2+ Year Member
Sep 4, 2017
Hi Everyone!

I took the DAT on August 21, 2017. For some background: I am a junior majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Consumer Psychology. Prior to my exam, I had already completely the intro bio track at Penn, as well as the General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry courses. I also had already taken the intro Biochem course (which was somewhat useful for the biology section to be honest). I had not taken any anatomy courses (I somewhat regret this).

PAT: 22
QR: 25
RC: 29
BIO: 23
GC: 26
ORGO: 25
TS: 24

In terms of my study schedule, I started studying in Early June and followed Ari’s DAT Bootcamp schedule rather loosely. I knew I would get off track so I started studying much further in advance than the ten weeks he recommended. I also was working full time starting in late June for a lab studying BMP Signaling in Zebrafish (hence why my study schedule was all over the place). Most days I would get home from work at 5 pm and then study for about 2 hours, go to some random hangout, then come back and study until about midnight. Toward the end, I focused mainly on the subjects I struggled with most, and then tried to increase my scores in those areas. Every time I got an answer wrong, I would go back to that question every so often to make sure I could explain why my answer was incorrect and why the correct answer was correct.

The materials I used are pretty common and I never used Kaplan or any other resources because a friend of mine got a 26 AA and told me that these were the materials she used:

1. Course Saver: It’s $50 per month and you get access to a bunch of videos, and is especially helpful for Gen Chem. Chad goes over the very basic concepts at a depth that I don’t think is matched anywhere else. I didn’t watch his videos for QR though, I felt math was not something I wanted to watch basic videos for.

2. Feralis Biology Notes (1x): These notes are MUCH more useful than Cliff’s AP Bio that Ari recommends in my opinion. However, if you find that you learn biology a lot better by very in depth readings, Cliff’s is for you. I used a combination of Cliff’s AP Bio as well as biology notes that a friend lent me (she took notes from Cliff’s).

3. Math Destroyer: I did maybe tests 1-8 in here, but never timed myself doing them, mainly because I felt very confident about math from the get go. In retrospect I should have reviewed a bit more because missing one question can drop your score by a lot! I had to remember a lot of concepts that I did not cover since my freshman year of high school so Math Destroyer was a good resource to learn how to do those problems.

4. DAT Destroyer (2x): This is SO helpful for all the science subjects. I used this book religiously to make sure I understood all the concepts, especially for GC and Orgo. I also used this as a primary resource to learn a bunch of random biology facts, and in the end I guess it paid off. I would highly recommend using this and constantly reviewing all your incorrect answers, because you’re bound to get similar questions on the real thing.

5. DAT Bootcamp: This is by far the best resource if you want to score well. It can definitely get frustrating at times, but the amount of prep and confidence it gives you going into the real thing is unparalleled. The practice tests are as close to the real thing as you can get and the PAT generators are extremely useful! In the end I only did 3 full length practice tests though, but did extra practice tests for each of the sciences because I felt those were the most important to review. If you take each test seriously, you will do well on the DAT.

My breakdown per section on Bootcamp (for every subject I started with test 6 since the full length tests use tests 1-5 for every subject, I have bolded scores from the the full length exams):

BIO: 19/19/19/19/19; 19/19/17/22/21 Avg: 19.3
GC: 19/20/21/23/23; 25/26/30/30/22 Avg: 23.9
ORGO: 21/22/21/22/21; 27/24/24/24/21 Avg: 22.7
PAT: 18/18/20; 20/20/18 Avg: 19
RC: 21/20/23 Avg: 21.3
QR: 20/20; 24/20/24 Avg: 21.6

6. 2007 Official ADA Practice Test:
BIO:19/ GC:30/ ORGO: 28/ RC: 23/ QR: 26/ PAT: 21
AA: 25

I felt this test was pretty similar to the real DAT. Orgo and GC were A LOT easier on this exam though. I felt that the PAT was also far too easy. Tests 1-5 on Bootcamp are probably a more realistic example of what you’ll see on the test.

7. 2009 Official Practice Test: only the Survey of Natural Sciences
BIO: 23/ GC: 26/ ORGO: 24
Definitely a more realistic test than the 2007 sciences. Biology was a lot easier than I thought it would be. A friend of mine sent this test to me because it’s really hard to find online, but it can also be purchased from the ADA website I believe. However, the answer key has a lot of mistakes, so be sure to look up questions that you think the answer key might be wrong about. This is the main reason I only did the science portion of the exam, because I got quite annoyed with the mistakes haha.

The best advice is to always be CONFIDENT and pace yourself. You’ll find that the time constraints are actually very reasonable once you get in a groove. TAKE A BREAK if you need it. I had 30 minutes left after I finished the science section and decided to take an unscheduled break before the PAT just to chill for a bit. You’ll get laminated paper and dry erase markers to use throughout the exam.

1) BIO: 23
As usual, the hardest section for me. Biology will always have a bunch of questions that they like to recycle, but sometimes you’ll get lucky and they will emphasize topics you’re well-versed in. It’s important to have a strong background in physiology, because you don’t want to miss questions that could actually be pretty simple. The best thing is to try to memorize as much as you can, but make sure everything you memorize you know really well!

2) GC: 26
Very similar to the Bootcamp questions, nothing very notable for me. In the ended I counted that I could have missed a maximum of 3 questions (in reality I probably missed one or two though).

3) ORGO: 25
Same can be said about Orgo as GC. When I went through I counted maybe 4 questions that I thought I could have possibly missed. In the end I guess I was able to guess correctly for 1 or two of them.

4) PAT: 22
I was actually somewhat surprised with this score. I will say that the sections were very similar to Bootcamp Tests 1-5, but I did not feel very confident about a lot of my answers. Comparing to Bootcamp, I think Keyholes were a little easier, TFE was about the same, Angle Ranking was about the same, Hole Punching was easier, Cube Counting was Easier, and Pattern Folding was about the same.

5) RC: 29
Going into the DAT I was not expecting this at all. I thought the reading sections on Bootcamp were a lot more difficult than the real thing. The real RC is all about “search and destroy.” As long as you’re able to find the text they ask about in a timely manner, you should be able to score well.

6) QR: 25
I expected to do relatively well in QR. I felt if I reviewed a bit more I could have done better but I’m not complaining. There was maybe one or two questions I was unsure about, but in the end I guess it didn’t largely impact my AA.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The whole exam is entirely based on efficient preparation. The final two weeks of studying for me I personally felt like I was slacking off but in reality I feel like I was pretty prepared for it 5 weeks into studying. The best preparation by far is DAT Bootcamp. It’ll be the closest thing to the real exam, and will give you a pretty good feeling of how you’ll score in each section. Also, supplement your studying with some fun! I spent most of my summer studying but definitely made a lot of time to hang out with friends, and gave myself a lot of breaks when I felt overwhelmed! Understand how the test works and make sure you know how each individual section is scored, because focusing on your strengths can be very beneficial since some sections allow you to still score pretty high while missing several questions, while others don’t really have room for much error. Good Luck Studying!
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