May 17, 2008
2,922
3,221
Status
Dental Student
DAT Breakdown

AA 28
TS 30
PAT 23
QR 22
RC 28
Bio 30
GC 30
OC 29

(confirmation)

Educational background
I majored in biology and finished college about 5 years before I took the DAT, so a lot of the material covered by the DAT was a distant memory for me by the time I started studying.

Time spent studying
~6 months (including all the times I started studying and gave up). My pre-req courses were completed 7-8 years ago so I had to relearn all of general chemistry, organic chemistry, and around half of biology. I also spent a lot of time making my notes - if I already had notes I could have studied for around 3 months and done just as well. If you are still in undergrad you will not need to spend nearly as much time studying.

Study Materials (most important ones in bold)

-
DAT Bootcamp: A resource that I would consider absolutely essential. The PAT preparation is the best out there period. The generators for PAT are amazing practice that you'll never run out of, the PAT tests are tough but the best preparation for the real thing and the answer explanations are incredibly helpful. The RC test passages and questions are very similar in style to the real thing. The science tests were challenging but thorough and the question style/content was very similar to the real test. I did not use their QR material.
-
Chad's Videos + Quizzes (Coursesaver): The chemistry videos are great if you are like me and haven't been exposed to the material in a long time. I built up my chemistry fundamentals through these videos before moving on to other material - Chad's explanations are fantastic and keep things very simple and easy to learn. The quizzes are great at testing the concepts he teaches as well, my only criticism here would be that they do not cover the full scope of what could show up on the real exam, so you will want to supplement with other resources for thorough practice. The videos and quizzes for QR are good but very basic and should be supplemented with another resource. The videos and quizzes for biology (which have yet to be updated) do not cover the full scope of the test and can be skipped over in favor of other resources.
-My notes: I created a thorough set of biology notes that students have found helpful. I also have a set of general chemistry and organic chemistry notes that I plan on cleaning up and uploading when I have the time, and a large set of useful QR formulas. These notes helped me condense everything important down for review. Please private message me if you'd like me to send these to you - they are currently being updated.
-
DAT Qvault: The layout of the site is great, and I like that they break their questions down by subject so you can always test yourself on a specific concept. I also love that you can save individual questions and go back to them later. I dislike that their site only loads 10 questions at a time which can make going back through a large number of saved or previously seen questions very tedious because it requires you to answer all 10 questions before it will let you load the next set of 10...a very aggravating and sloppy design decision. As far as content goes: the biology is pretty good and they've got some nice application style questions. Chemistry and organic chemistry were decent practice despite a few mistakes along the way. QR and PAT sections were also pretty good practice. I'd recommend this as a resource but they're the most expensive one and their customer support is almost non-existent. However if you've already bought the resources listed above and have the extra money and really want the extra practice, this is a nice addition.
-
CrackDAT: This is good introductory material for PAT but ultimately its tests are way too easy in the keyhole section. Otherwise it's roughly on par with the real DAT's difficulty but I'd still recommend Bootcamp for PAT over CrackDAT because its answer explanations are better and the tougher stuff will make you a lot faster on the real thing. If you still need additional PAT practice, then I'd say get this for it. CrackDAT's RC practice was not bad, but the passages ran a little too long and had way too many tone/inference questions. CrackDAT's QR practice was actually pretty good, I used it to get my timing down for the real thing. I did not use it for the sciences as I've heard it's way off base in terms of difficulty and not worth doing. Their customer support was not good.
-
Cliff's AP Biology (3rd edition): Used this to lay down a strong base for biology before using other materials for additional information. This alone actually covers a lot of what you need to know, but it's a bit weak in the physiology section.
-
Examkrackers Biology: Used this alongside Cliff's for getting the fundamentals of biology down. Its physiology section is very strong in contrast to Cliff's, whereas its other sections are a bit weaker, so the two compliment each other well. At least 95% of the content in my notes is covered by these two sources.
-
Campbell Biology textbook: Used this as a reference for more difficult concepts when I needed a thorough explanation. Also used it for its excellent visuals; a lot of the images condense, summarize, and illustrate concepts very well. This can be found fairly cheap and is a great resource to have on hand.
-Examkrackers 1001 Questions Chemistry + Organic Chemistry: Don't bother. They were next to useless.
-Campbell's Biology quizzes: Not bad, but excessive and not the best use of one's time.
-DAT + Math Destroyer: An extremely thorough resource that is wide in scope. It can get pretty difficult, but I prefer to be overprepared for the real test than underprepared. You may find the questions extremely challenging, but they are designed to cement your knowledge of important concepts.
-Organic Odyssey: Extremely thorough resource for Organic Chemistry. If you feel you are weak in organic chemistry, you should get this - it's broken down by individual subject and has a very solid range of questions, including some very tough and tricky ones. If there's a part of organic chemistry you don't feel confident in and you work through a section of it here, by the time you finish it and go over the explanations you should feel like an expert. I used this before doing DAT Destroyer and it made the Destroyer feel easy in comparison. If you are already solid in organic chem then it may be unnecessary, and it tends to be harder than the real thing.
-I did not end up using Topscore, Achiever, or the 2007/2009 ADA exams since I ran out of time.

To recap: Bootcamp and Coursesaver (Chad's videos) were 100% essential here. Everything else varies in usefulness.

Real DAT
It's important to remember I had just one version of many when it comes to the DAT. It is very possible that your own experience with the test will differ from my own - it could be harder, easier, emphasize different types of questions, etc. You want to be prepared for anything the DAT can throw at you, not just what it happened to throw at a single person.
Bio (30): Very simple, basic, generalized test that didn't focus too much on specific details. If someone erased my memory of all biology knowledge and then had me read Cliff's the night before and made sure I knew everything in my notes, I'd probably still have gotten a 30.
GC (30): Like biology, it was overall very simple. Expose yourself to a wide variety of resources and you should be prepared for anything.
OC (29): Again, surprisingly simple. Very straightforward, no tricks, nothing I hadn't seen before. I didn't even get asked about the more challenging material.
-I finished my first pass through the science section with about 45 minutes left. I used the remaining time to just go through it again. Surprisingly straightforward and low stress overall.
PAT (23): The keyhole section of this exam was
hard - I'm surprised I didn't score lower in this section as a result. The keyholes were insane, the objects were insane, the views didn't make any sense. TFE was not bad at all, about on par with CrackDAT, nothing stuck out as being particularly challenging. Angle ranking was very easy compared to the practice materials I'd used, almost all angles could be differentiated at a quick glance. Hole punching was actually kind of weird, the sizes of the holes varied between questions and it was difficult at times to tell where they actually placed a hole punch. I stuck with the line of symmetry method and I'm pretty sure I managed to get all of these. Cube counting was straightforward as usual, and pattern folding was very basic, on about CrackDAT's level of difficulty. Again I would suggest using Bootcamp as preparation here despite it being tougher overall because the explanations are incredibly useful and it will get your skills to a point where you will have plenty of extra time to spend on harder sections.
RC (28): Much easier than expected. You could use search and destroy on most of the questions (I still read all the passages first), the few tone/inference ones were not challenging or ambiguous. The answer choices never really put you in a situation where it felt like more than one answer was plausible. My only criticism is that there was a question or two that couldn't be answered without having some (admittedly basic) background in geography.
QR (22): Straightforward, didn't encounter a single question that wasn't doable. I ran out of time because at this point I was very tired and the Prometric people didn't swap my sheets out for a few minutes. QR was typically my best section and if I had slept enough leading up to my exam I probably could have gotten a 30 here too.


How I studied
Every morning I would wake up and do ~30 minutes of PAT practice (usually with the Bootcamp generators for angles, hole punching, cube counting, and pattern folding + a set of questions from Qvault's keyholes and TFE). Then I'd read 3 articles from Scientific American for reading practice, and I'd do a math test from Math Destroyer or a math test from CrackDAT QR. This helped me keep my skills sharp for the PAT/RC/QR sections of the exam. Occasionally for all three of these instead of doing my practice routine I'd do a full graded test.

For the sciences I spent ~8 weeks relearning everything, doing content review, and tweaking my notes. In the later ~8 weeks I started doing practice questions from different sources while continuing to review my notes. I didn't schedule my resource use too wisely here and ended up having to do all of DAT Destroyer, the Bootcamp tests, and the Qvault tests in my last 17 days before the exam. This was a very intense schedule (that I wouldn't recommend trying) and I wasn't able to complete everything there (e.g. the 2007/2009 DAT tests), but I got most of it done.

Practice scores
I logged my scores (with averages for all subjects in a specific resource bolded in orange):


General advice
-Try not to study for as long as I did. The stress from sustaining that amount of effort for so long was unhealthy and I felt like I was going crazy at the end. Leave adequate time each day to unwind.
-When learning, if you come across something that is difficult or seems to contradict something you've learned earlier - make an effort to fully understand it. A deep understanding of the material is the best preparation one can have.
-When you make mistakes in practice tests/quizzes/material, make a note of it somewhere. I would highlight in red topics that I got a question wrong on in my notes. I also kept a separate file to accumulate all the questions with my mistakes (usually with screenshots) so I could review all my weaknesses in one place.
-Get enough rest, not just the day before your exam, but the week leading into it. Get a full night's sleep each day the week before the exam and try to relax - the benefits of a rested mind greatly outweigh the benefits of cramming in a few last second facts.
-PAT/RC/QR are relatively easy to learn and just need to be practiced regularly to keep your skills and timing sharp. Don't neglect these sections, do a small amount of practice in each every day.
-Understand the difference between feeling prepared and feeling ready. You will never feel 100% ready for an exam like this, it's too broad in scope. But at some point you will feel prepared enough to do reasonably well. Don't continue to delay the exam unless you truly feel like you would benefit substantially from the additional time (e.g. if you haven't covered the second half of organic chemistry...that's not nerves, that's an actual lack of preparation. But don't delay your exam because you can't remember every single incredibly minor detail that could show up on the test).

If you have any questions, feel free to ask here or PM me.

 
Last edited:

orgoman22

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DAT Breakdown

AA 28
TS 30
PAT 23
QR 22
RC 28
Bio 30
GC 30
OC 29

(confirmation)

Educational background
I majored in biology and finished college about 5 years ago, so a lot of the material covered by the DAT was a distant memory for me by the time I started studying.

Time spent studying
~6 months. This seems excessive but my pre-req courses were completed 7-8 years ago so I had to relearn all of general chemistry, organic chemistry, and around half of biology. A lot of time was also spent on fine tuning my notes - if not for the lengthy process of creating these I probably could have studied for around 3 months and done just as well. I tried studying for the DAT many times during the past few years and was never successful in sticking with it for longer than a week (for various reasons, some beyond my control) until the past few months leading up to my test. If you are still in undergrad you will not need to spend nearly as much time studying.

Study Materials (most important ones in bold)
-
DAT + Math Destroyer: I'd consider these absolutely essential. Extremely thorough resource that touches on everything you might encounter on your test. It can get pretty difficult, but it's better to be overprepared for the real test than underprepared. You may find the questions extremely challenging, but they are that way by design to cement your knowledge of important concepts. A lot of the questions on my exam were a piece of cake thanks to my preparation from these.
-
DAT Bootcamp: Another resource that I would consider absolutely essential. The PAT preparation is the best out there period. The generators for PAT are amazing practice that you'll never run out of, the PAT tests are tough but the best preparation for the real thing and the answer explanations are incredibly helpful. The RC test passages and questions are very similar in style to the real thing. The science tests were challenging but thorough and the question style/content was very similar to the real test. I did not use their QR material.
-
Chad's Videos + Quizzes: The chemistry videos are great if you are like me and haven't been exposed to the material in a long time. I built up my chemistry fundamentals through these videos before moving on to other material - Chad's explanations are fantastic and keep things very simple and easy to learn. The quizzes are great at testing the concepts he teaches as well, my only criticism here would be that they do not cover the full scope of what could show up on the real exam, so you will want to supplement with other resources for thorough practice. The videos and quizzes for QR are good but very basic and should be supplemented with another resource. The videos and quizzes for biology (which have yet to be updated) do not cover the full scope of the test and can be skipped over in favor of other resources.
-
DAT Qvault: The layout of the site is great, and I like that they break their questions down by subject so you can always test yourself on a specific concept. I also love that you can save individual questions and go back to them later. I dislike that their site only loads 10 questions at a time which can make going back through a large number of saved or previously seen questions very tedious because it requires you to answer all 10 questions before it will let you load the next set of 10...a very aggravating and sloppy design decision. As far as content goes: the biology is pretty good and they've got some nice application style questions. Chemistry and organic chemistry were decent practice despite a few mistakes along the way. QR and PAT sections were also pretty good practice. I'd recommend this as a resource but they're the most expensive one and their customer support is almost non-existent. However if you've already bought the resources listed above and have the extra money and really want the extra practice, this is a nice addition.
-
Organic Odyssey: Extremely thorough resource from the makes of DAT Destroyer for Organic Chemistry. If you feel you are weak in organic chemistry, you should absolutely get this - it's broken down by individual subject and has a very solid range of questions, including some very tough and tricky ones. The answer explanations are great. If there's a part of organic chemistry you don't feel confident in and you work through a section of it here, by the time you finish it and go over the explanations you will feel like an expert. I used this before doing DAT Destroyer and it made the Destroyer feel easy in comparison. If you are already solid in organic chem then it may be unnecessary, and it tends to be harder than the real thing.
-
CrackDAT: This is good introductory material for PAT but ultimately its tests are way too easy in the keyhole section. Otherwise it's roughly on par with the real DAT's difficulty but I'd still recommend Bootcamp for PAT over CrackDAT because its answer explanations are better and the tougher stuff will make you a lot faster on the real thing. If you still need additional PAT practice, then I'd say get this for it. CrackDAT's RC practice was not bad, but the passages ran a little too long and had way too many tone/inference questions. CrackDAT's QR practice was actually pretty good, I used it to get my timing down for the real thing. I did not use it for the sciences as I've heard it's way off base in terms of difficulty and not worth doing.
-My notes: I created a thorough set of biology notes that I've shared with students. I also have a set of general chemistry and organic chemistry notes that I plan on cleaning up and uploading when I have the time, and a large set of useful QR formulas. These notes helped me condense everything important down for review.
-
Cliff's AP Biology (3rd edition): Used this to lay down a strong base for biology before using other materials for additional information. This alone actually covers a lot of what you need to know, but it's a bit weak in the physiology section.
-
Examkrackers Biology: Used this alongside Cliff's for getting the fundamentals of biology down. Its physiology section is very strong in contrast to Cliff's, whereas its other sections are a bit weaker, so the two compliment each other well. At least 95% of the content in my notes is covered by these two sources.
-
Campbell Biology textbook: Used this as a reference for more difficult concepts when I needed a thorough explanation. Also used it for its excellent visuals, a lot of the images condense, summarize, and illustrate concepts very well. This can be found fairly cheap and is a great resource to have on hand.
-Examkrackers 1001 Questions Chemistry + Organic Chemistry: Don't bother. They were next to useless.
-Campbell's Biology quizzes: Not bad, but excessive and not the best use of one's time.
I did not end up using Topscore, Achiever, or the 2007/2009 ADA exams since I ran out of time.
To recap: Destroyer and Bootcamp are 100% essential here. Everything else varies in usefulness.

Real DAT
Before going any further I have to stress that I had just one version of many when it comes to the DAT. It is very possible that your own experience with the test will differ from my own - it could be harder, easier, emphasize different types of questions, etc. You want to be prepared for anything the DAT can throw at you, not just what it happened to throw at a single person.
Bio (30): Incredibly easy, and this has nothing to do with my notes. It was just a very simple, generalized test that didn't focus too much on specific details. If someone erased my memory of all biology knowledge and then had me read Cliff's the night before and made sure I knew everything in Destroyer, I'd probably still have gotten a 30.
GC (30): Like biology, incredibly easy, incredibly simple. Destroyer saved me on a few questions here that I probably wouldn't have been confident with if I hadn't been exposed to it before.
OC (29): Again, I must have lucked out with the easiest science versions of the DAT in existence because this was also incredibly easy and simple. Very straightforward, no tricks, nothing I hadn't seen before. I didn't even get asked about the more challenging material. I have no idea why I didn't get a 30 here, I must have accidentally selected a wrong answer somewhere.
-I finished my first pass through the science section with about 45 minutes left. I used the remaining time to just go through it again. It was surprisingly basic overall.
PAT (23): The keyhole section of this exam was so hard that I'm surprised I managed to get a 23; I must have gotten literally everything else in this section right to pull that off. The keyholes were insane, the objects were insane, the views didn't make any sense. The TFE was not bad at all, about on par with CrackDAT, nothing stuck out as being particularly challenging. Angle ranking was very easy compared to the practice materials I'd used, there was only maybe one angle that I couldn't differentiate at a quick glance. Hole punching was actually kind of weird, the sizes of the holes varied between questions and it was difficult at times to tell where they actually placed a hole punch. Nonetheless I stuck with the line of symmetry method and I'm pretty sure I managed to get all of these. Cube counting was straightforward as usual, and pattern folding was very basic, on about CrackDAT's level of difficulty. Again I would suggest using Bootcamp as preparation here despite it being tougher overall because the explanations are incredibly useful and it will get your skills to a point where you will have plenty of extra time to spend on harder sections.
RC (28): Very easy, you could use search and destroy on most of the questions, the few tone/inference ones were not challenging or ambiguous. I loved that the answer choices never really put you in a situation where it felt like more than one answer was plausible. My only criticism is that there was a question or two that couldn't be answered without having some (admittedly basic) background in geography.
QR (22): Straightforward, didn't encounter a single question that wasn't doable. Math Destroyer will prepare you thoroughly for even the hardest questions you could possibly run into. I ran out of time because at this point I was very tired and definitely working through the questions at a much slower rate than I normally would. QR is typically my best section, my average on the Qvault tests was a 30 and this was not really any more difficult. If I had slept enough leading up to my exam I probably could have gotten a 30 here too.


How I studied
Every morning I would wake up and do ~30 minutes of PAT practice (usually with the Bootcamp generators for angles, hole punching, cube counting, and pattern folding + a set of questions from Qvault's keyholes and TFE). Then I'd read 3 articles from Scientific American for reading practice, and I'd do a math test from Math Destroyer or a math test from CrackDAT QR. This helped me keep my skills sharp for the PAT/RC/QR sections of the exam. Occasionally for all three of these instead of doing my practice routine I'd do a full graded test.

For the sciences I spent the first 3 months relearning everything, doing content review, and tweaking my notes. In the later 3 months I started doing practice questions from different sources while continuing to review my notes. I didn't schedule my resource use too wisely here and ended up having to do all of DAT Destroyer, the Bootcamp tests, and the Qvault tests in my last 17 days before the exam. I have an excel file with the schedule of my last 17 days, so I'll add a link to that later.

Practice scores
I have an excel file on another computer with all of my scores for everything logged, unfortunately I don't have access to it at the moment so I will have to edit a link in to that later as well. My averages for everything were lower than my real scores except for PAT which was about the same and QR where my real score was a lot lower than my practice averages.


General advice
-Try not to study for as long as I did. The stress from sustaining that amount of effort for so long was unhealthy and I felt like I was going crazy at the end. Leave adequate time each day to unwind.
-When learning, if you come across something that is difficult or seems to contradict something you've learned earlier - make an effort to fully understand it. A deep understanding of the material is the best preparation one can have.
-Get enough rest, not just the day before your exam, but the week leading into it. 2-3 days leading up to the exam I was in a panic and putting in 20 hour days. I said that it would be ok since I'd get a full night's sleep before the exam, but I got woken up in the middle of the night by some thunderstorm warning alarm on my phone and as a result I was incredibly tired during my real test, which definitely cost me in the QR section. Get a full night's sleep each day the week before the exam and try to relax - the benefits of a rested mind greatly outweigh the benefits of cramming in a few last second facts.
-PAT/RC/QR are relatively easy to learn and just need to be practiced regularly to keep your skills and timing sharp. Don't neglect these sections, do a small amount of practice in each every day.
-Understand the difference between feeling prepared and feeling ready. You will never feel 100% ready for an exam like this, it's too broad in scope. But at some point you will feel prepared enough to do reasonably well. Don't continue to delay the exam unless you truly feel like you would benefit substantially from the additional time (e.g. if you haven't covered the second half of organic chemistry...that's not nerves, that's an actual lack of preparation. But don't delay your exam because you can't remember every single incredibly minor detail that could show up on the test).

If you have any specific questions about anything, feel free to ask here or PM me.

You did it! So proud of you...You have some of the highest scores I have ever seen! The dental schools will certainly take notice!

Relax and enjoy your summer, all your hard work and dedication paid off!

Wishing you the best!

Dr. Jim Romano and Nancy Steen
 
OP
FeralisExtremum
May 17, 2008
2,922
3,221
Status
Dental Student
You did it! So proud of you...You have some of the highest scores I have ever seen! The dental schools will certainly take notice!

Relax and enjoy your summer, all your hard work and dedication paid off!

Wishing you the best!

Dr. Jim Romano and Nancy Steen
Thank you so much! You guys were incredibly helpful and I definitely wouldn't have scored as well as I did without the Destroyer materials.
 
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orgoman22

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I take mine in a week hope I can even come close to that!
Congrats, goodluck and maybe we will cross paths at interviews!
BYU4you,

From what you post on this forum you are very sharp! Keep up the good work!

Nancy
 
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Thanhn

7+ Year Member
Nov 17, 2012
127
85
Iowa
Status
Pre-Dental
I never would've guessed that you would just now be taking the DAT. My brother used your notes 3 years ago and I used your notes this past year! Absolutely incredible and well deserved considering all you've given to the SDN community!

Don't apply this cycle just so we all look a little bit better, please? ;-)
 
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FeralisExtremum
May 17, 2008
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Status
Dental Student
I've edited in my Qvault exam scores temporarily until I get my file with all the practice results.

Wow those are impressive scores, congrats! Did you have any plant/photosynthesis questions on your exam?
Photosynthesis was definitely covered - be sure to know it well.

I take mine in a week hope I can even come close to that!
Congrats, goodluck and maybe we will cross paths at interviews!
You've been working hard, I'm sure you're going to do great. I'm rooting for you!

I never would've guessed that you would just now be taking the DAT. My brother used your notes 3 years ago and I used your notes this past year! Absolutely incredible and well deserved considering all you've given to the SDN community!

Don't apply this cycle just so we all look a little bit better, please? ;-)
Hah, with your stats I should be asking you the same thing ;) I forget sometimes how long ago I released those notes - I'm just glad I finally got around to using them myself.
 

stuntdragon

7+ Year Member
Sep 18, 2012
175
196
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Dental Student
Thanks to your notes, I did well on my biology portion. Every dental student and pre-dent I have met have heard about your notes. It'd be no surprise that admissions committees would have heard of Feralis. You've helped so many people, you are the definition of the heart of dentistry!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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FeralisExtremum
May 17, 2008
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Dental Student
@FeralisExtremum how many times did you go through the destroyer and for how long? I am taking my test in august! Thank you!!
Went through it once (very thoroughly) in about 7 days shortly before my test. I really wanted to go through it completely a second time but I didn't have the time, so I had to focus on just my mistakes. If I could do it all over again I'd have started reviewing it much earlier on at a slower pace, and then again a second time shortly before the exam. I think the number of times you should go through it probably varies by person depending on how long it takes them to get it all to stick - I averaged about 80-90% right on my first pass through so once with thorough review of explanations and mistakes was sufficient for me.
 
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super112

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Aug 8, 2014
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Now I'm petrified for keyholes (my worst section) haha. How did you manage to time yourself for the crazy-hard keyholes? Did you just skip all the ones after 10 min? And I'll add my voice to the others and say, "Wow, great job!"
 
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Ari Rezaei

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Congratulations man!! Nothing short of extraordinary. Some really good general advice too, you nailed it all. Good luck on the application cycle (not that you'll need it:)).
 
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orgoman22

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Went through it once (very thoroughly) in about 7 days shortly before my test. I really wanted to go through it completely a second time but I didn't have the time, so I had to focus on just my mistakes. If I could do it all over again I'd have started reviewing it much earlier on at a slower pace, and then again a second time shortly before the exam. I think the number of times you should go through it probably varies by person depending on how long it takes them to get it all to stick - I averaged about 80-90% right on my first pass through so once with thorough review of explanations and mistakes was sufficient for me.
Great advice Feralis! Thanks!
 
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Nov 20, 2014
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OMG!!!!
Feralis you just raised the bar for all of us.
You better not apply to the schools I'm applying to ;)
Congrats on your achievement.
 
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OP
FeralisExtremum
May 17, 2008
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Dental Student
Now I'm petrified for keyholes (my worst section) haha. How did you manage to time yourself for the crazy-hard keyholes? Did you just skip all the ones after 10 min? And I'll add my voice to the others and say, "Wow, great job!"
Hopefully, you won't get the same version of the PAT test as me. As far as timing goes, I did the first 4 keyhole problems and then checked the time and realized I burned through about 10 minutes doing so. At that point I just kind of gave up on the keyholes, selected a bunch of answers that looked vaguely correct, and then moved on to the rest of the PAT sections that I'm pretty sure I nailed.
 
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510586

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Dec 24, 2014
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DAT Breakdown

AA 28
TS 30
PAT 23
QR 22
RC 28
Bio 30
GC 30
OC 29

(confirmation)

Educational background
I majored in biology and finished college about 5 years ago, so a lot of the material covered by the DAT was a distant memory for me by the time I started studying.

Time spent studying
~6 months. This seems excessive but my pre-req courses were completed 7-8 years ago so I had to relearn all of general chemistry, organic chemistry, and around half of biology. A lot of time was also spent on fine tuning my notes - if not for the lengthy process of creating these I probably could have studied for around 3 months and done just as well. I tried studying for the DAT many times during the past few years and was never successful in sticking with it for longer than a week (for various reasons, some beyond my control) until the past few months leading up to my test. If you are still in undergrad you will not need to spend nearly as much time studying.

Study Materials (most important ones in bold)
-
DAT + Math Destroyer: I'd consider these absolutely essential. Extremely thorough resource that touches on everything you might encounter on your test. It can get pretty difficult, but it's better to be overprepared for the real test than underprepared. You may find the questions extremely challenging, but they are that way by design to cement your knowledge of important concepts. A lot of the questions on my exam were a piece of cake thanks to my preparation from these.
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DAT Bootcamp: Another resource that I would consider absolutely essential. The PAT preparation is the best out there period. The generators for PAT are amazing practice that you'll never run out of, the PAT tests are tough but the best preparation for the real thing and the answer explanations are incredibly helpful. The RC test passages and questions are very similar in style to the real thing. The science tests were challenging but thorough and the question style/content was very similar to the real test. I did not use their QR material.
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Chad's Videos + Quizzes: The chemistry videos are great if you are like me and haven't been exposed to the material in a long time. I built up my chemistry fundamentals through these videos before moving on to other material - Chad's explanations are fantastic and keep things very simple and easy to learn. The quizzes are great at testing the concepts he teaches as well, my only criticism here would be that they do not cover the full scope of what could show up on the real exam, so you will want to supplement with other resources for thorough practice. The videos and quizzes for QR are good but very basic and should be supplemented with another resource. The videos and quizzes for biology (which have yet to be updated) do not cover the full scope of the test and can be skipped over in favor of other resources.
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DAT Qvault: The layout of the site is great, and I like that they break their questions down by subject so you can always test yourself on a specific concept. I also love that you can save individual questions and go back to them later. I dislike that their site only loads 10 questions at a time which can make going back through a large number of saved or previously seen questions very tedious because it requires you to answer all 10 questions before it will let you load the next set of 10...a very aggravating and sloppy design decision. As far as content goes: the biology is pretty good and they've got some nice application style questions. Chemistry and organic chemistry were decent practice despite a few mistakes along the way. QR and PAT sections were also pretty good practice. I'd recommend this as a resource but they're the most expensive one and their customer support is almost non-existent. However if you've already bought the resources listed above and have the extra money and really want the extra practice, this is a nice addition.
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Organic Odyssey: Extremely thorough resource from the makers of DAT Destroyer for Organic Chemistry. If you feel you are weak in organic chemistry, you should absolutely get this - it's broken down by individual subject and has a very solid range of questions, including some very tough and tricky ones. The answer explanations are great. If there's a part of organic chemistry you don't feel confident in and you work through a section of it here, by the time you finish it and go over the explanations you will feel like an expert. I used this before doing DAT Destroyer and it made the Destroyer feel easy in comparison. If you are already solid in organic chem then it may be unnecessary, and it tends to be harder than the real thing.
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CrackDAT: This is good introductory material for PAT but ultimately its tests are way too easy in the keyhole section. Otherwise it's roughly on par with the real DAT's difficulty but I'd still recommend Bootcamp for PAT over CrackDAT because its answer explanations are better and the tougher stuff will make you a lot faster on the real thing. If you still need additional PAT practice, then I'd say get this for it. CrackDAT's RC practice was not bad, but the passages ran a little too long and had way too many tone/inference questions. CrackDAT's QR practice was actually pretty good, I used it to get my timing down for the real thing. I did not use it for the sciences as I've heard it's way off base in terms of difficulty and not worth doing. Their customer support was not good.
-My notes: I created a thorough set of biology notes that I've shared with students. I also have a set of general chemistry and organic chemistry notes that I plan on cleaning up and uploading when I have the time, and a large set of useful QR formulas. These notes helped me condense everything important down for review.
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Cliff's AP Biology (3rd edition): Used this to lay down a strong base for biology before using other materials for additional information. This alone actually covers a lot of what you need to know, but it's a bit weak in the physiology section.
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Examkrackers Biology: Used this alongside Cliff's for getting the fundamentals of biology down. Its physiology section is very strong in contrast to Cliff's, whereas its other sections are a bit weaker, so the two compliment each other well. At least 95% of the content in my notes is covered by these two sources.
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Campbell Biology textbook: Used this as a reference for more difficult concepts when I needed a thorough explanation. Also used it for its excellent visuals; a lot of the images condense, summarize, and illustrate concepts very well. This can be found fairly cheap and is a great resource to have on hand.
-Examkrackers 1001 Questions Chemistry + Organic Chemistry: Don't bother. They were next to useless.
-Campbell's Biology quizzes: Not bad, but excessive and not the best use of one's time.
I did not end up using Topscore, Achiever, or the 2007/2009 ADA exams since I ran out of time.
To recap: Destroyer and Bootcamp are 100% essential here. Everything else varies in usefulness.

Real DAT
Before going any further I have to stress that I had just one version of many when it comes to the DAT. It is very possible that your own experience with the test will differ from my own - it could be harder, easier, emphasize different types of questions, etc. You want to be prepared for anything the DAT can throw at you, not just what it happened to throw at a single person.
Bio (30): Incredibly easy, and this has nothing to do with my notes. It was just a very simple, generalized test that didn't focus too much on specific details. If someone erased my memory of all biology knowledge and then had me read Cliff's the night before and made sure I knew everything in Destroyer, I'd probably still have gotten a 30.
GC (30): Like biology, incredibly easy, incredibly simple. Destroyer saved me on a few questions here that I probably wouldn't have been confident with if I hadn't been exposed to it before.
OC (29): Again, I must have lucked out with the easiest science versions of the DAT in existence because this was also incredibly easy and simple. Very straightforward, no tricks, nothing I hadn't seen before. I didn't even get asked about the more challenging material. I have no idea why I didn't get a 30 here, I must have accidentally selected a wrong answer somewhere.
-I finished my first pass through the science section with about 45 minutes left. I used the remaining time to just go through it again. It was surprisingly basic overall.
PAT (23): The keyhole section of this exam was so hard that I'm surprised I managed to get a 23; I must have gotten literally everything else in this section right to pull that off. The keyholes were insane, the objects were insane, the views didn't make any sense. The TFE was not bad at all, about on par with CrackDAT, nothing stuck out as being particularly challenging. Angle ranking was very easy compared to the practice materials I'd used, there was only maybe one angle that I couldn't differentiate at a quick glance. Hole punching was actually kind of weird, the sizes of the holes varied between questions and it was difficult at times to tell where they actually placed a hole punch. Nonetheless I stuck with the line of symmetry method and I'm pretty sure I managed to get all of these. Cube counting was straightforward as usual, and pattern folding was very basic, on about CrackDAT's level of difficulty. Again I would suggest using Bootcamp as preparation here despite it being tougher overall because the explanations are incredibly useful and it will get your skills to a point where you will have plenty of extra time to spend on harder sections.
RC (28): Very easy, you could use search and destroy on most of the questions (I read all the passages first though), the few tone/inference ones were not challenging or ambiguous. I loved that the answer choices never really put you in a situation where it felt like more than one answer was plausible. My only criticism is that there was a question or two that couldn't be answered without having some (admittedly basic) background in geography.
QR (22): Straightforward, didn't encounter a single question that wasn't doable. Math Destroyer will prepare you thoroughly for even the hardest questions you could possibly run into. I ran out of time because at this point I was very tired and definitely working through the questions at a much slower rate than I normally would. QR is typically my best section, my average on the Qvault tests was close to a 30 and this was not really any more difficult. If I had slept enough leading up to my exam I probably could have gotten a 30 here too.


How I studied
Every morning I would wake up and do ~30 minutes of PAT practice (usually with the Bootcamp generators for angles, hole punching, cube counting, and pattern folding + a set of questions from Qvault's keyholes and TFE). Then I'd read 3 articles from Scientific American for reading practice, and I'd do a math test from Math Destroyer or a math test from CrackDAT QR. This helped me keep my skills sharp for the PAT/RC/QR sections of the exam. Occasionally for all three of these instead of doing my practice routine I'd do a full graded test.

For the sciences I spent the first 3 months relearning everything, doing content review, and tweaking my notes. In the later 3 months I started doing practice questions from different sources while continuing to review my notes. I didn't schedule my resource use too wisely here and ended up having to do all of DAT Destroyer, the Bootcamp tests, and the Qvault tests in my last 17 days before the exam. This was a very intense schedule (that I wouldn't recommend trying) and I wasn't able to complete everything there (e.g. the 2007/2009 DAT tests), but I got most of it done.

Practice scores
I have an excel file on another computer with all of my scores for everything logged, unfortunately I don't have access to it at the moment so I will have to edit a link in to that later. My averages for everything were lower than my real scores except for PAT which was about the same and QR where my real score was a lot lower than my practice averages.
Temporary Qvault exam results in order from Tests 1-10:
Bio: 27/25/30/25/25/25/27/27/30/25
GC: 29/29/30/30/30/30/26/26/29/30
OC: 29/26/24/26/29/29/29/30/29/24
QR: 30/30/30/27/24/30/27/30/30/30
RC: 21/26/24/24/26 - didn't do the last two
PAT: 22/21/21/22/22/21/22/23/ - didn't do the last two


General advice
-Try not to study for as long as I did. The stress from sustaining that amount of effort for so long was unhealthy and I felt like I was going crazy at the end. Leave adequate time each day to unwind.
-When learning, if you come across something that is difficult or seems to contradict something you've learned earlier - make an effort to fully understand it. A deep understanding of the material is the best preparation one can have.
-When you make mistakes in practice tests/quizzes/material, make a note of it somewhere. I would highlight in red topics that I got a question wrong on in my notes. I also kept a separate file to accumulate all the questions with my mistakes (usually with screenshots) so I could review all my weaknesses in one place.
-Get enough rest, not just the day before your exam, but the week leading into it. 2-3 days leading up to the exam I was in a panic and putting in 20 hour days. I said that it would be ok since I'd get a full night's sleep before the exam, but I got woken up in the middle of the night by some thunderstorm warning alarm on my phone and as a result I was incredibly tired during my real test, which definitely cost me in the QR section. Get a full night's sleep each day the week before the exam and try to relax - the benefits of a rested mind greatly outweigh the benefits of cramming in a few last second facts.
-PAT/RC/QR are relatively easy to learn and just need to be practiced regularly to keep your skills and timing sharp. Don't neglect these sections, do a small amount of practice in each every day.
-Understand the difference between feeling prepared and feeling ready. You will never feel 100% ready for an exam like this, it's too broad in scope. But at some point you will feel prepared enough to do reasonably well. Don't continue to delay the exam unless you truly feel like you would benefit substantially from the additional time (e.g. if you haven't covered the second half of organic chemistry...that's not nerves, that's an actual lack of preparation. But don't delay your exam because you can't remember every single incredibly minor detail that could show up on the test).

If you have any specific questions about anything, feel free to ask here or PM me.

Did you use the MCAT biology examcrackers?
 
May 21, 2015
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Hey FeralisExtremum, I've read through your advice and it seems very helpful. I'm planning on taking the DAT this October and am just starting to figure out what to do for preparation. Also this is my first time joining a forum so I'm still getting the hang of this. When did you take the DAT? Also did you upload your notes?

Thanks so much,
 
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FeralisExtremum
May 17, 2008
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Hey FeralisExtremum, I've read through your advice and it seems very helpful. I'm planning on taking the DAT this October and am just starting to figure out what to do for preparation. Also this is my first time joining a forum so I'm still getting the hang of this. When did you take the DAT? Also did you upload your notes?

Thanks so much,
October gives you a lot of time to prepare, so it should be pretty smooth sailing for you. I took the exam right around the middle of May. I still need to get my hands on my laptop with the most up to date version of my notes, which I won't have until this weekend.
 
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