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It always feels like a struggle to find the time to study, volunteer, eat well, exercise, have a social life, and the million other things you want to get done during the school year. Winter break, spring break, summer break, and long weekends are all times to take a deep breath. Breaks are also a unique time to improve your dental school application in ways that you can’t during the school year. Check out our top five tips to make the most of your school breaks to benefit you on your journey to dental school.

Learn more about specific dental schools

Breaks can allow you to explore what dental schools you want to attend. Reach out to admissions offices at schools to see if they offer open house events or tours. If they don’t, ask the admissions office if you could schedule an unofficial visit to see the school or if they could connect you with current dental students or alumni. Learning about dental schools will help you choose which schools you want to apply to.

Connect with dental students and dentists

Once you’ve determined a few schools you’re interested in, try to reach out to dental students through the admissions office or find local dentists that attended those schools. Dental students and dentists may have more time to chat with you over breaks and holidays. Set up informational interviews with dental students and dentists in-person or over the phone to discuss their path to dentistry and what advice they have for you.

Shadowing dentists is challenging when you usually have classes during the work week. Call local dental offices to ask if you could shadow over break. Clinical experiences, like shadowing, are a key component of your dental school application and will make you a competitive applicant.

Ace the DAT

Preparing for the Dental Admission Test (DAT) takes weeks of review. Balancing studying for the DAT during school can be tough, so one approach is to dedicate several weeks of a long break to study. The flexibility of studying over break allows you to truly master the material and take full-length practice tests that take hours to complete.

The Perceptual Ability Test (PAT) section of the DAT tests your visual and spatial reasoning in a unique way that you might not have experienced before. Extra consideration for practicing the perceptual ability questions and reviewing strategies will help you ace the PAT section.

Consider scheduling to take your DAT during a school break, as well. Doing well on the DAT is incredibly important for your application and schools breaks provide you a time to focus on doing the best you can on the DAT.

Refine your interview skills

You can also practice your interview skills over break. This list of interview questions can give you an idea of the types of questions you may be asked. Sit down with a friend, advisor, mentor, or family member and have them use the list of interview questions in practice interview.

Practice and repetition makes perfect. Also in preparation for your interview, take advantage of your breaks to read about current events in healthcare, especially as they relate to dentistry. You may also want to use this time to read an ethics book, as you may be asked to detail how you would deal with ethical scenarios in your dental school interview.

Start your AADSAS personal statement

Start working on your AADSAS personal statement. It’s never too early to start a draft of your personal statement. Even if you are in your freshman or sophomore year of undergraduate, you can draft a rough personal statement. As you get closer to applying for dental school, you can update your draft personal statement.

Of course, make sure to take time for yourself. Balance your time to spend with your family and friends, and relax. The dental application process is long and school can be stressful – rest up during breaks to come back to school recharged and ready to go.

Learning about dental schools and dentistry, preparing for the DAT, and working on your interview skills as well as your personal statement are all ways to take advantage of your time off during breaks.