UPDATE 5/15/2014: DAT Biology Changes Officially Pushed to 2015

Back in October, we announced that the ADA was planning to change the DAT starting in 2014. The changes focused on updating the Biology section in 2014 and the Quantitative Reasoning section in 2015. Other than a short description, no other detail was provided as to what the changes will contain and most importantly, when these changes will take effect.

After some research, it appears that the upcoming changes to the DAT have been planned since early 2012 (or even 2011 although unconfirmed). These changes were focused on  reviewing items and content relative to science courses and science textbooks. New test questions are being developed according to the “Test Item Development Guide”. A copy of the guide can be accessed on the ADA website. This guide appears to be National Board Dental Examinations which supports the motion to make the DAT a better predictor of success in dental school. This is NOT to say that questions will be related to dentistry, but that the format for question may shift in the direction of the guide.

I recently acquired some documents directly from the ADA that give us an insight on the future direction of the DAT. The first of these documents is a presentation titled “Update on the Dental Admission Test (DAT)” which was conducted during the ADEA Fall 2013 Meeting. The information about the upcoming changes to the DAT start on page 9 and extend through page 12. We are going to breakdown each of these pages in full detail.

The biggest update from this batch goes to the Quantitative Reasoning section internally referred to as (QRT). As you can see from the image below. Questions related to Data analysis, interpretation and sufficiency, quantitative comparison, probability, and statistics will begin to appear on the DAT starting in 2014. However, the questions will not contribute to your QR/AA scores up through the end of 2015. Starting in 2016, based on the pilot test conducted during 2014-2015, questions in these sections will begin to contribute to your QR/AA scores. This gives plenty of time for students to adapt to the changes and for preparatory material refinement. A presentation from 2012 notes that the ADA originally estimated that the new questions will contribute to scores beginning in 2015. This indicates a year delay in the process as scores are now expected to contribute no earlier than 2016.

Changes to Critical Thinking Content

 

Details on the Biology section have not changed much other than to clarify the window for the biology section. The window has now been extended through 2015. At this point, it is likely that any changes that will occur to the DAT will be near the end of 2014. Time to take a breath! There is plenty of time to take the current DAT without any worry of changes.

Changes to Biology Test Specifications

The third picture indicates that the changes are still being developed and refined and that all new items will be pre-tested and reviewed, revised or retired. This indicates that the Biology Section may see a similar pilot  test but in a shorter timeframe.

Test Construction

This fourth image is a bit more unclear. Test Construction Committee (TCC) is the group of individuals responsible for drafting new items as indicated in the previous image. This image shows a “sample representation” indicated by names of universities. I interpret this as one of two ways. Either faculty members at these universities are working to add new content to the DAT or that the pilot test will begin at (or near) these locations. I am inclined to believe it is a list of members involved in the revision process.

TCC Representation

The remainder of the power-point covers post-test survey results as several graphs comparing 2012 to previous years. It appears that over the past 5 years the “apply early” message has been taken very seriously. The graph on page 22 shows a steady increase in tests taken in June and July and a steady decline in tests taken in August, September, and October.

You can download a copy of the DAT Update 2013 Presentation Here

In addition to this presentation, we have also gained access to an FAQ by Kaplan regarding the upcoming changes. I have bolded any interesting components.

DAT Test Changes in 2016
Changes to Quantitative Reasoning

Why is this section changing? 

The ADA wants this section to require more critical thinking. The changes will eliminate some of the easiest questions (numerical calculations and conversions) as well as some content that is not deemed to be critical for success in dental or optometry school (geometry and trig). These questions will be replaced with additional Probability & Statistics questions, presumably of higher difficulty, as well as new critical thinking question types that sound like the quantitative question types on the GMAT and GRE.

What is changing specifically? 

First, all questions from the following categories will be eliminated: Numerical Calculations, Conversions, Geometry, and Trigonometry. These questions will be replaced with more Probability & Statistics as well as the following new question types: Data Analysis, Interpretation & Sufficiency, and Quantitative Comparison.

When will the changes occur? 

In 2014-2015, the DAT and possibly the OAT will pilot experimental items for these questions, though it is currently unclear when exactly these items will begin being piloted and how they will be tested (i.e., whether they will be included within the current section or will be identified as experimental). These questions will not count toward student scores in 2014-2015. The ADA plans to have the full new Quantitative Reasoning section scored beginning in 2016.

How should students prepare for these changes?

Students should continue to prepare for the current version of the DAT & OAT. They may see experimental items on their tests in 2014-2015, but those items will not count toward their score, so students do not need to worry. Once the changes are finalized and an official launch date is announced for 2016, the Kaplan course will be updated to prepare students for the new test content and question types. We will always ensure that our course aligns with the current or immediately upcoming test blueprint.

Changes to Biology
Why is this section changing? 

The ADA notes that college-level biology courses take more of a systems approach, focusing on complex interactions within biology systems. This does not align with the way the Biology subsection of the DAT & OAT tests content. The ADA wants the section to more closely match what students are learning in their introductory biology courses.

What is changing specifically? 

It is not yet known how the changes will impact the section. It may be as minor as changing the way that some questions are asked or may include more substantial changes to the test blueprint.

When will the changes occur? 

The ADA is targeting sometime in 2014-2015, but a specific timeline has not yet been determined.

How should students prepare for these changes?

The test is changing to better align with what students are already learning in their undergraduate courses, so this change should be beneficial to most students. The Kaplan course already teaches biology content using a systems approach, so students will be prepared for both the current test and any upcoming changes. That said, it may be advantageous for students who are already ready to test to take their test sooner rather than later in case any of the changes result in higher difficulty questions.

You can download a copy of the DAT Update FAQ Here

 

2013 Presentation Source: http://www.ada.org/sections/educationAndCareers/pdfs/adea_presentation_datupdate_2013.pdf

Archived Resources:

UCSF200UCSF is once again offering their free online course about Caries Management by Risk Assessment (CAMBRA) to those interested in dental hygiene and a more modern approach of preventative dentistry. Dr. Featherstone, the Dean of UCSF School of Dentistry, teaches the concepts of CAMBRA which he developed over the past few decades over a 6 week online course through the popular website Coursera.org.

This course will provide the scientific basis for caries (dental decay) risk assessment and practice interventions. You will immediately be able to apply “caries management by risk assessment” into your clinical setting or into your personal health care.

This will be the second time the course is offered and best of all it is FREE for the standard version! There are several optional pay grades such as the verified certificate through Signature Track and/or 12 continuing education credits for the state of California.

I enrolled in the first session of this course back in October 2013 and overall it was very informative and a fun change of pace from your typical college curriculum. Dr. Featherstone does his best to keep you entertained by talking about his adventures around the world between each segment. I opted into the verified certificate  and verification page (Signature Track) so that it can be added to my online profiles such as LinkedIn. You can view my verification page here if interested in learning more about this option offers. A verified certificate (optional) currently costs $69 dollars. I am hosting a giveaway for one free Signature Track course. The giveaway details are at the end of this post!

The course will begin on March 31st and run through May 9th. The course requires 4-6 hours per week in order to watch the lectures, read the material, complete the online multiple choice quizzes, and answer the prompts. I think it is a great opportunity for pre-dental students and an excellent achievement to place on your application for dental school. The course covers the following topics:

Week 1:

  • Understand what dental caries is
  • Understand the concept of the caries balance
  • Know the three principal pathological factors of caries formation
  • Understand that multiple bacterial species are responsible for dental caries
  • Understand the role of frequent ingestion of fermentable carbohydrates in dental caries
  • Recognize hyposalivation, how this occurs, and its importance in caries progression

Week 2:

  • Refine the concept of the caries balance
  • Know and understand the multiple caries protective components in saliva
  • Understand demineralization and the role of fluoride
  • Understand remineralization and the role of fluoride

Week 3:

  • Understand remineralization and the role of fluoride
  • Understand how fluoride interacts with cariogenic bacteria
  • Know the three main mechanisms of action of fluoride
  • Know about fluoride toothpastes and fluoride mouthrinses

Week 4:

  • Know about fluoride products for the dental office and for home use by prescription
  • Know why high concentration fluoride products are used for high caries risk individuals
  • Know the antibacterial products currently available for caries control
  • Understand the root caries process including similarities and differences with coronal caries

Week 5: 

  • Understand the distinction among disease indicators, pathological (biological risk) factors, and protective factors
  • Know that the CAMBRA risk assessment method is validated in clinical use in thousands of patients for 6 years through adult
  • Know the bacterial assessment methods
  • Understand the sequence for the entire CAMBRA method

Week 6:

  • Know how to assess caries risk for an individual as low, moderate, high, or extreme
  • Know the currently recommended chemical therapy for patients at low, moderate, high, or extreme risk
  • To study numerous examples of risk assessment and therapy and how to build this into the treatment plan
  • Understand the differences between risk assessment for young children, older children, and adults

Learn more about the course and register at https://www.coursera.org/course/cariesmanagement

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I am raffling off a Signature Track Course ($69 dollar value) to somebody on this website who fills out the Ask Elias form and attaches their confirmation page for the CAMBRA course. From all the entries, a random drawing will decide the winner! The form will only accept the following file types .doc|.docx|.pub|.pdf|.png|.jpg|.jpeg (limited for website security). If you are having difficulty with the attachment, submit the form without the file so I can contact you.

The raffle ends January 31st, 2014 and the winner will be announced shortly after!

Complete AADSAS Application Picture Guide

December 23rd, 2013 | Posted by Elias Almaz in AADSAS Application | Advice | Background Information | Dental School | Tips - (Comments Off on Complete AADSAS Application Picture Guide)

aadsas_logoA concern for many people anxious to apply for dental school is the AADSAS application. For most, it is the first time they are using the application and the lack of guidance makes it difficult to prepare for in advance. Right before the application opens, confusion and misinformation can be seen throughout club conversations and online communities such as studentdoctor.net due to the ambiguity by the ADEA. Because of this, I have been collecting each component of the AADSAS application as part of a project to create the most comprehensive picture guide of the AADSAS Application. I hope others will find this tool useful to becoming familiar with the application before the application opens and for others to see how future components of the application will appear during the cycle.

The AADSAS Picture Guide v1.0 includes screenshots from the following AADSAS Application processes:

AADSAS Account Creation, AADSAS Notifications/Messages, Application Home Page, Background + Family Information, Disadvantaged Status, High School Information, College + Coursework Information, Sample Matching Forms, DAT Score Reporting, Academic Enrichment Programs, Awards/Honors/Scholarships, Dentistry Experience, Extracurricular/Volunteer/Community Service Experience, Research Experience, Work Experience, Personal Statement, Evaluators (Letters of Recommendation), Release Statements, Dental School Designations, Submission Checklist, Final Submission, Payment, GPA Calculations, Individual Dental School Application Status Updates, Individual Dental School Decisions, Official DAT Scores, Background Check, and the Fee Assistance Program.

As you can see, this has been an ongoing project for the past 6 months as I have experienced the application process. I hope others find it useful in preparing for a future cycle. Future revisions of this document will include annotations and tips as well as other components of the application such as the mysterious and poorly explained AADSAS Holistic Cover Sheet that every new applicant finds confusing. Future revisions will be found on the Pre-Dental Ultimate Resource List.

After going through this lengthy process, I cannot stress enough how much preparing for the application in advance helps for those applying early. I highly encourage keeping track of your AADSAS GPA throughout your education using the calculator I posted earlier this year. The calculator mimics the calculations done by AADSAS by using the unique AADSAS GPA rules and will report every GPA that will appear on your final application. On occasion, the calculation done by AADSAS can contain errors and keeping track of your own AADSAS GPA makes spotting these errors easy. A friend of mine recently helped to update the AADSAS GPA Calculator specifically for quarter systems and now includes a complete course subject listing  to help classify each course on your transcript into an AADSAS Category. The original calculator designed primarily for semester systems can still be downloaded here.

More than ever, I highly encourage using the fillable application created earlier this year to save time when filling out the real application. This document will help you figure out how to perfect the content of your application by holding you to the same character limits of the real application, a challenge of its own.

Happy Holidays!