DAT will undoubtedly be one of the most crucial exams you’ll ever take in your academic career. It’s a doozy of a test, starting with a registration fee of at least $325. Then, of course, you’ll pay more if you cut it a bit late.
The DAT test consists of 280 questions with a total time limit of 4.25 hours and 15 minutes. Biology, Organic Chemistry, General Chemistry, Perceptual Ability (in both 2D and 3D), Reading Comprehension, and Mathematics are covered in the exam.
Given the competitive nature of this exam, you will need to properly prepare for it if you want to do well. The good news is that there are numerous commercial prep courses available, though the quality of each prep course varies.
To help you pick out the most suitable for your needs and preferences, we’ve singled out 4 of the best DAT Prep Courses out there:
Best known for its most realistic mock tests, guided study plan and high quality video lessons.
- One of the most popular DAT programs known for its Bootcamp approach.
- High-Quality Video lectures. Chemistry lessons are top-notch.
- Customizable practice questions and study plans. Helpful video explanations for hundreds of questions. Good for visual learners.
- Most realistic practice test compared to others.
- Bootcamp Pro $497, Plus Plan $897
The name does evoke a military feel to it, doesn’t it? But, of course, that’s intentional because DAT Bootcamp will bury you under a veritable ton of study materials, just as a new soldier might get the shock of their lives with the number of military training activities they’re supposed to go through.
They offer a Bootcamp Pro course for $497, and that “basic’ course provides a lot of study materials. But, more specifically, you’re getting:
- 60 representative DAT practice tests, which are the total number of difficulties pertaining to particular sections (so that’s equal to 10 full-length tests)
- More than 8,800 practice questions, continuously updated to reflect the current DAT test questions.
- More than 330 in-depth Chemistry videos
- More than 400 DAT Biology videos
- More than 600 videos on General Chemistry
- More than 750 videos on Organic Chemistry
- More than 850 videos on Perceptual Ability
- More than 950 videos on Reading
- Videos on Quantitative Reasoning
- DAT Bio Bites Qbanks
- PAT Generators to create unlimited PAT practice questions
- Prometric mode, to simulate the same test interface you’ll see on the actual DAT test day.
- Apps for iOS and Android for practice on the go
- 90 days of access
There’s a more advanced course called Bootcamp Plus, and it costs $897. This time, you’re getting 180 days of access to the same materials you’d get from Bootcamp Pro. But it’s not exactly the same materials since you’re getting an extra 5 full-length tests.
Massive Quantity of Study Materials
You’re getting a lot of materials to study, which is why the 3 months of access may not be enough. On the other hand, you might go with Bootcamp Plus, so you’re getting ample time to get through all the practice questions and instructional videos.
Seriously, getting through 8,800 practice questions will be daunting. And you also have at least 3,880 video lessons to go through, not counting the quantitative reasoning videos. Even with 6 months of access, you’ll have a full schedule. You’ll go through at least 646 video lessons and 1,466 practice questions each month. But at the end of the course, you should be able to tackle any question in real DAT without any issue.
Realistic Practice Test
You get at least 10 full-length tests to go through, which increases to 15 if you want. These mock tests are very close to actual DAT (Both difficulty level and interface) and help you judge your preparation. When you finally deal with the actual DAT on D-day, it will feel like just another test!
Great Video Qualities
It’s not their just HD videos. It’s also because these videos offer clear lessons that will hold your attention.
This is especially true with the Chemistry videos starring Dr. Mike. This guy is utterly enthusiastic and engaging, and he’s a fantastic communicator. He has this genuinely effective way of explaining Chemistry concepts that make things so utterly transparent.
Fantastic Live Online Class Instructors
These instructors are the very best in the industry. It’s not just that they know the material inside and out. It’s also because they’re all engaging, and they explain various concepts in ways that won’t confuse you at all. In addition, these instructors supplement the written materials nicely and can clarify multiple points that the text (and even the prerecorded videos) might have been a bit fuzzy about.
Princeton Review offers several pricy DAT prep courses, with the Fundamentals course costing $1,099. However, go with the full DAT 20+ option (with the guaranteed 20+ score), and you’ll have to pay $1,599.
The Score Guarantee
That score guarantee does have some conditions, but they’re very reasonable. First, you’ll take a practice test before starting the prep course. If you score under 17, then Princeton Review guarantees that you’ll get a score increase of at least 3. So, if you scored a dismal 15 at first, then you’re guaranteed to score at least 18 in the real thing.
If you score 17 or higher, you’re guaranteed a score of at least 20 at the end of it all.
Of course, there are other conditions. For example, you must attend all the scheduled class sessions and complete all the practice tests. These are very reasonable conditions because it means that you have to take the prep course seriously. After all, you’re paying some serious money here. And you’re serious about being a dentist, right?
While it’s expensive, you’re also getting the very best DAT prep course of them all. The course offers the following features:
- 55 hours of live instruction
- 4 computer-based practice tests
- 4,600+ DAT exam-style practice questions
- Supplemental Chemistry videos
- DAT 20+ Materials
- Cracking the DAT Textbook:
- DAT Workbooks:
- In-Class Compendium
- 3-D Practice kit for Perceptual Ability Test
- Full-color tear-out reference guide for quick review
The most notable features here are the following:
55 Hours of Live Instruction
This is a very useful feature if you learn best through live classes. Quantity wise it is 19 more hours of instruction than you get from Kaplan, the next-best DAT prep course after Princeton Review.
The quality of these live instruction sessions is top-notch compared to what you might get elsewhere. Princeton Review doesn’t use a single instructor with general knowledge of all the DAT sections.
Instead, you’re getting a rotating team of 3 to 5 instructors, and each is an absolute expert in at least one of the DAT sections. These are also not just knowledgeable in their favorite topics. They’re fantastic communicators as well.
This is a fantastic feature, especially for those students who might feel frustrated with some written study materials. These study books can’t use other words to explain various concepts if the initial explanation doesn’t make sense. But these instructors can make things clear.
Terrific Prep Books
The prep books, which you can study independently, supplement the live instruction. These prep books are also excellent, ranking among the best in the industry. The popular Cracking the DAT prep book is included in the set of prep books (which are actual hardcopy books, by the way). It’s a tried-and-true DAT prep book with over 800 pages of practice material, content review, and effective test-taking strategies.
There’s another course workbook with 500+ pages of practice problems for you to work on, as well as a booklet that you generally use during the instructional classes to provide various drills and supplemental practice work.
This is ideal for those who learn primarily through text, as they provide an excellent balance of strategy, content, and practice.
Lots of Practice Material
You will receive over 4,600 practice problems and four full-length practice exams. These mock tests help you to gauge your progress accurately as the preparation course progresses. The practice problems have different levels of difficulty similar to the real exam and help to familiarize you with the test so that you are not surprised when you take the actual DAT.
Kaplan offers a Limitless Prep course for the DAT, with a price tag that starts at $499. But that’s only a month, which may not be enough time for adequate DAT preparation. There’s a 3-month plan for $999, and then there’s a 6-month plan for $1,499. And you’re also getting a higher score guarantee, or else you get your money back.
Your money gets you the following:
- Flexible month-by-month access length
- More than 70 hour-long, interactive sessions per month
- Live drop-in style classes that fit your schedule
- Augmented reality and 3D learning environments
- Customizable, structured study plan with calendar syncing
- 7 full-length, computer-based practice tests
- 2000+ Survey of Natural Science and Reading Comprehension practice questions
- 1000+ Perceptual Ability Test practice questions
- 2000+ quantitative practice questions
- Latest DAT Prep Book
Kaplan is regarded by many as among the best in the DAT prep industry, arguably next to Princeton Review. It’s highly regarded for the same reasons:
- Kaplan offers terrific, high-quality video lessons.
- The practice materials are numerous and excellent.
- The study course curriculum is well-designed.
While the quality of the Princeton Review course may be slightly better, the amount of study materials you get from Kaplan is quite a bit more. And if you learn better from written study materials than from a live instructor, then Kaplan might be the better choice.
Lots of Study Materials
Let’s focus on this first. First, you get more than 120 hours of online lessons and practice. That means you’ll always be busy, and there won’t be much time when you twiddle your thumbs. You have more than 2,000 practice questions for the Survey of Natural Science and Reading Comprehension sections.
After that, you have more than 1,000 practice questions for the Perceptual Ability Test (PAT), and then you get another 2,000 (at least) practice questions for the quantitative portion of the DAT. Add them all up, and that’s more than 5,000 practice questions.
You’re also getting an up-to-date DAT Prep Book, which is excellent.
Terrific Simulated Exams
It’s not just that you’re getting 7 full-length practice exams here. It’s also because the quality of these practice tests is simply outstanding. The practice questions on these tests are very realistic and are much like the questions you’d get on the actual DAT. You might even get a weird sense of déjà vu when you’re doing the actual DAT.
In addition, each question comes with a handy text explanation of the concept being tested in the particular question. The explanation also clearly shows you why each possible answer is right or wrong.
Good Video Lessons
Students who prefer self-study and learning at their own pace should consider Kaplan. You get on-demand video lessons that are quite entertaining. They employ a group of instructors who solve practice problems and explain various concepts on a digital whiteboard. As a result, the lesson content is always on point, the explanations are simple. The instructors are skilled enough to keep your attention and knowledgeable as well.
You may be wondering if all these good DAT prep courses have to cost a ton of money. That’s not exactly true, especially not when DAT Cracker is around. Granted, it’s not as good as the others on this list. But it’s very good for the money and will prepare you nicely for the DAT.
They offer a 1-month access pass for $199 and $299 for 3 months. Of course, the best deal (though the most expensive) is for 6 months, but at least you can fit in all the study materials during that period.
The study materials include the following:
- More than 100 hours of video lessons, with more than 2,500 videos
- More than 3,500 DAT questions
- More than 20,000 DAT flashcards
- PAT (Perceptual Ability Test) generators
- 55 practice tests
- Updated course for 2022-2023 DAT
- Same look and feel as the actual DAT
- Instant access on all mobile devices (with mobile app)
Yes, you don’t get actual hardcopy books. And there’s no live instruction. So you miss out on these aspects since you’re not paying as much. But overall, you’re still getting a lot of value.
Here are some of the exceptional features:
Fantastic Practice Problem Explanations
The explanations to the various practice questions here are so good that they are even better than what you get from Princeton Review, Kaplan, and DAT Bootcamp. Yes, they’re that good. These problem explanations offer great details that explain precisely why each possible answer is right or wrong. There’s no glossing over and no mere stating the obvious.
These explanations explicitly elucidate the underlying reasons behind each question so you recognize precisely the theory or content for which the question is testing. And these explanations describe why each choice makes sense or not.
The explanations are comprehensive, detailed, well-written, and, most importantly, easily understood. This is the main reason why you will learn from DAT Cracker. Each question gives you this sort of “Eureka!” moment.
A Lot of Practice Tests
You’ve marveled at the option of taking 15 practice tests—but this time, you have a lot more. At some point, you might have to admit that you really can’t spend all your time taking practice tests. But at least you can’t say you’ve run out of practice tests.
At any point, you can check out your current progress and identify the areas where you’re still lagging. This works nicely as an accurate diagnostic tool. When you keep taking these practice tests, you’ll realize which sections are giving you a more difficult time so that you can review those areas with the practice questions and video lessons.
A Terrific Supplement
Many real hard-chargers have also realized that DAT Cracker works well as a supplement to the more comprehensive and more expensive DAT prep courses. It’s perfectly possible that you might still feel a bit unready after going through Princeton Review or Kaplan.
But you don’t have to take those expensive courses. Just stick to one of them, and then finish off with the DAT Cracker. You’re getting a fantastic set of supplementary materials with terrific explanations and many practice tests.
These practice tests can genuinely identify the areas where you still need help. And if that’s the case, the DAT Cracker problem questions and the accompanying explanations will compensate for what you might not have understood (or have forgotten) before.
So which DAT Prep Course is best for you? That depends a lot on your needs, preferences, and budget.
If you can afford the Princeton Review, then this is your best bet. It’s expensive, to be sure, but your money does get you a lot. The cheapest option costs $1,099, but the best option here costs $1,599. This is the DAT 20+ option, which means you’re guaranteed to get a score that’s at least equal to what most actual dentistry students get when they get into dental school.
If you prioritize taking realistic DAT tests so you’ll feel readier when you take the actual DAT, then go with DAT Bootcamp. In addition, the prices are much more reasonable than with Princeton Review.
Go with Kaplan if you learn better with the written materials. Both the quality and quantity of the Kaplan DAT prep course are undeniable. Princeton Review is better than Kaplan simply because it offers more high-quality live instruction. On the other hand, if you’re content with just studying with the written materials, then Kaplan might actually be the better choice for you.
However, what if you don’t have lots of money to spend on a DAT prep course? Even the Kaplan prep course and DAT Bootcamp aren’t cheap, with a price tag of about $500. But if you only have $200, that doesn’t mean you’re limited to ineffectual DAT prep courses. You still have DAT Cracker, which offers excellent value for your money.
Make the right choice, and take the prep courses seriously. These prep courses aren’t worth anything if you don’t actually hunker down and study. Only if you actually do the work will these DAT prep courses help. And they will help—that’s almost guaranteed.
So, stick to your study schedule, and you’ll do well with the DAT. You better get used to working hard if you plan to become a dentist someday. The next few years of dentistry school won’t be a vacation. You might look back at your previous DAT preparation as “the good ol’ days.”
Good luck with the DAT. But with these DAT prep courses, you won’t have to rely purely on luck.