting or easy to understand? I know I was but when I watched Chad’s Videos I was amazed at how simple and clear chemistry was. Both the General and Organic Chemistry videos are a great resource especially if it’s been a few years since you have taken the course. The videos are invaluable and definitely worth the $50 he charges to gain access. I don’t have much to say except, CHECK THEM OUT! You definitely will not be disappointed with your purchase. Chad just came out with the new HD Videos which is an upgrade from the original version that came out about 2 years ago. Ever since the videos came out they have been gaining popularity and I would suspect if I were to do the poll in another year or so that Chad’s Videos would definitely be in the top 3 of the Hottest DAT Study Materials for 2016.

#5 – Cliffnotes AP Biology

Not much to say here, except that Cliffs AP Bio notes are clear, concise, and contains just about everything you need for the DAT in terms of biology. It does lack a little in the physiology portion and a few other small topics. However, for the $10 that you spend on Amazon for this book it is definitely worth the money. It is basically condensed notes ready for memorization. There is not a lot of fluff to sift through and is an easy read, unlike some of the other more boring materials such as Schaum’s Outlines (still good, just not as good). Currently, ranked 5th for the Hottest DAT Study Material for 2016 based on value (content & price). (Buy here)

 

#6 – Math Destroyer

Just like the DAT Destroyer the Math Destroyer will also destroy you. This is an excellent resource for studying the math section. The problems are difficult and much like the real DAT. I was only able to go over the first few tests right before my DAT and I wish I was able to go over more! I saw problems on the DAT that were just like the MATH Destroyer. Need help with the quantitative reasoning section? Get the math destroyer! Not only are the problems good but the solutions are excellent. Like the DAT destroyer, the only thing this lacks is structure to the problems (which is intentional). You may want to supplement this with the outline from the ADA, a good textbook, and the internet in order to have a clear understanding of all the material you need to know for the DAT. I am not surprised that Math Destroyer is #6 on the Hottest DAT Study Materials for 2016. (Buy here)

#7 – Top Score Pro

If you are looking for the most accurate representation of how you are going to score on the DAT then take the Top Score Pro tests. Throughout the pre-dental community, the consensus is that Top Score Pro will give you the most accurate judgment of how you will do on the DAT. However, remember that while some students, like myself, will have nearly identical scores others will have as much as +/- 4 points on the real DAT. Most commonly scores are within +/- 2 points. With that said Top Score Pro does lack in a few areas. The biggest area is the biology section. Don’t get me wrong, the questions in the biology section are great but they add a lot of taxonomy questions (5-7 per test) to the test which causes students to score lower on their practice test. The actual DAT may only have 2-3 taxonomy questions. Also, if you are scoring 17-18 on the quantitative reasoning section you may want to do some extra practice (perhaps with Math Destroyer) because often times students quantitative reasoning scores decrease from what they were getting on Top Score Pro. All in all, this program is well worth the money and I am surprised that it is not in the top 5 Hottest DAT Study Materials for 2016! (Buy here)

#8 – Kaplan Blue Book

Kaplan Blue Book has all the subjects with easy to read outlines. Need instructions for the perceptual ability section? They’ve got it! Need an outline of the quantitative reasoning section? They’ve got that too! If you are rusty on any subject Kaplan breaks each section down into the basics. It will help you gain a good basis in each of the sections. Want to get a 20+ on the DAT? Perhaps, this is where the Kaplan Book lacks. Although, it has everything some areas are just too simple and not enough detail. The general consensus is that it lacks the details you need to do well in the biology section. So, is this a good book to buy? Yes, but be sure to supplement it with some of the other materials that are up higher on the Hottest DAT Study Materials for 2016. (Buy here)

#9 – Studentdoctor.net

If you need to ask questions or advice then Studentdoctor.Net (SDN) is the place to go. There are already thousands of posts answering just about any question a predental student could ask. If for some reason your situation or question is unique or you just want to post then those who join the SDN (free) can post and make comments. An invaluable source for any predental student. SDN is a definite top 10 on the Hottest DAT Study Materials for 2016!

#10 – Chad’s Practice Material (Quiz)

I never used these materials since they are new within the last year or so. They have made the top 10 on the Hottest DAT Study Materials for 2016, so, they must be good. Don’t worry about purchasing these separate because they are included with Chad’s Videos (#4) when you purchase them. Sounds like a good supplement to some excellent videos!

If you have a differing opinion or want to add anything to the above statements feel free to do so by posting a comment below.

Low GPA: Alternative Routes to Dental School

low-gpaDo you have a low GPA and still want to gain acceptance into dental school? Are you wondering if there is still hope? I am writing this article to help anyone who has doubts about their ability to get into dental school (due to GPA) find out if it is truly possible for them to fulfill their dream and the best ways to do it.

In order to ask yourself the question “is it possible for me to be accepted into a dental school?” you must first know where you stand statistically. Statistics play a key role in deciding whether a student is or is not qualified for dental school. The main statistics are GPA and the score for the dental admissions test (DAT). I am first going to briefly mention the DAT and then move onto GPA and what to do if yours is low.

The nice thing about the DAT is that you can retake it up to three times. However, you will want to make sure you do well on it the very first time. So, what is the average for the DAT? The average student that takes the DAT, according to the ADA statistics, receives a 17.5 academic average, 17.5 total science, and an 18 on perceptual ability. Note that these are the statistics of those who attempted the exam. The actual statistics of those who matriculate into dental school are in the range of 19 academic average and 19 total science. Each individual school is going to be different and this will have to be taken into consideration when applying to dental school (view “Dental Schools Ranked by DAT Scores” for more details). So if you have a low DAT then you will want to make sure you study hard and retake it for a higher score. No way around this!

Often times I hear pre-dental students say “I have a low GPA, can I still get in?”. The answer to this question is not that easy. Simply put, it depends. No one really knows until you give it a shot but hopefully by the end of the article you can make a sound judgment on whether your GPA is good enough and what to do if you have a low GPA.

Top Dental Schools Ranked By GPA
Top Dental Schools Ranked By GPA

The first question you ought to ask yourself is “where do I stand in regards to my GPA?”. Let me help you out. The average GPA for matriculating dental students is about a 3.5 overall GPA. Once again, there are going to be several schools with a higher average GPA and schools with a lower average GPA (view “Dental Schools Ranked by GPA” for more details). However, many students still pose the question of whether their DAT score is high enough.

Most dental schools have a cutoff GPA for both an overall and science GPA of 2.75. This means that if you have anything below a 2.75 that your application will automatically be rejected. In addition, if your GPA is anywhere close to or below a 3.0 it is going to be difficult to land interviews for dental school.

What do I do if my GPA is too low?

There are several options but some may be better than others depending on where you stand in regards to your GPA.

1. Post-Baccalaureate Program

If you have a GPA that is lower than a 2.75 you will need to find a post-baccalaureate program to attend as your current GPA will not pass the cutoff for dental school. I would also recommend this option for anyone with a GPA that is lower than a 3.0. The reason for this is that the credits earned in these programs will directly affect your undergrad GPA. It will be essential that you make it a priority to get an A in every credit as this will maximize the opportunity of bringing your GPA above a 3.0. Not only will 2.75+ GPA now qualify you to apply to dental school but the dental school will be able to see that you have an upward trend in your GPA and that you are capable of doing well in your classes.

Note: Other programs such as a masters program and dental hygiene school will not raise affect your GPA and thus will not help you qualify for dental school if you have a sub 2.75 GPA.

2. Masters Program

If your GPA is above a 3.0 but still not optimal you may want to think about getting into a masters program. I would recommend finding a 1-year program to apply for, as this will allow you to beef up your application in a short amount of time. A masters program allows you to show the dental school that you are capable of doing well in grad level courses. This also gives you the opportunity to stay academically active which is a plus on your application. If you are not accepted the first time that you apply to dental school, then a masters program is a good option. Each year there are more and more students being accepted to a dental school that has a master’s degree.

3. Dental Hygiene

Applying to dental hygiene school is similar to doing a masters program, however, dental hygiene is a 2-year program which means that it will take an extra year before you are able to apply to dental school. This option may be good for some students but if you know you want to be a dentist I would recommend taking a faster route.

4. PhD

If you feel like you need to go this route then do what you need to do but enrolling in a 4-year PhD program is not the most efficient way to getting into dental school. There may be a few students out there who went this route but this is definitely not the easiest or even the best way of compensating for a low GPA.

5. Going Foreign

The idea of going to a foreign dental school usually crosses the minds of students who are struggling to get into dental school here in the United States. There is a lot more to this issue than I am qualified to talk about but I will say that it is not a short or easy process of taking your foreign degree and making it valid in the states.

Yes, this was a long answer to a short question. However, I wanted to help you realize that there a select few ways of increasing your chances at getting into dental school with a sub-par GPA and that each will take considerable effort at proving yourself academically. There is no short cut around this one. If you are in a situation where you feel your GPA is low put in all the energy you have possible to get As in your courses from here on out. An upward trend is a positive in the eyes of the admissions committee and it is never too late to start!

6. Scoring High On The DAT

seal-of-dentistryFor this to work, you need to score REALLY high on the dental admissions test.  The good news is that the whole purpose of this blog is to help pre-dental students (I was once in your shoes) study for the DAT and get into dental school.  And not some sketchy one, either.  I even wrote an article to help you avoid misconceptions a lot of students have about dental school, and common mistakes they make.  It’s all about what we wished we had known before dental school.

DAT Study Plan Suggestions

study-planI will add each of the sections of the DAT to this post as I find time to do so. My goal is not to tell you how long to spend studying each section of the DAT because this will vary person to person depending upon how strong you are in the section and how recent you have taken the course. However, my goal is to provide you with a way to study that will help you retain the information for the test and allow you to feel confident in each section.

(1) GENERAL CHEMISTRY

For me it was 4-5 years since I had general chemistry. Needless to say, this was one area of focus for me while studying for the DAT. I went from knowing absolutely anything about general chemistry to scoring an 18. If you have had general chemistry at any point in the last 1-2 years this study pattern should get you to where you want to go.

1) The first thing you are going to want to do is finding your weaknesses. If you have Top Score pro, or something similar, take the first test and find out your weaknesses.

2) Use the ACS general chemistry book to do problems relating to the area you are having difficulty. There are about 5-10 example problems per section and 30 practice problems. You can buy the book from Amazon.com. If you do not have this and already have the Kaplan subject tests then those will probably work too but having not used them I could not tell you for sure.

I like the ACS general chemistry book because it is broken down into easy to study sections:

Content is derived from both semesters of General Chemistry and includes:

  • Atomic Structure
  • Molecular Structure and Bonding
  • Stoichiometry
  • States of Matter / Solutions
  • Energetics
  • Dynamics
  • Equilibrium
  • Electrochemistry / Redox
  • Descriptive Chemistry / Periodicity
  • Laboratory Chemistry

3) If you still feel uncomfortable with that material take out your textbook and do more problems related to the material.

4) Find another area that you are struggling in and repeat steps 2 and 3

5) Repeat this process until you’ve gone through the entire ACS general chemistry book

(I would suggest writing out solutions on paper to each of the questions. ESPECIALLY if you had difficulty figuring them out. This will allow you to try the problems over again and save time on trying to figure exactly what you are doing wrong or the correct solution)

6) Once you are finished with ACS general chemistry through the general chemistry portion of DAT Destroyer, use problems from the ACS book and textbook that you have previously completed in order to see how to do the problem correctly. Whenever you miss a problem figure out why you missed it.  I would repeat the DAT Destroyer. You will generally get about 60% correct depending on how much work you need or don’t need. However, by the time you repeat it you should be getting 85% + correct. Once again this is dependent upon one’s background. If you are still missing quite a few when you go through it a second time I would start the ACS book over again and go through the study plan a second time. By the time you repeat the DAT Destroyer general chemistry section a third time you should have it nailed down!

***Don’t forget to slow down and write out formulas that you need to know. Memorize them and use them as you practice.***

Go through the ACS general chemistry and the DAT destroyer as many times as needed. For some, it will be one and for others, it will be 3-5 times. You may also use Kaplan subject tests for extra sample problems. After doing this only one time you should see an increase in your Top Score/Dat Achiever practice scores. If not you may need to slow down in your weaker areas your second time through. I did not score great on this section but I went from knowing nothing about gen chem to scoring an 18! If you are struggling in this section you are simply going to have to sit down and do problem after problem to get the formulas to stick.

(2) ORGANIC CHEMISTRY

The study plan for organic chemistry is virtually the same as the general chemistry study plan. Use the same steps but instead of using ACS general chemistry, Dat Destroyer general chemistry, and a general chemistry textbook, use the organic chemistry versions of the books! I would highly recommend getting a blank piece paper and writing out any and all reactions you come across (Diels-Alder reaction, aldol condensation, free radical reactions, etc…). You can use this as a quick reference in case you forget it down the road.

(3) BIOLOGY

This section is all about memorizing and becoming familiar with a broad range of topics. You will need to be thorough in your study but do not get carried away with the details. I have provided a general outline from the ADA Dat user manual. The number located in the parenthesis represents and estimate of how many questions are from each section and may help you to know what to emphasize while studying. Become familiar with this outline and make this the basis for what you study.

ADA Biology Outline
ADA Biology Outline
For the biology section, I am going to recommend starting at the beginning of this outline. However, it is important that you recognize your weaknesses. Some may already have a good feel for what they are weak in and others may want to take a practice test in order to find weaknesses. This is going to be key in managing time and being successful on the biology section. If you are strong in an area you may want to read over that section and take some notes in order to keep it fresh. If you are weak in an area you are going to want to not only read and take notes but spend time understanding and memorizing. How much time you spend on each section is going to be up to you. If you have already taken anatomy and physiology it may only take a quick review to get that solid but if you have not it may take a little longer and some more memorizing for you.

1) Start at section I “Cell and Molecular Biology”

2) Begin reading and outlining each of the subcategories. The first subcategory is the origins of life. Create an outline using Cliffnotes AP Biology which, in my humble opinion, is by far the best-condensed outline for biology.

3) If a subcategory is not covered in Cliffnotes AP Biology use another resource to fill in the gap. Another decent resource includes the Kaplan Blue Book if you have it, Schaum’s Biology Outlines, or your class textbook/notes.

4) Memorize any charts or key points created in your outline. Sometimes this may take 5 minutes and other times you may spend an hour. Once again this depends on your background and the size of the topic.

5) After completing the first subcategory continue on to the second subcategory which is cell metabolism. Repeat steps 2-4 for this subcategory and any following subcategories for Section I.

6) No step is more important than another, however, completing this step will immensely improve your ability to retain the information for the DAT. With your outline complete for Section I, take blank paper or a white board and list out each of the subcategories. Now write out everything you can remember about each subcategory. Force yourself not to look at the notes! When you are finished writing out everything for each subcategory compare it with your notes. If you truly memorized the material or felt that you were solid in the areas you should be able to write out just about everything from your outline. Not necessarily word for word but the content would be the same. Use pictures, charts, and colors to enhance your outlines and help you remember it. Explain the material out loud as if you are teaching it when you write it on the whiteboard. All of this will help with retention.

7) If you struggled with writing out your outlines in step 6 then go back to the subcategories that tripped you up and memorize the outline you created. Strive to understand the information you are memorizing and try to make connections with things that you already know. If you struggled with many of the subcategories this means you need to SLOW down while going through step 4.

8) Find questions pertaining to the information in section I. At this point you should be able to answer most of the questions you find pertaining to this section. There are questions in Cliffnotes AP Biology, DAT Destroyer, Kaplan subject tests, or any textbook that you own. This is what step 8 is all about, checking that you can apply your knowledge to questions!

9) MOVE ON! Go to section II “Diversity of Life” and repeat steps 2-8 for this section. This section is less conceptual and more memorization than many of the others. Take your time and memorize the material. You are going to need it memorized before the DAT  anyways! The tendency is to read it and halfway memorize it. Just get it done with and memorize it! This means focus on step 4…

10) Repeat steps 2-8 for Sections III-VI. After you complete section III repeat step 6 for Sections I-III and then move on to Section IV. After completing section VI repeat step 6 for Sections IV-VI.

11) YES! You have now completed the biology section. But wait there is more! Now repeat step 6 starting with Section I all the way through Section VI. By this point you may have forgotten some of the material in section I-III so this will be a good review.

12) Do lots of problems! Go through any biology problems you can get your hands on. Use the practice test programs (Top Score, Dat Achiever), Dat Destroyer, Kaplan Subject Tests, Cliffnotes AP Biology, and whatever else you can get your hands on. If you only have time for one I would suggest doing the problems in Destroyer because they have really good explanations and test your knowledge. Don’t worry if you are missing some questions. Learn from your mistakes! Know why each answer choice is either right or wrong.

This is a hefty study plan! Some of you will breeze through this because the material is still fresh from your classes and others will struggle through much of the material. Either way, by the time you complete the steps you will be ready for the DAT!

(4) Perceptual Ability Test (PAT)

This section is new to everyone taking the DAT! Some of you are going to be naturals and others are going to have a little bit of trouble with this section. If you fit in the latter category, then don’t worry! This section is learnable. You do not have to be naturally good in order to do well on the exam. It is like sitting down with a mirror and a drill.  Eventually, everyone gets the hang of it!

There are 5 sections within the PAT:
a) Key Hole
b) Hole Punch
c) Top/Front/End
d) Cube counting
e) Pattern Folding

It will be essential that you become efficient in all of these areas if you want to do well. The following are steps that will help you to study the PAT section.

1) Before you do anything, become familiar with ALL the rules for each section. Sometimes you may get one correct but for the wrong reasoning. To eliminate this know the rules. There are a few good resources for the rules including but not limited to Kaplan Blue Book, Studentdoctor.net (use the search feature), Barron’s, and Crack DAT PAT.

2) Now that you know the rules you can practice and practice and practice. In general, Kaplan’s resources are the easiest for this section, so you may want to start out with these. Just do a few at a time until you get the hang of them.

3) With a good foundation, you can now begin testing yourself! I would suggest starting out with Crack DAT PAT because they offer a large number of tests. I would save the Top Score Pro and DAT Achiever tests for when you do full-length practice tests (meaning all the sections together just like you would on the real DAT). I believe Crack DAT PAT has 10 tests total but you can also randomize the tests.
(Take a look at my DAT Breakdown in order to see how my real scores compared with my practice scores.).

4) Start by completing one Crack DAT PAT test. You will quickly find your weaknesses and find that timing can be difficult. Don’t worry so much about timing at this point. With all the practice you are going to get it will not be a problem by the time the DAT comes around.

5) After finding your weakness go back and look at your score breakdown. What type of questions did you get incorrect? Was it key holes? If it was in order to figure out what you did wrong, then go back and practice, practice, practice. Crack DAT PAT comes with several bonus keyhole problems that you can do separately from the tests. Do a lot of these. Do the same thing for any other section that you struggled with.

6) Now you can move on to Crack DAT PAT test number two. Repeat step 5 for this test. This process will continue all the way until test number ten. I would not do them all in one day or even in a week or two weeks. Spread them out with your other studies. If you plan on studying for 3 months then find out how often you need to do the tests in order for them to get you about 3 months. Note that just because you are only going to take one of these a week, that does not mean you skip studying for the PAT the remainder of the days. Between tests is when you should be doing practice problems and reviewing rules on sections that you did not accelerate at.

7) It is going to be important that you take full-length practice tests such as those sold by Top Score Pro or DAT Achiever. If you struggle with this section during the full-length test do step 5 for each of those tests also.

8) If you complete all of Top Score Pro, DAT Achiever, and Crack DAT PAT and you still do not feel comfortable then I would suggest taking randomized Crack DAT PAT. However, this should not happen if you took your time learning the rules and analyzing the problems you get wrong on each test!

(5) READING COMPREHENSION 

There is not much you can do to improve your ability to read over the next month or two. However, you can improve your reading comprehension score! There are not really any steps to studying this section but in an attempt to keep this post coherent and complete I have come up with the following;

1) Take a practice test from either Top Score, Dat Achiever, or Kaplan. If you did well on this section you should be set. Continue to take the remainder of the reading tests as you take the complete tests. As long as you consistently get high scores you should be fine. If you don’t do well on the practice test there is still hope.

2) Start searching for (on studentdoctor.net) different strategies posted for the reading comprehension section. Take those strategies and modify them to your liking.

3) Begin taking more practice tests. I would recommend Crack DAT reading. Not because these tests most accurately represent the real DAT but because there are about five or so tests. Use the strategy that you think best fits you. If you improve your score and feel comfortable with that strategy then use it. It will take a few more practice tests for you to get the strategy down but stick with it and modify it until you feel like you are where you would like to be.

4) If you did not score well or feel comfortable with the first strategy then either modify it to your liking or try a new strategy. If that strategy does not work keep modifying and finding new strategies until you find one that you like. You should be able to find a strategy that works before you complete the five tests.

5) Now that you have a strategy that works for you use that strategy while taking your full-length practice tests by Top Score Pro, DAT Achiever, and Kaplan. Your scores should be fairly consistent throughout those tests.

The strategy I used:

For Section I, would read 2 or 3 questions. I would then begin reading the passage until I answered all three questions. Usually only have to read a few paragraphs but sometimes almost all of the paragraphs (just depended on the test). As I read I wrote down key words for each paragraph. I then read questions 4-6 and answered the ones that I already came across. If I did not already come across the answer I continued reading where I left off and continued writing down key words for the remaining paragraphs. Once those were answered I read questions 7-9 and answered them. By this time you usually have read the entire passage. It is now up to you to remember the answers or at least remember where to find the answer. This is where the keywords should help out. You may end up doing a little skimming but this should be mostly eliminated if you really read the paragraphs as you went.

* This strategy worked for me but may not work for you. In a future post, I will include a detailed description of different strategies used for the reading comprehension section.

(6) MATH COMING SOON!