DAT Breakdown (23AA) - Booster vs Actual DAT - One and Done!

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Jun 26, 2021
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Hi everyone! I don't normally post on forums like these, but I feel like all the other breakdowns and stuff I read were super helpful and I want to pay it forward and help give as much information for the things that stressed me out the most, especially since I JUST took the test! I really wanted to help since this was a very stressful process for me because I don't have any friends/relatives who went through the same DAT/dental application process, so SDN and Reddit were super helpful!

Warning: It's going to be super in-depth, but I tried to make it as organized as possible!

TLDR for this entire post; DATBooster is the literal GOAT and the only thing I really used. (I swear I'm not sponsored but it'll really seem like it lol)

I took it yesterday so everything is very clear in my mind. I studied for around a month, but I studied every day for around 8-10 hours a day, and I honestly stayed cooped up in my room the whole time, so be prepared to have no social life. I didn't check social media, I barely texted my friends, and I had to sadly turn down so many requests to hang out with friends who were coming back from out of state universities. And trust me, it REALLY SUCKS. Especially when all your friends are out traveling and having fun during their summer. But that's okay! You'd rather study really hard for one month and just take the test once rather than study kind of hard for a month, get unsatisfactory scores, then have to wait another 3 months, study more and then pay ANOTHER $400+. I got through it by thinking to myself, "If I'm not struggling/suffering, then I'm not doing it right."

I've always been an honors student, but I always felt like the dumb honors student since I'm a TERRIBLE test taker. I'm not sure if it's because I don't generally study effectively or because I don't really take notes, etc. But I definitely studied hardcore for the DAT and it was the most studying I feel I did for any test ever. I highly recommend the Pomodoro technique or modifications of it if you're like me and get antsy/distracted/can't focus for a long time. I probably did around 65 mins of studying to 20 min breaks, but find whatever works best for you.

: 23
TS: 21
BIO: 22
GC: 20
OC: 22
PA: 25
RC: 29
QR: 21

I personally am super happy with my scores, mainly because I was expecting much lower, based on my Booster practice exam scores, which I will talk about later in this post. Looking back on it, I know I could've done better if I had more time to study, but what's done is done. I seriously thought that everyone posting on this site are some god-tier smart people, but I'm here as your average lowkey dumb smart kid saying that you can get those scores too! Obviously my scores aren't as great as everyone posting about 25AA or 28AA, but mine's still above average, and that's more than what I was expecting!

My recommendation if you are on a budget and/or trying to fit all your studying into 1 month/fine with getting a score like mine: ONLY GET DAT BOOSTER!! DATBooster is COMPLETELY sufficient enough to get the score that I did. I did get DAT Destroyer and Math Destroyer, but I only did around 200 questions from Bio and 100 questions in each of the other sections and then 1 test in the Math Destroyer. I honestly don't recall any of the questions I did for Destroyer since I did them over a week before the exam, so I can't really say how much it helped me or not. I got DATBooster and the Destroyers based on other people's posts, but based on my studying plan I didn't have time for Destroyer.

I followed the Booster study schedule for phase 1 by fitting 2 days into 1, and I ALWAYS watched EVERYTHING on 2x speed to save time. After I finished phase 1, I tried to start on phase 2, but I realized I was running out of time and just ended up taking the practice exams, and then focused on just bio and ochem every day in the week leading up to the exam.

ALL of DATBooster's practices exams are JUST LIKE THE ACTUAL EXAM! I swear I probably had at least 10 questions in the bio section that were the same/almost the same as the practice exams from Booster, and then the type of questions for the other science sections were super similar too! I would say the difficulty level for all the sections were around the same between Booster's practice tests and the DAT, except on the actual DAT I found bio a bit easier and the RC section having a bit more dense passages.

Bio: I feel like the biology section was a lot easier than I expected, especially thanks to Booster's questions testing you on the extremely relevant subjects. I was super stressed for this section along with ochem, but seriously you don't need to memorize EVERY single thing. Just understand everything Booster tests you on, and I would always watch the Khan Academy videos that were given along with my wrong answers to make sure I understood what was happening. And this was honestly enough. I didn't use any flashcards; just Booster and Khan Academy.

Gen Chem: I definitely neglected this section since I had gotten relatively better scores on my practice exams for this section, and considering how it's my lowest score, DON'T DO WHAT I DID and DON'T NEGLECT this section, especially since the sciences section is the hardest and most important. I feel like I definitely forgot stuff, and I'm SURE if I did all of the practice exams I would've scored ~22 like bio and ochem. I didn't do anything extra for this section outside of what Booster's schedule recommends you to do.

O Chem: This was the section I was most stressed about along with bio. I took ochem over a year ago, and I sucked at it then, still kind of suck at it now. But it's definitely easier to relearn it if you know basics. I got the Anki deck from Booster and then went through and only studied the cards that covered the products, because I felt like I would be wasting time by studying the cards that hid the reagents when the DAT is a multiple choice test. I honestly feel like understanding how the mechanism works is the most important, which will help you reason through other questions. I would add example pictures of the mechanism on the flashcards so if I forget a reaction, I could refer back to the mechanism there rather than repeatedly looking up reactions. If you're struggling on certain mechanisms, look up Chad's videos for ochem! I know everyone on here is saying that Professor Dave teaches it really well, but I'm kind of dumb so Chad's videos helped me understand it a lot better, and he provides more tips/tricks that I found helpful.

QR: I felt I was pretty average at this section, so I slightly neglected it since I was way too stressed about bio and ochem. I would probably say timing is the most difficult issue, so KNOW WHEN TO GUESS AND SKIP! I don't remember using the calculator THAT often, and I didn't even try using the number pad since I had practiced with only a mouse.

PAT: This is another section I neglected once I found myself gaining consistently high scores with the Booster generators. I probably followed Booster's schedule for PAT up till halfway through phase 1 until I decided to focus my time on my science sections. After repetitively doing the generators, I started finding it too easy, which is why I stopped. I only took 2 of the actual practice tests, which are way more representative to the actual exam since the practice tests are harder than the generators. However, I did notice that I was slightly slower when I was on the hole punching section, either because it was harder or because I forgot how to be efficient and speedy after neglecting practice for this section.

RC: I literally did 2 Booster practice exams for this one and completely neglected this section. I would never read the daily science articles that the Booster schedule would say to do (lol) and this section ended up being my highest score. I think I remembered a lot of SAT passage techniques, which might've helped my lack of need to study?? (P.S. Search and Destroy method is the way to go, since starting with the questions will generally force you to skim the entire passage for key words, which leads to you gaining a general understanding of the whole passage.) Tbh, I really don't know how you're supposed to study for this section/get better.

~~Booster vs DAT Comparison~~
I wanted to include a section to compare Booster practice exams to my actual exam, since I couldn't find a lot of other people posting about this and I really found it helpful and encouraging. My Booster scores are clearly WAY lower than my actual scores! (It's kind of embarrassing how low some of them are, but I just wanted to share and give hope to those who have gotten similar scores!)

BIO Practice Test Scores: 18, 13, 15, 17, 15, 15, 15, 16, 17, 16
Actual DAT Score: 22

GC Practice Test Scores: 17, 20, 19, 24
Actual DAT Score: 20

OC Practice Test Scores: 15, 16, 18, 15, 16, 18, 15, 16, 18, 18
Actual DAT Score: 22

PA Practice Test Scores: 22, 21
Actual DAT Score: 25

RC Practice Test Scores: 22, 22
Actual DAT Score: 29

QR Practice Test Scores: 19, 19, 17, 21, 19
Actual DAT Score: 21

Don't look at your Booster scores and lose hope! I totally did and lost most my confidence. I went into the DAT, accepting that I would feel very content with an 18 in the science sections. I was also planning through how my schedule would look since I had a feeling I would have to retake my test. I seriously also debated rescheduling my test, but there were no more available appointments in this month and next month. I would say don't reschedule unless you KNOW you've been neglecting studying.

I definitely felt SO dumb when seeing my practice scores, especially when I was consistently below average of the other Booster users. Either all the Booster users are just really smart, or I really am just below average, BUT that's okay since I'm above average on the DAT :D! THE MOST IMPORTANT THING from these practice tests is to go through EVERY question you marked or missed and fully understand why you got that wrong, or why you got confused and marked the question, or even why the wrong answers are wrong. When I was taking these practice tests I would also mark questions when I saw answer choices that I didn't recognize (in bio), so that I could go back and review them and re-learn what they are. 30 mins before I headed out for my actual exam, I quickly went back through and skimmed through my wrong answers for bio, just to make sure I retained the info. I think I slept for 3 hours before my exam, but honestly the adrenaline kept me awake lol.

~~Test Day~~
If you're already familiar with how the testing works, ignore this section. This is for all the other FIRST-TIME TEST TAKERS out there! I was definitely SO nervous and confused about how the whole process would work, so this is here to help.

I had planned to get there around 30 mins early, which I think is important IN CASE something goes wrong. THANK GOD I did, because I started driving and immediately realized I had a FLAT TIRE, and I've never gotten one before! I quickly was able to borrow my roommate's car and everything went fine since I was still early. Just please make sure you have a plan B.

You just go into the suite and give them your ID; they only needed 1 ID from me. They'll give you your locker key and you put everything in the locker and sit and wait until they call you back. They call you back for the security check where you just show your pockets are empty, fingerprint scans, and signatures. There's a whole bunch of people taking tests for other exams, so none of the timings will match up. The scratch paper they gave was like a yellow paper booklet, so basically like 2 sheets of paper where you can use the front and back, and then a normal blue pen. The testing room has those standard computer cubicle things. You only bring your ID and locker key with you. There were noise-cancelling headphones at the desk which I chose to wear, but it didn't completely block out all noise. It still probably helped at least a little since a girl behind me kept coughing. I was expecting the room to be cold so I wore a jacket, but it was completely fine. For your 30 min break, first of all, TAKE IT. You can always end it early! I would recommend taking your snack and going outside to breathe in the fresh air. Since you're wearing a mask the whole time you test, it might feel kind of stuffy. I remember I would get super anxious and found it hard to breathe at some points during my test, so going outside really just kind of "reset" my anxiety. Also, I had to just guess how much time I had left for my break since I didn't really know the exact time.

I promise you can do this! Just remember that in the case that you do need to retake it/didn't get the scores you'd hoped, the world isn't over. Everyone is different! It's the dedication that will get you through this! Good luck! :)

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Is there any way you could email the anki deck flashcards you used? It would be EXTREMELY helpful to me. congrats on AMAZING scores!! :)
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Did you end up memorizing everything on the anki deck for the booster bio section? I'm studying w/ booster & bootcamp, but I realized that booster's bio anki deck is like 2300 cards and with taking the test in about a month and a half, I don't know if I can memorize all of them.. (Calculated it and it comes out to like 80 cards a day for 1 month)
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This was SO reassuring! I've been studying for the past few months (ended up postponing my exam due to a family emergency), but I recognized that my Booster scores were well below average and it made me doubt myself. Your advice was super helpful and congratulations on an amazing score! :)
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Did you end up memorizing everything on the anki deck for the booster bio section? I'm studying w/ booster & bootcamp, but I realized that booster's bio anki deck is like 2300 cards and with taking the test in about a month and a half, I don't know if I can memorize all of them.. (Calculated it and it comes out to like 80 cards a day for 1 month)
I didn't use any flashcards/anki deck for any section other than ochem! I wouldn't worry about doing any.
Thank you for the breakdown and congratulations on your scores! I was debating whether to get Bootcamp or Booster and you just convinced me to get Booster. I'm also interested in getting destroyer and since you no longer need yours, are you willing to sell it? Could you also share your Anki cards with me?
Thank you for the breakdown and congratulations on your scores! I was debating whether to get Bootcamp or Booster and you just convinced me to get Booster. I'm also interested in getting destroyer and since you no longer need yours, are you willing to sell it? Could you also share your Anki cards with me?
Of course! And thank you :) I actually gave away my destroyer to one of my friends awhile back ://

I'm not sure if this will work but here's my ochem anki deck:

weak and strong acids/bases anki deck

I also used a common polyatomic ions deck, which I think Booster provides (I think it's not letting me share it since the deck belongs to them). I'm sure you can find common polyatomic ion decks elsewhere though! I didn't use any of their other anki decks. Best of luck!