Dat breakdown 23AA, 23TS, 21PAT, 25 OC, 23 Bio, 21 GC, 23 QR, 23 RC

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New Member
May 11, 2024
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Hey everyone!
I just wanted to post my DAT breakdown so that I could help those who want to know the most efficient way of studying for the exam. I took 4 months (more realistically 3 months counting the exam weeks) and an average of 5-6 hours a day. I took some breaks whenever I felt like it! I studied for the DAT while focusing on school and a part time job so I really needed to find the easiest way to score at least a 21. Not a lot of people have time to drop everything and study for this exam 10-12 hours a day. I know my scores aren't 30s, but I think this will be good enough for me to at least have a good chance of getting into at least one school.

First of all, I would like to stress that everyone should try to find their own way of studying. For example, everyone raves about Anki and I at first felt pressure to complete all of the decks, but I found it to be a major waste of time. I 100% recommend using Booster. I only used their study guides, videos, question banks, and practice tests, without the extra crash courses and I was completely fine.

BIO (23)
When I first went into studying this section, I tried to dive into everything from the anki decks, videos, study guides, to the cheat sheets. Just read the cheat sheets. Everything else seemed like there was too much content. On the actual test, they don't ask super specific questions (maybe only 5-10 out of 40 probably depending on the test). Guys it's also multiple choice not fill in the blank or short answer. I realized this and I ditched everything except the cheat sheets and focused on knowing general big picture concepts of high yield concepts. I just read multiple cheat sheets everyday and that allowed me to retain more material than flipping through anki decks. I did the question banks on topics I was most unsure of/ high yield topics. Don't look at what everyone does and do what works best for you.

Orgo (25)
I was never good at this section, I started with scoring 14 on the first practice test. But, take practice tests with a grain of salt. These don't reflect your actual scores. Sometimes, I just went through a practice test in 15 minutes just to get through questions and really studied the answers (I didn't really care what score I got, I just wanted to study most efficiently). I just spammed the reaction question banks. I tried to memorize the reaction cheat sheet (MAJOR waste of time). I only memorized the mechanisms for the major reactions with big names (Ex: Wittig). After doing 2 practice tests, I realized that most of the exam is the fundamentals section, stereochemistry, and Sn1/Sn2/E2/E1, so I only did the question banks for those sections multiple times and read the study guide for those sections.

Gen Chem (21)
This section, just do practice questions. I didn't even read the study guides. I just jumped straight into the question banks and started with the sections I was least confident in. I didn't really watch any videos. I thought I was going to get a 23, but I don't really know what went wrong. I was never good at chemistry.

PAT (21)
I actually don't know what went wrong. This was the only section I was very confident in. The actual test was harder than the practice tests on Booster and with the adrenaline, you just never know what will happen. I usually scored at least a 25. But, what I realized on exam day was that this test is a lot of luck. So in this section you have to pray. I usually did 5 questions of each section everyday.

QR (23)
I was always pretty good at math. So I didn't really study this section. I just reviewed the cheat sheet and memorized some formulas there. I would usually score very high, but stamina is actually very important on the exam. Since it was the last section, I realized my brain was tired and drained. Studying for 6 hours a day requires stamina so I don't think sitting down and trying to complete a whole practice test was realistically doable for me and my schedule. Knowing what you got wrong and how you got it wrong is more important than completing a practice test in one sitting.

Reading (23)
The passages were more dense and the number of questions per passage was also very spontaneous. Other than that, there was nothing that alarming about this section. I just sat there and tried my best to at least act like I was interested in very boring topics. I just skimmed the whole passage and answered the questions according to what I remembered. I did use the highlighting feature, and practicing not over highlighting is pretty important in my opinion. I just did 3 single passage practice questions a week and I was fine.

I think the bottom line is not to get overwhelmed about what others say about how they studied. I feel like on these platforms, people say that they really went through every single source available, but realistically for a normal person (student, part-time worker, etc.), it is highly unlikely to have time like that. We are all very busy and DATs aren't everything. So don't be too stressed. Hope my breakdown helps.


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Congratulations on achieving such consistent scores and for sharing such valuable advice. Crafting a study schedule tailored specifically to your needs, rather than emulating someone else’s, is indeed wise. We all have our unique study rhythms, making it crucial to devise a plan that aligns perfectly with our individual circumstances.

I quote you “My scores may not be in the 30s, but I’m confident that they’ll bolster my chances of gaining admission into at least one program.”

Remember, securing scores in the 30s isn't a prerequisite for dental school admission, and many applicants succeed without hitting that mark. Take pride in your accomplishments—I certainly do.

Best wishes on your journey, Nancy