First off, before I get into the breakdown of my studying, I just want to thank everyone for their helpful posts and keeping this forum thriving and helpful for many! I took the DAT July 27th, I want to help people that were just like me, reading through the detailed breakdowns of others to see what works and what does not. So again, thanks a lot and I hope this can help a few people!
So to start off I would like to give those of you who might happen upon this post prior to your big test: You got this! I could not tell you how nervous I was to take the test. Just know that it just means that it is important to you! Anyway, I'll get into the breakdown.
I gave myself from May 20th to July 27th to study the the test, so a little over 2 months. I tried studying during the school year, however I quickly learned that I wasn't able to handle that. Speaking of school though, I believe there are a good amount of classes that you can take that will definitely help you when it comes to studying for the DAT. I will put those classes under the 'musts' below. So, to begin, my plan of attack was to start off with Organic Chemistry and General Chemistry videos on CourseSaver (Chad's Videos) and get those subjects down because I knew I could have the potential to master that compared to biology and QR. So it took me about 2 weeks to get through chad's orgo section and felt confident about the material. I made notecards for every reaction that he went through along with the techniques and important material. Chad's videos were easily my favorite resource because Chad is a natural when it comes to gen chem and orgo chem and he made it very easy to understand. Everything I can remember on the gen and orgo chem that I remember was touched on by Chad. Know that are you should be well on your way! Then I took 2 more weeks to study and feel pretty confident about general chemistry. As I mentioned before, Chad will get you through this! While gen chem and orgo chem were the main two subjects that I studied over the first month, I also worked in QR and PAT. I think it is important to start early with the PAT, using the generators and practice tests on DAT Bootcamp to get the timing down. I struggled with the PAT section on the DAT Bootcamp, especially the keyholes and angle rankings. These seem to be the one's that everyone struggle with. Find your weaknesses on the PAT and attack them as best as you can, as early as you can. Don't get discouraged at first, all of that practice helps for the real thing, and timing is crucial! I sprinkled in some QR practice problem and tests during the first four weeks, however I didn't spend too much time on it (and it shows :/). During my fifth week, I rewrote the general chemistry and organic chemistry notes that I had taken just to solidify that I understood the material. I also took this time to focus more on PAT and QR. So, up until three weeks before the test I did not look a biology AT ALL. I did this by design knowing that I wanted the info to be fresh when taking the real DAT. Being a biology major I thought I would be fine handling it up until I looked at Feralis' notes. I did not realize how much was fair game on the Bio section. Up until this point I was fine, but I actually had my first breakdown around that time, just thinking, how am I going to learn all of this in 3 weeks and fell comfortable taking the biology section. So basically, for the last three months, I spent studying biology and the PAT section. And boy do I not recommend anyone do what I did! While I am ultimately happy about my score, in hindsight there is definitely a better way of studying for the DAT in general. Once I realized how much I had to accomplish in a pretty short amount of time I had some longer nights than I would have liked to have. If you are cool with studying for 9+ hours a day for a few weeks then all the power to you, my plan could work for you. If not, I suggest you start studying bio sooner rather than later! Finally, in the days leading up to the test, I took some practice reading comprehension sections and luckily I scored decent enough on those to not have to focus on them much more than I did. To those of you studying for the RC section, just find a method. I used a modified version of search and destroy on this section. One thing that I did that seemed to be different that most people that take the exam was I did not take a single full length practice test. I got through half of one and realized that it bogged me down and my time could be used in a better way. What I found to be great about DAT Bootcamp was that you could select which test you wanted to take individually. So I was able to practice timing without taking the full thing! That in and of itself was worth the price, so I highly recommend it! I will break down every resource I used below.
(*This of course is my opinion and just because you do not use these does not mean you will not do well, but the resources I am about to list helped me tremendously)
1) DAT Bootcamp (10/10) - Incredible software! DAT Bootcamp emulates the DAT software. I personally think that this is very important when it comes to actually taking the real test. The more at ease you feel while taking the test, the less you have to deal with when taking the exam. The only thing that the actual test had the Bootcamp did not was that you could right click on the real test to eliminate an answer. This feature is obviously not a deal breaker and maybe it works on windows, however on my mac it did not work. As for the important stuff, it is amazing. The tests prepared me very well for every section. In particular, the practice test for biology and PAT were great. Comparing my real scores to my Bootcamp scores, every category was higher except for Reading Comprehension and QR, which were the same. So if you are struggling or not getting the scores you want, just know that many people have experienced this. I believe that the real DAT was a bit easier and luckily my scores showed that.
2) Chad's Videos (CourseSaver) (10/10) - simply fantastic!! Chad is an absolutely amazing teacher and makes concepts easy to digest. A must have resource for gen. chem and orgo chem. He covers everything that I saw on the DAT. I also supplemented with the DAT Destroyer book for practice problems, which is also on this list. At the time of writing this I know that the biology section is not totally complete, however the videos that are up currently are still useful. I just know that Chad's biology was not close to sufficient.
3) DAT Destroyer + Math Destroyer (7/10) - While the practice problems are not really representative of the real DAT, they did prepare me well. The difficultly of the questions compared to the real DAT are quiet different, so if you have this as a resource and know how to do ~40% of the problems when you first start that is normal! It will get better! I suggest learning the material, then coming back to practice using Destroyer. But you also have to realize that the Destroyer does go into too much detail. This is supplementary material. In my opinion, Math Destroyer is an important tool that I think was worth the purchase for sure. Even though I didn't score as well as I would have liked. This is my own fault. While I took the section seriously, I just did not put in the same amount of time as I did for the other sections. It is a 7 out of 10 rating for me because again, I thought it was supplementary and not exactly necessary as I know people that have done well on the DAT without purchasing Destroyer.
4) Feralis' Biology Notes (10/10) - Just an amazing free resource that everyone should utilize. While it is the most intimidating 85 page document that I have ever seen (you'll know what I mean if you take a look at it), if you know the material in that document, you are going to do well on the biology section. However, I do recommend using the free classification document from Bootcamp and Craig Savage for the classification of plants. I personally think that the plant section is too detailed as well! Maybe I just got lucky, but I don't specifically remember a question that required that much depth on plants. In total I may have had 2 and they were very basic. I suggest you look over and know some of the basics (hormones, parts of the plant, etc...) but I personally wouldn't suggest you get caught up in too much detail on plants. Everything else though is amazing and should be studied on there. I also suggest not just reading through Clifs like once and being fine with that. I started using Clifs and found that I wasn't taking enough notes because I felt like I knew the material, then I would go to practice questions and realize I didn't really know it. It caused me to study bio too passively instead of attacking it. Make sure you don't fall into this trap!
5) Crash Course on Youtube - Overlooked resource! In some sections of Feralis' I was seriously having difficultly putting some of the reproductive system together. I recommend looking at their immunology, neurology, and especially their human reproductive videos. Because I can all but guarantee a few questions on the human reproductive system, know it well! The people over at Crash Course did an amazing job on those videos and they helped me tremendously.
6) Craig Savage on Youtube - This was recommended to me by a friend of mine and I really recommend it. There is a playlist of 7 videos that are very helpful with the overview of bryophytes, seedless vascular plants, and seed plants. I would know the alternation of generations life cycle well, then the rest of them are just modifications on the original. Again, would not spend too much time on this, but know the basics for sure.
7) Feralis' Cheat Sheet on Classifications - again a great free resource that I would know. I would not get too in depth with learning this material! Just know the distinctive characteristics of some of the phylum, such as Annelids have a closed circulatory system or how Cnidaria and Echinodermata have radial symmetry. Also knowing a few representatives for each phylum wouldn't hurt.
8) Class - I know that this one might not be helpful for most, however if someone happens to stumble upon this early, then you might be able to adjust your schedule accordingly. I recommend taking Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, and Orgo II. I know that these are the classes that are not required compared to general chemistry and entry level biologies. Now there are probably more classes that can help, but from experience I can tell you that Orgo II and Microbiology were extremely helpful to me when studying for the DAT. I personally did not take anatomy and physiology and I regretted it when studying so I am definitely including this class.
My impressions of each section of the DAT:
Survey of Natural Sciences:
Because this was the first section and I was so nervous, I honestly thought that the first five questions were in a different language and I started to freak out! It took an easy question to build some confidence and think to myself that I got this and I never looked back. For bio, after the first 5 questions, there may have only been one or 2 more of the 40 that tripped me up. And again I only had maybe 2 plant questions and they were very basic, so I think I was lucky. For gen chem, once again there were a few questions at the beginning that threw me off until I got into a rhythm and started flying through questions. And finally, for orgo chem, this was my strongest subject and I knew it going into the exam. I really like orgo though, so I thought that answering questions was sort of fun. So the first time through marking the questions that I wasn't 100% on took me 40 minutes. This left me 20 minutes to revisit those biology questions and the second time through they were not nearly as intimidating.
Honestly, I did not know what to expect when I went into this section as I had heard many different things about it. I also did not have the most confidence in the world seeing as the highest score I got on a practice test on Bootcamp was an 18. On my PAT section, the keyholes and the pattern foldings were easier than Bootcamp, but everything else seemed about the same as Bootcamp, thus I really recommend it! I finished this section with 2 minutes to spare and used that time to take a look at a couple of angle ranking questions that I marked.
Bootcamp was very useful and indicative of my scores. I scored a 2o on my practice tests and a 20 on the real thing. This is one of the sections that I sort of regret not doing a little bit better on. The questions on the real exam seemed a bit easier than Bootcamp's with more questions on material in the passage instead of inferring what the author was trying to do. So I wish I would have scored 1 or 2 points higher in this section, but I will not lose sleep over it.
Math Destroyer was good. I didn't study nearly as much as the other sections. I somehow squeaked out an 18 because I honestly thought it could have been lower than that. I am pretty sure I did have a pretty hard section however. I took 10 out of the 15 practice tests in the Math Destroyer and started to feel like I knew what I was doing and scored usually a 19 on the Bootcamp tests, but as I said before I thought that I could have scored lower on that section based on the questions I had. So because of that, once again, no sleep lost.
All in all, you are going to have to spend some money unfortunately. The number system I used above isn't indicative of how helpful the resource was, I was just using it as a list. However, I do not think Kaplan is necessary. I did not use Kaplan due to the cost and the many complaints. I would also suggest trying to find DAT Destroyer either online or if you are on campus, maybe someone is selling a copy for considerably less than buying it for retail. CourseSaver usually has a 15% off new users code you can find online that will save you a few bucks and DAT BootCamp sometimes runs a promotion. I know this all adds up, but for all of the resources that I used above, I spent under $350 dollars. Saving money was sort of important to me seeing as I am also applying this cycle and we all know how much that costs.