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AADSAS – Professional Experience (Subsection Beneath Supporting Information)

Happy AADSAS Opening Day! June 1st LET’S GO!

Edit: I need to include this here because it throws a major wrench into the screenshots I currently have of the AADSAS. Either this year or last year, the ADEA decided to upgrade the “look” of the AADSAS application, modernizing it and making the font, colors, and design of the website more contemporary. This doesn’t make it necessarily any easier, but is nicer on the eyes. All of the screenshots that I’ve embedded within the couple previous blog posts I’ve published are from the old application. I’m working on updating them to the new AADSAS screenshots, but it’ll take me a little bit. Thank you for your patience. Edits will be made in the coming days.

This post will only detail professional experience within the context of the AADSAS application (i.e. how to list it, what constitutes professional experience, etc.), a separate blog post will be specific to gaining said professional experience prior to even applying.

Under the new AADSAS application’s “Supporting Information” section, the following subsections exists: Evaluations, Experiences, Achievements, Licenses, and Personal Statement.

The old AADSAS had one section on “Professional Experience” with subsections: Academic Enrichment Programs, Awards, Honors & Scholarships (5 max), Dentistry/Shadowing Experience (10 max), Extracurricular, Volunteering, and Community Service (10 max), Research Experience (5 max), Work Experience (5 max).

Edit: Keep in mind that these so-called “max” numbers were valid for AADSAS applications prior to the 2017-18 cycle, so they may not be accurate. I will need to confirm these with an applicant later on. I recently learned that the Experience section’s categories are now “Academic Enrichment,” “Dental Shadowing,” “Employment,” “Extracurricular Activities,” “Research,” and “Volunteer.” Honors and Scholarships are now a separate section titled “Achievements.” There is a new section “Licenses” that allows you to add your dental hygiene or assisting license information, if applicable. However, all of the info below is still helpful.
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Experience 
Arguably one of the most important sections of the AADSAS a pre-dental student can fill, Experience is crucial. Many schools will also have a minimum shadowing requirement, typically calculated in number of hours, so it is wise to check with your designated schools, via website or ADEA Guide, ensuring you have fulfilled this threshold. Do your research, learning about each school’s requirements ahead of time will make completing the AADSAS exponentially simpler!

Edit 06/15/17: The new AADSAS Experience section is the umbrella term for employment, internships, and volunteer experiences. After experience entry, you may select up to 6 as your most important to highlight on your application PDF. 

With the Experience subsection, you must include:

  • Organization name and address
  • Name of supervisor and optional contact information (phone or email)
  • Position title (most often “shadow” or “dental assistant” will suffice)
  • Type of dentistry observed (general dentistry? perio? ortho?)
  • Brief description of activities/key responsibilities
  • Average weekly hours
  • Total number of hours
  • Type of recognition (paid, volunteer, or received academic credit)
  • Start month/year
  • End month/year

I was a paid dental assistant. Does this still count? 
Typically, the answer is yes, but again, check with individual schools.
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Do I need to provide proof that I did all of this work?
No, the entire Professional Experience section of the AADSAS is all honor-based. Providing contact information of your supervisor or attending doctor is optionalhowever, internalize this advice early: never lie. A dishonest doctor is the worst doctor. During interviews, interviewers will test your knowledge based on the amount of experience hours you have stated on your AADSAS. In one interview, I chatted with a gruff, former Naval commander periodontist and one of his first requests from me was to name the steps of implant placement, directly alluding to the 80+ hours I listed shadowing a periodontist. I knew how to respond, thankfully, but no sooner came his next request, which was to name as many dental specialties as I could, hot seat-style. You never know what you’ll get out of an interview, but posts will come later.
Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 3.24.34 PM.pngThis is new for the 2017-18 cycle: There is now an optional Release Authorization for every Experience you add. The Experience section now requests optional contact information for all Experiences added. I highly suggest you select “Yes” and allow for schools to reach out to your supervisors – it’s indicative of honesty and veracity of your application, just like the Letter of Evaluation release.


Is it fine to estimate total number of hours?

Yes, it is fine to estimate total number of hours for all sections, as sometimes exact numbers are not possible. Again, to reference the honor code applicants are held to in these sections, please make sure you are as close as possible to your legitimate numbers.

Does volunteering need to be dental-related?
Absolutely not. In fact, I found this subsection to be one of the few places on the AADSAS in which I could express the individuality of what I did during undergrad. This is a chance for you to flex your creativity and volunteer for organizations that you feel passionate about, beyond dental medicine or anything related to health, but I’m not saying dental experience would hurt. Personally, my dental volunteering included an annual day at Colorado Mission of Mercy (COMOM), a weekend of free dental care for Colorado’s underserved in a different city, every year (most states have something similar to this -insert state abbreviation-MOM is typically the way to search) and some time assisting at Kids in Need of Dentistry (KIND), but the vast majority of my volunteer work lay outside of anything dental-related. For example, I would volunteer to read books at elementary schools with my sorority and also give presentations about college and achieving goals to local high schools. I also volunteered at my school’s community soup kitchen.

How far back can I go?
This should go without saying, but do not include high school experience. Only include volunteer activities that you did whilst in college – admission committees want to know how you, the college student, handles the school-life balance.

Do I need research to be a competitive applicant?
No, but including it will boost your application, but not hinder you. I hear research is less of a factor with dental applicants than with medical school applicants. Above all, don’t do research if you absolutely hate pipetting and sitting in a lab, fine, but other research opportunities exist, including those involving field work and sociological study. Not everything is about microscopes and dark rooms!

Again, you do not need to streamline all of your college extracurriculars and experiences toward dentistry. You have incredible free will to take on whatever you please during your undergrad experience. It goes by fast. Enjoy the journey, not just the final destination. Looking back upon my own college experience, my heart grows heavy for the fond times I spent with my friends that I can never get back – you’re only young once, and my biggest piece of advice (besides APPLY EARLY) is to keep your mind open, try new things. I’ll end on a note that I once quoted during my feature on Humans of Colorado College (back in 2015):

“The Hippocratic oath that all healthcare providers swear by states, “do no harm.” Do no harm to yourself in limiting your own experiences at CC. Too many students are so rigid and determined to dive down a certain rabbit hole during their undergrad, and I was one of them. It’s refreshing to hear from prospective students (and first years!) that have no idea what they want to do, yet just know that whatever it is, they want to do it at CC. Stop and enjoy the faces and places around you – make plans, but don’t make promises to yourself or to anyone. Let life knock you around a bit and impart unexpected gifts in disguise.”

~ Colleen

*This post is sponsored by Colorado ASDA

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Dat DAT

Mention the Dental Admissions Test, or DAT to junior year me and I would’ve busted out laughing, then tearing up shortly thereafter. Studying for the DAT was the bane of my junior year, taking up more time than it should’ve simply because I couldn’t scrape together enough motivation to clothe myself in to study. I feel similarly about the NBDE Part I, though my maturity and approach has noticeably changed for the better.

Traditional students (four year graduation track from college looking to matriculate fall of the year they graduate) should aim to take their DAT sometime during their junior year, well before the AADSAS application opens on June 1st. This gives plenty of time for your DAT scores to be sent to AADSAS and associated with your application. Though you self-report your DAT scores (and date you took the exam) on the AADSAS, the official score report from ADA must be accepted by the AADSAS. What does this mean for you? It takes time for your DAT scores to be processed. From the time the AADSAS receives your DAT scores, it may take up to six weeks or more for them to be added and associated with your specific AADSAS application. This further underscores the importance of applying as early as possible. But, you do not need to wait until everything is processed prior to eSubmitting. For more information on the AADSAS, click here.

All dental schools require that you take the five-hour DAT exam, which is administered through Prometric, a testing agency that also administers the NBDE Parts I and II. You will apply to take the DAT here and obtain a DENTPIN, which is an identification number that follows you for the remainder of your dental career. DO NOT LOSE IT. Make sure it is connected to an email you will have forever-ever (forever-ever?).

When you first register for your DAT, the server will produce a list of all American dental schools and ask you to select which ones you would like your scores to be sent to (remember, each school you apply to must receive your official score report from the ADA). Do yourself a favor, SELECT THEM ALL. Why? It costs extra money later on if you end up wanting to add schools to your list – the real trick is to pick ’em all and sort them out later when you actually submit your AADSAS application. The DAT costs $415 per sitting and you may only sit for the exam three times prior to petitioning for special permission to repeat it. Believe me, you won’t want to take it more than once, so study hard the first time around.

Here’s the 2017 DAT guide and a FAQ, but again, below is a comprehensive breakdown of the Anatomy of the DAT – I went through the books so you didn’t have to!

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Survey of Natural Sciences is 100 questions in 90 minutes, broken into biology (about 40 questions) general chemistry (about 30), and organic chemistry (about 30). With 90 questions to answer these, you have about 54 sec/question. You will receive a subscore for each section.

With the Perceptual Ability Test, you have 60 minutes to answer 90 questions, breaking down to 40 sec/question. Within the PAT, sections include Keyhole (15 questions), Top/Front/End (15), Angle Ranking (15), Hole Punches (15), Cube Counting (15), and Pattern Folding (15). You do NOT receive a subscore for each PAT section.

For Reading Comprehension, you will have 50 questions to answer in 60 minutes, arriving at the rate of 72 sec/question. There will be three reading passages with approximately 16 questions apiece.

Finally, for Quantitative Reasoning* (there MAY be changes coming), you have 45 minutes to complete 40 questions, yielding a rate of 67 sec/question. Approximately 10 of these questions will be applied mathematics questions aka everyone’s favorite – word problems.

The cool thing about the DAT as opposed to the MCAT (there are many things, a lack of physics being only the first!), is that you don’t need to sit on your hands for a month post-exam. The DAT composite and subscores are instant. Therefore, once you complete the optional, 15-min post-test survey (survey asks you to rate the quality of Prometric testing center you were at), your score flashes itself on the screen and you are rendered to 1.) happy peeing or 2.) a puddle of tears vowing to never take another standardized exam. I have high hopes for the former.

Quick Facts about dat DAT:
1. Considered to be just as important as your GPA
The DAT, or more generally, all standardized tests are considered equalizers amongst student populations, accounting for grade inflation and deflation at certain universities. However, each dental school considers the value of the DAT differently and it is up to your research to decide its relative importance.
2. DAT scores range from 1-30
3. National average of all students is 17
4. National average of all accepted students is 18
5. To be safe, 20+ is considered a competitive score for matriculation in a dental program

Note, the earlier you begin taking practice tests and evaluating where you stand, the better. Be sure to carve out time in your schedule to actually annotate said practice tests as well – know why you got some questions wrong/right versus others. Retain the information! Kaplan offers a free, diagnostic DAT (more on that in a later post) so you can get your bearings. After that, create a study schedule that works best for you and stick to it!

Finally, upon reviewing Kyle L.’s DAT advice (a former ASDA Pre-Dental Committee Chair), he also adds to avoid Student Doctor Network’s forums. He notes that admission committees do in fact monitor posts and that anonymity is questionable. Further, SDN is the internet and you can post ANYTHING you want on the internet, regardless of its veracity or accuracy (question me, perhaps?) – often, it is secondary source information and full of groupthink, limiting for you. However, Kyle does recommend SDN for interview feedback, but we’ll write on that later.

DAT-specific study tips will be included in a later blog post.

*This post is sponsored by Colorado ASDA

~ Colleen

Follow us on Instagram @carpedentumblog

Contact Colleen

Welcome to Carpe Dentum!

Welcome to the Carpe Dentum blog! My name is Colleen and I am a current DS1 student at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine (class of 2020) in Aurora, CO. I am a recent Colorado College graduate (class of 2016) where I studied biology, chemistry, and classics. I was a Kappa Kappa Gamma at CC and served in the Office of Admission as an Admission Fellow.

I like eating carbs, buying things I can’t afford, succulents, and anything Chrissy Teigen-related. I also like yoga, skiing, and ballet barre. Sadly, I doubt I will achieve a Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop-level of fame (um I’m okay with that), but follow my journey through D school and everything in between.

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Fall 2016 was largely spent adjusting to my new school, city, and way of life – I had the Block Plan to fall back on no more. Right this second I am supposed to be studying for NBDE Part I, but why not find just one more thing to aid in procrastination? This blog will detail my studies in dental medicine from SIM lab to Tech lab to my first patient experiences. In addition to all things dental-related, I also love good food, good fashion, and good people and might include snippets of all those good things here too. I will be hosting guest bloggers on Carpe Dentum, many of them my fellow dental school classmates and Denver-based CC alums.

Though I wish I would’ve started this blog at the very beginning of my dental school/post-grad experience, hindsight is always 20/20 (especially when it’s the year you’ll finally graduate from school). As the Pre-Dental Associate Chair for the Colorado American Student Dental Association, I am also committed to pre-dental advising whenever I can. This blog will also include posts on getting into dental school and navigating the pre-dental college experience.

Again, welcome to Carpe Dentum, seize the teeth!

~ Colleen

Follow us on Instagram @carpedentumblog

Contact Colleen