DAT Retake Breakdown 2017

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May 27, 2017
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I am a non-traditional applicant that took the 2007 DAT (at Prometric in 2007) and scored

18 AA/ 18TS

I took the DAT this year and received the following scores

23 AA/ 22 TS/ 22 PAT/ 20 QR/ 25 RC/ 21 Bio/ 24 GC/ 24 OC

While I started with Ari's 10 week schedule, after the first month or so I had to use it as a general guide on how to study for the DAT as I had not taken a science course in nearly a decade. Please forgive the length of the post. I did not know it was going to get so long.


Unnecessary information - Please skip if you are looking for the breakdown

I did not originally intend to post a breakdown because I felt that SDN's breakdowns are so thorough and inspiring that I had nothing to add. However, now that I have completed my supplementals I have decided that my breakdown might be a worthwhile read for DAT Retakers and non-traditional applicants such as myself. I know that anyone can surpass my scores if they have the opportunity to have enough time to go over the material from multiple angles.

I found that the DAT was difficult a exam because it covered so much material that it sometimes felt overwhelming. It felt like every time I learned a new section I would forget something else. I believe this is normal. If you are feeling this way, know that you are not alone. A way to combat this issue is to make a barebones outline of the subject so that you can touch on the key topics or terms every few days to keep the entire subject fresh in your mind.

For me, the most difficult part of studying was accepting when I was weak in a difficult subject and practicing it until I learned it. I found that even addressing the subject made me uncomfortable and frustrated. In order to push through this, I started by just hitting play on Youtube videos on the subjects.

If you physically can’t force yourself to study for a subject because you are doing poorly on it, don’t avoid it. Pull up a youtube video and hit play. Once you expose yourself enough to the section, you will realize that it is doable. You can then begin to start practicing problems to understand it.

Special thanks to Team Bootcamp, Team Destroyer, Feralis, Tyjacobs, Doc Toothache, 8_man, and everyone here on SDN for their posts and advice. It is inspiring to read about the hard work of others; it drives me to better myself daily.



Barron's AP Biology 9/10

The first book I would recommend for someone to ease back into biology. Skip this book if you come from a strong biology background. The reading is easy and the material is much less dense than Cliff's AP Biology. Although it was approximately $30, I believe it was worth it for me as an individual returning to the sciences.

How I used it: I read through it once over the course of three days. My reasoning was to expose myself to all of the concepts as quickly as possible. While reading Barron’s, I highlighted, took brief notes, answered the questions in a separate book, and read the essay question with its corresponding answer. A month into studying I read it again over the course of two days because I missed it

Cliff’s AP Biology 10/10

Extremely important book that gives you a deeper understanding of the material than Barron’s AP Biology can provide. There is no reason not to have this book and read every applicable page. It’s free!

How I used it: I followed Ari’s 10 week study guide and read through Cliff’s every morning for the prescribed 32 days. I did every question, tried to have an understanding of every multiple choice answer, and read through the essay question with its corresponding essay. My goal was to expose myself to the material while gaining a deeper understanding than Barron’s provided.

Chad’s Videos 10/10

Chad’s was great for relearning general chemistry, organic chemistry, and quantitative reasoning. I would get a one month subscription at the very least and power through the courses and corresponding quizzes. The quizzes and explanation are invaluable for remembering the information.

How I Used it: I predominantly followed Ari’s Guide for the first 30 or so days to complete the GC/OC review. However, I realized that despite going through the lecture and questions, I was still doing poorly on the Destroyer and Bootcamp. Therefore, I hopped off Ari’s schedule and went through Chad’s again over the course of about a week and a half at 1.5x to 2x speed.

Feralis Notes 10/10

Feralis notes were basically a condensed version of Cliff’s with information from Destroyer as well. It was an excellent resource to see biology from a different angle.

How I used it: After Barron’s -> Cliff’s -> Barron’s -> Destroyer Bio I - I read Feralis to get a quick review of the subject. I found it to be excellent because it not only reinforced the dense material in Cliff’s, but it also included some information from Destroyer and any time I saw overlap between Feralis and Destroyer it would stick in my head.

DAT Destroyer 10/10

Destroyer is an excellent book. It really helps for Biology and Organic Chemistry. This book is difficult and if you are getting a lot of GC and OC questions wrong after going through Chad’s videos (like me), you probably need to review the basics more thoroughly. I would recommend using Mike’s videos to get a deeper understanding.

How I used it (Biology): While going through the Biology section I would answer about 10 questions, check the answer and read the explanation, take notes, go back and google every multiple choice answer, and then proceed. I completed the Biology section twice.

(Organic): The roadmaps were invaluable and the essential reaction section is key. I wrote them out, memorized them, and then did about a hundred problems before I went back and did Chad’s again. I then did another hundred problems and didn’t feel like I was grasping the material enough, so I went through Mike’s lectures at 1.5x speed. I think having a large question bank for practice is really important.

(General Chemistry): Great question bank for practice.

How I used it: I determined the common type of problem that I would get wrong and then watch the section from Chad. Later when I got Bootcamp I would watch Mike’s section as well. If I still wasn’t comfortable with the material I would go youtube and look up the type of problem and practice until I understood it.

(Quantitative Reasoning): Did the questions and realized I’m not as good at math as I thought. I then went through Chad’s again and to youtube to get a general grasp of every type of question.

Kaplan’s Blue Book 7/10

Not great, but it does have questions after every section, a PAT breakdown, and 2 practice tests.

How I used it: Skimmed Biology/General Chemistry/Organic Chemistry in a few days and did all questions making sure to know every wrong multiple choice answer. I forgot to take the practice tests.

DAT Bootcamp 10/10

I highly recommend Bootcamp, it includes Mike’s video, gives you a breakdown of your problem areas, and explains every question answer thoroughly. Mike’s videos are great and I believe that the Organic Chemistry section goes more in depth than Chad’s. Mike’s videos show the mechanism of the reactions. If you are like me, it may be easier to learn the mechanisms and apply them to help memorize reactions rather than brute force memory.

How I used it:

(Biology): I took untimed Bootcamp tests and read through everything. If it made me feel uncomfortable, I would watch a youtube video on the subject. If Bootcamp said I got a lot of questions wrong on a subject, I would watch a youtube video on the subject. If it was a particularly difficult topic, I would watch a youtube video, diagram it out, and then explain it out loud.

(General Chemistry): Similar approach as biology. I took the tests untimed and read every explanation. I would also watch every explanatory video and look for additional youtube practice. I also watched most of Mike’s videos prior to taking the exam at 1.5 to 2x speed and did all of the practice questions.

(Organic Chemistry): My weakest subject. I got to this subject after Chad’s 2x and a couple hundred questions in the Destroyer. I was still scoring poorly, but the breakdowns were invaluable. To resolve this issue I watched mike’s videos and went on a youtube rampage watching Organic Chemistry Final Review class.

(Quantitative Reasoning): I took about half of the practice tests and read the explanations. I should have spent more time on the section but I was focusing on the sciences. Bootcamp addressed the new QR questions well. If I had more time I would have taken all of the tests.

(Reading Comprehension): I had reasonably good reading comprehension skills from my profession. I also read a lot when I was younger, something around two to three books a month. I took one or two tests and scored around 20s. I realized that the biggest issue I was having was time management and just getting too bored to care about what I was reading. I just kept that in mind when taking the exam. I really liked that there was a highlight feature on Bootcamp and it worked exactly like the real DAT.

(Perceptual Aptitude): Bootcamp is a great resource for this section. However, I only took one or two practice tests because I had a reasonably strong base. Although I have limited experience with other PAT prep material, I think Bootcamp is probably the most comprehensive and probably all you really need.

Youtube 10/10 (Grades may be inflated because they are Free!)

It’s free and will cover everything under the sun.

How I used it: After determining my weak points through either Destroyer, Bootcamp, or not doing particularly well on the question sections in Cliff’s/Barron’s/KBB, I would head to youtube.

(The Organic Chemistry Tutor) 9/10: Great resource, if a bit slow sometimes. Watch it at 1.5x to 2x speed. I never actually purchased a full course from him, but I did turn off adblocker and subscribed in support of his efforts.

The Organic Chemistry Tutor

(Khan Academy) 10/10: Great for every subject. I’m sure most of you guys know this source.

Khan Academy

(Paul Young) 9/10: In-class reviews of General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry finals. Not sure what school he is from but if you listen to this lecture at 1.5x to 2x speed it is engaging and extremely helpful for practice. Do the questions along with him and it will give you more practice for the DAT.

Paul Young

(Armando Hasudungan) 9.5/10: Amazing for visual learners for biology. I would have given him 10/10 but I found an error at some point and I’m not sure where. I enjoyed his videos and watching him draw everything out kept me entertained. As always, watch at 1.5x speed or faster to keep yourself entertained.

Armando Hasudungan

(Robert Tait) 9/10: 42 minute video that is titled “1 year of AP Biology in 43 minutes.” It is by no means comprehensive, but it is great to listen to every once in a while to refresh yourself on general topics.

(Crash Course) 9/10: Entertaining and easy to watch. It is great for when you are eating or when you are so sick of studying you need a break that makes you feel like you are still progressing.


(Victoria Jordan) 9/10: 50 minute video titled “Chemistry Review.” Good for a quick review of General Chemistry 1 after finishing Chad’s. Take a glance at it if you are weak in the area and need a different angle.

Random Sparkcharts like pamphlets found in gas stations, book stores, and college campuses alike.

You’ve seen these before. They are those three section pamphlets with lots of texts and lamination. They sort of cover everything but don’t really go in depth enough for you to know what to do with it. I used these at the end of my review to try to keep everything in my head. Not really necessary if you make your own skinny outline. I used these as a basis for mine.

General DAT Advice


Constant exposure of the material from different perspectives is key. But make sure you are actively learning and trying to remember what you are reading. Whenever you feel uncomfortable with a subject that means you are doing something right. Keep searching for that uncomfortable feeling and facing it with youtube, Feralis notes, and Cliff’s/Barron’s sections until you feel good about it. Then find the next uncomfortable topic.

Taking notes and highlighting while reading the books will keep you from blanking out and realizing you’ve been reading for an hour and don’t remember anything. It is time consuming and frustrating, but it will save you time in the end.

Make note cards when you are going through Bootcamp of all of the multiple choice answers you don’t know 100%. Use them when you are sitting somewhere you couldn’t bring your computer with you.

Organic Chemistry:

Chad’s Videos and Mike’s Videos were a must for me to relearn the material. If I could do it again, I would start with Mike’s videos and follow the reaction mechanisms. You don’t NEED to know them, but they gave me something to follow logically that made it easier to memorize the Destroyer Roadmap, Destroyer Essential Reactions, Mike’s reaction list, and Chad’s reaction list.

When watching Mike’s lectures, make sure you make the most of it by pausing the video and answering the question yourself. You will feel terrible at first, but that feeling will slowly go away. Watching Mike’s videos can be rough because of his humor. Embrace the cringe because that cringiness will burn random bits of information into you. Take any advantage you can get!

Hit up Paul Young and do his Organic Chemistry Final Review classes at 1.5x speed when you feel like you have a good grasp of Organic Chemistry. It will make you feel better, reinforce what you know, and you should be able to weed out the unnecessary portions.

When doing Bootcamp, make sure you make notecards of any reactions you get wrong.

General Chemistry:

Similar to OC. I watched both Chad’s and Mike’s. If I were to do it again I would start with Mike’s first and then go to Chad. They each have their strengths. Mike’s feels a bit more in depth. Chad’s makes you faster and narrows the material down. If you are struggling with a topic, go to youtube for help from the Organic Chemistry Tutor, Khan Academy, or any other course you can think of. When doing Bootcamp, make sure you make notecards of any concepts you aren’t comfortable with. Also, write down any formulas you find particularly necessary on a notecard and keep it with you. Pull it out from time to time and think about what the terms mean and what the formula is used for.

Reading Comprehension:

For me, a large part of the RC battle had to do with being interested in the material. This may sound crazy, but on actual test day I did push-ups and jumped around a bit to get excited for the RC section. I then used the following strategy:

1) Getting into the mindset "This passage will be the most interesting thing I have ever read."

2) Number paragraphs on a page 1 through 16 and write keywords as I find them and highlight keywords for ease of access.

4) Go through questions and use highlights/keywords/memory to answer if possible or use your map to quickly find the answer in the passage if necessary.

Perceptual Ability Test:

I was already decent with the PAT from taking the test back in 2007. I also feel that taking ceramics classes and playing video games when I was younger helped me with rotating images in my head. Bootcamp is probably the best for this section. From what I could tell the new Bootcamp PAT training section looks helpful. Also there are iphone apps for hole punching and angle ranking that you can use when you are out and about and feel like being productive.

Quantitative Reasoning:

Chad’s is great for getting into the swing of things. Watch the lectures, do the questions, and then get more practice wherever you can find it. I.e. Destroyer, Bootcamp, KBB, Youtube, Bootcamp question of the day.

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WOW!! Congratulations on your scores :) And thank you for the breakdown!!! :)

How long did you study?? Also, how did you have so much time to look at other resources on subjects you were doing poorly on? It takes me so long to get through reviewing my destroyer and bootcamp answers (sometimes I don't even finish) how did you go about this?
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well done!! Im wondering how you feel the QC new questions compared to on the real DAT vs the ones in bootcamp?
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Your first line compelled me to read more. Congrats on those hard earned scores!
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I studied for about 4 months and watching videos at 1.5x to 2x speed saves a LOT of time. For the last three months I was lucky to have the chance to spend 10 hours or so a day studying.
A story of success, determination, and perseverance.
Thank you so much for the great resources, I added them to my playlist, thank you for the encouragement and the tips.

You know I like the orgo tutor guy, but I never thought to turn off ad down, but I was planning to donate to him after I finish the test!
Now I feel guilty because he did help me get A in orgo 2.

By the way, how hard were your RC passages compared to bootcamp?

Again, thanks for the awesome breakdown.

Best of luck, hope you get into your dream school!
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Congratulations, love to read success stories like this one...
Best of luck with your application!
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