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13 February, 2024

When to Start Studying For The Canadian DAT

The Canadian Aptitude Test is required to get into most Canadian Dental Schools. In this article, we will review when to start studying for the Canadian DAT.
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One of the first steps in beginning your journey to dental school is preparing for the Canada DAT. Congratulations on making it this far! Now, after reading up on what the Canadian DAT exactly entails, you’re likely asking yourself when to start studying for the Canadian DAT (cDAT). Some students begin earlier than others so there really is no straightforward answer as it all depends on you!

It is common for many students to take 2-4 months to review the content, which may or may not include time spent practicing. However, you can always do more or less to fit your schedule, comfort, and goals. When trying to find that perfect timeline for you in which to study, here are a few things you can consider!

🤗 What is your comfort level with the material?

You will find it useful to start studying after taking most of your dental school prerequisites or introductory science courses. This tends to be after the second year of a traditional four-year science degree for a lot of students but can vary depending on you or your program – so we suggest studying and taking the Canadian DAT whenever you feel comfortable or ready to do so. However, the content will likely be easier to digest if you have covered the Canadian DAT topics in your previous courses or if you have previously prepped for and taken the Canadian DAT. Depending on your familiarity and level of comfort with the material, you may just be looking to do some revision and practice before taking or re-taking the exam. This will certainly factor into how long you spend studying.

On the other hand, if you have not yet been exposed to any biology and chemistry topics that are tested on the Canadian DAT, you may consider beginning farther in advance. Remember, try to give yourself ample time to learn and excel with the content. Again, think about your schedule and, if applicable, use your breaks effectively!

Don’t forget to also gauge your comfort with the Perceptual Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Manual Dexterity sections! While you cannot study for these in the traditional sense, you can definitely prepare well. Figuring out your strengths and weaknesses early with DATCrusher’s generators and analyzers for the PAT can help you decide how much time and practice you might personally need. Again, some students may need more than others to reach the same goal. As for the Reading Comprehension section, practicing early will allow you to build stamina when reading long pieces and allow you to find a strategy that works best for you. There really is no recommended time to spend ‘studying’ for these sections so practice and find your favourite methods as soon as possible!

Regardless of your base knowledge, DATCrusher’s comprehensive videos, notes, and practice tests make it easy to learn (or relearn) everything that could be tested!

📅 When will you take the exam? What are your other commitments?

Starting in March 2022, students will have the option of taking their exam at a time more convenient for them with the switch to a year-round Canadian DAT. While more information about dates is still to come (which you can check here on CDA’s website), this means you can take the exam depending on your schedule. This will allow a lot more flexibility than has historically been offered.

Given this flexibility, you should consider the time of year that would be best for you to commit to studying. Important factors to consider when choosing your test date include how long you would like to spend studying and your other commitments during this time (e.g. university, jobs, extracurriculars, family, etc.).

In the case of current post-secondary students, taking your exam in the summer (when commitments tend to be relatively low) may be beneficial as you can spend up to 4 months studying, depending on your date. However, if you choose to register for your exam at a time overlapping with classes, maybe even a full course load, you may still want to start your prep earlier to avoid burning out and overwhelming yourself during the semester – especially as you near the exam date! Many test-takers in this situation may spend part or all the summer months doing the bulk of their prep so that they can do lighter reviews and practice once the year starts back up. This is definitely an option for those who feel they may benefit from a lengthier review. Additionally, it would be a great idea to utilize your reading weeks and the holiday break for review if applicable.

🤔 – Now what?

Consider the above points and begin thinking about a timeline for your study plan! You may want much more or much less time than the common range of 2-4 months and that’s perfectly fine! Do remember though to factor in time spent not just on studying and reviewing but practicing as well as this is really key to finding any gaps in your knowledge and understanding of certain topics.

Now, if you still find yourself wanting more guidance, you can always follow along with DATCrusher’s 8-week study guide, which many students have found incredibly helpful in achieving great scores! Also, be sure to check out our other article on how to prepare for the Canadian DAT by clicking here.

One of the hardest parts is knowing where to begin but – regardless of when you do – with enough dedication and motivation, you will certainly see massive improvements in your confidence and abilities, getting you that much closer to achieving your goals! 🥳