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DAT Breakdown For The Semester

Discussion in 'DAT Discussions' started by minnow3, May 29, 2016.

  1. minnow3

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    Hello all! I am a biology major and rising senior, and I took my DAT yesterday and am happy to share my experience with other aspiring pre-dental students! I have read several other DAT Breakdowns and found them super helpful in how to study and what to expect on test day, and I hope I can help some others with this one! This is my first post and I have been reading these forums for months. As a heads-up, I feel my study plan was very unconventional, but I wanted to show that nonetheless, there truly is no one-size fits all method to preparing for the DAT and no matter what approach you take, you can and will do well on the DAT.

    If you have any specific questions about the DAT, please feel free to message me. I am happy to try and help in any way that I can!

    First off, I wanted to give a shout-out to both Joel (@joelm - DAT Genius) and Ari (@Ari Rezaei - DAT Bootcamp). Both Joel and Ari answered every question I emailed them quickly and thoroughly regarding scoring, the PAT, RC sections, and about the DAT in general. I appreciate their dedication to pre-dental students to achieving their dreams and for writing excellent testing software that will result in excellent scores on the real DAT. If you have any questions, email them and it can help out a great deal! You guys are both incredible! I also wanted to thank Dr. Romano and Ms. Steen (@orgoman22) for offering such a great product through the DAT Destroyer and Math Destroyer that helped me solidify my science background, especially the biology section with its wide range of question.

    My scores:
    Bio 26
    General Chemistry 24
    Organic Chemistry 27
    PAT 22
    RC 22
    QR 25
    AA 25
    TS 26

    I want to begin this by saying I attempted to study for the DAT during this past winter break. It did not go well at all (I did not sign up ahead of time so it always seemed so distant, a big mistake on my part) and it took me until mid-January to start to begin studying for the DAT. Scheduling my DAT was the best thing I ever did (I scheduled mine in March) because it gave me this urgency and motivated me to study even harder. Even though studying for the DAT during the summer or winter break without any other distractions is ideal, it can be done during the semester if you really need to do so. I would like to stress that one of the hardest aspects of preparing for the DAT is actually getting started, because when you first begin it seems like there is so much material to cover and it initially seems overwhelming. That is how I felt until I started studying in small amounts and then progressively studied more. The journey to succeeding on the DAT starts with a small step, and just ease yourself into it. I personally started going through the PAT and QR sections first to initiate my studying. I was unable to take it this past summer of 2015 due to other commitments, and I did not want to study for it during this summer because I wanted to apply earlier in the application cycle. My only option was to study during the spring semester of my junior year (which I have read several times is far from ideal), but I made it work, and I'm sure anyone else can, too!

    Materials:
    DAT Destroyer & Math Destroyer
    DAT Genius
    DAT Bootcamp
    2009 Released DAT
    Q Vault Bio
    Cliff's AP Bio
    Feral is Notes
    Feralis Taxonomy Cheat Sheet


    I studied throughout the semester (I took a 12 credit semester after discussing the idea with my pre-dental advisor and she thought it would not be an issue given my academic background and past grades). I only had classes on Mondays and Thursdays so the other days I would study for the DAT, tutor for 6 hours a week, and volunteer at a local hospital for 3 hours every week. I would say in the beginning (late January/early February) I studied an average of 5-6 hours per day when I did not have class and around 2-3 hours when I did have classes. Time management was something I figured out quickly and I would block out certain times to study for the DAT during the week and certain times to do homework and other assignments for my classes. If you are studying throughout the semester as I did, I strongly encourage you to make a schedule and post it near your desk to keep yourself accountable and committed to studying for the DAT. As soon as I did that, I felt much more disciplined and focused. As my test date neared (as did final exams) I tried studying at least 6-7 hours a day for the DAT by reviewing flash cards, diagraming reaction mechanisms for organic chem, practicing with the PAT generators, and drawing out biological pathways. I totaled 700 flash cards by the end covering the QR, Bio (about 400 alone), GC, and OC sections. Some had multiple terms on them (which I did to save paper but is probably not the best idea since your brain may associate some terms with another or confuse them with one another). I had this happen a few times so I would recommend doing one term per card or using Anki.

    I used DAT Destroyer as my main learning tool for the sciences and QR and the generators on both DAT Bootcamp and DAT Genius to help build my perceptual skills (which were awful in the beginning; I was super discouraged to start out and I gradually improved). I began taking a weekly practice test at my scheduled time beginning in early April, and I used the full-length exams from DAT Genius and DAT Bootcamp. Both of these are excellent practice tests and both are arguably more difficult than the real DAT. I went through all 10 tests and these really made me feel comfortable when I took the real DAT yesterday. My survey of natural sciences seemed like a breeze compared to both DAT Genius and DAT Bootcamp.

    Biology: This was the most challenging science section for me. The biology section of the DAT is quite broad and anything can show up on your exam. I took the 2007 ADA SNS test as a benchmark and I scored a 19 on Bio with the attached scale. I knew I would need to work hard on bio to earn the score I desired. I used DAT Destroyer first as a background to learn as much biology as possible (I personally learn best by doing problems rather than just reading a book or notes) and went through all of the problems once and then would keep a log of which problems I got wrong. I would do about 50 problems per day the first time through. I would read each and every solution to the biology problems, regardless if I got them right or wrong. The second time I went through Destroyer, I would again mark problems I either got incorrect or got right by serendipity and made flash cards on the topics I did not know. This time I would do around 100 problems per day. I went through Destroyer a 3rd time and again did the same process and made additional flash cards for anything else I was weak on, doing about 300 problems per day this time. Despite what some people think, DAT Destroyer is not overkill and I think it is critical to earning a solid score in the natural sciences and math. It covers practically anything you can expect to see on the real DAT.

    I also used the exams from DAT Genius and DAT Bootcamp to assess my biological knowledge and would make additional flash cards for any topic with which I felt uncomfortable. I also read through Cliff's AP Bio and Feralis bio notes while doing Destroyer, but did not take through notes on them. Feralis notes in particular were very detailed and cover a wide range of material. If you need to strength your foundation in biology, I would recommend reading Feralis notes first then transitioning to DAT Destroyer (I probably should have done this in the beginning, but I just enjoyed doing problems more than just taking notes and then reading them over). I was getting worried about bio near the end, so I purchased Q Vault's biology tests exactly one week out from my test (5/21) which I felt helped assess what I knew and did not know. I went through all 10 tests on 5/21 and 5/22, and was averaging a 24 scoring 37/40 raw for most tests. Again, I made flash cards for any question I got wrong or guessed correctly. Q Vault is a helpful but not necessary resource, but it could help you if you feel you need to boost your bio scores after exhausting DAT Destroyer/DAT Genius/DAT Bootcamp. It can only help, because I feel the more bio problems you do and the more topics you expose yourself to, the better off your will be come test day given how many versions of the DAT there are and the breadth of the biology section.

    I knew nothing about taxonomy before starting to study for the DAT. If your background in it is as weak as mine was, I strongly encourage you to try to go through Feralis Notes and the accompanying Feralis Taxonomy Cheat Sheet to learn this section. While it is considered a low-yield topic, there is certainly a possibility that taxonomy questions will appear on your DAT and it could hurt your score if you do not know them. I found making up or using pneumonic devices was super helpful for me remembering this material (for instance, for chordate evolution and features, I made up: Never Have Violins Joined Military Service Less Locally During Awesome Music (Notochord-Tunicates, Lancets; Head-Hagfish; Vertebral Column-Lamprey; Jaws & Mineralized Skeleton (Sharks); Lungs/Lung Derivatives (Ray-Finned Fish); Lobe Fins (Lobe Finned Fish); Limbs with Digits (Amphibians); Amniotic Egg (Reptile); and Milk Production (Mammals).

    General Chemistry & Organic Chemistry: Well, unlike most of the breakdowns I read, I did not use Chad's Videos. I tutor general chemistry and organic chemistry through my college's tutoring center, and I felt that gave me a solid background for these subjects (as did taking G/O Chem I & II). Again, I utilized DAT Destroyer in the beginning doing 50 problems a day for both sections and would make flash cards for any mechanism or problem I missed. I would do the same thing while using the full-length DAT Genius and DAT Bootcamp practice tests. I have heard nothing but positive reviews about Chad's videos so it seems it would definitely help if you need to fortify your chemistry background. I felt doing DAT Destroyer, DAT Bootcamp, and DAT Genius was plenty to prepare for the chemistry sections of the DAT (I felt that all were much harder than the real one).

    PAT: I felt this was my biggest struggle. I had been using Bootcamp's generators for about two weeks before I took my first full-length PAT practice exam and I scored a 16. I was unhappy with my score, but I just want to say no matter how difficult the PAT seems in the beginning, you can and will improve. This is something Ari told me after I emailed him about my concern over the PAT and it was 100% true. I would recommend using both DAT Bootcamp and DAT Genius' generators and extra keyhole problems to improve your perceptual skills. They go a long way in helping you visualize the solutions and understand how to approach the problems. I was and still am awful at angles, and I tried everything technique from the "hill" to the "eye glance" technique and nothing worked. Joel recommended I use the "eating" technique that got considerably better results, but my angle score would still range anywhere between 6 and 12 out of 15 questions right. I personally felt that focusing on the other sections over angles worked for me (I would still use generators to try and hope to improve my angle scores) since it seemed to me that the keyholes, TFE, pattern folding, cube counting, and hole punching were more systematic in figuring out how to approach them. The angles were always a mixed bag and awful for me, but that is just my experience and I am sure some people find angles the easiest sub-section of the PAT.

    For pattern folding I would use the DAT Bootcamp generator, but on the real DAT and practice exams a key technique is to try to look for the shape or face that looks wrong (it's at a 90 degree angles vs. an acute angle, etc.) and use process of elimination to get to the correct answer choices. For some shapes such as cubes, the only way really is to try to fold them up and run trials by focusing on a unique face and try folding it around that face and see if it matches. For cube counting and hole punching, I used the DG and BC generators and used the tally method and tic-tac-toe 4x4 grid methods, respectively. Those were the way I kept organized for those sections because I personally am unable to keep track of all of the different exposed cubes in my head. I also read through both Bootcamp and DAT Genius' TFE Tutorial and both were super helpful in visualizing the TFE problems. This might be the oddest section at first, but if you read through both tutorials and start using BC's TFE visualize it will all start to make sense within a week or two. I went through all 20 PAT tests available on DAT Genius and DAT Bootcamp (the 1st 5 for both DAT Genius and DAT Destroyer during the full-length tests, and then the additional 5 from both separately on other days). Doing full-length PAT practice tests really helps you practice the timing, which can be really rough (I finished with 2 minutes to spare on my real DAT). In my opinion, these tests were a bit harder than the real DAT so if you are doing well on them you will certainly do well on the real DAT. My score went up from a 20 average on BC/DG to a 22 on the real one. The keyholes, TFE, and pattern folding seemed a bit simpler compared to the problems on BC and DG to me.

    RC: You have to pick a method that works for you. I found many of the practice exam passages dry, which did not help me focus at all. I originally tried doing the roadmap and that would get me mixed results (anywhere from a 20 to a 25). I eventually migrated to a hybrid of Search and Destroy and roadmap upon the advice of Joel. What I would do is read the questions first, try to search for the answer but as I would look for it skim the passage and quickly write down about 1 keyword for the paragraphs until I found the answer to the question. I recommend testing out different methods for this and figuring out what works best for you. I switched to the hybrid about one week before my test date, but I wish I had done so earlier to hone in on this method. I would also recommend reading an article or two on Scientific American to help build up your reading skills.

    QR: I initially went through Math Destroyer and would do 1 practice test a night, sometime 2, beginning in late January and early February. Math was never my strong suit, especially geometry, so I figured this was a section I start practicing early. Again, I would make flash cards for formulas that I missed while doing Math Destroyer problems. I went through Math Destroyer a second time about two weeks later and would see which sections I needed to focus on. I also utilized the additional math tests on DAT Bootcamp and would take these sporadically from April to May to improve my QR. My recommendation is to focus on topics you are weak on (I struggled the most with geometry and some aspects of trigonometry) and try to seek out those problems. The real QR on DAT is simpler than Math Destroyer, BC, and DG but you just have to make sure you have enough time and pace yourself well.

    Practice Tests: I feel this is critical to earning the scores you want. Only you can gage how many tests you should take to feel comfortable come your DAT test date. Some people take 5 tests while others take 10 practice tests. Taking these under the real testing situations is important. I took mine at or about the real day and time of my test date. I would not study for the DAT the morning I would take my practice exams (although I would study for exams for my courses since it was the semester) and I would try to replicate the process as thoroughly as possible, especially taking the break only when it was scheduled. My recommendation is to take the full-length exam, wait a few hours (or maybe even a night in between) and then review your answers and the solutions. I made more flash cards for topics I was missing in the sciences and QR. I used the 5 tests from both DAT Bootcamp and DAT Genius and I felt both are among the best practice tests you can access.

    Going through all 10 of these exams and their solutions will definitely go a long way in improving your overall score. While I have heard positive things about Topscore and DAT Achiever, I cannot recommend DAT Bootcamp and DAT Genius enough. They are at written at a slightly higher level than the real DAT so if you are doing well on these exams, you will definitely success on the real DAT. I averaged for BC: 27 Bio, 26 Gen Chem, 26 O Chem, 20 PAT, 22 RC, 22 QR, 25 AA, and 26 TS. For DG, I averaged: 23 Bio, 24 Gen Chem, 24 O Chem, 20 PAT, 21 RC, 22 QR, 23 AA, and 24 TS. I also took the 2009 ADA Test the Saturday before my exam (5/21) and I scored a 28 Bio, 26 Gen Chem, 30 O Chem, 23 PAT, 19 RC, 19 QR. In my opinion, the RC and QR felt a bit harder on the 2009 DAT so if your scores for this dip a bit compared to other DG/BC practice scores, do not freak as I initially did! While there are different versions of the test around, the one I happened to get was a bit easier than the 2009 DAT (although of course, I am sure some are at or slightly higher than the level of the 2009 DAT). I also must say do not get hung up on your score for an individual test, or even the average of all of the practice tests you take. I did this at one point and it was driving me crazy. You need to realize that every test is different, and if it covers a topic in which you are weak (I knew little about plants compared to other topics) then it will affect you score. Do not get discouraged, and use each question you get right or wrong constructively to ensure you do not make the same mistake on test day and fill in any gaps in your knowledge (whether it be plants, taxonomy, physiology, etc.).

    Closing Comments:
    When going through your journey to take the DAT, please remember to have a bit of fun, too! I can vouch that you need to take a break and unwind every now and then after studying hard studying for the DAT; it truly does rejuvenate and decompress you. Keep yourself sane somehow, whether it is through running, sports, music, going out with friends, volunteering, and anything else in between. From personal experience, I went out with some friends the night before a practice test and it led to me achieving the highest practice score up to that point. This is a test that anyone is capable of doing well on so long as you put in the work. Even if you are not satisfied with your scores in the beginning, keep working hard and I promise that it will yield the results you desire! There is no guaranteed way to score well on the DAT other than through dedication, persistence, and hard work. As soon as you figure out a plan to study, do that and stick with it, whether you use Ari's very organized 10-week plan or your mishmash of a plan as I made. While some people prefer reading notes and books, others such as like working problems and writing up flash cards.

    I wish the best of luck to everyone taking the DAT and applying for the upcoming 2017 dental school application cycle!
     

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    #1 minnow3, May 29, 2016
    Last edited: May 31, 2016
    jacbbc, Ardwan, Socolaphile and 5 others like this.
  2. Master Yoda

    Verified Account 5+ Year Member

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    Congratulations on your achievement. Job well done.
     
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  3. Likkriue

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    Congratulations! Your scores are stellar and out of this world!!!
     
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  4. joelm

    joelm SDN Lifetime Donor
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    Really amazing scores! Congratulations, what a huge accomplishment, now enjoy your summer!
     
  5. matteral

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    Holy cow those scores :oops:

    Since you have such a background with OChem, what do you like for DAT specific preparation? I'm using Destroyer and Odyssey right now and I've been through Chads. Do you think Genius + Bootcamp are enough for PAT, or did you get anything else? I try to do generators every day but my test won't be until August and I'm worried that if I do a PAT test a day with Genius and Bootcamp I'll only have 20 days worth. Thanks again
     
  6. OP
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    minnow3

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  7. OP
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    minnow3

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    @matteral, I know that you will rock this test like so many others here have! The summer is definitely an ideal time to prepare for the DAT since you have plenty of time to study and to take breaks when needed. I would say for DAT specific preparation that what you are using is going to give you an excellent foundation for organic chemistry. My friend who took O-Chem this year used Chad's videos to learn the material ahead of time compared to what would be covered in his organic lecture and it seemed to help him out immensely. They seem to be very clear and concise which is what you need when preparing for and learning Organic Chemistry. I never used Organic Chemistry Odyssey, but from what I understand it is a very thorough book that exhausts nearly any topic you could see on the organic section, and it should seriously strengthen your organic background. The O-chem problems in the regular DAT Destroyer are definitely very realistic and a bit harder in my opinion when it comes to preparing for the real DAT (the real one will likely feel a bit easier after you go through all of the Destroyer/Odysseys problems, and I felt most of the problems on my DAT were either at the same level or slightly easier than the DAT Destroyer's O-Chem section).

    I think that DAT Genius and DAT Bootcamp are plenty for the PAT, and they were the only two resources that I used. Some other people report success using Crack DAT, but I can personally vouch that by using DAT Bootcamp and DAT Genius you will feel well-prepared for the real PAT on the DAT. I would recommend using the generators daily and then take Tests 1-5 for both DAT Genius and Bootcamp with the full-length exams close to your test date (I personally did a full test a week beginning April 2nd to May 21st). Before doing TFE, I would definitely read through the tutorials if you already have not because they help you figure out how the top relates to the front and so forth. That will make your life a lot easier when using the TFE visualizer and the problems in the practice exams. I spaced out Tests 6-10 for both Bootcamp and DAT Genius so I would take at least one of those extra PAT tests each week leading up to my exam (other than BC 10 which I did in February...that was my first one that I scored a 16 on). Some weeks I did none though, and others I would do two to make up for it because of time restraints due to other classes or exams. So I would say about 10 weeks out from your test date, try to do one of the PAT tests from either Bootcamp or DAT Genius weekly, and then either in the evening, or maybe the day after, review the solutions throughly. I can tell you that I felt I learned the most for the PAT by not only doing the problems, but also when I went over my errors and saw why I made them (for instance, in keyholes I would often choose the most obvious answer but often times the proportions were off or there was a missing or extra feature that I did not notice in the answer I chose compared to the correct choice). It might seem cumbersome, but going through each and every solution for the PAT (even the ones I got correct) is what really helped me visualize the answers and see why each answer is correct (especially for the ones I just guessed right). DAT Genius released PAT Tests 6-10 I think about one week out before my exam date so I think I did about two of their exams a day from Sunday-Tuesday the week right before my exam, but I feel it would be ideal spacing them out more. The explanations in both Bootcamp and DAT Genius are very detailed and try to simplify visualizing the correct answer as much as possible. Going through all of the PAT will definitely improve your perceptual skills and give you the necessary confidence to crush the real PAT come test day. I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck with studying!
     
  8. matteral

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    Thank you for the very detailed response. I have Chad's videos for organic, and am working my way through Destroyer. It's just so much material and I have such a poor background in orgo compared to bio / general chemistry that I feel I'm weak. I guess I just need to keep learning.

    Regarding PAT, I think its pretty much the same thing as orgo I guess - just putting in the time. I try to use generators daily. So far I've averaged between 18-21 on both DAT Genius and Bootcamp, I'm just nervous.

    I've also read the Bootcamp and Genius are harder than the real PAT, so hopefully that's the case.
     
  9. Krentist_72

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    Congrats on your scores; you did amazing!! I've been studying full-time this summer for my DAT (a month away now... yikes) and I'm also hardcore struggling in the angle-ranking section. I know the "eye-glance" technique, but could you please explain the "hill" and "eating" techniques you mentioned? Maybe those'll help me out too. Thanks in advance!
     
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    minnow3

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    You're very welcome! I'm happy to try to help in any way I can. Oh yes I can understand that, organic chemistry is a dense subject for sure. When I took organic chemistry as a course, what really helped me drill the reagents and mechanisms was to make flash cards for the reactions. I'm not sure if this is what works for you or not, but it is worth a shot and it really made me proficient with all of the reagents for synthesis. Chad's Videos and DAT Destroyer will definitely give you the background you need to ace the organic section on the DAT. I felt the same way about bio when I started studying (there were so many topics I had barely seen before such as taxonomy) but by the end you will definitely know the material well by going through as many problems as possible.

    Yes, PAT is certainly practice-oriented. The generators certainly help, and if you are averaging those scores for DAT Genius and Bootcamp, I think you will be in good shape for the real PAT. I felt that it was super important to review every solution that is provided in the PAT practice tests. Those are what really helped me understand what was going on in the problems and the most efficient way to approach the problems. The real PAT will seem simpler, especially in the keyholes, TFE, and pattern folding sections in my opinion. In general those sections are much harder in DAT Genius & Bootcamp in my experience. I wish you the best of luck! I'm sure your DAT will go very well (you certainly seem like a dedicated student)!
     
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    minnow3

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    Hello, @Krentist_72, thank you so much! That means so much to me! For the various angle techniques, here is the hill technique: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/the-hill-technique-for-angle-ranking.545778/. The eye-glance technique is mentioned in this post:http://forums.studentdoctor.net/thr...ye-glance-technique-for-angle-ranking.919493/. And for the eating technique, basically pretend each angle is a mouth, and then see which angle can "eat" the other ones and which ones would or would not fit. This is what Joel told me and it worked well for me. I must say the angles are a bit easier on the real DAT (but not much in my opinion, and it can and likely will differ with each different version of the DAT). One of those techniques will probably work for you, and I'm sure that there are many other methods that I do not know of that could help you figure out the right answer. Practicing with the angle ranking generators daily will certainly help you out. I ended up focusing more on the other sections of the PAT that I knew I could figure out and that helped me out much more. I think that is why they recommend completing angle ranking questions in about 30 seconds each on average because spending more time on these questions will not necessarily get you to the right answer. Allotting more time to the TFE, Keyhole, and Pattern Folding problems will likely lead you to the answer (I used my extra time to review these questions on the real PAT and I felt it helped). Focusing on a small detail in any of TFE, Keyhole, and Pattern Folding will likely eliminate one of the incorrect answers unlike angle ranking (at least for me it did). I wish you good luck with your next month of studying!
     
  12. Krentist_72

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    Thanks so much, I'll take a look at all of those links.... One's bound to stick (hopefully)! Good call on putting more effort into the other PAT parts, they seem to be slightly more controllable with how you train yourself, whereas angle seems slightly more like a "gut feeling" sometimes. Congrats again on those scores, and thanks for the detailed response!
     
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  13. jacbbc

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    Hello,

    Congratulations!

    I hope you don't mind but I have a few questions. I happen to be in a similar situation but actually started studying this summer but it seems i am going to run out of time before school starts. I am considering taking a smaller class load of units similar to how you did and then studying during this upcoming fall. I am just curious what classes did you take?

    Thank you so much!
     

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