Test day, the highly anticipated yet dreaded day for most pre-dental students. It doesn’t have to be a day filled with nerves and anxiety, because you are unsure of what to expect. You should know what to expect before it even comes. You can be prepared and be stress free on test day. I’ll go over what you need to know and do in order to prepare for your big day.
Before Test Day
I have outlined everything you need to do before test day in order to be ready.
1. Apply to take the DAT
Your first step will be obtaining a DENTPIN and applying to take the Dental Admission Test. The information related to the application process can be found here.
2. Choose a date
Once your application has been approved and you have been contacted by Prometric then you are able to choose a date for the DAT. There are multiple things that you should consider when choosing a date for the DAT. You do not want to have to change your test date and incur any extra fees so make the right decision the first time. If you do need to reschedule then you will have to visit the Prometric website and click on the reschedule link to begin the process. Also, for a list of the fees for rescheduling an exam, click here and scroll down the post . Here are some things to consider when selecting a date:
a. Sign-up Early: I would recommend signing up for your test date at least six weeks in advance of your prospective date. The main reason why it is important to sign-up early is so that you are able to get the date that you want. Seats are limited and can fill up quickly at Prometric centers so don’t procrastinate.
b. Pick the right day of the week: When selecting a date consider what day of the week would work best for your schedule. I personally would prefer taking the DAT on a Friday so that once I finish I can go into party mode for the entire weekend to celebrate my achievements. Once the weekend rolls around I am not as focused on my studies as I am during the week, therefore, I would avoid taking the test at the beginning of the week on a Monday or Tuesday since I’ll be fresh off of the weekend and need time to refocus and regroup. I would allow myself several days before test day that are free from distractions and interruptions in order to adequately prepare. If possible, I would suggest taking it on a Friday and making sure that Monday to Thursday of that week are completely open and that you have no other obligations that will take you away from your final days of preparation.
c. Pick the right time of the day: Just as important as selecting the right day of the week to take the DAT is selecting the right time of the day to take it at. There are typically different times available on certain days to take the DAT. Not all days will have the same time options nor will all days have more than one option. You might not have multiple options on your test day and will have to take it at whatever time is available so this advice might not apply to you. But if you do have an option then consider what time works best for your schedule and for you. Are you a morning person or a night owl? If you have an option to take the test in the morning vs. the afternoon and you are a morning person, then obviously the morning would be better for you. If you feel that your optimal levels of performance are in the afternoon, then select a time in the afternoon and take the test then. These decisions come down to what type of person you are and what best fits your learning style and needs.
3. Formulate a study schedule
You should have a study schedule and know what you need to accomplish by the end of each month, week, and day until you reach your test day. Check out my 8 Week Study Schedule for help on formulating your own schedule to meet your needs.
4. Choose the right materials
Learn about each resource on the market and pick those that will meet your needs and learning style. Click here to read my reviews of the various DAT review materials out there.
5. Stay healthy
Stay active, exercise, be social, eat healthy, and get enough sleep. You don’t have to sacrifice your life or put it on hold while you’re preparing for the DAT. Your brain needs to rest as well as your body so use your evenings and weekends to relax and rest physically. Make sure you get enough sleep the night before your test! You will be anxious and restless most likely so drink an herbal tea or something that will allow you to sleep well, yet not make you feel drugged upon wakening. Get in a habit of going to bed early and getting plenty of rest at least a week before your test day so that you develop a healthy sleep pattern. One of the most important things you can do before test day is to get a good night’s sleep! You will score much higher on the DAT if you are physically healthy and alert.
The day has finally come, it’s test day. Let me share some advice for what to do and provide the facts as to what to expect at the testing center.
1. Make sure you get enough rest the night before.
2. Wake up at a reasonable time with at least a few hours to spare before your test.
3. Perhaps set an extra alarm just to make sure that you are awake when you need to be.
4. Start the day off with a short jog around the block. Get the blood flowing, take 30 minutes to stretch and exercise. It will help your body to power on as well as increase your energy to help you make it through the test. It will also help you to calm your nerves and be able to perform.
5. Eat a healthy breakfast, something filling yet not greasy and heavy. I’d suggest a glass of orange juice, oatmeal, fruit, and toast. You need to eat something that will give your body the needed energy and brain power for your test and avoid the greasy heavy foods that will shut down your body and brain.
6. Make sure to arrive on time to the Prometric center. I’d suggest driving to the center several days before your test date so you know exactly where it is. It’ll help prevent you from getting lost and it will only increase your stress on test day. I would recommend arriving at least 30 minutes before your assigned arrival time.
7. Bring a lunch with you. You will have a one hour lunch break. Your lunch and other items that you bring into the testing center will be stored in a locker so perhaps bring an ice pack that can keep your lunch cool if necessary. Again, choose foods that will nourish you and give you the energy and brain power to perform well on the test.
8. You can bring some notes to study from in the car before entering the testing center. Do a quick review on any topics that you want to have fresh in your mind when you start the test. Leave the notes in your car along with your cell phone, you don’t want to bring them in and risk getting in trouble at the testing center.
9. I’d suggest making a pit stop at the restroom before checking in as well. Take a few deep breaths, calm yourself down if necessary, all is going to be well. You have prepared yourself for this day, you are ready!
Here is a list of what to expect when checking in at the testing center:
- You’ll be greeted by a testing coordinator upon entering the testing center.
- Bring your two forms of identification – 1 identification with a photo (driver’s license, passport, state ID, etc.) and the other form can be with just your name and signature on it (debit card, credit card, etc.). Your name must be matching on both forms of identification as well as on your Prometric reservation.
- Your photo will be taken along with a fingertip scan of your index finger.
- You will be assigned a locker and told to empty your pockets and lock your lunch and everything else inside the locker.
- You will keep your ID as well as your locker key with you while taking the test.
- You are not allowed to chew gum while taking the test, but you may bring in two Kleenex.
- You will be given two note boards and two fine tip erasable markers to use on the test. Do not bend them or distort them in anyway! Do not touch the monitor while taking the test!
- All of the rules of the exam will be explained to you.
- Before entering the testing room you will have to sign a daily log stating at what time you are entering the exam and a full body scan with a metal detector will be conducted. They will make sure you are not bringing anything into the testing room with you except the allotted items.
- After signing-in in the book and completing the scan you will be escorted into the room to your assigned desk by a testing coordinator.
- Upon completing the first half of the test you will bring your ID and locker key with you and exit the testing room. You will have to sign the daily log again stating what time you are leaving and do a fingertip scan.
- Make sure you know at what time you started your lunch break and return at least five minutes before your break ends so that you won’t be rushed or start late on the second half of the test.
- After your one hour lunch break you will repeat the check-in procedure with a fingertip scan, full body scan, and sign-in.
- You are allowed to take a bathroom break if needed during the exam, but you will have to sign out and go through the entire procedure when you return. I would recommend not taking any breaks during the exam!
- If you do have any questions while taking the test, or if there is an issue with your computer or test then you can raise your hand while in the testing room and a coordinator will assist you.
After The Test
Once you’ve completed the DAT an unofficial score report will appear on your computer screen and the testing center will print the results and give you a copy. Your results will still be checked to confirm the results, but I’ve never heard of anyone getting different scores on the official report vs the unofficial report that you are given upon completing the test. Check out of the testing center, collect your belongings, and get out of there! Congratulations on completing the DAT, go and celebrate! You have earned it so have some fun.
You can also click here for a test day checklist from the ADA. All pertinent information from it is already included in the post. Check out this video below from Prometric for a run down on the check-in procedure at the testing center. Everything in the video was covered in the post, but feel free to watch it if you want!