Building your dental school foundation

pre-dental study skills

Pre-dental students have an endless well of questions regarding both the application process and what dental school actually consists of. What if I told you that there’s a way to both improve your application and prepare yourself for the rigorous coursework that you will experience as a dental student? By focusing on developing good study habits and routines, you can not only raise your GPA and DAT scores, thus significantly increasing your chances of getting an acceptance, but also prepare yourself to meet and exceed the expectations set by your dental school.

One lesson that stuck out to me when I was playing tennis competitively was when my coach described the efficiency of the best players. “Tennis players in college are compressing 2-3 hours of your practice intensity into one hour. Between balancing coursework and training, they need to fit as much training into a small timeframe as possible”. While my passion for tennis died off as I became more set on my goal of becoming a dentist, that lesson stuck with me throughout my academic career. As I spent hours in the library trying to decipher what I was learning in General Chemistry, I realized that I couldn’t continue adding more study hours for harder courses;  I would simply run out of time! I needed to figure out how to make my study time more efficient so I could get more work done in a shorter amount of time.

Making Study Time more Efficient

There are several mistakes I see students make all the time when it comes to studying. An easy one is that you must put away your phone! Many students will check their phone for texts or to look something up intermittently; constantly distracting your brain with this means that you are devoting less energy towards learning the material. Whether you use the pomodoro technique (25 minutes on, 5 minutes off, with a 30-minute break every two hours), or another method that works for you, you must figure out a way to consistently devote 100% of your attention to the material in front of you.

Another mistake students often make is committing themselves to a specific “learning style”. While many people are taught that each person has their own preferred method of absorbing information (audio, visual, reading, etc.), research shows that multi-sensory learning is optimal for learning and retaining information (Shams & Seitz, 2008). When learning material for a class, students should use all resources available to them. For example, a student might watch a lecture, review the slides, and then use visual figures from the textbook to better retain the information presented.

Concluding Thoughts

While these general tips will be of great service to students, there are many other aspects to being a successful student, and anyone who wants to pursue a professional degree should consider themselves a professional student as well, and constantly work on optimizing their performance. Feel free to reach out to me or any other tutor with Cambridge if you need help in becoming the best student you can possibly be!


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