25 AA / 24 PAT Breakdown from a suuuper Nontrad student :) 99th percentile

Jul 24, 2020
  1. Pre-Dental
Hi everyone! I'm new to SDN so pardon any formatting errors, hoping I do this "breakdown" thing right :) I took the DAT recently and scored very well using both DAT Bootcamp and DAT Booster. I am really proud of my scores, and am happy to share what will *hopefully* be some unique insight on how to your dedicated study time well, and how to do some early preparation the summer / winter before the "real deal." Here is my score breakdown:

DAT Scores SDN.png

My background:
Vocal / Opera performance major, graduated in 2015. Took 2 "gap years," realized I wanted to pursue medicine/dentistry, started a career changer post-bacc program in 2017. Had to take a full year to review math by taking College Algebra (Fall '17), Precalculus (Spring '18), and Calculus (Summer '18) before actually starting the post-bacc program. Never took a college level science course before this experience. Worked about 20-30 hours a week during the process, maintained a 3.8 science GPA by exercising my time management skills to the max.

Resources I used:
DAT Bootcamp, 9.5 / 10:
BC was my main study resource. I followed Ari's study schedule almost 100% down to a T, although I had to add 4 days onto my study schedule due to COVID-related test cancellation. I would NOT recommend following his schedule that closely; instead, I would recommend adding a week to the schedule at least, because once you get to Taxonomy and beyond, it is virtually impossible to keep up it even if you're putting in 12 hours a day (which I did), and I was only using the condensed notes for bio. Practice exams as a whole were harder than the real thing; I did 6-10 as full lengths and on the real thing, scored 3 points higher than my best AA. Would NOT recommend as prep for PAT, but we'll get into that later.... Took a half point off for the somewhat unreasonable study schedule (despite it being such a useful guide) and the "meh" PAT prep. I would recommend this resource to EVERYONE prepping for the DAT.

DAT Booster, 9.5 / 10: I actually started with PAT Booster last summer (will explain that more below), so upgrading to DAT Booster was a no-brainer considering how well PAT Booster prepared me last summer. I am SO glad I invested in this resource, as it covered a lot of small details that seem to be high yield on current versions of the DAT that BC leaves out. The bio videos they're coming out with are an absolute godsend, and I would recommend these hands down to anyone struggling with taxonomy especially. Took a half point off because their testing grade "curve" is really harsh at the moment (i.e. scoring 17/18 on GC with the same number of questions right that would have gotten me a 21-23 on BC easily) which can be discouraging, and because I just want more content from them in the way of bio videos :)

BONUS: My undergrad-level basic science courses, 10/10: My program is known for having some pretty brutal courses, and working my tail off often only earned an A- or less. That said, I committed 100% to understanding the content the first time around, and treated my post-bacc program like a 2-year DAT prep course. I built such a strong foundation by focusing on earning the highest possible score on every exam and assignment in these courses, that Bootcamp and Booster only helped refresh material for the most part. There was very little material I had to learn from scratch (*cough cough* taxonomy). I would encourage EVERYONE to treat their undergrad pre-requisite science courses like one big DAT prep program.

Breakdown per Section:
Biology: 26

I would say I probably spent a full 50% of my prep time just working on biology, and fortunately it paid off. I had a very strong basis in biology from my post-bacc bio sequence, but boy oh boy did this still kick my butt!! I used the condensed bio notes + quizlet cards on BC only, as well as the bio content videos and a number of the bio subject exams from Booster. I found that Booster's videos, especially in taxonomy, helped me put the seemingly random list of terminology from Bootcamp's notes into context. This was crucial.

I also took the time to literally type out every. single. line. of the condensed notes and details missing from the condensed notes found in quizlet into anki cards (nearly 3000 total) and did about 200 new cards and 200-300 review cards (for a total of 400-500 cards) per day. This was INSANELY time consuming, but one of the key things I did in making these anki cards was that I made one big anki card with nearly all the information for one process (such as the Krebs cycle, glycolysis, etc.), and I had multiple cloze deletions per card (so the same card would "come up" multiple times, with different words missing that I had to guess). I didn't just guess the cloze deletions for the section of the card that came up to review; I also went through the ENTIRE CARD to make sure I understood what I had to guess in context of the whole process. Super time consuming, but this forced me to A) be able to quickly "jump" to one part of (for example) Glycolysis in my mind quickly WITHOUT thinking through the whole thing, and B) helped reinforce the whole cycle so that I could more quickly pick through it in my mind and understand it as a whole. I also used a lot of image occlusion cards. If you'd like my deck, I posted links to them for google drive on the Facebook DAT Bootcamp study group.

Each day on Ari's study schedule, I first made the anki cards, then reviewed them at night. The following day when you were supposed to "review, highlight, (etc.)" I went through the anki cards again, then did the BC practice problems. Consistency in terms of keeping up with the anki cards is key, especially for a subject as broad as biology.

General Chemistry: 28
I used Dr. Mike's videos to blast through the gen chem review, and honestly my first practice subject exam on BC was only a 17!!! I came a long way, but part of that was by doing some of the untimed exams on Booster to build confidence and speed. I also made and used anki cards for conceptual ideas for this section, and reviewed them every day (only about 50/day total). One key thing I did on both Booster and BC was mark every. single. question that I got wrong or guessed, reviewed the explanation in detail, then -- here's the key -- WAITED at least a FULL WEEK before re-visiting those wrong answers to try them again without my notes. The bookmark feature on Bootcamp was ESPECIALLY useful for this; it was almost like taking a bunch of mini subject tests. Taking that full week gives you time to "forget" the problem (for the most part) and will force you to attempt it almost like you've never seen it before. I have no idea where the 28 came from though :p This was a very pleasant surprise; GC on the real DAT was SO much easier than BC and Booster.

Organic Chemistry: 20
Organic has always been the bane of my existence, but I definitely made a lot of improvement overall (from 16 to 25 on BC) by using the same mark & come back to it in a week method mentioned above that I used for GC. I also made anki cards for every. single. reaction in the form of WORDS and NOT pictures (i.e. ketone ---> LAH ---> 2º alcohol) where I had to guess the reagents, and I made a point to say the reaction out loud every single time. This helped me quickly remember how to convert between functional groups. Dr. Mike's videos again were killer for review, and I used a mix of BC subject tests as well as Booster subject tests to gain as much exposure as possible to ease my nerves. About a week and a half before my exam, I really put in a lot of time on this section by working through all of the problems in Bootcamp's new REACTION qbank, and this helped me solidify and tie everything together in terms of reactions. On the real thing, I had a few weirdly worded questions that I think threw me off, but I'm still not complaining about a 20!!!

Reading Comprehension: 28
I honestly don't have very much good advice for how to prepare for this section, because English is my first language and I've always excelled at reading. One thing I will say is that I used a *slightly* unconventional method that worked wonders for me: before I read the article at all, I clicked through all of the questions and read them all / tried to memorize key words or numbers in each question. Then I went back to question 1, started reading the article / highlighted any of those key words or topics I found along the way, and once I found the answer for question 1, I moved onto question 2 to see if I already highlighted that answer or if I needed to keep reading. If I already highlighted it, I'd answer it based on what I read already and then move onto question 3. If not, I'd keep reading / highlighting as I went. If I got to the end of the article and didn't find the information that I needed to answer a question then I'd use search and destroy, but usually I could remember enough key words to find almost everything in one pass. On the real thing, I had almost entirely fact-based questions, so this method was even more effective on my actual DAT than it was on the Booster / Bootcamp practice exams. I'd say if you're lacking confidence in this section, use Booster's UNTIMED subject exams and experiment with different strategies WITHOUT the pressure of the clock first.

PAT: 24
Probably the best decision I made for my DAT prep as a whole was to start preparing for PAT LAST summer with PAT Booster
(part of DAT Booster now) and this paid dividends!!! I would HIGHLY recommend preparing either the summer before or on winter break prior to your dedicated study time. PAT is a blast to study for and Shahed's videos are incomparable, *but* it is very time consuming to prepare for. I knew I would be shooting for the shortest possible prep timeline this summer, so I made a point to study ahead for this section so I could focus more on the science review this summer. Last summer, I went through all of the PAT Booster videos, did the generators on Booster every day (which, by the way, I think were much better than the Bootcamp generators for all but keyholes), and ended up doing 4 full length practice exams. Again, I did the first few untimed to build confidence, and this summer I was able to jump right into full length TIMED practice exams with no issues whatsoever.

Since I had practice questions from both Booster & Bootcamp, I actually didn't really use any generators during my dedicated study period. If I felt I needed a "generator," I just went to Booster and did a PAT exam, then reviewed *in excruciating detail* every single answer solution.

I was not a huge fan of Bootcamp's videos simply because I didn't like or understand their presented strategies for the most part, but I will say their Top-Front-End videos were useful. Also, I spent the whole academic year doing the daily practice problems that Booster posted daily on instagram which helped keep me fresh, and I can say that honestly paid off too even though it only took a minute or less per day. Booster and Bootcamp both felt harder than the real thing, but it was GREAT to be over-prepared in this way.


Quantitative Reasoning: 21
MAN was this a relief!! Being 9 years out of high school, but having taken a full year recently to review math, I underestimated how hard this section would be for me. I assumed it would be a lot of algebra and precalculus, but boy was I wrong... high school math galore. I admittedly procrastinated preparing for this section and did NOT do the recommended 20 questions / day on Ari's study schedule and I regretted the heck out of that decision. If I could go back, I would prepare for BOTH PAT and QR the summer prior to the real thing. I could have saved myself SO MUCH STRESS by purchasing a Booster account last summer (since it's so much cheaper than BC), studying just PAT and QR (and maybe RC for fun) for a few weeks, then "freezing" the membership until my dedicated study time this year. I would recommend this strategy to ANYONE who knows they'll be preparing for the DAT, it will save you sooo much time and allow you to focus in on the sciences when your dedicated study period begins.

Study for PAT, QR, and maybe RC the summer or winter before your DAT... you'll thank yourself during your dedicated study time. I would do this with DAT Booster, since it is so much cheaper than Bootcamp, their PAT prep in particular is far superior to BC in my opinion, I've heard great things about their QR / RC prep even though I didn't personally use it, and they allow you to "freeze" your membership until your dedicated study period. Since Booster is such a new resource, I would still recommend using Bootcamp as your *primary* resource during your dedicated study period for now, and follow Ari's study schedule but add a week for taxonomy and the dreaded "chapter 11" on condensed notes, but definitely focus in on Booster for PAT, their bio videos, RC, and QR. I found Booster's material to be a bit harder than Bootcamp WITHOUT being overkill. I did not feel that I needed Destroyer and wouldn't recommend it since the real DAT is easier on most sections than both Booster and Bootcamp, and found that I got the challenge I needed from these two resources I used.

Overall guys, remember that you can invest in EVERY resource out there and throw money at this thing like your life depends on it, but you don't need to and shouldn't. You can get by with one resource only (although I'd personally recommend BOTH BC and Booster if you can swing it), but the most important thing that you will prepare with is your own hard work. If you don't put in the time and focus on studying as effectively as you can, you will not get the results you want. The sciences do not come "naturally" to me, I have to work VERY hard to do well. These two resources provide the tools you'll need to succeed, but the tools won't get you anywhere unless you use them. Good luck!!!
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Jul 24, 2020
  1. Pre-Dental
Congratulations! Did you think the Pat was more like PATBooster or Bootcamps practice?

Hey! The real thing was definitely much more like PAT Booster I'd say. However, I think using a mix of both really helped prepare me... Both resources had PAT practice exams that felt wayyyyy harder than the real thing, but Booster's questions looked and felt a bit more like the real thing to me. Hope this helps!
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7+ Year Member
May 3, 2011
  1. Dental Student
Congratulations! I'm glad your hard work paid off.


2+ Year Member
Apr 7, 2016
  1. Pre-Dental
Hey man, would you kindly please consider sharing your Bio deck. The DATbootcamp study cards seem kind of simple.

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