Study Low-Density for the DAT

(September through June)

• Familiarize yourself with the DAT’s subject material by obtaining and reading a DAT review book. Kaplan makes a fairly comprehensive one.

• Make a schedule for weekly DAT study sessions.

Join a study group of like-minded pre-dental peers. Scheduling to meet two hours, twice a week should suffice.

My DAT Survivor Guide Website Pages

My DAT Survivor Guide

Write a Personal Statement

Complete First Draft by March 15th

It should address why you want to go to dental school, and how a dental degree contributes to your personal and professional goals. Additionally, why should you be chosen above other applicants with similar qualifications and experiences? In other words, Why Dentistry? Why You? What makes you so special, eh?)

I started with a blank sheet of printer paper, wrote “Why Dentistry” on the top, and started brainstorming pros and cons. The first few minutes were the hardest, then after I stopped censoring my thoughts, they were flying from my pen. In a matter of mere minutes, I had filled the page. After that, I made complete sentences out of each bullet-point as I typed them out sequentially on the computer. With a little rearranging and a few clarifying sentences, I had my first draft written. THAT was what I had been dreading for months? My advice is to just start writing, and edit later.

• Revise Statement, many, many times.

A careless spelling error can discredit a whole personal statement. My statement went through 25 extensive drafts, and 3 complete re-writes. It started out almost 8 pages, but with thoughtful editing, it ended up about 100 characters less than the limit. The Statement is limited to approximately 1 page single spaced, which corresponds to a maximum of 4500 characters, including spaces.

• I recommend purchasing a book with sample graduate application essays in order to get a feel for the style of personal statement prose.

One that I found helpful was:

“Essays that will get you into Medical School”

UCSD’s Professional School Personal Statement Guide’s Personal Statement Advice Page

Personal Statement Advice

Additional Personal Statements and Advice from

Request Letters of Recommendation

• Begin preparing a packet of personal information to assist letter-writers by February 1st.

The packet should include: an AADSAS Letter of Rec. Matching Form, an addressed and stamped envelope, a resumé, a letter of request, a copy of your personal statement (if it is polished enough), and a copy of your transcripts, if applicable.

• Request letters of recommendation by April 1st, with the request to have them completed by June 1st.

First, deduce who to ask. Second, ask them if they would be comfortable writing a letter of recommendation for you. Third, substantiate your request with a formal letter of request and a packet to aid the letter-writer with who you are and what your character is like. Each school has different requirements, but many require two letters from science professors, and one from a Dentist. Make sure you request letters from professors/dentists that you are confident will write you a positive letter.

An Example of how to write a Letters of Request

One of My Letters of Request

UCSD’s Career Services: “A Student Guide to Obtaining Letters of Reference”

Submit Application by June 1st

Submit Complete Application by June 1st

• AADSAS online application is usually available by May 15th

The date that you submit your application corresponds to the priority with which Dental Schools review your application. Also, it takes usually about six weeks to arrive at the schools once the application has been submitted online.

• But, I haven’t taken the DAT yet!?!

A little known fact: the AADSAS application can be submitted without having taken the DAT. Since DAT scores arrive at schools within a week of taking the test, if you take the DAT within 6 - 8 weeks of submitting, both the application and the DAT scores should arrive before most schools start reviewing, with the added benefit of an early priority submission date. The schools won’t look at your application until the DAT scores are there, but with some planning, they won’t even have gotten around to looking by the time your scores arrive.

• Transcripts?!

You can only submit your transcripts after you have started your online application.  You’ll need your AADSAS ID to print out a form called a “Transcript Matching Form” which you will give to your school’s registrar to include with your transcripts when they are sent to AADSAS. This ensures that your transcript will be directed to the correct person’s application.

My Dental Application Content Outline


American Association of Dental Schools Application Service

Online Dental School Application:

Junior Year

Attend a Summer Outreach Program at a Dental School

Most summer program’s applications are due around March 1st

• Identify schools that you would like to attend, then search on their website to see if they offer a summer program for pre-dental students.

• Many Programs include an intensive DAT review program, some even full length Kaplan courses

I recommend taking a Kaplan-like course directly preceding the time that you plan to take the DAT. If a summer dental mentorship program at a dental school does not work out, then plan on devoting that time to a full time Kaplan course. Allow a few weeks after the course to study independently, then take the test. Review courses can be expensive, costing more than a thousand dollars in many cases. Unless you can afford it, be sure to check out your college career center first. Most college’s career centers offer discounted rates on DAT prep courses up to 50% or more through companies like Kaplan, so become familiar with the administrators and inquire to see if there are any such discounts.

ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools

Kaplan Test Preparation

Take the DAT

• Take the DAT by Late August

• Waiting longer may jeopardize your application

If you wait longer than the end of August to take the test, some schools may have already started evaluating applications by the time your scores arrive in September. Since an application without DAT scores is incomplete, they would have overlooked your application, eliminating your priority submission date.

Apply online for the DAT:

Complete Secondaries

• Return quality secondary applications by the end of September.

Okay, so the school has shown interest enough in you to ask you to complete a secondary application, MAKE SURE YOU GET IT BACK TO THEM before they start reviewing applications. Also, if you wait, and school starts, it will be significantly more difficult to develop a polished secondary that you are proud to submit, and at the same time maintain a competitive GPA.


Timeliness is key, as is quality. I feel as though I took too long to return the secondaries, and because of it, risk not getting into my target school. You see, before the school can invite you for an interview, it first must evaluate your responses to its secondary. If you hesitate, and submit the secondary while schools are scheduling interviews for October and November,  you most likely will not be invited for the first round of interviews -- even if the school receives your responses in October. Not being among the first round of interviews generally makes it harder to be admitted, since one is competing against more people in “rolling admissions.”

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