Test Preparation System for Dental Assisting Exam (page 2)
Taking this exam is no picnic, and neither is getting ready for it. Your future career in dental assisting depends on you getting a high score on the various parts of the test, but there are all sorts of pitfalls that can keep you from doing your best on this all - important exam. Here are some of the obstacles that can stand in the way of your success:
- being unfamiliar with the format of the exam
- being paralyzed by test anxiety
- leaving your preparation to the last minute or not preparing at all
- not knowing vital test-taking skills: how to pace yourself through the exam, how to use the process of elimination, and when to guess
- not being in tip - top mental and physical shape
- messing up on exam day by having to work on an empty stomach or shivering through the exam because the room is cold
What’s the common denominator in all these test-taking pitfalls? One word: control. Who’s in control, you or the exam?
The LearningExpress Test Preparation System puts you in control. In just nine easy - to - follow steps, you will learn everything you need to know to make sure that you are in charge of your preparation and your performance on the exam. Other test takers may let the exam get the better of them; other test takers may be unprepared or out of shape, but not you. After completing this chapter, you will have taken all the steps you need to get a high score on the dental assisting exam.
Here’s how the LearningExpress Test Preparation System works: nine easy steps lead you through everything you need to know and do to get ready for this exam. Each of the steps listed below and on the following pages includes both reading about the step and one or more activities. It’s important that you do the activities along with the reading, or you won’t be getting the full benefit of the system. Each step tells you approximately how much time that step will take you to complete.
- Step 1. Get Information
- Step 2. Conquer Test Anxiety
- Step 3. Make a Plan
- Step 4. Learn to Manage Your Time
- Step 5. Learn to Use the Process of Elimination
- Step 6. Know When to Guess
- Step 7. Reach Your Peak Performance Zone
- Step 8. Get Your Act Together
- Step 9. Do It! (10 minutes) Total time for complete system
We estimate that working through the entire system will take you approximately three hours. It’s perfectly okay if you work at a faster or slower pace. If you can take a whole afternoon or evening, you can work through the whole LearningExpress Test Preparation System in one sitting. Otherwise, you can break it up, and do just one or two steps a day for the next several days. It’s up to you—remember, you are in control.
Step 1: Get Information
Knowledge is power. The first step in the LearningExpress Test Preparation System is finding out everything you can about the types of dental assisting exams offered. For example, the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB)’s Review (Third Edition) outlines all the details about taking the CDA exam. Your local state dental assisting boards will have information for you on the RDA exam requirements, which vary from state to state.
What You Should Find Out
The more details you can find out about the exam, either from the national or state boards’ publications, the more efficiently you will be able to study. Here’s a list of some things you might want to find out about your exam:
- What skills are tested?
- How many sections are on the exam?
- How many questions are in each section?
- Are the questions ordered from easy to hard, or is the sequence random?
- How much time is allotted for each section?
- Are there breaks between sections?
- What is the passing score, and how many questions do you have to answer right in order to get that score?
- Does a higher score give you any advantages, like a better rank on the eligibility list?
- How is the exam scored, and is there a penalty for wrong answers?
- Are you permitted to go back to a prior section or move on to the next section if you finish early?
- Can you write in the exam booklet, or will you be given scratch paper?
- What should you bring with you on exam day?
What’s on Most Dental Assistant Exams (CDA and RDA)
The skills that are tested in the dental assisting written exam vary from state to state. That’s why it’s important to contact the DANB as well as your local state association to find out what skills are covered.
Step 2: Conquer Test Anxiety
Having complete information about the exam is the first step in getting control of it. Next, you have to overcome one of the biggest obstacles to test success: test anxiety. Test anxiety can not only impair your performance on the exam itself, but it can even keep you from preparing properly. In Step 2, you will learn stress management techniques that will help you succeed on your exam. Learn these strategies now, and practice them as you work through the questions in this book, so they’ll be second nature to you by exam day.
Combating Test Anxiety
The first thing you need to know is that a little test anxiety is a good thing. Everyone gets nervous before a big exam—and if that nervousness motivates you to prepare thoroughly, so much the better. It’s said that Sir Laurence Olivier, one of the foremost British actors of the twentieth century, threw up before every performance. His stage fright didn’t impair his performance; in fact, it probably gave him a little extra edge—just the kind of edge you need to do well, whether on a stage or in an examination room.
Stress Management before the Exam
If you feel your level of anxiety is getting the best of you in the weeks before the exam, here is what you need to do to bring the level down again:
- Get prepared. There’s nothing like knowing what to expect and being prepared for it to put you in control of test anxiety. That’s why you’re reading this book. Use it faithfully, and remind yourself that you’re better prepared than most of the people taking the exam.
- Practice self - confidence. A positive attitude is a great way to combat test anxiety. This is no time to be humble or shy. Stand in front of the mirror and say to your reflection, “I’m prepared. I’m full of self - confidence. I’m going to ace this exam. I know I can do it.” Say it into a recorder, and play it back once a day. If you hear it often enough, you will believe it.
- Fight negative messages. Every time someone starts telling you how hard the exam is or how it’s almost impossible to get a high score, start telling them your self - confidence messages above. If the someone with the negative messages is you—telling yourself you don’t do well on exams, that you just can’t do this—don’t listen. Turn on your recorder and listen to your self - confidence messages.
- Visualize. Imagine yourself reporting for duty on your first day of dental assisting. Think of yourself wearing your uniform with pride and learning skills you will use for the rest of your life. Visualizing success can help make it happen—and it reminds you of why you’re doing all this work in preparing for the exam.
- Exercise. Physical activity helps calm down your body and focus your mind. Besides, being in good physical shape can actually help you do well on the exam. Go for a run, lift weights, go swimming—and do it regularly.
Stress Management on Exam Day
There are several ways you can bring down your level of test stress and anxiety on exam day. They’ll work best if you practice them in the weeks before the exam, so you know which ones work best for you.
- Deep breathing. Take a deep breath while you count to five. Hold it for a count of one, and then let it out on a count of five. Repeat several times.
- Move your body. Try rolling your head in a circle. Rotate your shoulders. Shake your hands from the wrist. Many people find these movements very relaxing.
- Visualize again. Think of the place where you are most relaxed: lying on the beach in the sun, walking through the park, or whatever relaxes you. Now, close your eyes and imagine you’re actually there. If you practice in advance, you will find that you need only a few seconds of this exercise to experience a significant increase in your sense of well - being.
When anxiety threatens to overwhelm you during the exam, there are still things you can do to manage your stress level:
- Repeat your self - confidence messages. You should have them memorized by now. Say them quietly to yourself, and believe them!
- Visualize one more time. This time, visualize yourself moving smoothly and quickly through the exam, answering every question correctly and finishing just before time is up. Like most visualization techniques, this one works best if you’ve practiced it ahead of time.
- Find an easy question. Skim over the test until you find an easy question, and answer it. Getting even one circle filled in gets you into the test -taking groove.
- Take a mental break. Everyone loses concentration once in a while during a long exam. It’s normal, so you shouldn’t worry about it. Instead, accept what has happened. Say to yourself, “Hey, I lost it there for a minute. My brain is taking a break.” Put down your pencil, close your eyes, and do some deep breathing for a few seconds. Then, you’re ready to go back to work.
Try these techniques ahead of time, and see if they work for you!
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