DAT Exam Breakdown (Taken 1 Week Ago)

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maryyoussef

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Hello everyone! I just took my DAT about a week ago and I wanted to give my two cents because I found these posts to be so helpful. Let me just start off by saying that your hard work WILL pay off, whether you believe it or not. Through this post, I hope to give a breakdown of how exactly I navigated my way through studying and taking the exam.

Scores:
PAT - 21
QR - 22
RC - 24
Bio - 21
GC - 25
OC - 22
TS - 22
AA - 23

Background:
I am a rising senior with a 4.0 GPA. I am a Biology major and a Gen Chem geek lol.

Materials Used (In Order of Importance):
  1. DAT Booster: I placed this program first because it is the one I used most (every single day) and the one I found most representative of the actual exam. DAT Booster was amazing in terms of preparing me for the exam! I literally would recommend this program to anyone because it is one of the cheaper ones and was more than enough to prepare me. I did not purchase DAT Bootcamp or any other resource (I only used the free DAT Bootcamp Bio Notes, which I will get into in a little bit).
  2. Anki: I placed this second because I did not use it on a daily basis, like I did Booster, but I did make some use of it. I actually made my own Anki cards, so I did not use the DAT Booster/Bootcamp ready-made decks. Instead, I used Anki to make section-based flashcards. I had multiple decks for bio, one deck for organic chemistry, and one deck for general chemistry. The reason I had multiple for bio is because I would make Anki decks for nearly every single question on the DAT Booster Practice Exam bio sections (and I took all 10), because I did not do much else to study for bio otherwise. General and organic chemistry were stronger sections for me so I did not need to make as many decks.
  3. DAT Bootcamp Bio Notes: I placed this third because I only used these notes to make my Anki decks, and that was it. Unlike the Booster bio notes, where I read them all during my first month-and-a-half of studying, I solely used the Bootcamp notes if I needed quick info to add to my flashcards (only because the Bootcamp notes had all the content in a single pdf while I would have to go searching in the separate Feralis notes, just found it more convenient).
  4. Chad’s Organic Chemistry Videos: I placed this last because I maybe only used it for 5 days or so. I just used it to brush up on organic chemistry topics which were really hard for me to grasp. I really liked his videos on SN1, SN2, E1, and E2. However, based on the few I watched, I feel that he’s great at explaining things and would recommend his videos if you need extra help.

Study Timeline:
One of my best tips is PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! I am not the greatest person with time management but I forced myself to follow a pretty strict schedule while studying and I am more than certain that this helped me get a good score. If you do not plan what you’ll be doing each day or week to study, you’ll likely have stuff overflowing to the following days often, and find yourself behind. I studied for three months, from April 1st through July 1st, and my exam was on July 2nd. My study schedule went something like this:
  1. April 1st - May 20th: I strictly followed Phase 1 of the 12-Week Plan, which you can find here: . After these 49 days, I was not feeling so great about biology and organic chemistry. Biology was just so much information and I felt like I only processed 20-30% of the notes throughout this time period. As for organic chemistry, I took the actual class about a year ago and had to take it through Zoom due to COVID so it was already a weakness of mine, so I felt like I had to re-learn it all. General chemistry and math have always been a strong suit for me so I was feeling decent about them, and reading was a weakness of mine but I just persisted in doing the practice reading sections. I took DAT Practice Booster Exam #1 during the first week of this time period (I believe on April 8th) to gauge where I sit and I scored a 17.
  2. May 21st: I took DAT Practice Booster Exam #2 since I completed Phase 1: Content Learning. This was a very discouraging day because, again, I scored a 17. Therefore, I felt like I saw no improvement after constantly studying for 5-7 hours a day for the past month-and-a-half. However, I’ll soon realize that I learned so much more through practice.
  3. May 22nd - June 26th: This was my practice phase for me. I started to go off schedule from the 12-Week Plan, and planned to target my weaknesses instead. I would take the full-length practice tests every week at first and then around June 13th, I took one every three days up until the 26th of June. In between these days, my priority was to review the previous exam, then to pinpoint my weaknesses. I never took over 2 days to review a practice exam. The way I would review an exam was like this:
    1. Make Anki flashcards on the biology section (especially hard topics for me) and review them.
    2. Go over all of the mistakes on the remaining sections.
    3. I never reviewed reading and PAT just because I felt it was hard to get anything out of it, but I probably should have reviewed PAT at least.
  4. June 27th - July 1st: Finally, it was crunch time! This was my final week of studying. I studied for about 10 hours a day at times because I was very stressed throughout this week. I used July 27th to review DAT Practice Booster Exam #10, which I had taken the previous day. Then, on July 28th, I reviewed every single Organic Chemistry Booster Practice Exam section from all 10 tests. On July 29th, I reviewed every single General Chemistry Booster Practice Exam section from all 10 tests. On July 30th, I reviewed every single Biology Booster Practice Exam section from all 10 tests. Throughout these three days, I took notes on anything still weak for me. Finally, on July 1st, the day before my test, I did still study. Personally, I have always been the type to study until the last minute so I could not resist, but if you are the type to typically relax the day before a big test, definitely do that. On the day before my test, I basically went through any small weakness notes I took on the side from the previous three days. I also brushed up on a couple of the flashcard sections that I made that I didn’t feel extremely strong on. The night before the test, I went to bed at 10 P.M. but I could not fall asleep until about 12 A.M. and even woke up in the middle of the night and could not sleep from 4:00-5:00 A.M. Basically, I only got about 5 hours of sleep because I was so anxious.
  5. July 2nd: The big day I was waiting for finally arrived. I woke up at 6 A.M. and packed a snack and water for my break, as well as all the necessary materials like identification cards. I got to the testing center around 7:15 A.M. and my exam was at 8 A.M. It was very nerve-racking throughout because I was so eager to see my score and did not feel too great about the science sections, but I genuinely did better than expected so don’t stress too much during your break! Also, make sure you’re wearing comfy clothing and bring a jacket, my testing center was cold. They also provide noise-canceling headphones, which I used all throughout my test.


Booster Practice Exams Scores:
  • Practice Exam #1 AA: 17
  • Practice Exam #2 AA: 17
  • Practice Exam #3 AA: 18
  • Practice Exam #4 AA: 19
  • Practice Exam #5 AA: 21
  • Practice Exam #6 AA: 19
  • Practice Exam #7 AA: 17
  • Practice Exam #8 AA: 21
  • Practice Exam #9 AA: 20
  • Practice Exam #10 AA: 21

Exam Details:
  • Biology (21): Biology was always my weak point. It sounds shocking because I am a bio major but it just had so much material and I feel like I didn’t handle the large amounts of content correctly. I read through all of the Feralis notes throughout my first month-and-a-half of studying but after that, I solely depended on my Anki flashcards (derived from DAT Bootcamp notes). I feel a better option could have been to re-read all the notes but I was worried I would not retain anything again. Most of the questions were pretty straightforward, however. I felt that they were way more fact-based than Booster’s questions, which had a lot more application questions. I also got about 6 biology questions word-for-word from the Booster Practice Exams. I had maybe seen 2 questions which I had never heard of, but the rest were very achievable from Booster’s preparation methods.
  • General Chemistry (25): I have always loved general chemistry because it simply comes easy to me. I found Booster to prepare you quite well for this section as long as you deeply understand all of the content. None of the questions completely caught me off guard. I got 1 word-for-word question from the Booster Practice Exams.
  • Organic Chemistry (22): To be quite honest, I found this section to be much more conceptual than the Booster Practice Exams. You really have to understand why certain reactants should be used rather than others. I would say maybe 3-4 questions caught me off guard here because I felt like they were way deeper than the Booster Practice Exams. Other than that, the rest were very representative from Booster. I finished biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry, about 8 minutes early, so I was able to go back and review questions. When I took the 10 Booster Exams, not once did I finish science early.
  • PAT (21): I was kind of disappointed in my score here only because I scored 22s on Booster about four times, so I was expecting to get at least a 22. However, I think I got quite unlucky because I got 3 rock keyhole questions. In addition, my pattern folding was pretty hard because most of the questions had no shaded areas. The other sections were not too bad, I would say Booster is good for the rest. I’ve heard many people say angle ranking is harder on the real exam but I think that as long as you practice by elongating the legs of the angles using your cursor, you should be good. I say this because many of the angles had different lengths of legs in the answer choices, contrary to Booster’s angle ranking. I finished this section right on time, just as I did during practice exams.
  • Reading Comprehension (24): I was so so so shocked by how much easier my reading section was than the Booster ones. I mainly scored 18s on the Booster Practice Exams with a random score of a 20 on one of them. Then suddenly, on the real deal, I scored a 24. I got no questions about finding the main idea, tone of the author, or synonyms/antonyms. It was mainly purely finding facts from the articles, many of which had word-for-word answer choices from the texts. I used the search-and-destroy method and it worked great! I finished 12 minutes early and I barely ever finished early during Booster Practice Exams.
  • Quantitative Reasoning (22): I was expecting to do better on this section but I’m happy with my score. I did not do any extensive preparation here because I enjoy math. I did get about 4-5 probability problems, but I also got about 4-5 “solve for x” problems, which I found quite simple. Overall, just understand the main math questions tested on Booster. Very representative!

Ending Advice:
Overall, I found Booster to be an absolutely wonderful resource that I would recommend to anyone taking the DAT. I feel that it was very representative of the test overall. However, I feel the test ended up being easier, so it does over-prepare you just a tad. If you feel like you aren’t scoring great during practice, just know the exam does feel a little simpler overall. Other than PAT, I scored higher or the same on every single section compared to my Booster scores on each section. Believe in yourself because I never thought I could get the score I did and it happened! Please let me know if you have any questions at all, I would love to help. Good luck to you all!
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