SperryRower

SperryRower
5+ Year Member
Aug 20, 2011
28
4
Status
Prequel: I decided to take the DAT a year a go. I was debating taking it last summer and holding off on some classes or getting another year of classes in under my belt before studying. So last summer I started reading books again (best decision ever) and slowly prepared myself for studying this summer.

Background: I'm going into my fourth year as an engineering major who has taken pretty much every science series except for physical chemistry. I have a fairly strong GPA, and tend to use my athletic experience to guide how I do school. I also enjoy studying, so I actually found studying for the DAT pretty fun considering it was almost all review and didn't have to teach myself anything.

Today's scores:
Bio: 24
Gchem: 23
Ochem: 23
PAT: 23
RC: 25
QR: 20
TS: 23
AA: 23

Study materials:
I basically assumed that I know everything I need for the test and decided that exposure would be the best way. I do this with just about all my classes, so unless you know it works for you, I think it's risky. I started the summer out with five and a half weeks in Europe, and then got my wisdom teeth out and spent 2 weeks doing almost nothing (impacted wisdom teeth ain't fun). After my long break, I decided that it was time I get to studying. So, the materials I used are:

Old (2010?) DAT Destroyer
- OChem (10/10)
- Gchem (10/10)
- Bio (10/10)
- Math (5/10)
Princeton Review Cracking the DAT (4/10)
DAT Bootcamp (10/10)
CDP (and the whole thing...) (7/10 PAT, 7/10 science, 10/10 for RC)
Achiever (13/10)
Feralis Notes (5/10)
Mastering Organic Chemistry Reagent guide and Orgo 1 Summary (10/10 for what they are)
2009 practice DAT (Just do it)
Wikipedia (20/10) --> My go to when I don't really know something. Good starting point.

So I'll go section by section:
Biology: I'm really happy with this. When I did Destroyer questions, I was intimidated by how many I was getting wrong. I decided that I would go with my gut feeling that practice questions are the best way to go, and kept chugging along. I used Feralis notes to refresh topics I forgot, and they are beautifully complete. I didn't read through them all the way, but I did find what I read helpful. I also used the Princeton Review book to get a general overview of biology, and I thought it did this pretty well, along with the in-text questions being pretty helpful. I basically reviewed the questions I got wrong in Destroyer a few times until I got all of them right.

General Chemistry:
I really didn't study for this. I went through Destroyer once and did the questions in the practice tests. I find this material pretty easy after taking AP Chem and chem freshman year. I found the test questions pretty easy, but wish I did just a little better.

Organic Chemistry
: I did really well in the ochem series, but I had forgotten a lot of stuff. I had to go through Destroyer a few times to figure out what I knew and didn't know. I have a pretty good intuition in ochem, and I just think about where the electrons want to go. Since the topics on the DAT are easy, it doesn't take much review. I highly recommend the Destroyer road maps and making sure you understand why you get every question wrong.

PAT:
I was worried about this one when I started studying, but realized that the more you practice, the better you get. I started with CDP, and once those got easier, I started using Achiever and Bootcamp. I found CDP to be a light intro, but I really liked how Achiever pushed me to keep trying harder. Bootcamp wasn't too bad, but a lot of the keyholes were tricky on the website.

RC:
I'm not surprised with my score in this. I read scientific journals a lot (I like research) and also started reading books again. I'm also a daily reader of the NYT. Basically, if you're a person who likes reading and has good habits when reading (looking at the big picture, staying organized, etc.), this section should be easy. I also recommend reading the whole passage first and then answering questions, along with mapping as you read. However, you have to be a proficient reader to do this, so make sure you practice.

QR:
The engineer in me is disappointed in the score. The pre-dent in me says relax, since I really didn't study for this section. I can't say much with how you should approach studying, but I would say the math is fairly basic, but then again I've done a lot of math so I'm biased. I wish I studied more, but in the 5 weeks I took to study, I'll take this.

The practice programs
If you look at my previous threads, you should be able to find my scores on my practice tests. I bought the Achiever 7 test package and did 6 of them. I started with this because I liked the challenge, and wanted to put myself in a worst-case scenario. I would take the test and review the answers the next day or the in the afternoon. I highly recommend Achiever because it really motivates you to study, but you do need to have a level head about it. You will feel like you're failing, and that's okay. To be successful in sports, you need to fail at some point to be more motivated. All you have to do is learn from your mistakes

CD was okay. I recommend it for PAT and RC. For about 12 days, I did either a PAT section or RC section a day. This is a good way to approach it because then you have time to review and you make a variety of mistakes as you practice. I wasn't the biggest fan of the sciences, but I did a few tests just to get a feeling of what kind of questions to expect.

Bootcamp is awesome. The explanations are fairly complete, and the variety of questions is pretty good. I went through all of the science tests twice and did 7 of the 10 PAT. I also did all the other sections, but the QR was rather painful and the RC was fairly tricky. I would get it because it's a good confidence booster and a good way to gauge where you are in your studying.

My study plan:
Basically, I didn't have one. I gave myself five weeks, and it seemed like enough. I kinda went through it naturally. I think I did 13 full practice tests in 4 weeks of studying. I recommend this because you get comfortable with the length, and it's great to see improvement if you're reviewing the material properly. I would take a test, review what I got wrong, and then go onto the next one. As you do this, you'll notice what you keep getting wrong and figure out what you should focus on. Do the same with Destroyer, and read Wikipedia when needed.

The key to doing well is making sure that you balance studying and relaxing. My target was 5-6 hours of focused studying a day. I'm a big fan of the Pomodoro method, where you work for 25ish minutes, and relax/text/whatever for 5 minutes. This keeps you focused and allows you to pull marathons when needed.

Make sure you stay healthy. This includes getting 7-8 hours of sleep, working out (I can't live without this), eating well, and limiting drinking (or whatever your poison is). I have taken classes the previous two summers, so I'm used to studying while my friends are having fun. This year, going to Europe really helped me dial in for studying. I did feel burned out towards the end, and was happy that I only spent five weeks on it. Maybe I could have scored a little higher, but I set my goal at a 23 and am more than happy that I achieved it!

Day before:
Try to relax. I studied for about 3 hours, watched a ton of Netflix, went for a bike ride, went to the mall, got some food, ate a pint of ice cream, and took some melatonin before bed. Try to take it easy if you can, but it isn't easy.

Day of the test:
Well, the night before I slept like garbage. My fitness monitor shoes that I fell asleep at 9:30 and woke up at 3:30. I sat in bed until 5, not able to fall asleep, but I was okay with it because my test was 8:15. I Facetimed my family in Europe, then fried up four eggs. I left the house at 6:05, and then chilled out at a Starbucks for an hour, doing some last minute review of my notecards. I had a double espresso and a morning bun. Then I headed out early, and started my test early.

My Prometric center didn't let me set up my PAT sheet during the tutorial, which didn't really stress me out because I knew my timing was good after so many practice tests. I sat down for the test, got comfortable, and went for it. I have some ear plugs that are noise attenuating, not blocking. I use these when I study because you don't hear your heartbeat this way and still have some sense of your surroundings, but it's all just quieter. I breezed through the SNS and was able to go through my questions 3 times. I reviewed my marked questions, and found some mistakes in my first try, but then I felt fine. I finished with enough time to go use the bathroom and set up for the PAT. The PAT was okay, but I felt ready after doing a lot of practice. I would use all the resources I recommend.

For my break, I drank an 8 oz. Red Bull and had a Powerbar chocolate wafer thing. I really like chocolate, so this was perfect, and the caffeine had me focused for the QR. I then used the bathroom quickly and went back in. I set my sheet up for the RC, but they took it away (I forgot they didn't allow it...).

The first minute of the RC I had to set up the sheet. I knew my timing was good on this section, so I wasn't worried. I read through the passages, and answered the questions. None of them were too hard, and there weren't too many two part questions or tone questions. I finished with about 5 minutes to spare, and just relaxed before the QR. The QR wasn't bad, I just didn't know how to do a few trig questions (I hate trig.). I went through all the algebra, probability, geometry stuff first, and then worked on trig. I finished with about 6 minutes left, and at that point felt satisfied with my effort so I ended the test.

When my scores showed up I was in disbelief. I didn't do this well on any of my practice tests, but I did feel like my studying was effective enough to earn those scores. Since I did take the test today, I am still ecstatic! I quickly drove home and then went and did a celebratory lift before my celebratory night begins :banana:

Message me if you have any questions and I'll be more than happy to help you out. Thank you to everyone who replied on my last thread, and good luck studying! If you stay composed, focused, and have some fun with it, you will do great!
 

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SperryRower

SperryRower

SperryRower
5+ Year Member
Aug 20, 2011
28
4
Status
Did you ask them whether it was allowed?
Yep, they said that it is against ADA policy. I asked them to double check while I went to the restroom, which they did. It's not much to worry about though, especially if you have practiced enough before ;)
 
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