DAT Breakdown 7/2022 (26 AA)

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I'm posting this just to show that everyone is different when it comes to studying, especially for standardized tests like the DAT. I graduated in May and began studying June 1 for my DAT on July 18. It ended up being about 7 weeks. I was very worried that this wouldn't be enough time, as so many people on reddit and SDN study for 3+ months. However, I graduated with a 4.0 and had confidence in my test-taking ability to I figured I would try to take it as quickly as possible, since I'm already applying slightly late this cycle. I also work full time as a dental assistant, so I was studying for about 2-3 hours per day, 5-7 days per week and took a few weekends off to go on trips, hang with friends, etc. I am a firm believer in balance and taking breaks. Overworking only leads to burnout. However, I knew I was studying significantly less than others, which made me a bit anxious.

That being said, those 7 weeks went by very quickly and the DAT has a lot of information to know/memorize, in addition to the dreaded ~PAT~ which was demoralizing at some points. Ultimately, I pulled through with higher scores than I ever expected, so hopefully my study methods for this short period of time will help some others out. Here's the breakdown:

26 AA
25 TS
30 BIO
23 GC
25 OC
28 RC
22 QR
21 PAT

I'll start with the resources I used

1. DAT Destroyer: I started with Destroyer before any other resource which was overwhelming to say the least. I probably only got through 25% of the entire book but I will say QR and Bio were really helpful. I did all of the QR questions and about half of bio. Bio is so broad, I think just as much exposure to the material as possible is ideal. Destroyer is for the most part much much harder than the DAT, but it is definitely better to be over-prepared. I also saw one or two question that were almost verbatim from Destroyer Bio. However, I thought GC and OC were simply too difficult for the level that the DAT tests. I had one question on my OC section that was Destroyer-level-difficulty which I likely got wrong, but the other 29 questions were straightforward. I will say that the reaction roadmaps were fantastic and probably the best resource for memorizing reactions, but the actual DAT ended up being more conceptual questions anyway (ranking acids/bases, resonance, etc...)

2. DAT Bootcamp: I was extremely hesitant to purchase Bootcamp because of the price. However, four weeks out from my exam I was feeling grossly unprepared and decided that it would be better to spend $500 on BC than $500 to take the DAT again. Keep in mind that buying the best study materials is an investment in yourself and your future. That being said, I reluctantly paid $400 (Ari gave me a discount since I was only using it for 4 weeks instead of 3 months) and hit the ground running with BC. In my opinion, this is the absolute best resource. I didn't even look at Ari's schedule since I only had four weeks to prepare, but went hard on the question banks, practice tests, PAT generators, and Bio bites. I had multiple questions that were word-for-word from bio bites. I think that by the end of my four weeks with BC, I had done like 4500 practice questions total... repetition is KEY!!

I took my first full length exam one week before my DAT and got the following scores -
22 - BIO
26 - GC
24 - OC
20 - QR
26 - RC
and then..... "<16" - PAT ... this is what I mean by demoralizing. Aka - my score was so bad that BC didn't even give me a number. I think I probably got a 13 or 14.

This was with one week to go. My science scores were solid, but PAT was a train wreck. The only sections I felt good about were angles and hole punching. Every other section was terrible. I spent my final week doing keyholes and TFE religiously, and it was miserable. I'm gonna be honest, my real PAT felt super hard. Much harder than the one BC practice exam I took. The angles were all so similar and I think I had 3 or 4 rock keyholes which sucked. I walked out of that section thinking I got a 12, but somehow pulled through with a 21. Although it was my lowest score, I am beyond grateful for it.

I studied 1.5 weeks for QR and pretty much did all of the question banks, mainly focusing on re-learning basic algebra, and trying to figure out word problems as quickly as possible. I suck bad at math, but fortunately this section tests how quickly you can problem-solve, and none of the math is very difficult.

I did not study for RC at all besides the one practice exam I took. I read a ton for leisure so I wasn't worried about it. After scoring the 26 on the BC exam, I felt solid. This is just a test of finding information efficiently. I didn't get any "author's purpose" questions on the real DAT like they have on BC. Thank goodness. However, one of my passages on the real thing was about ethical dilemmas and was super philosophy-heavy and hard to understand, which was unfortunate.

3. Chad's videos: used these to re-learn all of the chem I forgot. He's a good teacher and everything is organized well. His videos probably took me 3 weeks to get through (I am NOT the kind of person that can binge watch all of that in a weekend). After getting through Chad's, I pretty much just did practice exams for the chem sections, and was good. I didn't use his resources for bio and QR, but I'm sure they are good as well.

I did NOT use Booster, Anki, Feralis Bio notes, Cliff's AP Bio, or Kaplan. I feel like Bootcamp bio notes was more than adequate, but if you have the willpower to read through super dense biology like Feralis, be my guest. My brain doesn't work like that.

The night before my exam I freaked the heck out. I almost no-showed. I pulled an all-nighter and cried a lot because I was so scared of having to re-take it and worried that my 7 weeks wasn't enough. I felt solid leading up to this point, but I suddenly panicked. Fortunately my friend forcefully persuaded me to drive to Prometric and take it anyway. And I did. I couldn't eat anything and was operating on pure adrenaline for the entire exam but it worked out. I am beyond stoked about my scores. Especially Bio and PAT! I just want to show that not everyone fits the 3-months-8-hours-per-day mold of studying and that's okay! I'm no genius, but I do work efficiently and deliberately. If I can get a 26 on this thing, anyone with enough grit and willpower can too. This is not a test of how smart you are, but how determined. Just keep your head down and don't psych yourself out by paying too much attention to what others are doing. AND try to push through the imposter syndrome. Everyone feels incompetent and overwhelmed. Best of luck to you all :)

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