nrr40

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Jun 1, 2014
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Haven't posted here before but this board has helped me with a lot of information in my prep for the DAT.

So my scores:
PAT 18
QR 21
Reading 25
Bio 21
GC 26
Orgo 23
TS 23
AA 23

The Story:
(Warning: This might be slightly long.)

So I initially thought I'd take my DAT winter of last year (Dec-ish) but things got in the way and I told myself I'd start studying during the summer. I ended up finally scheduling my DAT for Aug 24th. I tried to study right after school started but then life kind of got in the way. I didn't have the drive at all, got maybe a day or two consecutive watching Chad's videos at 3-4 hours each for a week or two. I think this was mainly because I was too tired from fasting all day for a month (Ramadan) and I felt too mentally drained to focus on anything else. So time started ticking away fast, I got to August 2nd and I told myself I had to start now and be as serious as I could be about it. I wasn't sure if I'd apply this cycle and was basing my decision around my DAT score. My gpa is a little lower (~3.2ish) so I had to kill it. I went back to my college for a week, crashed at a friends place and studied nearly 10 hours a day for a week. Then I returned home and eventually lost a little drive, took a 3-4 day break and then got back on. I started going to a closer university with a friend and studied about 6-8 hours a day, sometimes a little more. Without making this too long, a week before my test date, I made the decision to push my test back a week and set it to Sep 2nd. In retrospect, quite easily the best decision in terms of all my DAT prep.

At this point, I had only finished Chad's videos and finished about 200 questions from the chem section of the DAT destroyer (So yea...not ready at all). In the next two days, I finished the chem section and about 200 or so organic chemistry questions. So 4 days before my test, I decided to buy Bootcamp. I went through through 3 GC and 3 Orgo test banks in the first two days. I did the rest of the remaining orgo, chem and bio on the 3rd day. Went through all the bio banks twice.

You might be wondering when exactly I started studying for the PAT, QR and Reading sections. For the latter two, I didn't. For the PAT, I spent my last day before the test stressing my mind off. I tried to start by just reading through the Kaplan blue book, wasn't particularly helpful at all. Then I watched several youtube videos and forum posts, I understood the examples they did but then it didn't translate directly into helping me do other practice questions. Throughout the day, I did 2 of the 10 practice exams that Bootcamp had. The first I did at noon and I did not finish 25 questions. It left me mentally fatigued like nothing before. I got a 16. I took a few hours to recover and then took another test at around 6pm and this time I managed to only not finish 15 questions. Guess what I got...another 16. At this point, I just barely hold myself together from full blown panic mode. I ended up just telling myself, it is what it is now and went to bed at midnight.

Test Day:

I wake up at 6am and got ready, ate a relatively small breakfast. I then just quickly opened the Math destroyer and went through the answer section, I didn't attempt any problems. I only looked at how they were done. I left the house and drove to the testing center. On the way there, there was bumper to bumper traffic, and my anxiety levels slowly increased to the point where I started feeling very nauseous. This was it, this test determined whether I had to take a gap year or apply this current cycle. I'm usually never an anxious test taker, always confident about them but this was just a whole different beast. Everything for the foreseeable future rode on the outcome of today.

So I got to the testing center, got set up and finally I sat down and started the test. At this point, I was a lot less nervous than earlier and my confidence started rising. I went through the tutorial, started the science section and boy oh boy did I feel like I breezed through that section. I went through bio and there were maybe 4-5 questions I felt unsure about. GC was a joke, Bootcamp was hard compared to the actual test for me. Orgo barely tested any hard reactions; there were a few elimination/substitution questions, some lab techniques and I cant even remember the rest. Not one hard question where you had to get through multiple layers to get to the answer. I finished this section so fast that I had 18 minutes left to spare before the next section. I took this time to go over my marked questions and to put my head down and calm everything down a little more.

After that I got to the PAT section, where I went straight for Angle Ranking. During my Bootcamp tests, my biggest mistake was spending too much time on TFE, keyholes and pattern folding. I realized that I had to get the points that I had a chance at rather than waste time on the others. Angle ranking went fast enough, you know the drill. Look at the common biggest angle in the answer choices and eliminate/work through them. Then I wen't straight for hole punching, which was actually fairly difficult and may have cost me slightly more time than I wanted. I had to even do a couple of them over because I got messy/lost track. After which, I started the cube counting, which wen't fairly smooth except one or two where I had to redo them where I lost track of the number of cubes. What I realized really quickly and I think is a very important tip, was to leave your cursor on the cube you were currently working on so you didn't lose track. Keyhole was next and I actually liked this section so I tried it. I was careful not to spend more than than I needed to and if something took too long, I'd just guess and move on. TFE I think I tried 5 of them and just selected B for the rest of them. Pattern folding was about the same, tried maybe 3-4 of them and that bit me in the a** because I ran out of time on the 82nd question. Didn't even get to select a random answer for the remaining questions.

Took my scheduled break, peed and drank some water and got back with 13 minutes of break left which I took to put my head down again and breathe. The most stressful part of the test for me was over so I could relax a bit.

I started my reading section and it was three passages. I read about the search and destroy method from Bootcamp where you read half the passage and then go straight for questions, then go back and forth. That was about the extent of my prep for the RC section. I decided I wouldn't and just did my own thing. I numbered the paragraphs for my passages and wrote keywords for each paragraph. I did this for the entire passage before I even looked at the questions. The questions were very easy and although some of them did take me a little extra time because I couldn't read my own handwriting (lol), I got through them fairly fast. I did get slightly worried during reading the second passage because everything that I read said that people ran out of time on this section, and I was trying out my own method and had no prior prep. Anyways got through the last passage and guess what...I had 22 whole minutes left. Did a quick cursory pass through the questions and again put my head down and took a breather.

Lastly, QR. It was pretty straightforward, finished all the questions. I guessed on 2-3 questions. Glad I had quickly looked through math destroyer in the morning because it helped with a few questions. Finally finished the test with 13 minutes to spare and then got my score and what a relief it was. I almost started crying in my car afterwards because I had been so stressed the week before the test and it was finally over. I'm still recovering from hair-loss this week from all the pent up anxiety and stress.

Honestly, looking back I had wished I had studied just a little harder. If I had to rate how hard I tried to study for this test, it'd barely be a 7/10 by my standards. A week or two more of studying either at the beginning or right before the test, I believe I would've been able to break a 25. At the same time, I'm not gonna complain and I don't think I'm going to retake it. After the 16s on my Bootcamp PAT sections, I hoped that I was able to just break a 17 so I wouldn't need to retake it and so as disappointing as an 18 was, it was enough. And that from a grand total of 8 hours of studying. Oh I forgot to say, I did used the generators from bootcamp in between my practice tests. Every time I felt like I figured out the section, I'd get the next 5 wrong. Regardless, its finally over and I feel relatively satisfied with my scores.

This already got pretty long but I'll go through a quick run through of the materials I used:

Chad's GC and Orgo Videos (10/10): Absolutely essential. Covers everything you need. For GC, I felt so prepared in my mind that I didn't even bother reviewing chem questions/material right before the test. Orgo covers 99% of everything you need to know and it seems like more in depth than what was on my test. I personally didn't bother doing any of the quizzes on either section and watched the videos 2x over my entire prep.

DAT Destroyer (10/10 for GC, 9/10 for OChem, 6/10 for Bio): I finished all 300 something GC questions and I felt like I picked up so much and filled up all the gaps I could have for GC. Definitely worth your time, I went through about 50-60 questions an hour and it took me I think 2-3 days total. Orgo section, I nearly cried when I started the questions. I didn't know more than 2 or 3 in the first 30. I rode it out and tried to absorb the answers and what they were about. I ended up stopping around 180 or so questions because I felt too drained from the difficulty of the questions. I think what this section does well, is cover the lab techniques adequately well. For everything else, overkill. The whole section was miles harder than anything on MY test. Bio was weird, I didn't like at all how they did this section. Finished maybe 120 questions and called it quits. Many "all of the above" answer choices, which are good for learning facts about a topic but not representative of the real test. Maybe I would have done more for OChem and Bio if I had more time. Also the roadmaps for orgo were quite overkill too, for me atleast. Didn't have time to do math.

Math Destoyer (N/A): Only went through a cursory look of practice test 6 and 7 answers and thats it. Didn't have time to do anything. From what little I did go through, seemed fairly representative of my test. Definitely go through at least half this if you can.

DAT Bootcamp (11/10): A savior indeed. Bought it 4 days before my test, so I definitely did not use it to its full potential. I averaged about 19-21 for my GC sections with a high of 23. Actually the same for OChem and Bio too with highs of 22 and 23, respectively. I went over Bio banks twice and retained all of it, got 30s on the retakes. Bootcamp bio helped me realize I was weak on development and hormones so I reviewed that stuff again quickly. And for PAT...I don't think I would've broke a 17 without Bootcamp. I put those generators to work for 3-4 hours. The two tests I did were harder than the actual test by a slight bit. It helped me figure out how I'd handle the real thing in terms of time and strategy. Although an 18 is far from impressive, I think it was good considering a day of study.

Feralis Notes (9/10): Found on bootcamp website. Extremely detailed, did a single pass through the whole thing. I tried to take notes and did for probably 75% of it. It just got draining and was too in depth. Didn't have to bother reading Cliffs so I guess that's good. I think Ferali's covers 99% of what you need to know. I'd do a double pass if I had to do it over again. Make sure you give yourself at least a full week or two for this.

Kaplan Blue Book (7/10): I think this book isn't terrible if you want to build up a quick foundation if you're 2-3 months out for your test. Otherwise, it has too many gaps to be a standalone study product. Does organize the orgo reactions relatively well. Not much else to say, didn't actually read through any significant amount of it.

Scsc7211 Bio notes (10/10):

Can be found here:
http://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/scsc7211s-version-of-alans-bio-notes-50-pages.968243/

In the days right before my test, I did a single pass through this rather than feralis due to time. I read it during my other classes throughout the day and finished it in about 6-8 hours. Didn't bother taking notes, just underlined my way through. I love this, extremely concise and covers topics to an adequate detail. Really helped me fill my gaps in for development and cladistics. I think this needs to be more popular for dat takers and am glad I found it. I think it was something like 54 pages long as opposed to Ferali's more dense 80 ish pages. Although, I didn't do as well on Bio as I had hoped, I feel like this prepared me and made me more confident in my knowledge of the material.

So I guess that's a wrap, I started my apps right away. I'm still gonna be pretty far on the late side but hopefully I can get my rec letters in soon and send everything out within the next 3-4 weeks. I'm glad its over and I'm glad I (think) did decent enough to validate my lower gpa. This forum is a great resource and reading through breakdowns inspired me when I had a lower drive to study. I wish all the rest of you who have yet to take it luck and I really, really hope I can make it to my top choices of Columbia or NYU.

I didn't attach a picture but I can later if its wanted.
 
Last edited:
Sep 27, 2014
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Your scores look great! No worries about the PAT, your AA is in the top <1% of test takers. Just nail the interview(s), they should be coming shortly! =) I am in a similar boat as you (18 PAT, 24 AA) and was told the 18 PAT will not raise eyebrows/red flags.
 
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enamel88

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Great job. These are some awesome scores. Your AA should cover the PAT no problem. Did you map all 3 passages for RC? and I'm assuming it worked out great looking at your score....
 
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nrr40

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Your scores look great! No worries about the PAT, your AA is in the top <1% of test takers. Just nail the interview(s), they should be coming shortly! =) I am in a similar boat as you (18 PAT, 24 AA) and was told the 18 PAT will not raise eyebrows/red flags.
Hopefully. I'm sending transcripts this week and LOR shouldn't take more two weeks. Good luck to you too.

Great job. These are some awesome scores. Your AA should cover the PAT no problem. Did you map all 3 passages for RC? and I'm assuming it worked out great looking at your score....
I figured so but its good to hear again. I did map all three, I think they were all around 14-15 paragraphs. I'm a pretty fast reader and used to devour all kinds of novels all the time when I was younger. I wrote about 5-6 keywords per paragraph and was able to jump to specific paragraphs based on that and what the questions asked. I think I actually genuinely enjoyed reading the passage content too, so that probably helped.
 

enamel88

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Could you elaborate more on the GC? Which practice materials really helped, and how close it is to BC and destroyer?
 
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nrr40

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Could you elaborate more on the GC? Which practice materials really helped, and how close it is to BC and destroyer?
So I'd absolutely want to start off by watching Chad's videos, 2x if possible. I think all the Destroyer problems were extremely representative of my real test. I'd especially focus on problems dealing with intermolecular forces, solubility equillibria, Ka and henderson hasselbach equation stuff, basic PV=nRT stuff, thermodynamics (delta G/H/S) and identifying redox reactions. So the Destroyer in terms of difficulty was slightly more difficult but the material is thoroughly covered. Bootcamp I'd say is on par with difficulty and very accurate in terms of question selection. The 5 practice sections definitely tested a wide range of topics and further enforced what I learned from Destroyer.
 
Dec 11, 2013
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Wow congrats!!! You killed it!
One question. What do you mean in the ochem section you said, "Not one hard question where you had to get through multiple layers to get to the answer."?
 
Dec 11, 2013
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