You had just spent months studying for the DAT and, finally, the day after tomorrow will be the day that you tackle this behemoth. How will you spend tomorrow? Do you continue to grind practice questions or should take the day off and relax? This is a situation that every dental student has had to go through.
Honestly, there is no easy way to answer this question. You will have test-takers from both sides of the spectrum telling you that their method worked well for them. However, the truth is that if you have been studying productively, followed our recommended study guide, and went through all content and practice questions, then your score will probably not change much regardless of what you choose to do on the day before your DAT. That said, there is always a tradeoff and the decision to take the day off from studying just seems to have many more pros. Because of that, I recommend taking the day to collect yourself so you may be in peak shape for the next day. Your mind and body will be sharp and you will not fatigue as easily on test day.
As I said before, if you had been consistently studying, understanding the concepts, and taking your time to complete practice problems and practice tests, then you are well on your way to achieving a great score. Many students do not understand this, but those who have been studying diligently know more than they think. That is a fact that is true even in dental school. Your brain will find it difficult to forget facts that you have repeatedly beaten into your head. On the other hand, an extra day of studying will not change much in the grand scheme of things. Instead, it may backfire, and you may actually start panicking at the depth of information that you have to review. It is never a good thing to feel unprepared, and no amount of panic studying on the final day will improve your score significantly.
Instead, take some time to have a day to recharge and prepare your body. Below are some of my personal tips for the day before test day.
⏰ Wake up early
This is an important one because you want to start being consistent with your wake up and sleeping times. You really do not want to wake up at 11am the day before your test and then have trouble sleeping early the night before, especially if your test is at 8am. To tackle this, you should start having a consistent sleep schedule for at least a week to mimic test-day wake up time. I also personally recommend all the night owls like myself to look for a later test time if available. For me, I have trouble sleeping the day before a big day, so I scheduled a test for 11:30am.
🏃 Do leisure activities
Do enjoyable or leisure activities that will relieve stress and anxiety. Doing so will refresh and prepare you for the next day. Exercising is fine and recommended. That said, do not try to set your personal bench press record. The trick is to not overexert yourself and have a sore and aching body by test-day. As for me, I did light stretching and yoga as I watched some of my favorite TV shows. That completely recharged me for test day.
🍏 Eat healthy
Eating healthy is an extremely important part of self-care. Stick with a balanced meal on a consistent eating schedule. Do not eat too much before bed time, and do not eat extremely greasy or sugary foods that will make you feel lethargic. On test day, remember to bring a snack. As for me, I brought a banana and a protein bar.
😴 Get a good’s night rest
This last one goes without saying, but please do not decide to binge the entire eight seasons of Game of Thrones and end up sleeping at 2am. This is a reminder to keep a consistent sleeping schedule and wake up on time for test-day feeling well and refreshed. Try to get a full 8 hours of sleep and also allot time to eat breakfast and travel time to get to the testing center.
Lastly, remember that you know more than you think. I know it is easier said than done, but try not to be too anxious for the test. If you have been studying well, your score will absolutely reflect it.