DAT Breakdown 26AA, 25TS

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New Member
Jan 22, 2024
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In the days leading up to my DAT I panic-read a whole lot of breakdowns, so I gift my contribution to the pile. Hopefully it reduces the panic a bit. Let me know if there are any questions!

PAT- 26
QR- 27
RC- 26
Bio- 25
GC- 23
OC- 30
TS- 25
AA- 26

Junior, 4.0 GPA

The courses I’ve taken that were most helpful on the exam were both rounds of bio, general chem, and organic chem. I’ve also taken microbiology, but it wasn’t that helpful.
I did not take anatomy or physiology. That was a mistake. It would have been a lot easier to study for the exam if I had taken them.

What I used & when:
DAT Booster was the only site I used. I did not watch any of the Chad videos suggested. If any concepts didn’t make sense, I probably would have. I did get Ankii for the booster cards that were on it, which was helpful to memorize bio info.

Score breakdown:
PAT- Easily my favorite section. Initially, I did not do well on the majority of the sections. What it took was practice, practice, practice. I continuously ran through questions every day for four or so months. Tips and tricks: on angles I just flipped my eyes back and forth between the two quickly. A lot of times I could just have a gut feeling as to which was smaller. If I hit an angle question that I couldn’t determine pretty much immediately, I marked it and came back after I finished the rest. Usually the pause gave my brain time to get used to it. Another helpful thing to do is to look away from the screen. If I noticed I got too caught up in staring, I gave my eyes a few seconds to readjust by looking away. For pattern folding, I compared the four choices to find differences, and then checked it against the main image. If I hit a difference I was a little iffy on, I went with the option that three choices matched. For keyholes, I used that same comparison strategy. It also helped me to use structures inside the main image to match distances. However, the most important thing is repetition. After enough of it, you get a feel for the questions.

QR- Just followed the DAT booster videos and question banks on this one. Any banks that I had more trouble with, I went back and reviewed in the month leading up to the test. I also memorized the three equation cheat sheets provided, which was helpful. I scored consistently 21-23 on practice tests I took, but the actual test had easier questions that were a lot less time consuming.

RC- I’ve never had trouble with this section, so I won’t be much help here. I tend to like just scanning the passage for the question, which seemed to work pretty well consistently. This version of the DAT threw an extremely dense section in, which was a bit brutal and dropped my score in this area. Any questions about the tone of the passage, I read the first and final paragraph for, picked the answer that I felt was best, and then marked it to return to once I had finished the rest of the questions in the related passage, and had a bit more information.

Bio- The first few months I ran through the suggested videos and booster notes that the study guide on Booster’s website suggested. I also hit some of the flash cards. A little over a month leading up to the test, I really hunkered down and started running through cards in bulk, studying the cheat sheets, and running the question banks. If I could go back and do it again, I would have memorized the cheat sheets and cards first over a longer period of time. If you have just started studying, memorize those now. If you can run through the question banks a few weeks before the exam, that would probably end up being the most beneficial. I saw exact copies (and some very similar) of the questions in the banks and on the practice tests on the actual exam. I’m talking word for word copies. So memorize the heck out of those things.

GC- Same vibe for this one as with math. First few months I followed the booster schedule: watching videos and reading the notes. I was a little weak on memorizing some of the equations, which is what ended up lowering my score in this area. The DAT definitely is more concept focused, so it’s important that you understand those very well. Definitely memorize the equation sheet provided.

OC- I just got out of my second semester of Ochem, so I felt pretty solid in this area. All I did was read the study notes on Booster and run through the extra questions. I wrote down all reactions that I saw in the notes and ran through flash cards on them whenever I felt like I needed to review the information. I was consistently scoring 25-30 on the practice exams, so I already had the necessary knowledge, which is why I did not put as much effort into this section. In the month leading up to the test I focused on running through the reaction sheet and lab tests.

Prior month:
I stopped following the schedule after the first two sections finished. The month leading up to the exam I did a series of things. First, I ran self developed PAT tests every day. I did 15 questions from each section and made sure to do it in a timed environment. This was incredibly beneficial. Second, I recalled equations for chemistry and quantitative reasoning every few days. This helped keep the information fresh in my mind. I also made sure to review question banks that I had more trouble on. Third, I hit the bio question banks hard. Any questions I missed I marked and reviewed. Fourth, I knew the bio cheat sheets like the back of my hand. This was my weakest section, so the day before the test I ran through all of the anatomy sections and did a brief overview of the easier areas. Fifth, the week before (excluding the day before) I did one practice test in each area (mirroring how it would appear on the DAT) at the same time as my DAT was. This helped as I was able to perfect a bathroom schedule as well as one for when to best consume food and water. I actually had about fifteen minutes I didn’t need for the natural science section and took a bathroom break before the PAT. This was really helpful as it allowed my brain to take a second away from the computer. I spent the second half of the day studying information I felt weak on (mainly bio).

These really helped in the bio section: really just making anything silly that will stick in your brain will save you. For example, the epidermis is made up of layers. I remember those with the phrase, “Cool Llamas Get Spiked Boots” (Corneum, Lucidum, Granulosum, Spinosum, Basale). I did that for anything I balked at remembering. Also, telling yourself a story helps with that memorization aspect. Trying to learn the path of the sperm to the egg? You’re the sperm. Now live your harrowing journey (sounds silly, but the silliness makes it stick).

Final thoughts:
I spent 12 hour days, 6 days a week nonstop memorizing information for a little over a month before the exam. It was brutal. The only reason I had to do this was because I overcommitted myself by taking Ochem 2 the semester before, which pulled too much time away from studying. I had my exam originally planned for December, but I had to push it back a month because I didn’t have any of the information down due to Ochem taking up too much time. If you want to score high without devoting every waking minute to this thing like I did, give yourself three months of just DAT. No other obligations that use brainpower. Also make sure you take all the courses that cover information on it. I spent a good chunk of time teaching myself anatomy and physiology, which was brutal. Building your score up is doable. Before studying I was getting 13-15 on my bio practice exams. After, I was at 20-24. It is possible. You can do this!

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