Seriously CDA? Was ‘giving pre-dental students heart attacks’ on the to-do list at the annual meeting? Sigh, as if the aperture/keyhole section of the PAT was not hard enough, the CDA has recently integrated questions within this section that are in a category of their own.  Instead of having a normal object with deliberate and defined edges, the object you are given has the geometry of, well, a rock.

One may ask, “What the heck is the geometry of a rock?”.

And the answer to this question is precisely why these special questions are so difficult. These objects are characteristically high in number of faces and have inconsistent angles of connection between edges. In short, the geometry of these objects are as good as random although they still may present with high symmetry as do some rocks in nature.  So how does one tackle these sort of questions and differentiate themselves from the inferior? Well honestly, we don’t believe doing well on Rock Keyholes is the answer here and to explain, we have to hypothesize as to why these questions are here in the first place.

Why am I trying to visualize this ‘thing’ in 3D?

To answer this question, we have to think of the PAT as a whole. Without a doubt, time is the major factor that makes this exam difficult for students. If you were given unlimited amount of time to finish the PAT, you would have a high chance of answering every question correctly. With this in mind, we believe rock keyholes serve the following purpose:

  1. Suffocate time
  2. Induce stress

The above two are also closely related to dentistry as a profession and the four years of professional school preceding it. Having been a dentistry student myself, I can attest to the multiple times where I had to prioritize some responsibilities over others and learn to compromise. Because sometimes, there’s simply not enough hours in a day to sanely complete everything you want to. But enough of me reminiscing the good times. Back to rocks!

In my opinion, the best strategy for rock keyholes is to recognize you are doing one, and to be aware of the two purposes they most likely serve (outlined above). Don’t let the question become a time vampire and suck previous seconds that can be spent on other questions. Because even if you practice all the rock keyholes you can find, chances are you will still have a tough time on test day simply because of the high level of variability that these questions offer. The following can act as a guideline but once again, the process is not as robotic as the list may portray.

  1. Recognize you are on a rock keyhole question (This will most likely be evident by the “WTF” look on your face)
  2. Scan the object for symmetry and hallmark features
  3. Use your instinct to eliminate choices that you believe portray incorrect proportions or geometry
  4. Pick an answer and never look back.

 

Think of rock keyhole questions as the school bully. Why would you dedicate your time to something that is mean, ugly, and only wants to make your life miserable? Don’t spend more than 20-30 seconds on these questions. And remember, the CDA removes 15 questions from the marking process as part of the testing methodology. These rock keyholes may very well be part of the 15 but this cant be confirmed. In conclusion, to truly CRUSH rock keyhole questions, one must be aware of their characteristics and purpose.