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Overcoming DAT Test Anxiety: Techniques for Staying Calm and Focused

Overcoming DAT Test Anxiety: Techniques for Staying Calm and Focused

The dental admissions test is known as the DAT test. It is a regulated test to get admission to dental schools in the United States Of America. American Dental Association (ADA) conducts this computer-based test; prospective dental students could take it any day of the year at Thomson Prometric Centers throughout the United States, its territories, and Canada.

Destroyer book helps prospective students to learn, sharpen and evaluate their knowledge which could enhance their skills and bring success at dental school.

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Details About DAT

Dental Admission Test (DAT) gets accepted by sixty-six dental schools in the United States and ten schools in Canada. This test evaluates the candidate’s prospects for success in dental education programs. The candidate has four and a half hours to complete this test. It is mandatory for all applicants at dental schools to take DAT as part of their admission process. A few points to get noted regarding the test are,

  1. American Dental Association (ADA) never discriminates against any candidate based on religion, gender, race, age, disability, marital status, or sexual orientation.
  2. Applicants should have completed one year of college, including biology, general and organic chemistry, as part of their college-level studies.
  3. Most test applicants complete two or more years at their college before attempting this test.
  4. The applicants should have taken the DAT test before dental school admissions.
  5. Applicants planning for admission to Canadian schools must confirm that their dental schools will accept their DAT scores.
  6. If the applicants do not pass the test, they must wait ninety days to repeat it.
  7. Applicants can repeat the test three times and, after all three failed attempts, will have to take special permission before retaking the test.

Overcoming Test Anxiety

Many applicants feel anxious before taking any test, and if they don’t do well, they start feeling nervous. For this reason, test applicants should keep calm on exam day.

Feeling nervous on exam day is natural, but for a few, this nervousness might create panic during the exam. A few tips to overcome DAT anxiety are

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Exam Preparation

Start exam preparation early, rather than waiting until the last minute and trying to study the entire syllabus simultaneously.

Preparation for the exam should start at least two weeks or more before the exams, as this will give time to study smaller blocks of the exam syllabus every day.

Plan The Study

It is essential to create a study plan well before the exams as it could lead to success on the exam. Planning will allow for keeping specific time for study and the syllabus that should get covered every day.

Once the study plan gets created, start studying and follow it until the test.

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Study Skills

Learning how to study effectively is an essential aspect while preparing for the DAT. Most schools offer skill classes about improving exam performance, which could enhance study skills.

It will increase confidence and help students perform well and pass the exam.

Proper Sleep

A good night’s sleep of about eight hours before the exam day is considered good. After a good night’s sleep, the body and mind will feel refreshed. It also improves memory and concentration, helping in giving better performance on the test.

Practice Test

Practicing mock tests before the exam day will help in knowing the practical aspects of the DAT. It will give a clear picture of the exam, including how many total questions could get answered in the stipulated time. It will help improve those areas of subjects that need more work.

Practicing the previous year’s DAT papers before the exams will improve knowledge and boost confidence.

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Positive Attitude

A positive attitude toward the DAT will increase self-worth and belief, which will help reduce anxiety about the exam outcome. It will lead to a good performance.

Read And Understand

Before starting the DAT, reading the instructions is essential. Read every question before selecting the answer. Important details that could help answer correctly may get noticed if read carefully.

Answering The Test

After going through the question paper:

  • Start answering those questions for which the answer is known.
  • Since this is a competitive exam and the time factor plays an important role, save time on the questions for which the answer is unknown.
  • Move on to the known ones.
  • Try answering the skipped questions only if time permits.

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Making Use Of Flashcards

When preparing for tests, flashcards do play an important role. These cards help study the syllabus in small chunks, point by point, without needing a long list of theories or concepts.

It helps the student to concentrate on words that act as a vocabulary for relevant facts needed for the DAT.

Reach Exam Hall Early

Reach the exam hall early on the test day, as running late for the exam will increase anxiety levels. The anxiety levels will shoot up when taking the DAT too.

Therefore get to the exam site early and walk around, as the body’s movement will reduce nervousness and get the blood flow smoothly, giving a good feel.

Eat Healthy Food

Remember to eat and drink before the DAT. The body and the mind will function well with energy. Having a healthy meal and drinking plenty of water will boost the positive energy level.

It is always a good idea to avoid coffee and sugary drinks. Drinking caffeinated drinks will make a person stiff and increase anxiety levels.

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Proper Focusing

Focus on the test during exam day. Never worry about anything before or about what will happen after the test. Refrain from bothering other students. Just concentrate and stay focused on the DAT and not anything else.

Wear Comfortable Clothes

Dressing comfortably on exam day will give a relaxing feel. Never wear tight clothes for the exam, as they must constantly be adjusted. Wearing a sweater or a jacket will help if the exam hall is cold.

Take A Break

When taking the DAT, if the anxiety level increases, then take a quick break. Closing the eyes and taking fifteen to twenty deep breaths will calm the nerves and help focus on the test.

Avoid Distractions

Never worry about the person sitting next to or even in front. Sitting at the front of the room is an excellent way to avoid distractions as it will help focus more on the exam.


Anxiety about the DAT is stressful as it will affect both the body and the mind. During stress, the body releases adrenaline in the body. This hormone prepares the body to deal with stress, known as the fight or flight response.

As a fight or flight response starts taking control during the anxiety levels, it becomes challenging to concentrate on the exam, as it will cause nausea and over-sweating.

Hence, during the DAT, never overthink. Take control of the present, be confident, and focus only on the exam. Be strategic and keep an eye on that clock. Starting with easy questions or even starting on more challenging ones will prove its worth if they get more marks.