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Question on when to take DAT and when to shadow: non-traditional student

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dent for the win

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Currently in a gap year with very limited clinical experience (pre-med before this with around 25 hours shadowing a specialist). I was wondering how I should spend the next six months left before the application opens. I have two timelines in mind:

1. Shadow for 2 months (feb/march) and build clinical experience. This feels a little risky because dentists in the area aren't that responsive
Take the DAT after ~3.5 months of studying (in between shadowing and then straight studying april, may, june)

2. Take the DAT after 3-4 months of studying (feb, march, april, may) and then shadow/work in a dental office for 1/1.5 months (and after) and apply. I thought this may be a better option since it gives some time to contact dentists and hospitals while studying so that there will be something to do right after studying.

I understand the DAT can really influence a person's chance of getting accepted, so I thought at least 3 months would be good for studying, but because I'm lacking clinical experience I don't want to overshoot on the studying and worry about having enough hours and applying late.

Thank you in advance! I'm fairly new to the predental world so I may have made assumptions that are incorrect and any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

Life of Pablo

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I would plan on taking the DAT march/april. you can only take it once every 3 months, so it would give you time to retake it if you have to. I’d shadow after taking the DAT (late spring or early summer).
 

dent for the win

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I would plan on taking the DAT march/april. you can only take it once every 3 months, so it would give you time to retake it if you have to. I’d shadow after taking the DAT (late spring or early summer).
Thanks! That's a great idea that I didn't consider before.
 

MLC45

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I would also consider not giving yourself that much time to study. I found I would hit it hard the first month and then as the weeks passed my studying began to slack. I gave myself 2 1/2 months and I found myself studying the first 4 weeks and the last 3 weeks, but I kind of missed the weeks inbetween.
 

dent for the win

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I would also consider not giving yourself that much time to study. I found I would hit it hard the first month and then as the weeks passed my studying began to slack. I gave myself 2 1/2 months and I found myself studying the first 4 weeks and the last 3 weeks, but I kind of missed the weeks inbetween.

Thank you. I agree that the burn out can be real. Would you mind answering how many hours per day you were studying when you were on top of it versus the time when you felt like you missed it?
 

MLC45

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Thank you. I agree that the burn out can be real. Would you mind answering how many hours per day you were studying when you were on top of it versus the time when you felt like you missed it?
It was a while ago, but I think it was about 6-8 hours a day vs 1-2 with burn out.
 
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Life of Pablo

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Thank you. I agree that the burn out can be real. Would you mind answering how many hours per day you were studying when you were on top of it versus the time when you felt like you missed it?
I studied 10-12 hours a day for a month (took it over christmas break). I would agree you definitely don’t need more than 2 months. After 2 months you begin to forget some information you studied earlier, especially biology.
 
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