My personal DAT breakdown

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isaacgreen56

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This is my breakdown of how I studied for the DAT, and my recommendations for how to score high. I know it is easy to get stressed out about a big test like this, but hopefully my breakdown can lessen these worries.

March 5th, 2022

Scores: 24AA / 23TS / 20PAT

PAT – 20

QR – 24

RC – 21

BIO – 20

GC – 28

OC – 26



Studying/timeline

The only study resource that I used was DAT bootcamp. I was overall very impressed with this platform, and I recommend it to anyone studying for the DAT. It has thousands of practice questions and many practice tests. The practice tests all resemble the format that is used on the real DAT. I studied over the course of three months with many days off from studying. I do not think I studied for more than 5 hours in any single day of studying. I probably studied for an average of 2.5 hours a day on the days that I did study. I studied from December 2021 – March 2022. I wisely only took 12 credit hours in the spring to prepare for this exam. I studied significantly more the month of my exam.

PAT:

Being honest with myself, I did not do as much studying as I should have in this section. I familiarized myself with the sections and watched the videos at first, but I did not do much practice until closer to the test date. A month away from test I did 5 problems a day and took 4 practice tests to prepare.

QR:

I saved this section for about a month and a half away from the test. I did several practice questions and 8 practice tests. I did not watch any bootcamp videos for this section.

RC:

This section I studied for the least. I watched the bootcamp videos and did practice questions/passages to figure out which strategy I wanted to use.

BIO:

I studied for this section the most. I felt like the content from this section was overwhelming, and that I was severely lacking in this section. The only part of biology which I felt good about was genetics because I had already taken the class. I began by watching and taking notes on all the biology videos. I tried to complete one or two sections a day. When I finished this I did about 4,000 practice questions which included the 10 practice tests. I tried to do one section of questions a day or one practice test.

GC:

I studied a lot for this section, but I also remembered a lot of the content from prior classes. I watched the bootcamp videos on content I did not remember. These were extremely helpful. I also took 10 practice tests closer to the exam date but did not do a lot of practice questions.

OC:

I studied for this section about the same as GC because I remembered a lot from classes. Again, I watched the bootcamp videos on things I did not remember and took 10 practice tests. One thing that really helped to remember the reactions was to print out the reaction summary sheet and put them on the walls around my desk. This way I could always see them while I studied.



Study recommendations:

Give yourself three months to study. This timeline allows you to feel the pressure of the encroaching exam, but also allows for ample preparation time. I also recommend taking an easy course load if you are studying during the semester.

My general study recommendation is to get to a comfortable level with all sections, then focus on the sections that you know you can highly score in. I knew I was going to score well in both chemistry sections, but to score highly I needed to focus on these more. I did not feel that I could dramatically increase my score in BIO, PAT, or RC by more studying. So, I counted on scoring around a 20 in these sections, but scoring much higher in GC, OC, and QR. These were the sections I counted on the raise my score. My point is, if you can study GC for 10 hours and raise your score by 2 points but studying BIO for 10 hours will raise your score by only 1 point, then study GC! Focusing on your weakness is not always a good idea.

Another helpful study tip is to print out papers of organic chemistry reactions, general chemistry formulas, QR formulas and put them up on the walls around your desk or in your room. This way you can see these study points more often.

Also, the real DAT is much easier than the bootcamp practice tests, so do not be discouraged in your studying. These practice tests are the best way to prepare for the DAT. I saw some very familiar questions on the DAT from these practice tests. I recommend taking all practice tests in the science sections and QR. Students should also take at least one full length practice test to simulate the DAT.

For the PAT, the timed practice tests are crucial. You need to feel the pressure of the clock to prepare for test day. The hardest part about this section is running out of time. If you do not take timed test, you will run out of time on test day.

While you are closer to the test date, bookmark specific questions which go over important subjects in each section. You can go over these multiple times, but I also saved these for test day to get my brain in test mode. I had a little warmup of about 100 questions to go over on test day.



Test day:

I woke up after sleeping in until 8:30am, my test was at 12pm. I reviewed the bookmarked questions that I had purposefully saved to go over on test day. I read over the OC reaction summary and my printed notes/screenshots one more time and then I drove to the testing center. It is important to do this little warmup before the test, so you feel ready.

I got to the prometric testing center 40 minutes early and they allowed me to take my test early. I recommend doing this because after me, several more students came in to make their 12pm appointment. I made sure not do drink a lot of water, so I did not have to use the bathroom. I began the test.

I finished the survey of natural sciences with 30 minutes remaining and used this time to go over marked questions and use the bathroom.

I took the PAT in this order:

1st – guessed B on every pattern folding question

2nd – cube counting

3rd – angle ranking

4th – hole punching

5th – keyhole

6th – TFE

I did it in this order because I knew from the practice tests, I scored the highest on cube counting, then angle ranking, then hole punching, then keyhole, and then TFE. I scored the worst on pattern folding. I also always ran out of time on the practice tests, so I decided to guess on one section and score higher on the other ones by spending more time. I answered each question with seconds remaining.

I surely took the 30-minute break to eat some food and use the bathroom.

For RC I used the passage mapping/vanilla method, nothing fancy. I mostly just took notes on the laminated paper that I had been given. This section is a time crunch and I finished with about 3 minutes to go over marked questions.

For QR I just answered every question in order, marking those which I did not immediately know how to do. I came back to these at the end of the test as I finished with about 8 minutes remaining.

You get your scores right after taking the survey which is nice.



Takeaways from test day:

The DAT is easier than the bootcamp practice tests so do not get discouraged by that. It is also important to not get discouraged while taking the test. It is easy to beat yourself up if you cannot remember something or do not know a question. However, this is a timed test so you must guess and move on. Keep a positive attitude and be excited for test day, you are going to do well if you studied hard! Going into test day I thought I would get a 21AA, I was extremely happy when I got a 24AA. You probably will do better than you think!

Make sure to take plenty of practice tests to see which strategies will work for you on test day. Finishing the DAT is not an easy task, but it is one that you can be proud of once you have scored well.

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