DAT Breakdown 24 AA, 23 TS, 20 PAT

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Sep 5, 2023
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Hi everyone! I never thought the day would come when I can write my own DAT breakdown, but here it is! I’m so happy I get to return the favor after reading TONS of DAT breakdowns on reddit, SDN, and Facebook groups.

My scores:
QR - 22
RC - 26
Bio - 24
GC - 24
OC - 22
TS - 23
AA - 24

Currently a junior neuroscience major with a 3.7 GPA and applying this upcoming cycle.

Materials Used:

  1. Anki – Started with the premade deck from Booster, but it was clear that it became very time consuming to go through the deck and hit my goals each day. I think I stopped using the premade decks about halfway through the deck on plants (I was going in chronological order following the feralis notes). Eventually, I made my own deck of about 1600 cards for BIO, QR, GC, and OC and would review them religiously. I found this to be more fitting for me as they were based on questions and topics I deemed to be struggling with and the question and answers made more sense to me because I created the cards myself. The study sessions went by quicker too, which is a big plus. Anki is great for effective learning, but not the best for efficiency, so I used Quizlet as well.
  2. DAT Booster – Extremely representative. I’d say if you’re able to memorize and understand all the questions and answers from the practice exams, you’ll be in good shape for a 20+ score. The key is repetition. I took all practice exams and answered all of the question banks. Mark the questions I got wrong or guessed on and eventually go back to answering those questions, over and over again until I either memorize the question and answer or understand it. Memorization really only works with bio, but you get the point. Any questions I got wrong from the Marked questions I would mark them red with Booster’s color-coding tabs. If I got it right, it’s yellow. Anything I got correct from the yellow Marked questions I would mark green and officially be done reviewing it. The week before my exam, I made it a priority to finish up my red Marked questions, which were in the hundreds for each section.
  3. DAT Booster Bio Crash Course: The Kahoot questions and condensed notes you’re provided from the CC is invaluable. Literally had a question from the real DAT that came directly out of the CC. Can’t go wrong and absolutely worth it, especially the one that goes over the human systems.
  4. DAT Bootcamp - I used the free material available from Bootcamp, mainly their first practice exam and free question banks. I thought their QR section question bank was more useful than Booster, mainly because each question has a video explanation along with it, rather than a brick of text. I’m personally more of a video guy.
  5. Chad’s Prep – I bought the $20 practice exams from Chad’s website during the last month of studying. Since Booster uploaded new GC videos, I did not spend time watching Chad’s free videos for GC or OC, mainly because they’re too long and not the most efficient way to study. However, they are great if you need to relearn anything. The practice exams from Chad were purely supplemental to Booster’s exams. I believe Chad offers a MUCH better deal than Booster if you’re looking for extra practice beyond the 10 base exams. Booster offers, I believe, 5 extra exams for each section costing $35 for each set. Definitely not worth the money TBH when Chad’s gets you 20 representative exams with videos for GC and OC for only $20.
  6. Quizlet – Just like Anki, I used Booster’s Quizlet for Bio and GC. What I did to study was going through the Quizlet deck BEFORE jumping into the question banks for Bio. This way, I can test what I really remember and understand rather than just collect a ton of wrong questions as Marked questions to be reviewed. It might sound strange, but studying like this really helped me to differentiate between what I do and what I don’t know.
Study Timeline:
I began studying late December 2023 towards the end of my winter break (had to enjoy some of it at least lol). Studied throughout the Spring 2024 semester until mid-March and took the DAT on the 16th. Luckily for me, I was able to schedule the DAT on the Saturday before my spring break ended, so I had a whole free week to grind questions and study 14 hours a day. Before spring break, I was spending about 4-5 hours on the weekdays and, depending on school exams, 10-12 hours on the weekends. Again, luckily for me, I managed to have a 4-day weekend while also maxing out my credit hours for the semester due to half semester courses and online courses. I worked on campus as a TA throughout the study period, but besides that, I dropped everything else to focus on the DAT and classes.

Day of Exam

  • Bio (24): I used the Booster Bio CC. Well worth the money TBH. Had one question that came directly from the CC. But anyways, Booster fs will over prepare you for this section. Most questions are very straightforward and not really tricky like Booster. Of course being that DAT Bio section, who knows what they’ll throw in there, so there might be a couple of questions that’ll leave you uncertain. For those questions, I just tried to choose the most logical choice and narrow the answer choices down to a couple of options. I’d say running through the booster Quizlet, question banks, and exams were the most beneficial. Chad’s exams were also great to reassure myself that I really knew the information because I feel that the way he worded his questions is a bit different from Booster.
  • GC (24): The calculations were much simpler than Booster. Again, as most people say, it is mainly conceptual. Do, however, pay attention to small details. GC is a relatively simple concept and easy to learn, so I feel like they gotta make the exam more difficult somehow, so make sure to pay attention to the wording and answer exactly what the question wants from you. A couple of math related questions I had were rate decay and a few stoichiometry. Be sure to know your Q and K relationships and all formulas.
  • OC (22): Used Anki to memorize all the major reactions. You gotta know all the ortho/para/meta directors, ranking acids/bases based on CARDIO, anything related to lab (I had a question about the Bromine Test), stereochemistry, naming, pretty much all the stuff that Booster covers on their practice exams. Nothing really caught me off besides maybe one question which was a “predict the product” type question, so for sure know all the reactions so you don’t miss an easy recall question like that.
  • PAT (20): You hear everyone say it. Gotta practice everyday. I hated TFE and was weak with keyholes, so I saved them for last. My strategy was to jump straight to question 31 and begin with angle ranking. Throughout practice and on the real exam, I always ended up not making it through the entire PAT section, so I had to skip and completely guess on all 15 TFE questions. However, I typically would have about 5 minutes remaining on the exam by the time I reached TFE. I maximize the odds of guessing correctly by eliminating two out of the four answer choices that I thought were immediately incorrect. I believed this strategy, along with a bit of luck, helped me achieve a 20 despite completing winging it on an entire section.
  • RC (26): If you’re like me and you’re a slow reader who has an awful short-term memory, you gotta use search and destroy. Maximize your time by skipping straight into the questions and look for keywords within the questions AND answer choices. Go back to the passage and read the first sentence of each paragraph to get an idea of what each paragraph talks about. If you think it is relevant, quickly glance at the rest of the paragraph and search for keywords. Skip questions if they take longer than a minute to find and skip all main idea/tone questions until the end. Mark questions you feel uncertain about. My DAT exam was extremely similar to the Booster exams: 10, 8, and 15 paragraphs. However, I did feel that the questions were more analytical and more difficult to compensate for the shorter passages, especially when comparing to the test takers who had up to 18-22 paragraphs.
  • QR (22): Most of the problems were probability, algebra, rate, and solution concentrations. I had about 10 minutes left before the end of the exam to go through a few questions that I skipped or marked. It was very comparable to Booster. The day before the exam, I would burn through the QR question banks and formula sheet to make sure I knew everything and avoid missing any easy questions. During my break, I used that time to look over all the math formulas. BTW I do not remember having any geometry on my exam, but maybe that’s just me. Geometry is fs not high yield if you ask me.
Final Thoughts and Ending Advice:
Just because grinding through all the question banks worked for me, does not mean it will guarantee you your desired score. You have to make sure you find what works for you and that you are actively learning and developing your own strategies for success. Another thing is that during the break, I ate 2.5 bananas to fuel my brain with glucose. Gotta have that glucose and used the restroom right as I left the exam room at the start of my break and right before I went back to my seat. I used the last 6 minutes of the break to rest my eyes before the intense last 2 hours of the exam. Throughout the exam, I had a bottle of water with me as well. Of course, make sure not to spend too much time drinking lol.

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