DAT Breakdown (25AA/24TS/27PAT)

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Feb 12, 2024
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DAT Breakdown (25AA/24TS/27PAT)

I recently took the DAT January 29th, 2024 and wanted to write a breakdown for the strategies, tools, and schedule that I used to study. Hopefully this is helpful to whoever may be reading.

Short Summary
In short summary for those who do not want to read this entire post… I studied for roughly 2.5 months, watched every Bootcamp video (1.5/2x speed), completed and tagged every Science and QR question that DAT Bootcamp offered (some but not all of the PAT and RC), and completed and tagged all 10 of the practice exams. The practice exams are very realistic and definitely your best friend particularly in the later weeks of prep approaching your exam. Make sure to invest a lot of time into content review of each section before taking the practice tests. Dr. Ari’s study schedule is a great template for a schedule, I took bits and pieces of his schedule but mostly followed my own as I’ll describe below.

Tools + Schedule
The only tool that I used to study for the DAT was DAT Bootcamp and if I were to do it again, this is all that I would use.

The very first thing I did was take a full length practice exam to get a better understanding of the format of the exam, the different sections, and what areas I was most and least familiar with. Remember this is just a baseline and not something you should put too much pressure or value on. For reference, you can look at my Test 1 score on the image of my practice exam scores below. It was very clear to me that I lost a lot of intro bio and chem knowledge for the science sections which is where I needed to focus most of my attention. Reading was something I felt confident in, and PAT and QR I knew would just be a matter of repetition and practice.

I scheduled my DAT at a date that would allow me to utilize all of my free time during Thanksgiving and Winter break to study. During these days, I studied upwards of 7-10 hours a day. While this may sound like an intimidating amount of time, breaking up studying each day with good meals, exercise, or quick phone calls with friends allowed my brain to stay sharp and avoid burnout. I found a good sleep schedule to also be key for my brain to absorb what I was learning! When studying during the semester, I would put 1-3 hours a day to studying, if any time at all. For this reason, I strongly recommend any fellow busy college students out there to try and schedule test dates that may allow them to use breaks from school, as that is when I felt I had my most productive studying routine.

My ultimate schedule goal was to have covered all of the content by January 1st, which was 4 weeks before my exam. For the first 1.5 months of studying, I would generally start my days with Bio and Chem (completed all gen chem before starting orgo), and usually tried to complete at least one chapter of each. In the evenings I would put time towards PAT or QR so that my brain could practice these questions while fatigued from science, like on the real exam. Structurally this is very similar to Dr. Ari’s schedule, however the main difference was that I was not strict on planning ahead what my days would include. My only personal strict deadline was covering all content before January 1st, so I didn’t mind if that meant I did 3 days of only Biology followed by 2 days of only Chem. I tried to listen to my body and brain and study what I was most receptive to at that point in time.

The final month of my studying consisted of taking practice exams and rewatching videos on select topics to once again solidify the content. This final month was full of practice, reinforcement, and making connections between concepts. (I skipped the reading section on Test 10)


Biology - 24
The Bootcamp practice exams are amazing preparation, especially if you read every explanation entirely for each answer choice (even if you got the question correct). When you get it wrong, find the answer in Dr. Ari’s 130 page bio note document.

My strategy:
Step 1: Watch bio videos for a chapter
Step 2: As you are watching the videos, follow the topics along in Dr. Ari’s 130 page bio notes
Step 3: Complete and tag Bio Bites
Step 4: The next day, review missed bio bites and complete and tag Question Banks

One helpful tip during the last month of my studying was using “Control F” in the bio notes document for terms I would see frequently in order to make connections across chapters. Ex: I would Control F “microtubules” and would then be able to connect the term everywhere it is referenced. This made the seemingly infinite amount of bio content feel more manageable and connected.

General Chemistry - 23
The Bootcamp practice tests are the most accurate and useful tool. Read all the explanations for the answer choices and make sure you are familiar with the entire Bootcamp Equation sheet.

Dr. Mike is the best! I have no other advice than to watch his videos thoroughly and complete all the question banks and tag them. If Dr. Mike says to memorize something… memorize it!

I often would call and talk out concepts with a Chemistry major friend of mine, and found that speaking about it with another person helped solidify it in my brain. Something to note if that is your style of learning :)

Organic Chemistry - 26
The practice tests were the most useful tools for me in this section. The reaction bites really helped boost my confidence in the material. As always, read the explanations even if you got the question correct.

Dr. Mike truly gives you all that you need to know and more and makes it conceptually easy to understand. I strongly recommend watching all of his videos as well as constantly reviewing and referencing the Bootcamp Reaction Summary document. That is what helped me significantly improve this section.

Perceptual Ability - 27
The practice exams were very challenging and made me feel very prepared because of it. If you are using Bootcamp, make sure to turn on the 2-second delay between questions in the practice exam settings, because that will be more accurate to the timing you will have on test day.

I tried to think of this section as a game, which made it much easier/more fun to study. I would occasionally get friends or family in on it too. I really struggled with TFE and pattern folding at the beginning, but just trust that if you do enough practice problems on any PAT question type, your brain will gradually get better and faster at visualizing what you are looking at.

For hole punching and cube counting, I used the strategy from the Bootcamp videos. Practice becoming fast at these so you have more time for the harder question types.

Biggest tip… when you get a question wrong, don’t go to the solution right away, instead try to stare at it until you find your mistake!

Reading Comprehension - 22
I personally used the Search and Destroy method and found it to be successful, I never read any of the passages fully and would recommend the same strategy to others.

It was a surprise to me that I scored lowest on this section, as it was one of my strongest in the practice exams. Make sure you read the questions carefully and don’t get distracted by verbiage, as these were common places of my mistakes. Keep track of the clock!

Quantitative Reasoning - 30
Practice exams and question banks were very very useful resources. Even on the question banks, I made sure to time myself to improve speed. I made sure I fully understood every equation on the Bootcamp equation sheet.

This section is all about timing. Practice is really important here because it will make you faster at each different question type. If you know what kind of questions to expect and how to solve them right away, it saves a lot of time and gives you more time to spend looking at the harder questions.

I would often send questions that I got wrong to friends of mine who are Math majors so that I could see their method of solving. As I said for chemistry, sometimes the conversation would help solidify the concept in my brain.

Read the questions carefully! It is easy to get simple questions wrong because you missed a couple of key words in the question.

Final Week + Test Day
I took 3 full length practice exams the week leading up to my exam, and reviewed each extensively. I made an effort to start these each at 8 AM to simulate test day. Doing this made me feel very confident about time management during the real exam and helped point me to any gaps in my knowledge that I could fill before test day.

I noticed that it was generally advised to take the day before your test off completely, but I still decided to skim over equations/bio notes on this day for my own peace of mind and am glad that I did.

I slept very poorly the night before my exam because of nerves. Unexpected things like this may happen and test day may not feel like the perfect circumstances you hoped for, but that’s okay. I strongly recommend planning out food for test day and finding the testing location a day ahead of time to prevent any opportunity for added stress.

It can feel quite overwhelming studying for such a large exam but focus on what you can control, do your best to work hard and stay disciplined, and trust that the time you put into studying will reflect in your score :)


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