Sunday, August 31, 2014

when do you feel grown-up?

Do you ever feel like your age just catches up to you? I've been feeling very old-soul this weekend. I used to listen to NPR at my 6AM lifeguarding shifts. One of the coaches always teased me, asking "Do you also hate chocolate chip cookies?" He would ask, "Do you also hate fluffy puppies?"

Lately I've been feeling it a lot. I think it's my new apartment and my new grown-up responsibilities. I'm reading this book "The Easy Way to Quit Smoking" by Allen Carr.  A friend successfully quit smoking cold turkey with this book and recommended it to me the future dentist. Reading it, I've been asking myself... I have my own bad habits and vices I can't break. Who am I to tell someone what to do (or not to do)?

Now I'm finding myself shopping for a matching dinner set (!!!!) and looking up home deco tips. All while yawning at 10PM on a weekend night.

It's that customer service phone call (assertive and courteous!), finding the perfect gift for your brother, pulling off a home-cooked meal for two. Looking forward to early Sunday mornings and celebrating with some wine (not shots). Sometimes I feel very 25 going on 50. I think what I miss most about being young is the careless laughter. Making a big mess and not worrying hours ahead about the clean-up...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

money talk: the latte factor

Did you hear that Starbucks' pumpkin spice latte is returning early this year? (fall 2014 is going to be so wonderful!) To be honest, I don't think I've had one since forever... but I might just grab one this week and pretend it's fall.

Let's talk the catchy-termed "latte factor". Latte factor is the idea that little everyday purchases can add up to a big lump sum. If you spend $5 a day on these, your lattes are costing you around $25,000 in ten years.

I set up my budget in weekly increments. Since I have a rough idea how much I spend a week (it's mostly groceries and restaurants) I give myself little wiggle room for treats at coffee shops and trinkets like nail polish and hand creams (a dental student can never have enough of those!!!).

I'm sure if I saved up these loose changes I would save thousands of dollars a year. But these little buys are my treats, a little bit of luxury in my dental school budget.

So I'm curious... what's your "latte"? Are you a stickler when it comes to saving as much as possible or do you allow little indulgences now and then? Do you like to buy small treats or save up for the big buffalo?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pre-dent advice from Dave: 3. DAT test day & interpreting your DAT score

Here we are on a Tuesday night again. Dave talks about the actual DAT testing day and what to do once you get your score. I know tons of you are working on your applications and some of you have even gone on interviews! Keep up the great work, you'll get there. -Yesle

Check out the entire Pre-dent advice series from Dave:
1. The basic application checklist
2. DAT study material tips 

Gearing up and getting ready for the D-A-T
  • Only sit through a test like this once: I understand this exam takes endurance, but don't torture yourself by taking entire Topscore, Achiever, etc. exams in one day. If you must do entire tests, consider taking pauses for understanding or doing the sections untimed. I suggest doing practice exams in parts and perfecting every question/example asked. You will be honed in on test day for 5 hours, don't worry! - there is NO need to do this experience for a practice exam!

  • Don't believe the hype: You will have friends and colleagues begin to take the exam around the same time you do, professing high scores and miracle study aids. There will be people who brag on SDN about a score of 23 or higher and while they may be smart, remember to live in your own circumstances. Maybe these people handcuffed themselves to a desk and studied, but I couldn't live that way and you don't have to either. Study the amount of time you feel comfortable with (for me, not marathons) and with the materials you prefer and can afford. Don't go buy things and spend time on methods that might only work for other people.
  • Strategize for each section: Using your mentors, the Internet, and review classes, start to strategize for taking the different sections (especially PAT). For example, for reading comprehension, some people prefer to “road map” and others prefer to “search and destroy”. For the hole punches, a lot of people use a tic-tac-toe board. For cube counting, many draw a tally on the white board. For the QR section, some learn to use the mouse with their non-dominant hand to have the best writing speed with their dominant hand. There are a myriad of other strategies you investigate and test if they work for you. Make sure they enable you to score highly with enough time in each section to review.

 Good morning, it's test day!
  • Test Day at Prometrics: Prometrics usually seats on time or early, so I recommend getting there early – plan ahead for driving or public transport. If you are a coffee person, drink coffee. People in that center had to put up with my hair scratching and other nervous motions, but for me coffee was totally worth the wakeup! Eat a good breakfast and bring a snack for your 15 minute break. The center will be quiet, clean, a good temperature, and the computer will be ready for you with their exam software. It really is no thrills and no frills – it will be a multiple choice, exactly as you expect it.
  • Your Standard Score. Finally, a word about your numerical score. When you’re done with the exam, you will click through a few screens and it will pop up on the screen. Try to control your emotions/reaction by setting some goals based on your abilities before you enter the testing center. For example:

Notice you can give yourself one standard score leeway to be happy with. Set your goals realistically based on your academic strengths and the schools you are applying to. When you leave the testing center, make sure to treat yourself for finishing a major exam! If you don’t meet your goal, do not despair – the exam does not define you as a person, and you can re-take in three months - Treat yourself anyway.

This score is a major milestone in your professional life – congratulations on coming this far!!! Good Luck! If you have any questions, you can read about my own DAT experience on SDN here [] or reach out to me via Yesle's email or my twitter!

Friday, August 22, 2014

are you ready for back to school?

It's time to go back to school. Can you believe I'm starting my third year of dental school in a few days? Officially starting our second half here. The first years at Penn had their orientation earlier this week and other schools around the country are starting up too- welcome to the world of dental school world everybody! 

Meanwhile, I'm loving going through old pictures from this summer. I think the best part of vacations is the remembering part. Somehow you forget the aching feet or the too-long airplane ride...  everything is peachy in the rearview mirror. (Fun fact- if they had to take an amnesiac pill to forget all memories related to their future theoretical vacation, people would rather not experience the vacation at all!) What is your favorite moment from this summer?

beautiful Perelman square: coffee, bagel, and reading material.

I think this day I just sat and drank water all day. 

I made paneer! I'm obsessed with my neighborhood grocery store.

hosted my housewarming party....

...with tons of yums by my talented part-time chef friends

love these sweet kitten siblings (photo by my personal photographer Lan)

Magic Gardens on South Street

I'm going back-to-school shopping today and packing my backpack for my (thirtieth) first day of school. I'm trying to find more pens because I lose about half the pens I buy. I'm constantly re-stocking my pen supply...  I think they walk away when I'm not looking.

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, 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!