Aug 18, 2016
I took the DAT a few weeks ago - July 29th, 2016 - and I figured I'd post my thoughts.

Here is a breakdown of my scores:

Biology: 20
Gen. Chem: 21
Org. Chem: 26
PAT: 19
RC: 20
QR: 22
TS: 21
AA: 22

What I did to prepare:

I began studying for the DAT about 6 weeks before test day, and mostly focused on Biology, Gen. Chem, and PAT. I had just finished second semester in Org. Chem, so all I did for that section was practice tests. I'm an economics major and have always been good at math, so I didn't study for that section at all either. I could've done more to prepare for RC, but I feel like I just got unlucky on my passages on test day (I had been getting 21-23 on RC on practice tests.)

Kaplan - I took the Kaplan DAT course and I thought there were both positives and negatives that went along with it. I thought it prepared me pretty well in science and QR, but the RC and PAT were pretty subpar in my opinion. If I could go back, I probably wouldn't have taken Kaplan again but that is largely due to the insane cost (over 1200). They do provide you with a lot of resources, however, and the 5 practice tests they have are a pretty fair representation of the real DAT (maybe a tad bit harder overall, PAT not up to par). They do give you some really good strategies, though, so it may be worth it for you if you don't normally test well.

Chad's videos/Course Saver - LIFESAVER. I hadn't taken a biology class for about a year by the time I took the test, and that was just microbiology so I was in deep trouble. I scored an 11 (1st percentile) in biology on my first test through Kaplan and almost 100% of my study for that section was done through Chad's videos and I didn't even pay for these, I just used what was free and though the biology section on the site is incomplete, it definitely saved me. I also watched all of his Gen. Chem videos and did the quizzes for those, which I though were extremely helpful.

My experience on test day:

I woke up and had a pretty big breakfast. I read up on some good test day foods, and my meal consisted of eggs w/cheese, whole grain toast, pineapple, and orange juice. I went on a 15 minute run to wake up all the way and get my blood pumping. I then took a shower, watched a couple motivational videos on youtube, said a prayer and headed over to the testing center. Kaplan tells you not to study the day before the test, so I didn't study the day before and only briefly went through some flashcards the morning of the test to get my mind working. I drove to the testing center the day before the test so that I knew exactly where it was and wouldn't have any anxiety on test day trying to find the place. I got to the testing center about an hour before test time and the lady let me check in and get started early. She was very nice and as soon as I was ready, I got going on my test.

Biology: I thought the biology section was just a bit easier than the Kaplan practice tests I had been taking, and I thought the biggest thing for me was just not reading the questions too fast. It's easy to skip a word or two in the question if you go to fast, which changes the whole meaning of the question. I thought the biology portion was quite cell bio/genetic (dna/rna) heavy, and I think I only had one taxonomy question. I was getting 18-19 on my practice tests on biology with Kaplan. To have improved from an 11 to a 20 was HUGE and though I was shooting for a 21, I was happy with what I got.

Gen. Chem: I had been scoring 20-22 on my general chemistry practice tests, so I was right there in the range of that. I studied gen. chem during the first 3 weeks of my 6 week preparation, which made it a bit hard to recall some of the things I had studied. Chad's videos were extremely helpful for this section, and he only teaches you what is on the test. He doesn't like to mess around with things you're not going to be tested on. The calculation questions seemed pretty straightforward to me, but I felt like dat writers like testing your knowledge of principles. I felt pretty good about the section and thought I had a 22 - I must've been a question short, though.

Org. Chem: I must've guessed right on a question or two. My best practice test was a 26 as well, but I was usually getting 21-24 for this section. I thought it was written very fairly and there was only one question in the section that I didn't know what they were talking about. I've heard that Chad does a fantastic job in his organic chemistry videos as well, but like I said, I didn't study for this section at all. I had about 10 minutes to spare at the end of the science section and went through my biology questions again to make sure I hadn't read a question wrong.

PAT: I thought I had pulled at least a 20, but I guess I hadn't quite done enough. The angle ranking questions are MUCH harder on the actual dat compared to Kaplan, as were the hole punch questions. The others were fairly similar, but I hadn't anticipated it being harder so I went in a bit blind. I've heard that Dat Boot Camp and Dat Destroyer have good PAT sections, so I'd do those if I could go back. PAT doesn't factor into your overall AA score though, so I wasn't too upset that it was my lowest section overall.

Break: I had been told during my Kaplan course that I'd get a 15 minute break, but it turned out to be a half hour, which is a change that was made this year. I went to check out for my break and the worker said I needed to hit a button on my screen so he could check me out. I went back to my computer and the only button to press said "end break" and so I went back and told him that. He followed me back to my computer and said that was the button I needed to press so that he could check me out. I then read the instructions on the screen out loud to him "by pressing this button, your break will end and you will begin your next section". He finally said, "OH... YOU'RE ON BREAK! I thought you were done with your test. Yeah, don't press that button!" He really could've screwed me over if I had listened to him.

Reading Comprehension: I felt like I had gotten the short end of the stick with my passages. Two of the three were extremely boring and it was a total grind to get through this section. I had to guess on the last 4 questions due to lack of time and I was bummed that I only got a 20. I had been averaging about a 21 on my practice tests. I've never been a very quick reader, and I struggle to understand what I'm reading when I try to read fast. If I could go back, I would've practiced this section a few more times to get my strategy down a little better.

Quantitative Reasoning: I had been averaging a 18-20 on Kaplan, but I feel like they tell you a lower score than you're really getting on this section for some reason. I felt like the actual test was quite similar to the practice Kaplan tests I had taken and felt like I had done just the same as well. Turns out I got a 22, which pretty much confirmed my suspicions for the way Kaplan scores their QR section. I've always been pretty gifted in the math/stats department, and with a little bit of studying, I think this could've been my strongest section. I just felt like my time was more valuable towards studying Bio/Gen Chem so I didn't really study QR. The keypad worked on the calculator on the computer, which made life easy.

They make you take a 15 question survey about your test experience and the test site, which is annoying because you really want to know your score! I flew through the survey and at the end, your breakdown comes up on the screen. The best I had done overall on any of my kaplan practice tests was a 20, so I was pumped about a 22. I think it's pretty common to score at least a point higher on the actual DAT than you are on Kaplan.

I was reading up on scores and I found that a 22 is in the 97th percentile overall - not sure if that's true so I'd love to hear your thoughts on that. I just got my applications in this past week, which is a little bit later than I wanted, so I'm hoping that doesn't put me at a disadvantage. I have a 3.47 cummulative gpa and a 3.45 science gpa at BYU, which isn't anything special. I'm hoping I have a few options to choose from, but we'll see - I applied to 17 schools overall. Anyway, that was my DAT experience... I hope it's helpful!

Dr. Li

2+ Year Member
Jul 22, 2016
thanks for sharing