DAT Breakdown (25AA/22PAT)

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New Member
Aug 17, 2023
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While studying for the DAT, I read many many breakdowns, and figured I would share my own experience and some of the things that helped me achieve my goal score.

For context, I am a rising junior studying biology. Prior to the DAT I had taken all basic prerequisite courses, (Intro Biology, General Chem, Organic Chem).

What I Used to Study

  1. DAT Booster: This was my #1 study tool for the exam, and the one I would recommend all people try out. Like many people in this community have noted, the Booster practice exams are highly representative of the real thing. Especially for biology, which I can attest is one of the hardest sections to study for. But aside from the quality practice exams, Booster equips you with condensed high-yield notes for all subjects and practice questions that help with active recall. For the biology section I found the cheat sheets to be extremely helpful for identifying the key information, and the new animated videos good for last minute review. For the general chemistry section, I read the notes religiously, and reviewed them until I felt fully comfortable with the material. For organic chemistry, the provided reaction sheet and notes are gold. I was never a big fan of the videos so I stuck to reading notes and doing as many practice questions as I could. I probably redid the extra questions at least twice and the reaction bites 5 or more times. For PAT, I took advantage of all the practice questions as well as the strategy videos. I would do at least 30 minutes of PAT everyday to pick up speed and accuracy. I used the generator for angle ranking and cube counting and the extra questions for the remaining sections. I found that in just two months I went from scoring 16s to scoring in the 20s. I didn’t spend much time studying quantitative reasoning or reaching comprehension since I had been scoring pretty well on practice tests and felt comfortable with these sections. However, for QR I made sure to watch the videos since they provided formulas that could be used to quickly solve high yield questions.
  2. YouTube: For any topic in the sciences I found particularly challenging, I would watch a video. For the chemistry topics I really enjoyed Chad’s Prep videos as well as the Organic Chemistry Tutor. Both did really good jobs breaking down the information in a way it was easy to understand. For biology, I swear by the Amoeba Sisters if you are looking to get a general understanding and then going back to the Booster notes for more details.
  3. Anki: I never used flashcards to study in college or high school, so using Anki took a little getting used to. I primarily used it for biology and the organic chem reactions and found that it was helpful for more on-the-go review. It felt way less daunting to do 100 Anki cards than to read through a chapter of biology.

Study Timeline

I studied from May 15th to August 6th (the day before my exam) for about 5 hours a day on weekdays and less on weekends. While I would primarily study in the comfort of my home, I also went to the library from time to time to get a change of scenery. Throughout my studying I made sure to take at least 1 day off a week to spend time with friends and family. I firmly believe this is what prevented me from getting too burned out.

Day of the Exam

Biology (27): FELT JUST LIKE A BOOSTER EXAM. I think I had only one question that tripped me up a bit, but the rest were either similar or the same as ones I had seen on practice exams. For this section I really do recommend focusing on overarching topics and trying to understand processes. I don’t remember a single question that was overly specific or required me to know a detailed fact. I was also lucky to get about 2 taxonomy questions on test day.

GC (23): I had an equal amount of conceptual and calculation based questions, many of which paralleled practice exams. For this section, I definitely recommend knowing ALL the equations and understanding the variables. I also recommend practicing those concentration/titration questions because they were very high yield on my exam.

OC (24): Definitely a lot more conceptual than I had expected. I believe I only had 3-4 reaction questions, and the rest were NMR or acid-base. For this one, definitely practice your acid-base ranking and understanding arrow-pushing mechanisms.

PAT (22): I struggled so hard with PAT in the beginning, but I felt all the practice I had done paid off on exam day. The sections all felt very comparable to Booster practice exams, with hole-punching actually feeling easier on exam day. For this section the number one thing is time management. I always worked from 31-90 then back to 1-30 since I would rather run out of time on TFE and Keyhole than on the remaining sections where I felt confident.

RC (25): Contrary to a lot of recent posts, my RC felt very similar to practice exams. The passages were all 8-12 paragraphs and I was able to answer all questions with 5 minutes to spare. I feel the best thing for this section is to find a technique that works for you and stick with it. For me, this was search and destroy.

QR(24): While this section felt almost the same in difficulty to practice exams, the Prometric lag really set me back. I felt that by this section my lag was up to 5-7 seconds, which made it difficult to answer questions. However, the material being tested was all things I had seen before.

Closing thoughts

The DAT is conquerable. Yes, it is a big exam. Yes, it takes a lot of time and dedication. But, with the right study strategies and resources you can find success. I can’t count the amount of times I doubted myself on this journey and thought one bad practice exam meant I wasn’t made for this field. But taking this process day by day and reaching out to friends and family for support are so important. I encourage everyone to prioritize rest days!

Good luck to all those preparing for the exam :)

You got this!


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