The best practice Dental Admission Test (DAT®) will offer the closest approximation possible to taking the actual test. It should give the student the opportunity to learn how to approach each section of the exam. How specifically to use a practice test when preparing for the exam depends upon an individual’s learning style. Practice exams can be taken alone, at the student’s own pace, or in a group setting. They can be pulled from a workbook, come as computer software, or be administered in mock tests and DAT® prep classes.
One of the most simple ways to take a practice DAT® test is to simulate the exam with the aid of a workbook. This option may be a good first step for students who absorb information more easily from print than a computer screen. Without the pressure of being timed and with more flexibility as to where, when, and for how long the practice test will take place, some students may find it easier to absorb how to best approach the questions.
Taking a practice DAT® test with software is one of the best ways to approximate the exact conditions of the exam. Some students may wish to combine this with the use of a workbook or even progress to computer simulation after getting a basic understanding of how the questions work on paper. Many programs will offer several more questions than are on the actual test so that there are ample opportunities to get used to how the questions are formatted.
Some professional and student organizations stage mock exams so that students can take a practice DAT® test in a setting similar to that of the real exam. This can be particularly helpful for individuals who have test anxiety and need to build confidence taking the exam in the company of others. It can also help students to learn how to handle the questions while being timed.
There are also classes available that provide both instruction on the various sections of the test and opportunities to practice DAT® test questions. This can be useful for students who learn best in a collaborative atmosphere. It is not as likely that there will be a chance to take a full practice exam in this kind of setting.
In order to gain acceptance to most dental schools, a student must often not only pass the DAT® exam, but achieve a high score. This is why it is particularly important to set aside ample time to prepare for the test. While it is good to get a strong grasp of how all of the questions are formatted, it is often best for students to find the areas in which they are not as confident and have several practice sessions where they focus on questions from only those areas. Combining these specialized sessions with more general practice tests can be an extremely effective way to master the exam.