The Nuts & Bolts: DAT Study Prep. and Materials

There's a lot of study and test preparation materials out there that's designed to help you do well on the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). However, It can get really frustrating trying to find the right materials and resources  that adequately covers all that you need to know in order for you to perform well on the test. This becomes difficult because there's  a plethora of different resources, and they are constantly being updated to best match the actual exam.
Study and test prep materials may not only be books padded with information that may be tedious to go through, but, other mediums such as actual courses, flash cards, computer software with practice exams are available as well, and can be considerably easier to go through.
From the experiences of others I've spoken with,  as well as my own, a simple comparison of the different resources can be made. Depending on your study habits, you can choose either to enroll in a test prep course such as Kaplan's or Dr. Romano's ( In Staten Island, NYC), or study on your own by pooling different resources together. Having pursued a combination of all of the above, coupled with consulting with others that did also, I can shed some light on what I perceive as advantages and disadvantages of each.


There are different books that have been proven time and time again to be very helpful to DAT takers. One such book is the Kaplan DAT. The Kaplan DAT text is one of the more common books of choice by many pre-dent students. This book is complete with review notes, which is a concise compilation of the necessary information needed to know for the test. In addition, it also comes with two full practice tests at the end of the book, coupled with a CD-ROM,  which has two more comprehensive examinations. Kaplan has over the years, been the choice for many test takers not only in dentistry, but, other areas such as law and medicine, to name a few. However, while the Kaplan  DAT text may be one of the more common choice for many pre-dent students, its strength lies in areas such as General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Reading Comprehension. However, for a more rigorous coverage of Biology, Quantitative Reasoning and Perceptual Ability  that mirrors the challenges of the DAT, other resources may be needed.

DAT Destroyer
The DAT Destroyer is a book compiled by Dr. Jim Romano which comprises of multiple questions that basically poses as practice once you have adequately reviewed your notes (whether your own from school or that of other materials). The DAT Destroyer has proven to give many students the edge they needed to score well on the test, as seen in the appreciation letters section of his website.  It comprises of challenging questions which allows the reader to gain a deep rooted knowledge of each subject matter. Generally, it is updated to contain  information that adequately matches the challenge of the actual DAT. Its strength lies in Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Quantitative Reasoning. However, one will have to look to other resources to cover Perceptual Ability and Reading Comprehension.

Advanced Placement (AP) Materials
Amazingly enough, high school AP books have also proven to be very helpful in studying for the DAT, especially in covering the broad, general areas of Biology. Books such as Cliff's AP Biology, Barron's AP Biology and Princeton Reviews AP Biology have been widely used and acts as good reference books. It is advisable to have one close by as part of one's arsenal of study material.

Test Prep. Courses 

Enrolling in a test prep course will help those who are less organized or those who just aren't sure what they need to study for this exam. The courses are beneficial as it has a set plan and schedule and will keep you on point with your studies. Kaplan has different options for those preparing for the DAT. Such options are a classroom course, an online course, and private tutoring. The classroom course has two parts, an in-class section much like that of  an undergraduate course, and a computer based section. The in-class section offers an atmosphere where students and instructor can interact, share ideas and ask questions. It comes with several books: Review Notes, which is a concise book of notes on the different topics covered on the DATs, a Lesson book, which comes equipped with different questions on each topic covered in the Review Notes, and Flash cards, which can be used on the go to "brush up" on concepts studied; On the other hand, the computer based section offers lots and lots of practice exams (subject tests and full tests) which is designed to be used in conjunction with the in-class section to match your performance along the way. At a time and place of your choosing, you can log on and take different examinations in order to measure your improvements. Kaplan's classroom course keeps you on point with your DAT studies because of  a deluge of resources. However, this is more self-help, where you are guided by someone, in most cases, who was extremely successful in the DAT examination. Needless to say, even though it's a classroom course, the onus is on you to do all the studying on your own. Unlike an undergraduate classroom where instructors come in and lecture on fundamental concepts, the classroom component of Kaplan's course acts as forum where you can bounce questions and solicit ideas from your classmates or the instructor. The price for such a course is quite comparable to most professional school test prep. It will run you at least $1,400 USD plus the cost of transportation to and from the Kaplan center.
Kaplan's online course is quite similar to its in-class course. This includes everything stated above minus the in-class component. This option offers you the same materials and resources without having to travel to a Kaplan center to attend classes. It will also cost you $150 less as it runs at $1250 USD. If you are not very organized, need one on one help, would prefer not to be bogged down in a classroom setting, and can afford it, Kaplan also offers private tutoring. This will cost you  $2400 for 15 hrs, $3500 for 25 hrs, $4600 for 35 hrs, etc.

Dr. Romano
Dr. Romano, for those who are not familiar with the name, is the author of the popular test prep book The DAT Destroyer. Not only does he offer a great resource that has brought about many successes, but he also offers classroom courses similar to that of Kaplan's. His organic way of delivering and organizing the material in his study sessions have led to many success stories, despite not having all of the fancy amenities, (such as  computer based tests), as his competitors. The only drawback to some is that he is located in Staten Island, New York. Nevertheless, that did not stop people that I know personally, who've traveled from all over the country to be a part of his classes. His class runs at $75 per session. Each session is 3hrs long.

Computer Software

The Crack DAT PAT software is specifically designed to help you with the Perceptual Ability section of the DAT. Depending on what package you order, you will get a number of different practice tests for each section of the PAT. This is very helpful in getting you prepared for the PAT section of the test as it closely resembles those of the actual test.

DAT Achiever
The DAT Achiever is a software that comprises of many practice tests which can be used to gauge yourself for the real tests. Though I have not extensively used this software, many people have, and they've had great successes with it. From my review, the questions are challenging and it will help you to gain a deeper understanding of each subject areas.

Topscore is another software much like the DAT Achiever. Again, I have no experience with the software but have been told it is more challenging than the DAT Achiever and often times more challenging than the actual test. However, from what I've been told, it is very good practice full of supplementary material. Some individuals that used it felt comfortable enough with the material, which they found very reassuring.

Remember, the key to performing well on any examination is to give yourself adequate time when preparing. Attempting to prepare two weeks before such an important examination can prove to be an exercise in futility. You must be fully cognizant of its format. The more prepared you are, the more comfortable you tend to feel about the examination, which can reflect in you performing well. It is advisable that you do not attempt to cram the material. Some of the concepts are from your undergraduate experience. The main difference may be the structure of the questions which will require some sophistry and critical thinking. Linda Elder and Richard Paul - Critical Thinking Reading and Writing Test is a good supplementary guide that can help to augment your critical thinking, reading and test taking skills.

All in all, whichever method you choose to study, there are some materials that have proven over the years to be great help in preparing students for the DAT. Such materials include, but is not limited to:

To find a list of the above materials go here.
To discuss the materials here go to the DAT Discussion tab of the Stu-DENT Network Forums


Senor T said...

Great posts, and again on point. Can I make a request to have you post more than once per week?

Dr. Patrice Smith said...

I will certainly try my best from now on to deliver at least two posts per week. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

The cost of college is like buying a house. it's mind-numbingly expensive.


Maureen said...

Patrice, I am so glad to have found your blog (well, because I TOLD you I would after you visited mine!) because my daughter is thinking about a career in denistry! I will definitely let her know about this; how timely! I love it!

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