How to Study for the DAT

Many prospective dental students are unsure of how to study for the DAT, or whether they should take prep courses or self-study. The Dental Admissions Test is a four section, four hour and fifteen-minute exam that will test your ability to complete different sections under a restricted amount of time.  Preparing for a test like this takes months of learning material and practicing applying the information to different problems.  This is evident during the perceptual ability section, where a test taker will only succeed after hours of practice.  So what is the best way to study for the DAT?

Ways to Study for the DAT

As many students learn information in different ways, there are different methods that can be taken to achieve the score you wish.  If a student learns better in a classroom setting, there are programs that offer a hybrid teaching environment of in person and at home.  In contrast, if a different student learns better on their own, they can sign up for many different programs that have lists of sections to be completed.  

The average student will take at least 10 weeks to prepare for this exam, but it is recommended to give yourself around 12-14 weeks to give yourself the time to review many topics.  If a bad score is received on the DAT, an applicant needs to wait three months in order to retake the exam.  It is better to add those 2-4 weeks before the test, than an additional 12 relearning the material.  At first 12-14 weeks may seem like a daunting commitment, but as the weeks go by, the information gets easier to learn, and the test becomes more of an excitement versus a fear!

It is important to note that this test is not meant to ruin your dreams, but to challenge you.  The questions are mostly straight forward, the difficulty arises from needing to learn a vast amount of information.  The most successful scorers are the applicants who study around six days a week.  It is normal to have a job or be in school while studying for this exam, this student just needs to get used to studying at night or on their free time.  At least one day a week a break day should be taken to release some stress and get you motivated to start the new study week! 


The one thing in common that applicants will see in all these programs is the focus on REVIEWING! It is easy to get caught up in trying to learn all the information, but forgetting to review sections every few days.  Reviewing information gives students a chance at seeing little topics they may have over looked, or dive deeper into confusing section with specific details.  The best scores will be seen in students who review at least once a week!

When committing yourself to something like the Dental Admissions test, it is important to maintain good health to be both as mentally and physically prepared for the next few months.  Studying all day can lead to mental fatigue, but by exercising and eating the right foods, the body can be fueled for the next day.  Mindset is a huge factor in achieving a great score, and the best way to maintain emotional stability is to not forget to still do the things you love at least once a week. A happy mind is a focused mind!  

Study Groups

Another beneficial way of studying for the DAT is to find a study group or an accountability partner.  A study group allows you to discuss topics that may be challenging to figure out alone and make the process more enjoyable by having someone by your side. If you cannot find someone who has the same schedule as you, an accountability partner can be just as useful.  This is someone who you can reach out to and vice versa about studying on a given day! This gives you motivation on those lazy days! The Dental admissions test is a long commitment, and anything that can help you make the process more enjoyable will only better your score.