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Best DAT Prep Courses & Study Materials
Our comprehensive guide to the best DAT prep courses and study materials on the market
The DAT is one of the most challenging and high-stakes exams you will take in your life. For most aspiring dentists, the score you get on the DAT will make or break your dental school application. This in turn makes the selection of the right prep course a crucial and difficult decision. But with so many prep options that all have varying features and study materials, how to do know which one is best for your needs? Our team of education experts has purchased, thoroughly tested and reviewed every DAT prep course on the market, and ranked the best of the best here, so you can make an informed decision on which is right for you.
When it comes to DAT prep, Princeton Review stands head and shoulders above the competition. It starts at the top with a core curriculum that our team found incredibly comprehensive and well-designed. Princeton does not shy away from the details, and their coursework covers every last bit of material that you need to know for the DAT. This curriculum is primarily driven by some first-in-class live classes.
More on these below, but the 55 hours of live class time you’ll get with Princeton Review cannot be matched in terms of helping you prep. These classes are supplemented by over 1,500 practice questions and 4 full-length practice exams, which we found to be highly realistic of the actual DAT. When combined with Princeton Review’s award winning hardcopy prep books, we had no choice but to rocket this package to the top of the best list.
Incredible Live Instruction
As discussed above, Princeton Review’s live classes are one of the main reasons they take our editor’s choice pick. With 55 hours of live class time, they offer almost 20 hours more of live prep time than their next closest competitor, Kaplan (36 hours). Winning on the quantity front is always good, but we also love the design of these live class sessions. Instead of using one generalist instructor who knows a little bit about everything, Princeton employs a subject matter expert approach. Specifically, this means you’re going to get a rotating team of 3 to 5 subject matter experts leading your sessions. For the class we audited, we had 4 different instructors across the first 7 class sessions alone.
These instructors were fantastic, and rotate in and out throughout your class sessions based on their strengths. Additionally, we found them all to be excellent communicators. Maybe they weren’t all the most lively or funniest teachers we’ve had, but they were clearly all masters of their relevant areas and did an excellent job spoon feeding us the essentials that are needed for the DAT. If self-study just won’t do it for you and you need the commitment of live class time, Princeton Review is going to be your best bet.
Awesome DAT Prep Books
As a complement to the core live instruction, Princeton Review boasts some of the best DAT prep books on the market. When you sign up with Princeton, they will ship you a set of hardcopy prep books that our team absolutely loved. This set includes their legendary Cracking the DAT prep book, which has been a staple of DAT preppers for decades, and includes over 800 pages of test taking strategies, hard content review and practice material.
You also get a course workbook with 500+ pages of practice problems, as well as an in-class booklet that contains drills and supplemental practice work. Our team found these books to be clearly written, detailed and thoughtfully designed in terms of the balance they strike between strategy, content and practice. These books offer a huge benefit to text-based learners.
Kaplan makes our best DAT prep courses list for a number of the same reasons that Princeton Review does, namely their high quality video lessons, practice material and well-designed curriculum. That said, the difference comes down to a matter of quality vs. quantity, and that is why Kaplan takes a second place nod on our list of best courses. Whereas our team found the quality of Princeton’s materials to be slightly better, and believes the Princeton course would be more effective for the average student, Kaplan’s level of study material cannot be disputed.
Offering 120+ hours of online lessons and practice, Kaplan simply offers a mountain of prep resources that will keep you busy right up until the day of your exam. This package includes a whopping 7 full-length practice exams, 1,500 practice questions in a customizable question bank, interactive workshops, books and quizzes. Bottom line, Kaplan offers a mountain of tried and tested DAT study materials that will fit the needs of students who love to grind out their studying with tons of practice work.
Excellent Video Lessons
If you are the type of student that is content to study alone and are leaning towards a self-paced course, Kaplan’s on demand video lessons are a true highlight of their DAT prep package. These videos are modern, engaging and designed to effectively feed you everything you need to know about the DAT in 36 jam packed hours. Our team loved both the substantive content and delivery format of these lessons. They are not the PowerPoint video lectures of yesteryear. These video lessons feature a team of rotating instructors who guide you through the most important concepts of DAT prep. Unlike other companies’ video lessons, you actually get to see your instructor onscreen and watch them work practice problems and explain concepts through a sleek digital whiteboard.
This format held our team’s attention, and is generally going to be helpful for visual learners. Additionally, we loved the content of the lessons. Kaplan’s DAT test taking strategies are on point, and we had no issue with the content review portion of the lessons. Everything they explained in the lectures was easily understandable and actionable. If there’s one thing to knock here, it’s that the instructors were not the funniest or most personable teachers we have seen (not by a longshot), but they were definitely knowledgeable and managed to hold our attention.
King of Simulated Exams
When it comes to simulated DAT exams, one thing is certain: Kaplan is king. In test prep, for many students, there is no better means of getting ready for an exam than taking practice tests under exam-like conditions, then reviewing the answers you got wrong. If you’re the type of student that falls into this camp, Kaplan may be your best bet for DAT prep. Kaplan provides 7 full-length, simulated DAT exams, providing preppers the opportunity to hammer practice tests.
And beyond the quantity of practice tests, we found Kaplan’s materials to be quite good. Again, if you’re going for pure quality and effectiveness, our team gives Princeton Review a slight edge, but Kaplan is certainly a close second here. The questions are very realistic of what you’ll see on the real DAT, and each is accompanied by a helpful text explanation that breaks down the concept being tested in the question and why the answer choices are right or wrong.
Why DAT Cracker Makes the Best Study Material List
When considering all of the factors that help a course rise to our list of best DAT prep courses, value is always a huge part of the equation. With DAT Cracker, you get that in spades. Priced at just $99 (yes, you read that correctly), DAT Cracker provides serious bang for your buck. Let’s not hide the ball though – this course is no Princeton Review or Kaplan. They do not provide robust video lessons, prep books, creative drills or interactive learning modules. DAT Cracker costs what it does for a reason – this is a library of 55 practice DAT and PAT tests that are designed to help you prep through practice, practice an more practice, pure and simple.
That said, while there aren’t any engaging video lectures or cool drills, there is one component of this online course that provides some significant instructional value, and that is the problem explanations that accompany every practice problem. More on these below, but know that our team loved these explanations. In short, if you’re on a budget and need a value prep option for your upcoming DAT, then DAT Cracker may be a solid option.
Awesome Practice Problem Explanations
As alluded to above, one of the highlights of this prep offering are the detailed problem explanations that accompany each and every one of the 1,400+ practice problems. These detailed explanations cover exactly why each answer choice is correct or incorrect. And this is more than simple one sentence statements of the obvious. These explanations thoroughly explain the underlying rationale behind the question, the content or theory being tested, and why each choice makes sense or does not.
They are well written, comprehensive, and perhaps most importantly, easily understandable. These explanations provide your primary learning opportunity with DAT Cracker and their value should not be overlooked.
DAT Cracker As A Study Supplement
One thought our team shared as we reviewed the DAT Cracker course was that it would make for an excellent supplemental study tool. Without video lessons, prep books or other interactive study tools, it is hard for this course to stand on its own, unless you are an experiential learner who learns best by just doing. If you are, and practice work is all you need, then you may be set with DAT Cracker alone. But if you’re like most others and need more instructional material, then DAT Cracker could be a nice study aid. For just $99, you get access to 55 practice tests with thousands of solid problem explanations.
The ideal study option here is likely going with Princeton Review or Kaplan, then utilizing DAT Cracker to bolster your library of study material. Their practice tests do an excellent job mirroring the real DAT in terms of content and delivery, and we loved their problem explanations, as mentioned above. So if you’re looking for some additional practice work, this prep package might be a great supplementary option.
A relative newcomer to the DAT prep space in the last few years, DAT Bootcamp has quickly made headway and earned the respect of thousands of students with their self-paced study program. They’ve primarily done this through offering an absolute mountain of study material, a guided study plan, and some pretty solid video lessons. While the video lessons don’t have quite the same production value as those from Princeton Review and Kaplan, we did love the energy we got from DAT Bootcamp’s instructors, particularly their chemistry expert, Dr. Mike.
Additionally, as discussed more below, the biggest selling point in our team’s opinion is DAT Bootcamp’s heaps of practice work. There is no questioning that they are the kings of practice. And in terms of when to do this practice work and watch those solid chemistry lessons, DAT Bootcamp provides a really helpful study plan that we found to be one of the best in the game. If there is one major downside here, when compared directly with Kaplan and Princeton Review, DAT Bootcamp doesn’t offer live classes, which can be a huge benefit when prepping for the DAT.
TONS of DAT Study Material
If you’re the type of student that loves to burn through practice questions and take tons of simulated exams, DAT Bootcamp could be a great option. They offer mounds of practice work. Specifically, you’ll get access to over 60 practice tests, 4,670+ practice questions, and an unlimited number of PAT questions through their PAT generator. And it wasn’t just the quantity that impressed our team – we also really liked what we saw with respect to quality.
The practice questions from DT Bootcamp are realistic in terms of content and difficulty, and we thought they closely mirrored the real thing. We also liked the explanations that accompany their practice problems, especially those that carry a video explanation.
While the production value of their videos isn’t out of this would (like we have seen with other prep companies), the series of chemistry lessons from Dr. Mike are solid. He’s engaging, enthusiastic and a great communicator. He easily breaks down some really tough chemistry concepts, that even the experts on our team find to be difficult. He uses sample problems to perfection to help explain his lesson and loves using the digital whiteboard, which can be a major benefit to visual learners.
Do I need a DAT prep course?
As the DAT is one of the most important exams you’ll take in your life and is filled with difficult problems, you will almost definitely need a prep course. The DAT is nearly impossible to ace without a prep package of some sort.
How much does a DAT prep course cost?
DAT prep packages range widely in price from around $100 all the way up to nearly $1,500.
Will a DAT prep course raise my score?
Very likely yes. The DAT is brimming with difficult material that you’ve probably forgotten since your undergrad science classes, as well as unique problem types that require actionable strategies. Given this, a prep course will almost assuredly raise your score as compared to going it without prep materials.