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How NOT to get into dental school: tips from experience

Updated: Dec 9, 2019

By Michael Whaby

As an aspiring dental student, you’ll be sure to find plenty of resources on how to get into dental school – and there are plenty. You might even spend a little too much time doing this. How could you not when there are a million websites trying to show you how to score a 30 on the DAT. However, everyone is unique, with their own stories and strengths and weaknesses, and the truth is that there is really no one way to get into dental school.

Its hard to find what works for you when preparing for the DAT and the application itself. Luckily, I’ve been through this process. And while I can’t speak to how you should prepare to get accepted; I can surely explain how not to. That is why, untraditionally, this post will be focused on the tactics that you should employ if you don’t want to get into dental school.

Prepare alone

If you don’t want to get into dental school, you MUST prepare alone. Don’t try to collaborate with others that are preparing for the DAT. They will definitely sabotage your mind with fake material, call you dumb, and will not hold you accountable for making progress with studying.

Absolutely no practice exams taken at the same time as them either. Remember, you don’t want to try and replicate the testing center environment to better prepare. Besides, if you take it alone, you can extend your breaks and shame yourself on your performance as you progress through.

Ignore help and criticism

Don’t ask for help with the application itself. You don’t want anyone to cloud your judgement on the schools to apply to, or how many. When it comes to the personal statement, go with your first draft, and don’t let many people look it over. If others do review it, make sure not to consider any criticisms – they are just hating on your work.

Lastly, remind yourself constantly that you can do it alone. You don’t need help studying or applying, and you don’t need to extend your network. If you meet too many people – especially in the field that you aspire to be in – then people might think that you can’t get there on your own. Keep that stubborn attitude.

Procrastinate and rush

Give yourself a month prior to the DAT to study. This way you’ll pretty much have one day to study each topic. This is great for glossing over areas that are not your strong points. You can just ignore them and cover something else that you already know. They probably won’t even ask about that other material (…but they will, though, and you know it in the back of your head).

When it comes to taking practice exams. Wait until a day or two before the exam and take one practice exam to test your killer study strategy. Remember from before, take longer breaks than you would get during the actual exam. This way you can take more time to ponder that last section instead of narrowing your focus on the next. You’ll probably score a few points higher on the exam itself if you don’t do as well on the practice exam – common sense.

When the application cycle starts, wait until the middle or closer to the end of the cycle to apply. If you’re the last to apply, your application will probably just be thrown on top of the stack of applications – that way they’ll see you first.

Don’t follow up

One of the best ways to delay your application is to not remind those that are writing your letters of recommendation to actually write and submit them. They are probably going to get to it when they have time, you shouldn’t bother them. Remember, all letters of recommendation must be submitted for a complete application

Another necessity for a completed application is your official academic transcript.

What you’ll want to do here is 1) go to the registrar, 2) put in a request to send your official transcripts and 3) do absolutely nothing after this. This is especially important for transcripts sent via mail. Make sure that you don’t check back with the registrar after a week or so to confirm that your transcripts were successfully sent out. Unfortunately, though, most applications now accept electronic transcripts that will send you a confirmation email when they are successfully submitted and received.

Don’t reapply

This is absolutely crucial if you do not want to get into dental school. If you’ve applied and have been rejected, do not try again. Life is too short to put in another year of effort towards a lifetime career. And if you reapply and do get accepted, how will they know what they’ve missed out on?

If you’ve been rejected and want to get rejected again next year, make sure not to follow up with the schools that rejected you. You will only increase your chances of getting accepted by knowing why you didn’t get in and how you could improve your application for next cycle.

Apply to five schools or less

Don’t consider which schools are compatible with DAT scores and GPA. Just apply to about five schools that you want to go to. Don’t even establish good reasons for wanting to go to these schools either. If you apply to more schools, the chances of you getting an interview will increase. I know people that are now in dental school that applied to upwards of ten schools. This would be illogical to do if you don’t want to get accepted.


If you do these things, you are pretty much guaranteed to not get into dental school (obviously). I tried to dramatically highlight the main mistakes I made when applying to dental school. You can read more about my experience here. Consider these examples and avoid them. Importantly, talk to others that are going through this experience with you as well as those that have been through the process.

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