Background: I am a neuroscience and psychology major going into junior year. 3.97 GPA at a state school, and I have not taken biochem, anatomy, or physiology yet. Courses taken: microbiology, molecular biology, bio 1, bio lab, orgo 1, orgo 2, and orgo lab, gen chem 1, gen chem lab.
1) DAT Booster: The BEST study tool. They have so many resources, and if you supplement the practice problems with other things (cheat sheets, videos, and textbooks). The practice questions were SO spot on, and some even showed up word-for-word on my exam. Use Booster but make sure to use their resources (Anki decks, cheat sheets, and the chat).
2) DAT Bootcamp (just for free practice exam): I would recommend going through this one at the end of your studying to see how the Prometric exam actually looks. I do feel like the Bootcamp practice tests simulate the real exam more, but the problems aren’t as similar to the actual exam.
3) Booster Cheat Sheets: I went through all the cheat sheets and re-typed them on my own document. I reviewed this document as much as I could and tried to teach myself concepts. I didn’t like Anki so I used this as a way to memorize the important information.
4) Youtube (Medicosis Perfectionalis): I hadn’t taken anatomy or physiology and these videos were SO helpful for understanding the systems chapter. He is super funny and I watched these on 1.5x speed whenever I had some free time. His videos were great for embryology, anatomy, and physiology.
Study Timeline: Someone told me to take the DAT the year after sophomore year since I had all the “necessary” classes taken, so I decided to start studying on May 10th and scheduled my test on July 29th. It was about 80 days. I started off for the first month following the Booster schedule, and reviewed all the content. By the time the first month finished, I started to get burnt out and didn’t like the Booster schedule anymore. I just started doing practice tests every Saturday, redoing them throughout the week, and making mnemonics. I was really convinced that I would have to retake because I did not study enough, as I was studying only about 2-3 hours per day on the weekdays and maybe 4-5 hours on the weekends. I was working 3 other jobs, and did not prioritize this as much as I should have. Two weeks before the exam, I considered rescheduling and felt super lost about the exam. I was scoring 17s on bio, 19 on GC, and 20 on OC. I was averaging around 20 on PAT and 23 on QR. I did not do any timed full exams two weeks before to avoid burnout. The day before the exam, I did not study and just spent the day relaxing and watching TV. The most important part about my timeline was to be honest with myself. I had to really question if I understood a section before moving on, and would try to actively recall information during my daily conversations with friends and family.
Day of Exam: I was super anxious. I made sure to drink my coffee and eat a filling breakfast. I woke up at 7 the day before the exam, and woke up at 6:30 am on the day of the exam. My parents drove me to the testing center and I got to start the exam at 7:30 am. I was not expecting the Prometric delay to be that slow, and it really was throwing off my focus. I would start staring off for the 5 seconds in between every question. Be prepared to wait while you are taking your exam. I brought foam ear plugs to the exam.
Bio (22): So similar to the practice exams. Just re-read every question and don’t overthink it. There were some questions about molecular biology that I was not expecting, but otherwise it was exactly what I thought.
GC (22): This was super similar to the Booster exams, but definitely did not have as many calculations as the Booster exams have. It was very conceptual, and I encountered a decent range of questions, from periodic trends to stoichiometry to equilibrium to acid-bases.
OC (22): This was much easier than I expected. There was one difficult spectroscopy question, but the rest of them were very straightforward. The reactions didn’t have the names on it, just a reactant and reagents. I had enough time to go through all of my questions.
PAT (22): I ran out of time in this section because of how slow the delays took. I started with angle ranking, hole punching, cube counting, pattern folding, keyhole, then TFE. The cubes were oriented the other way in the cube counting, but otherwise everything was similar. The questions were more zoomed in than I was used to, but I feel like this was a good thing.
RC (27): My passages were really long and scrolling through the passage was super slow. But the questions were rather straightforward and were very similar to the questions I saw on the Booster practice tests. Anticipate not having as much time for this section.
QR (25): This was a really simple section! There were a lot of questions with the statements 1 and 2 answer choices and a lot of inequalities. I didn’t have any difficult graphing questions or work-rate questions, which is what I struggled the most on. Otherwise, this was very straightforward!
Ending Advice: Believe in yourself. This is just one exam in your life and you can retake. If you put in the work, it won’t be what stops you from getting to your dream of being a dentist. It WILL be okay, no matter your score. Don’t focus on a goal for your score, and instead focus on getting as many questions right as possible. You can do it!