2023 DAT Breakdown (22AA/22TS/18PAT)

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Aug 8, 2023
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Hi everyone! Thought I'd write my own breakdown, since they can be so helpful for others. I've added details that I thought were important. I primarily used DAT Booster, but had the chance to use DAT Bootcamp ~4 days before my exam. I studied on and off for about 2.5 months.

PAT: 18 QR : 19
RC : 22
Bio : 20
GC : 22
OC : 25
TS : 22
AA : 22

Background: Senior, majoring in biology with a 3.75 GPA.

Materials used:

1) DAT Booster: Booster has all the information required for you to know to do well in the exam. I personally purchased it because it was cheaper than bootcamp, and I recommend it. It was SUPER representative of the exam, which I'll explain more below. Definitely take advantage of the practice exams for all the subjects. PAT was also really representative of the actual exam. You can add a delay to the practice exams, which I liked because I had alot of it on my real DAT.

2) Youtube: I used Leah4sci for most of the organic chemistry topics. I watched short videos on random topics if needed.

3) Quizlet: I used the decks for biology created by DAT Booster. This was helpful for the first couple of biology chapters, and I would use the decks to refresh my memory.

4) DAT Bootcamp: I liked Dr. Mike's explanation videos for GC and OC in the practice exams. The UI of Bootcamp looks exactly like the actual exam, but you can't add a delay, so keep that in mind. PAT on bootcamp (esp TFE) wasn't as representative as Booster.

Study Timeline:

Preface this by saying I was ALL over the place! I had made out the DAT as some impossible exam, so I dreaded studying for it and kept pushing it to the side. I originally paid for the exam in December 2022, used the one time extension, but slacked so much that I had to purchase it again. I also purchased DAT booster and repurchased extensions. In retrospect, I wish I had been more dedicated so I didn't waste so much money, but I think I needed that reality check.

Feb-April 2023: I tried to study during the semester, but it would consist of watching the OC videos and not properly learning any of the material. I also ended up fasting for Ramadan, and had some personal family issues, so overall I didn't get anything done.

Mid May 2023-July 2023: Once the semester had ended, I knew I had no more excuses and had to study. I started using DAT booster, and roughly used the study schedule. Personally, it didn't work for me, so I just studied intuitively. I began by watching the PAT videos on Booster (one topic a day), and applying that information to practice questions. The techniques are super helpful, it just requires repetitiveness to get accustomed to.

Last ten days before my exam: I studied 8-10 hours a day, with breaks in between. I did take a day off to refresh but these days were criticial to my learning. I did primarily practice exams, and alot of OC and GC.

How I Studied for Each Section:

Bio: I took Adv Anatomy & Phys I and II before my exam, so I didn't study these chapters for the DAT at all, other than doing the question banks on Booster. The questions were all surface level on the exam, so I wouldn't do this differently. I was anxious about Biodiversity, so I did this chapter twice, but only memorized overall. I recommend using Bootcamp's phyla cheat sheet + making a mnemonic. Study for biodiversity in a chronological order, it makes it SO much easier because there are patterns. For Eco evo, I used the high yield notes, and Booster reaction sheets. Same for genetics, but I used Booster's videos as well (the new ones are super concise!). I used a mix of quizlet + q banks but PRACTICE EXAMS are the most representative. If I were to go back, I would learn the practice exam qs more. I neglected biology, and didn't study for it much within the last ~15 days of my DAT (other than practice exams) because I felt more unsure about GC & OC.

GC: Chad's Prep and Prof. Dave's videos were not for me. I tried it but it didn't work for me, so I used Booster's GC notes for each topic, and would occasionally pull up a video for confusing topics. The notes were so good! I would recommend it if you prefer to teach yourself rather than listen to a lecture. I did practice qs for each chapter right after, and would cycle through topics to make sure I knew them. Again, do the practice exams and focus on concepts!

OC: This was my most hated section, because I didn't remember ANYTHING from undergrad except the basics. Prof Dave's videos didn't work for me, and I tried to learn mechanisms initially but it felt too confusing. So I used Bootcamp's free reaction sheet, and roughly memorized the reactions, topic by topic everyday. This way, I was more familiar with reagents and reactants. I used DAT booster's notes, again, super helpful for reactions, spectrometry, ranking acids, etc. I would do reaction qs after each topic, and I had to memorize them multiple times. After memorizing, I used Leah4sci for topics that I felt like needed more mechanisms (subs/elim/enolates). I studied EXCESSIVELY for this section, especially in the last 15 days of my exam because I felt like I kept forgetting everything.
PAT: DAT booster's vidoes were really good in teaching you the techniques needed for each type of question. I did a topic a day, followed by question banks. In retrospect, I would have done more practice exams because I didn't take them all. The explanations under booster's practice exam qs are SO USEFUL, wish I had utilized this earlier. This section just requires repetition and learning from your mistakes.

RC: I did nothing for this section except give 2 practice exams. I was short on time and more concerned about the sciences. I'm a decent reader so I wasn't worried at all for this section. If I had more time, I would have done more practice exams to increase my score.

QR: I gave a handful of practice exams, and tried learning topics like permutations, dice, rates, etc from there. Didn't watch any videos, and only studied this section briefly a week before my exam. I felt confident with algebra and geometry. Time management is key for this section! I could have improved my score with more practice, but this section wasn't my priority.

Note: I took MANY breaks in between because I felt demotivated that I didn't know everything. I took almost a straught week off while studying, and a handful of days here and there to recharge.

Actual Exam
I only got 1 hour of sleep before my exam because of my lack of a normal sleep schedule and anxiety. I made sure to lie in bed without any devices for around 2 hours so my body could rest. I had a cold shower, downed some coffee and ate a couple apple slices and dates. The adrenaline kept me awake! I took OC reaction sheets (never used it) and the QR formula sheet.

Bio (20): I finished this section in less than 15 mins, the questions were really surface level. Tagged a couple, and was confused for 3-5 questions. Honestly, I expected to better in this section because it felt super easy! I had some questions almost word for word from DAT Booster.

GC (22): Mostly had conceptual questions, with some calculations that had very simple numbers. Booster has way more complex calculations with difficult numbers so the real exam felt easy. There were a couple I wasn't sure about, but I made sure not to get stuck on one question.

OC (25): Blindsided by my score! I breezed through the questions, and tried not to second guess myself. I had 2 questions with reaction pathways, one was super simple, the other I made an educated guess, based on my gut feeling. Mostly all conceptual, that you'll probably encounter in practice exams. Make it a habit to eliminate silly answer choices.

I had about 9-10 minutes left over, which was more than enough to review my tagged questions.

PAT (18): I neglected this section within the last 15 days of my exam, and I wish I had done more questions everyday. All sections were really similar to Booster, except keyholes because I had more questions with curvature. Bootcamp didn't feel very representative. Angles and cubes were easy, the rest felt slightly difficult.

Break time: I took the whole break, had some blueberries, and reviewed QR formulas. I didn't bother thinking about the previous sections, and focused on how I was almost finished!

RC (22): My first passage was difficult, second was medium difficulty, and third was super easy. I finished with around 10-15 minutes because I wanted enough time to go back to the first passage. I guessed on 3-5 questions from the first passage, and am so glad I went back to those because I ended up changing the answers.

QR (19): Some questions, like rates, simultaneous equations and dice were just like booster. I didn't have any permutations/combinations and had some exponential qs and a cubic equation that threw me off. I can't say too much because I didn't have much exposure to high yield questions. I think I had 5 mins left over, which was because I guessed on the hard ones.

Overall Advice:
Make sure to focus on your weak spots, don't bother learning details for biology, and don't get caught up on your practice scores. My scores were stagnant for 2-3 weeks straight. If you're short on time, just do practice exams and learn from them.
Find ways to connect and associate different topics with one another, and make an effort to learn patterns so you're not memorizing questions. Different methods work for different people. My approach wasn't organized at all, but I had mental lists of what needed to be done and that was enough.
Make peace with the fact that the DAT is just an exam. If you don't do well, you can always retake, it's not the end of the world. Don't get caught up in existential dread. Having this mindset in the last month really improved my work ethic.


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