DAT Breakdown - 3 Weeks of Preparation (Personal Experience) 23AA/26PAT

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Feb 11, 2022
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I took the DAT on January 22, 2022 — the day right after ADA announced additional biology materials were included hahaha — and my entire DAT preparation was just a little over 3 weeks and about 3 hours a day with FL days talking about 5 hours. I started preparation right after my last final in the fall and mainly used the winter break for DAT study/practice.

I believe it is very important to first provide some background of myself before the breakdown as this is crucial to understand the context behind my preparation strategy and approach with the different contents on DAT.

I’m a Junior attending The University of Texas who is currently double majoring in both Biochemistry and Chemistry with a minor in Business. In addition, I have been a Teaching Assistant for the department of Chemistry for nearly 4 semesters.

In my situation, I felt I had a very strong background in Chemistry; therefore, my preparation over the 3 weeks was very heavily focused on improving Biology. I want to say that I will be very transparent on the materials I used over the course of my preparation as I’m fully aware of competition between prep companies but I plan on speaking it as it with my own personal experience (it may very well be different from yours so take it with a grain of salt).

Materials I used were DAT Booster, DAT/Math Destroyer, and the free practice test on Bootcamp. I will get into more of it during each section breakdown.

I recommend doing one FULL LENGTH practice exam before you start your study to more efficiently develop a strategy on targeting your weakness rather than waste time mindlessly reviewing stuff you already know.
For example, on Booster Exam 1 I scored AA 20 (B - 16, G - 24, O - 22, P - 20, R - 18, Q - 22) and I immediately knew Bio was my weakness and focused heavily on that subject during my preparation.

Biology: 22 | (Booster AVG 18) In my opinion the most difficult section due to the sheer amount of knowledge that is required to fully cover the section. My preparation mainly consisted of reading through Feralis notes on Booster as well as Bootcamp high yield notes when I went back on reviewing the topics. In addition, I watched all of the Biology videos provided by Booster and went through the entire extra question bank to hit on all cylinders. Other than FL practice Qs, I used very specific anki cards (The deck was too thicc, absolutely waste of time in my case) on anatomy and dev bio as well as DAT Destroyer questions. I had no issue with any metabolism, genetics, and evolution topics due to my Biochemistry background so anatomy and embryology was the main factor that held me back in this section.

On the DAT, my biology section was very Anatomy and Developmental Biology heavy with little to no Biochem, Genetics, or Hardy-Weinberg questions so I had to mark up to 15 questions and ended up changing 5-6 questions when I came back for review. The DAT Bio section was very random, the questions felt like it was written by some non expert where the concept was very surface level but wording was extremely poor on many of the problems and answers so it was hard to understand. Overall I felt like I clutched the section at the very end and pulled away with a 22, so I’m very content with the strategy on focusing on the anatomy and developmental biology topics. I scored poorly at the beginning 16-18 but slowly improved to around 20 towards the end while many say booster was very representative of the section, I did not feel that was entirely the case but I did see a few questions that resemble the booster Qs and it definitely serves its purpose in improving my weakness.

General Chemistry: 22 | (Booster AVG 24) Definitely upset with my performance, but the thing with the DAT is that it does require some luck to score 25+ sometimes since all it takes is 2-3 missed questions to drop your score to the 22-24 range. In my case I unfortunately did encounter 2 conceptual questions that were worded very poorly and likely missed 1 rather complicated redox question. Overall I did not prepare for this section other than practice during full length and used Destroyer questions. My recommendation for the section is simply do enough problems from you to get comfortable with Chemistry concepts that you struggle with, once again Booster is sufficient in preparing for the section.

Organic Chemistry: 23 | (Booster AVG 23) This was my favorite subject so I came in preparation with a strong foundation. On the real DAT, the same thing occurred in this section where they asked some of the lowest yield questions I ever seen such as the numerical value of NMR magnetic shift of a specific molecule and the IR spectrum value of C=C double bond along with C-N bond. These are niche concepts I never encounter in any of my Organic, Inorganic, Physical, or Analytical lab so I felt kind of bummed out that I encountered exactly the little trivia knowledge I might be lacking in lower division chemistry. Now for my preparation I did use the Anki deck to review the reaction, watch all the booster video on 2X speed, and did the practice test problems during FL along with some destroyer Qs. I feel the booster content for the Organic section was actually really good at capturing many of the main concepts and the practice questions help solidify the material.

Perceptual Ability: 26 | (Booster AVG 23) This section was really fun personally, I always loved doing puzzles as a child and I always had a thing with perceptual projections in my head so this section came rather easy for me. DAT Booster had amazing PAT materials that I felt anyone willing to put in the time to do all the practice will do well in the section 100% recommend. Only complaint is that the keyhole on Booster was way too damn hard and sometimes was very questionable as the real exam was much easier (I got 3 rocks sadly haha). TFE I felt was fair on the DAT and I used Bootcamp’s generator and Booster Q bank to practice. Angle ranking I did well on in practice but I honestly think this was the hardest section on the DAT due to its flips, side ratios being very misleading, and even rotations. Hole punching, cube counting, and pattern folding were very representative of Booster in difficulty. Overall I recommend doing 10 minutes of each section every 2-3 days to keep your mind sharp as time is quite limited for this section. I got lazy towards the end of prep and didn’t practice at all because this section is very mentally draining if you’re actively trying to solve the question.

Reading Comprehension: 20 | (Booster AVG 19) This one is just depressing haha, the reading passages are not difficult nor the questions but there are always 10 Qs that will confuse me. English is not my native language so I have never been good at English at all so I knew I just had to do well enough. I just read their science article every other day for preparation and do the practice during full length. I have not mentioned this painful problem yet but for this section it was actually unbearable. I am referring to the lag between switching questions, this has been mentioned before in other posts but the first hand experience was brutal. The scroller was actually a decade behind my cursor and every time I switched to another problem the lag basically eats 2 seconds of my time so my reading strategy was useless and had to resort to purely search and destroy. Not much to talk about here, I’m just glad I was able to pull away with at least a 20.

Quantitative Reasoning: 30| (Booster AVG 24) Math has always been very intuitive for me and been my strength prior to University which I think is particularly due to me growing up in China. The real QR section was honestly all elementary level questions and the only tough questions being those if statement A, B, Both, or none can sufficiently answer question types since the English on those were harder than the Math! I used both booster and destroyer and I am telling you if you can do those with ease then this section will be the easiest section on this exam. Easily the most improbable section once you understand the algebra and get used to the question types.

Overall I felt Booster was a solid service and worked well in my situation given my strong background in Chemistry and Math so I mainly used it to practice the materials while strengthening my biology knowledge through exposure to questions. The PAT generator was very fun and helped a great deal at preparing for the real PAT section. I personally believe the most important part of preparation was the endurance aspect of the testing condition I built through doing all the full length exams, this will be pivotal to maximize your performance on the real DAT. Sadly got round down since I got 23.4 AA but definitely a score I can live with (I suppose the number 23 has several connections to me personally so perhaps it was meant to be hahaha).
Prometric being bums and unable to print my unofficial report due to some server issue, but I end up getting the score via electronic delivery from ADA a few days later.

I hope this breakdown helped y’all in some aspect as I know my preparation is rather unorthodox. Feel free to ask any specific questions about my preparation, experience, and just about anything as there is only so much I can include in my summary.

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