Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pre-dent advice from Dave: 2. DAT study material

Dave’s back at it again! Here’s his tips on how to study effectively for the DAT so you can ace it! This is SO thorough and the kind of information I would have shared with other dental school applying friends going through the application process together.

Check out the entire Pre-dent advice series from Dave:
1. The basic application checklist

I hope the first pre-dental advice post helped! The topic of this post is the dreaded DAT: four major sections, one small break in between, five hours total. The experience is exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time, and you can conquer it with the right preparation and execution on test day.

Preparing for the exam:
  • Get the logistics out of the waysides early: You should read the testing guidelines on ADA.org, apply for a Dentpin, acquire two forms of ID, and schedule through a Prometrics testing center well in advance. Make sure to have the money ($385) set aside for the exam. You can stop by Prometrics to tour the test center and have them check your IDs if you would like, too – a “dry run”, if you will.
  • Decide on a study schedule or review class. Buy a planner or print out calendar pages and put down a study schedule on paper. You can create your own, glean one from student doctor network, or study while you take a review class.  
Review courses such as Kaplan and Princeton Review cost about $1400. My personal suggestion is to use Chad’s Videos to review instead as they are much cheaper. See more suggestions below!

No matter what you do, set aside some days for review and some days for practice exams. Mix in practicing for the PAT throughout your schedule, and study for the reading comprehension if English is your second language. Fit a study schedule that fits your needs; some are compressed into under a month, others spread out for 2+ months. Only you know how you like to study.

In addition to scheduling your time, make sure to gather all study CDs, books, and other materials early. Set aside study cards, quick references, a calculator, periodic table of the elements, etc. before starting. Having everything in place is helpful!

Dave- guess who took this picture? His very talented pre-dent boyfriend.

The DAT study resources:

  • Practice tests are key: Get your hands on as many as possible and get messy with the material in the form of practice questions. I answer the argument "Achiever or Topscore?" with BOTH! More practice is better. There are many other practice test companies such as datqvault, Crack the DAT, et cetera. Kaplan and other review courses give diagnostic tests with their courses. Make sure to schedule practice exams into your studying, as they get your brain into problem-solving mode.
  • Chad knows best: Chad’s Videos, now marketed and sold through the website Coursesaver, are probably the best study bang you will get for your buck. Chad is an excellent professor (he actually teaches in Arizona!) and his class video recordings can be watched and re-watched for however many months you purchase a subscription. You can review for chemistry, organic chemistry, biology, and quantitative reasoning with his videos. Also included are quiz questions and helpful outlines you can print. I cannot recommend a study product more highly than Chad’s videos! I recommend taking notes like a real college course and using them as a reference during studying.
  • Destroy the DAT with Orgoman’s Destroyer: Whoever said this book will help you “destroy” the exam wasn't kidding. I took this book to work, to class, in the car, while on the pot pooping…everywhere. I wrote the solutions in right next to the question. I read the question, looked how to solve the problem, and analyzed why the other choices were wrong. This book is expensive and difficult but will help you immensely.
Yesle here- I know many of you are gearing up for your application cycle. If you are a dental student already, what study resources/tips have you found hopeful? I'd love to hear about them. Stay posted for more dental school admissions tips including DAT study tips from Dave! 

money talk: little money-saving tricks (like clicking unsubscribe!!)

Good morning! I'm sipping on the green tea I rediscovered during my move as I write this. It was hidden away in the back of my pantry and this morning, it's the perfect mellow caffeine nudge I'm looking for...

Let's talk more money. I want to be a smart dental student who not only rocks her biochemistry exam but is also smart with her dollars. I love reading about money tips & advice online and here's a comprehensive list I found of little tips to save your cents from StyleCaster. Here's some of my favorite money tips:

101. Unsubscribe from flash sale emails and sale alerts. Go directly the retailer’s sites if you want, but you’d be surprised how little you impulse buy without the pressure of limited-time emails being hand-delivered to your inbox all day. 
71. Never go grocery shopping when you’re super-hungry. Everything looks good, so you’ll undoubtedly start throwing in items you normally would never buy. 
42. Another easy money-saving tip: Stash healthy snacks at work so you won’t have to hit the vending machine or Starbucks. 
12. Unsure about buying something? Calculate the cost per wear or use: Total cost of the item divided by the estimated number of times you’ll wear or use it.

Do you have money rules for yourself? I live by #71. I'll come home with three boxes of cereal and ten yogurt cartons and be like oops... I also love the concept of "cost per wear". I have beautiful dresses I've bought impulsively and worn only once. I love having them hang beautifully in my closet but every time I look I think "oh, I should really wear that next time..." It's like I'm paying for them in guilt!

My absolute favorite rule is #101. Unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe. Sometimes when there's a shopping email in my inbox, I find myself clicking away and scrolling lustfully. I have absolutely no plan (or need) to buy any of those small pretty things but I pretty soon find myself filling up the online shopping cart! So for August, I unsubscribed myself from every shopping email. Now I'm not so tempted by those pretty shiny things in my inbox.


Here's my question: do you talk money with your friends? With the recent recession, people talk more openly about personal finances. Sheryl Sandberg and the recent spotlight on career women are helping us talk about salary and money as well. My family never discussed money growing up, so specific information with specific numbers (often unprompted) make me uncomfortable.

I do love discussing general ideas and tips, especially with my fellow dental school students. We gush about student discounts on Broadway tickets or good sales for our (future) grown-up wardrobe. But sometimes I wonder, what exactly is "too much" or "cheap enough"? Money talk is hard without bringing in numbers. Do you have tips for easing into money talk?

Friday, August 15, 2014

passed my NBDE Part I!!!

Do you ever feel so happy you just want to jump up and down? Unfortunately my bed frame is a little too unsteady (or I'm too grown-up sized)...

I am so happy, relieved, joyful: I passed the boards!!! All those mornings and evenings spend with coffee by my side feel worth it! Results came sooner for me than I thought- just two weeks after my NBDE Part I I received my letter in the mail. I think it depends on what batch of results letters I got sent out in... SO happy!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

would you make a dentist your protagonist?

Alex, my writer friend and informer of all things literary, alerted me to this new novel by Joshua Ferris titled "To Rise Again at a Decent Hour". The main character is a dentist! Ferris explains to Seth Myers that he decided to make a dentist his protagonists because dentists seem so happy.

The actual description of his main character however, does not seem so happy. He is "obsessed with decay and death" from looking at mouths all day. I listened to this NPR interview with Terry Gross and the first bits read like a public announcement to floss- Ferris himself was nudged to floss after his having bleeding gums in college.

I am tempted to read this only to see how his main character- the dentist- is portrayed. Also! One of the main conflicts in the book is that our main guy refuses to set up a website for his dental practice (and you and I know how BIG social media presence is)... and someone else does FOR him.

Are we, as dentists, looking at "mortality in the face everyday"?- as Terry Gross so poetically puts it?

I'm curious. Does this feed into that stereotype about dentists being inflictors of pain/unhappy/suicidal? As a dentist/future dentist, what stereotypes do you have about fellow dentists? Would you read this book? Also- did you spot the cute little tooth on book cover?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pre-dent advice from Dave: 1. The basic application checklist

When I heard Dave was helping his special someone with the dental application process, I knew I had to get him to guest post! So here's Dave Maciborski, giving you all his pre-dental, dental school applications wisdom. This is stuff I wish I knew when I was applying to dental school! You can reach Dave on twitter here or read more of his famous posts on Student Doctor Network (he's dantemac!!). Here’s Dave- telling it like it is.

Dave will be writing about how to study for the DAT! Check back next Tuesday for his advice.

Yesle asked me to weigh in on pre-dental matters, which was great timing because I am dating a pre-dental student going through the dental school application process right now. I remember on our first date (nearly one year ago!), I grabbed a napkin and wrote down a basic list of how to be competitive dental school applicant. It’s a funny memento of our first date, but I also think it’s a great start for any pre-dent preparations:

  • Keep your GPA competitive (Ideally above a 3.5).  Enough said.

  • Start to plan out when you will want to study for the DAT. The DAT is taken summer after junior year normally, but a lot of people take it after senior year (or later!) if they want some gap years off. Alternatively, it can be taken after sophomore year (early) if you want that organic chemistry and physics fresh in your head.
  • Try to job shadow at least 150 hours! Most schools don’t require a specific number of shadowing hours, but this should do the trick. My boyfriend shadowed at a public health clinic I set him up with. It doesn’t need to be all private practices!
  • Ask for letters of recommendation early! I asked for letters a full six months before filling out AADSAS. I heard a quote once saying there are only two types of letters: Excellent letters, or terrible ones you shouldn’t be asking for. I agree with this sentiment – only ask from writers who can give you their strongest recommendation. Anything less will not help you. I recommend asking in person.
  • Start to collect unofficial transcripts from all the schools attended- including community colleges, studying abroad, transfers. You’ll need them to fill out AADSAS. Official copies will be sent later when you apply.
  • Make a list of schools. This is a difficult task, as it requires a glimpse into your future life as a dental student. Use the ADEA Guide to Dental Schools book (Hey, Dr. Sheridan from Penn is featured on this year’s cover!), the dental schools’ websites, and your own considerations of where you see yourself living and working for four years. Most pre-dents apply to ~10 schools. If your GPA and DAT scores are less competitive, I suggest applying to at least 15 schools. 
  • Start working on your personal statement. I could write a novel about the good, bad, and ugly personal statements I’ve read over the years, but I’ll save that for another blog post. Suffice it to say, make yours unique – show some humanity, some passion for your career, explain how you have prepared and why you think dentistry is for you, and write in the active tense with good verb choice. It’s a personal statement, so it’s alright to be a little conceited – always be discussing your accomplishments and preparations for your career.
  • If you are a junior, take some upper level biology classes senior year. Many schools any combination of basic sciences. Some also require psychology. Using the ADEA guide to Dental schools, make sure you fulfill the requirement of all dental schools you are applying to! If you are a biology or chemistry major, take higher level classes to show you can excel with loads of scientific material. If you are not a science major, I suggest at least taking biochemistry, as ~75% of dental schools require it.
  • Continue to volunteer, research, or work. Dental schools just want to see involvement, so find something you are passionate about and keep doing it. I honestly do not think that research is better than volunteering, or vice versa. 

This is my boyfriend, tired of studying for his DAT, feeling how any pre-dent probably feels. He ended up with above a 20! Keep going, success is right around the corner!

Obviously, my boyfriend didn’t get all these descriptors on his napkin list but he did get another date ;-). If all of this seems daunting now, don’t panic; life moves you right along, and you have come so far already! Before you know it, you will be submitting AADSAS and completing your DAT. After that, interviews will be just right around the corner.

Stay tuned for more in the pre-dental series!

Yesle: Whew- thank you Dave! I wish I had someone like Dave coaching me through my own dental application process. ;-) More of his advice on dental school admissions coming soon!