DAT Breakdown (23AA/21PAT)

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Jefferson Summers

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Hey y’all! I just took the DAT about a week ago and was super blessed to receive a 23 AA and 21 PAT. This is a complete breakdown of my studying process. I hope that this can be of help to anyone who is in a similar situation that I was in! I only used DAT Bootcamp to study and I studied for almost three months.

Actual Scores:
PAT: 21
QR: 22
RC: 26
BIO: 22
GC: 23
OC: 22
TS: 22
AA: 23

Breakdown:
I decided to take the DAT during the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college. I believe it is a great idea to study during this time frame for multiple reasons. First, you have plenty of time with no distractions. I dedicated my entire summer to just studying, which allowed me to keep it as a number one priority. Second, many of the topics were still fresh in my brain from my sophomore year of college, where I took both organic chemistry and biology. This made the studying process much easier, especially for orgo. Finally, taking the DAT early allowed me some extra buffer room for just in case if I were to get a score I was not satisfied with!

I began studying on May 10th and took the exam on August 5th. I followed Ari’s 2 Month study schedule while taking an extra day off each week. This allowed me to study from Monday-Friday and have a full weekend to rest. I would HIGHLY recommend this if possible. This truly kept me from going insane and gave my brain the break it needed! I studied for around 5 hours a day, but it would vary depending on what was on the checklist for that day. I would very rarely add on more for a day than what was already on the checklist! I would wake up at 7 each morning, have quiet time, and get started studying by around 8. My goal was to be done studying by around lunchtime each day, so that I could enjoy the rest of the day!

PAT: 23 (Bootcamp Range: 19-21)
This section was far and away the one I was most worried about, mostly due to my difficulty finishing this section in time in most of my practice tests. In fact, I did not start finishing this section in time until my NINTH practice test out of ten. However, I would say that this was mostly due to me waiting until a few weeks before test day to deeply dive into PAT practice. I waited until one month before the test to take my first PAT practice test, mainly because I had felt unprepared to take a full 90-question practice test. I fully believe that if I had practiced even just 5-10 problems from each topic a day, I would have felt much less nervous about this section on test day. Instead, I was finally comfortable with PAT only a few days before the exam. It felt like every topic in PAT except for Keyholes and Angle Ranking (my biggest struggle) was easier on the actual DAT!
QR: 22 (Bootcamp Range: 18-20)
I was incredibly surprised with how much easier the QR section was on the actual DAT compared to Bootcamp. As I began studying, I felt like QR would be a breeze. Math has always been a strong suit of mine which gave me a lot of confidence early. However, I found it difficult to finish practice tests on time, and feeling rushed would lead me to simple mistakes on many problems. I found the solution videos on practice tests to be very helpful, along with doing a deeper review of the topics I was weaker in. My biggest piece of advice would be to simply mark, guess, and move on with the questions that you don’t immediately understand how to do. I would often stare blankly at my screen, trying to come up with a way to solve a problem and ultimately not finding a solution. Even if you only waste a minute, that is valuable time that can be used to complete the questions that you already know how to solve!
RC: 26 (Bootcamp Range: 21-26)
Search and destroy! That’s all I did. I never did any practice passages, just hopped right into the practice tests and used search and destroy. I also highly recommend marking and moving on when you can’t find an answer quickly. Timing is critical! I learned that IF you are using search and destroy and you have to guess, wait to guess until you have answered every other question for that passage, just so that you will have a better idea of the passage overall. The RC section on the actual DAT was MUCH easier compared to Bootcamp. I felt very prepared for it!
BIO: 22 (Bootcamp Range: 18-21)
This can definitely be the most daunting section due to the massive amount of material it encompasses. The way I tackled studying this section was by watching the bio videos for a section one day, then on the next day reading the bio notes for that section, then doing Bio Bites and the Question Bank. I never took any notes or made flashcards to study, and I honestly believe that doing so would have helped me more. My recommendation would be to review the earlier sections throughout your studies, as this was something I did NOT do and I found it much more difficult to recall that older material in my practice tests/the actual DAT. However, one of my favorite things overall about Bootcamp was the number of high-yield questions that they ask you in practice tests. I had a HIGH number of questions on my actual exam that were nearly word-for-word compared to the practice tests on Bootcamp. Because of this, the bio section on the actual DAT seemed slightly easier compared to the tests on Bootcamp.
GC: 23 (Bootcamp Range: 19-22)
Chemistry has always been one of my favorite subjects in school, so studying for this section came relatively easily for me. I watched every single one of Mike’s videos and would do the Question Banks immediately afterward. Before most of my practice tests, I would quickly read through Mike’s notes printed out, just to keep them fresh in my mind. This is especially useful since you finish your GC review early on in the studying process! Other than that, I found the solution videos to be incredibly helpful. I believe that the best way to study GC is to test yourself and then review afterward, specifically problems involving all of the different formulas and equations. In my opinion, the GC section on the actual DAT seemed to be around a similar difficulty to that of the practice tests, so I was surprised that I scored higher than I did on Bootcamp. That just goes to show that Bootcamp helps prepare you for the real thing!
OC: 22 (Bootcamp Range: 15-22)
As mentioned previously, I came into studying very confident about OC since I had just completed both orgo 1 and 2 in the past 2 semesters. Other than one brutal 15 on a practice test, I scored consistently well on all of the practice tests, and that led to scoring well on the actual exam. I felt like the actual exam was actually much easier than the Bootcamp tests, so I was slightly surprised to get a score that was very similar to my practice tests. Because most of this orgo information was fresh going into studying, I hardly watched any of Mike’s videos, but instead focused heavily on his solution videos on practice tests, the Question Banks, and Reaction Bites. I did the Reaction Bites early on in my studying to help me recognize what specific areas I needed to hone in on. Just like GC, watching the solution videos carefully and often were critical to my success!
The Week of the DAT:
I continued to take full-length practice tests and then fully review them. On the last two days before the DAT, I retook 5 BIO, GC, and OC tests each. I wish I had the time to retake all of those individual practice tests, but I simply didn’t have the time for it. I know that Bootcamp recommends you take a rest day the day before the exam, but I couldn’t resist reviewing as much as I could! With that being said, as soon as I felt like I couldn’t go any longer, I immediately stopped. It’s best to keep your brain as energized as possible for the real thing!
The Day of the DAT:
I woke up at 6:15 that morning, had quiet time, ate a protein bar, and left in time to get there by about 7:25. Definitely make sure you know exactly where you’re going! I know it’s super stressful- but take deep breaths, remind yourself how much you studied, and remember that all you can do is put your best effort forward! I used most of my 30-minute break to just go outside and walk around in the sun. I packed a snack for my break but didn’t end up eating it. The 5 hours will fly by before you know it and then you’ll be one step closer to dental school!
Overall:
I know how daunting studying can be, but you’ve got this! Take it one day at a time, pay attention to your weaker topics, and make sure to take PLENTY of breaks. I promise that this will all be worth it. Good luck studying and if you have any questions at ALL please feel free to reach out anytime!

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