Tips From Current D.D.S. and Dental Hygiene Students

Plan Your DAT Study Schedule

Posted by on May 14, 2018

Studying for the DAT may seem daunting at first, but with a study plan tailored to your availability, goals, strengths and weaknesses, your target score is within reach. A quick Google search will reveal several DAT study guides from which you may opt to construct your own study guide. Shelley Johannesson of East Tennessee State University ’17 and Katherine Malyszek of University of Florida ’18 recently shared their study plans, reflecting the many different ways to prepare for the exam. Our best counsel? Customize a schedule that works best for you

Shelley’s study schedule (12–15 weeks, avg. 20 hours a week):

I took the DAT at the end of May, right before applying to dental school. As a full-time student and full-time employee, I needed to stretch out my study time and minimize the amount spent each day in order to accommodate other responsibilities. I started with a free Kaplan practice test to gauge my strengths and weaknesses.

Organic chemistry was the most intimidating section, so I tackled it first. During winter break, I watched Chad’s Videos (CourseSaver) and used a practice workbook (Organic Chemistry as a Second Language, pt. I, II). I only spent about two hours a day for two or three days a week. It was a relaxed schedule, but effective for me.

When the spring semester started, I set aside three hours a day on Tuesday and Thursday, kind of like a study hall course. I rotated through all of the sections and took a section-practice test (DAT Bootcamp) at the end of my study sessions.

After each practice test, I reviewed the concepts I wasn’t grasping and slapped a sticky note on my notes. I took a full-length practice test every couple of weeks to see my improvement.

When school ended in the beginning of May, I kicked up the speed and created summary sheets for each section. My study days still stayed short: I studied for about four hours a day, five days a week. I started my morning with a section-practice test, reviewed my notes/PowerPoint slides and completed about 30 questions of whichever section I focused on that day in the DAT Destroyer workbook.

As the DAT got closer, I took a full-length practice test every four days or so. I made a plan for each week on Sunday evening and altered it every week based on where my focus needed to be. On days I was burnt out, I watched Mike’s Videos or Bozeman Science on YouTube and took it easy. 

Katherine’s study schedule (6 weeks, avg. 50 hours a week):

I took my DAT the summer before my senior year, right before applying, and took six weeks to study. I studied all day Monday through Friday, with a shorter day on Saturday, and took a full-length practice exam on Sunday at the same time of day I took my DAT. Each practice subject test and full-length test I took was timed appropriately and reviewed in its entirety.

I began by taking a full-length Kaplan test to gauge my starting score and which sections I needed to work on more.

The first two weeks of my studies served as a refresher and involved going through my self-paced Kaplan course videos and book, as well as Chad’s Videos and his practice questions.

The next week was spent reinforcing the material I had reviewed previously and doing tons of practice questions. I took this time to memorize any formulas or procedures I would need on the test, especially for the general chemistry and quantitative reasoning sections. I also began reading Feralis Notes, making sure to absorb the material I was reading. For practice questions, I used my Kaplan course, DAT Bootcamp basic/free membership and Crack DAT PAT.

For the last three weeks of studying, I focused on practice questions and understanding the material I was going through. I finished the practice questions in my Kaplan course and did more PAT practice. I went through Feralis Notes again, making flashcards for the material I was unsure about. I also worked through DAT Destroyer + Math Destroyer, setting aside a certain number of questions to do and review for each section a day. I made a document for each section with the material I was not confident about to review when I was tired of doing practice questions. I completed DAT Destroyer twice and reviewed the documents I made while going through the book the first time.

Other tips:

●  Study as you typically would for school versus altering your study habits for the DAT. If you need to write, type, draw or listen to lectures, then find materials that cater to your specific preferences.

●  Get into a routine: get plenty of sleep, eat well and don’t stress yourself out. If you’re not feeling it, take a break and do something you enjoy!

●   Review every practice question after taking a subject or full-length test, even if you got the correct answer. Make sure to take note of all the questions you struggled with to review later.

●   Whenever you take a subject test or full-length test, make sure to practice with the time allotted on the real DAT.

●    Know what you don’t know: learn where your knowledge is lacking and focus on skill building there rather than gravitating toward material mastered already.

ASDA held their third annual DAT Week on April 16–20. For additional help preparing for the DAT and to access the webinars and other activities held during DAT Week, go to

*This article was originally published on ASDA’s Mouthing Off blog on April 18, 2018.



Katherine Malyszek                                   Shelley Johannesson

Katherine Malyszek, University of Florida College of Dentistry '18                      Shelley Johannesson, East Tennessee University '17