How Can I prepare for the DAN-B Exam?
To help you prepare for your dental assisting test, we have developed a list of 30 test-taking tips that have been shown to be very helpful for students of all ages and backgrounds when taking standardized tests. They cover everything, from what to do the night before the big day, to tips you can use during the actual exam.
Our first set of tips focus on what you can do the night before to help you prepare for the day of your dental assisting exam.
1. Study hard with our dental assisting practice test in the days before the exam, but take it easy the night before and do something relaxing rather than studying and cramming. This will help decrease anxiety, allow you to get a better night’s sleep, and be more mentally fresh during the big exam. Watch a light-hearted movie, read a favorite book, or take a walk.
2. Pack your bag or lay out your essentials the night before. Make sure to include at least two forms of ID; your admission ticket or confirmation; pencils; a high protein, easy to eat snack; bottled water; and any necessary medications. You will be less stressed the morning of and less likely to forget anything important.
3. Map out your route to the test center the night before. If you are driving, take traffic into account, especially if you are driving during rush hour. If you really want to be thorough you can visit where the exam is going to be beforehand, so you know exactly where you are going the day of the test. Use your phone or the internet to check for traffic updates before leaving, in case you need to take an alternate route.
4. Spend the hour before bed avoiding television, your computer, cell phone, and social media. The bright screens and overload of data can keep your brain buzzing into bedtime.
Once you’ve taken all the necessary steps you can to be prepared for exam day, our next group of tips will help you concentrate on how to get your best night’s sleep, which is critical for being sharp and alert during your dental assisting exam.
5. Make sure you give yourself your usual amount of sleep, preferably at least 7-8 hours. You may find you need even more sleep. Pay attention to how much you sleep in the days before the exam, and how many hours it takes for you to feel refreshed. This will allow you to be as sharp as possible during the dental assisting test and make fewer mistakes.
6. Set your alarm early enough that you have plenty of time to have a well-balanced breakfast and avoid rushing in the morning to get ready. Rushing tends to get your sympathetic nervous system going, and you risk mentally fatiguing yourself by the start of the test.
7. Don’t use sedatives like Benadryl or NyQuil to fall asleep. These medications often remain in your body long after you have taken them, meaning you will still be drowsy during the exam and potentially up to 24 hours after taking them.
8. With all the extra adrenaline flowing through your bloodstream the night before a big test, it’s not uncommon to feel more anxiety than usual. Focus on thinking positive thoughts which can decrease anxiety, help you relax, and fall asleep. One way to stay positive is to imagine a happy or fun story or scene. If you have a negative thought or find yourself returning to the exam, acknowledge this thought and let it “drift away” while you continue to fixate on the story or images you have in your mind until you finally fall asleep.
Now that you’re ready to get a full night’s sleep, here are some great tips to help you get through the morning and those critical hours before the big exam.
9. Don't forget to take any vitamins or medications you would usually take in the mornings before you leave for the test center. It’s important that you keep your body – and schedule – as normal as possible to ensure you are calm and collected come test-taking time.
10. Dress in loose, comfortable clothes and wear layers. Also, wear comfortable and breathable shoes. Although you will be seated, you don't want tight, restrictive clothing to serve as a distraction. Also consider wearing natural fabrics such as cotton, which help wick away body moisture and let the skin “breathe.”
11. Many testing locations keep their air conditioner on high. You want to remember to bring a sweater or jacket in case the test center is too cold, as you never know how hot or cold the testing location could be. Remember, while you can always adjust for heat by removing layers, if you’re cold, you’re cold.
12. Eat a breakfast with protein, fiber, and good fats, such as eggs, avocado, oatmeal, whole-grain toast, berries, or nuts – all of which keep you full longer and your brain healthy. A breakfast burrito with a whole grain-tortilla, eggs, beans, spinach and salsa would be an ideal and delicious example.
13. Use caffeine as you normally would, and as sparingly as possible. Coffee, energy drinks, tea, chocolate, and many soft drinks all contain caffeine. Be smart about what you put into your body. Just as with high-carb or high-sugar drinks and foods, many people tend to crash 3 to 4 hours after ingesting caffeinated products. Some products, such as coffee, also increase an individual’s need to use the restroom, something you want to avoid when you’re in the middle of a timed test like the dental assisting exam.
14. Bring an energizing snack to leave in your bag that doesn’t require refrigeration and isn’t messy or difficult to eat. Some good examples include protein bars or almonds. Although stress from the test may tempt you, don't rely on sweets with fast carbohydrates from a vending machine at the test center. Bring water, not sugary soda or sports drinks. Keep in mind, however, that many exams do not permit eating during testing, so keep into consideration when your break times are, how long they are, and at what point during the test they occur.
15. Aim to get to the test center at least 15-30 minutes early. This gives you time to adjust for several negative scenarios, such as bad traffic, a train, getting lost, lack of parking, or running into issues with your registration.
16. Bring at least two pens and two pencils with good erasers, a calculator with new batteries, and any other resources that your instructor allows you to take into the exam room. Make sure you clear any materials you are bringing in with the instructor first – you don’t want to be removed from the exam or have your exam forfeited because you broke an easy-to-avoid rule.
17. Bring a watch to the test so that you can better pace yourself. In the days leading up to the dental assisting exam, consider using the watch to help time yourself so you grow accustomed to the amount of time it takes you to answer a question – as well as the amount of time you can realistically spend on a problem. If you use a digital watch, make sure it is permitted in the testing room.
18. Consider packing helpful healthcare products you might need in the case of an emergency, such as pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Remember that even if you don't think you need them, you are taking a long test and are likely to feel stressed, even if you are well prepared.
19. If you can't study or review your materials because you're at the testing location, waiting for the exam to begin, or simply because of nerves, try meditating or focusing on your breathing. Going into the exam feeling calm and collected will help you pace yourself and remember important information.
20. Even if you don’t feel like it, use the restroom before entering the exam room. You don't want to waste time worrying about your bodily needs during the test.
Once you’re ready for the big moment – exam time itself – you’re going to need to stay focused and choose your answers quickly and wisely. Our final exam tips cover what you can do while you are taking the dental assisting test itself to raise your score.
21. Multiple studies have shown that individuals work harder and do better work when they’re slightly cold. While you don’t want to be uncomfortably cold – remember, always bring a jacket, just in case – being slightly cold will keep you alert and awake.
22. Don't pay attention to others around you. If someone around you is being loud or disruptive, asked to be moved or see if there are noise-cancelling headphones or other options available for you to use.
23. Go with your gut when choosing an answer. Statistically, the answer that comes to mind first is often the right one. This is assuming you studied the material, of course!
24. For true or false questions: if you genuinely don't know the answer, mark it true. In most tests, there are typically more true answers than false answers.
25. For multiple choice questions, read ALL the answer choices before marking an answer, even if you think you know the answer when you come across it. You may find your original “right” answer isn’t necessarily the best option.
26. Narrow answers down by using the process of elimination: after you understand the question, read each answer. If you don’t know the answer right away, use the process of elimination to narrow down the answer choices. It’s easy to identify at least one answer that isn’t correct. Continue to narrow down the choices before choosing the answer you believe best fits the question. By following this process, you increase your chances of selecting the correct answer. If the exam is on physical paper, you can put an “X” next to the incorrect answers to help your brain separate right and wrong answers. If your exam is on a computer and scratch paper is permitted, consider writing out the letters or numbers associated with the answer choices, such as A, B, C, or D, and then cross them off manually to ensure you select the correct answer.
27. Don't stay on a problem that you are stuck on, especially when time is a factor. Mark it, skip it, and come back to it later once you’ve finished all the easier problems. Not only will this prevent you from wasting time, you may also find that you are able to approach the problem differently after some time away from it. If you are still stuck, return to: 1) Using the process of elimination, and 2) Going with your gut to choose your final answer.
28. Consider taking a mini-break if you are feeling overwhelmed. Put down your pencil, close your eyes, and take two or three deep, slow breaths. If you are permitted a certain amount of break time, go wash your face, drink some water, or go on a quick walk through a hall or open space to get your blood flowing again.
29. If you have time left when you are finished, look over your test. Make sure that you have answered all the questions. Remember, your first answer is probably the correct answer, so only change an answer if you know for a fact that you misread or misinterpreted the question.
30. If you manually bubbled in answers, make sure that any wrong answers are fully erased and that your bubbles are dark, neat and full. Whether on a computer or on paper, take this opportunity to make sure that your personal information on the exam is correct and neatly printed. Sometimes the little things, such as an out-of-place bubble, have the potential to negatively impact your score.
We hope that these test-taking tips will help you do your best on exam day. For tips specific to the dental assisting test, make sure you carefully read through our study guide. Our books include sidebars with helpful tips and facts relevant to your test. You’ll also want to read through your exam creator’s website to make sure that you bring everything necessary for your exam and study all relevant material. Finally, continue to check out our website, triviumtestprep.com for updated study materials!