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PAT Guide: Tips and Advice!

Discussion in 'DAT Discussions' started by virtualmaster999, Jul 31, 2015.

  1. virtualmaster999

    2+ Year Member

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    Hi all!

    I've noticed that there have been a lot of posts lately about people struggling with PAT. I thought I'd make a little thread since I got some time right now to help those people out. I'm not PAT wiz, but Im pretty happy with scoring a 23 on the PAT, and I'd like to give some advice out that will definitely help you get 20+!

    Let's start out with some sources (In order of priority):

    -DAT Bootcamp: best source for PAT, no lie. I would have never done well without it. The generators are great for getting your feet wet, and understanding what to do. The subject tests and practice exams are stellar..it's a must have! The explanations are PHENOMENAL!

    -DAT Genius: almost a split image of BC. The tests are harder, but I assume it's made up with the scaling they use. Anyways, it's great practice if you need more exams in additional to BC. It has a lot of practice problems as well, so that is why I recommend it.

    -QVault: I've always been iffy about QVault, especially their PAT section, but it has some pluses. I dont think the TFE is worth doing (way too confusing), and the hole punching is too simplistic. Everything else is fair game.

    **If money is tight, don't worry about not getting QVault. Get BC first, and if you have enough Genius, and then QVault**

    How to properly prepare:

    So Ill go in depth now about how to practice and excel in each section, in order of how the actual DAT is. I'll also include suggested times for each section.

    1) Keyholes (approx. 12 mins): Ahhh keyholes, how I hated you so. Surprisingly, I ended up liking this section in the end. So with keyholes, what I did that really helped (especially since BC doesnt have keyhole generators) is to go to the subject tests. But you wanna do something a little different here. Go skip to the last question and end the exam, so you have access to all answers/ explanations. Now the fun begins. Don't try doing 15 at a time at first. You will get a lot wrong, get frustrated, and leave your computer (I did haha). Instead, select a couple at a time, like 5, and cover up the answers. Only look at the answer after you have given the problem your all...literally, take as much time as you need at first. It's really about understanding WHAT to do before HOW FAST you do it. Can't ride a bicycle without knowing the foundation right? So another thing: I liked to solve Keyholes by "groups". What I mean here is that, in almost every keyhole question, there will be two (or more) figures that look very similar i.e two of the 5 might look similar, but with difference in length, while another two might look different in height etc etc. These are groups. Don't go about keyholes comparing every shape to every other shape. That was my mistake..it takes too long and you will mess up. Compare the groups first, then make your final decision. Also, you will probably get one figure that almost always stands out, which helps. AS FOR TIMING, once you get more comfy, select like 10 or more, and time yourself. You may do good, you may do bad. Who cares at this point? Just dont do 15 yet. I remember I used to always do like 10-12. I'd go to the subject tests, skip to the end, and do 10-12, while having a timer set. Alternatively, you can just go straight into the subject tests and only do 10-12, and then look at your answers. Either way is fine. Once you start improving in time, now you can do 15. I think for the DAT, you wanna hit this section in 12 mins, same with TFE, just because they are very tricky and in depth sections. Even if you do spend 12 mins on each, you still have 36 mins for the other 4 sections, and I'll make sure to explain how it works out. So yeah that's keyholes...practice practice practice!!

    2) TFE (approx. 12 mins): Oh man if there was one section I thought would destroy my PAT score...BINGOOOOOO! Right here! I swear, when I first started I was more confused than a chameleon and a bag of skittles. Typical responses included "ok that is impossible", "that doesn't even make sense", "what are those lines doing", and my favorite "alright screw this". Haha really this section was bad. So basically, you want to setup and do the same thing I did with keyholes (skip to the end to have access to all answers/ explanations), and start with a few. PLEASE, AND I MEAN PLEASE READ THE EXPLANATIONS ON BC THOROUGHLY!!! THEY WILL HELP SOOOOO MUCH (shoutout to @Ari Rezaei ....these are golden). What BC now has (which I found towards the end of my studying) is a TFE generator. I really enjoyed it! It's great to get some simple problems going, and to get practice really fast. Plus you can spin around the object to see how it looks, and the lines appear very clearly (same with the subject test model examples). Once you get more familiar, you can start timing yourself. Im not gonna lie. I was getting about 6 right in 20 mins when I started, but towards the end, I was getting 12-15 right in 12 mins, which is also my recommended time. You will definitely see a BIG difference with a LOT of practice, but it's all worth it...also take a break..you dont wanna see these crazy models all day haha.

    3) Angles (5-7 minutes): Oh those joyous angles! Honestly, this section is hit or miss (for a lot of people). I know for me, some days I would get 14 right, others 6 LOL. Anyway, you want to start with the BC generators. It's got a nice setup that lets you go through problems while timing yourself, so you can get the right practice right away. Also, use my suggestion of skipping to the end of the practice exam to see the answers/ explanations, and you can select how exactly you want to practice with respect to timing and number of questions. So some specific strategies. I think the best way to do this is the "fast glance" approach (or whatever its called), where you quickly look at the vertex of the angle, and compare it to another. Do the "groups" method here as well, via looking at which angles are meant to be in order. I've found this fast glance approach to work for most of the angles, except for a good amount of the obtuse ones, where I had to turn my head a bit to see the proper orientation (this actually helps), and the only downside is a strained neck. BC has pretty tough angles, but i liked that, because my actual exam seemed waaaaayyyy more straightforward. Also another approach that works: laptop method. This works pretty well, where you imagine each angle as a laptop, and see which one is open more (bigger) or closed more (smaller). I think using a combination of these two strategies is optimal. I suggested 5-7 minutes just because you may get more obtuse angles, which might give you trouble...I always spent about 7-8 mins to be honest, but I made it to around 7 minutes on the hardest set of angles, which then got me to about 6-7 minutes.

    4) Hole-punching (6-10 minutes, depending on how fast you can go): Ok so this section was my favorite, easiest, and most fun. I was good at it from the beginning, so I'll make sure to go more clearly for those having trouble. NOTE: IF YOU HAVE NOT DISCOVERED THE TIC-TAC-TOE METHOD, YOU NEED TO! If you're not sure of what it is, it's actually very simple, and I suggest getting out some graph paper (as you will have it on the exam) to make grids. Make 15 4x4 grids. Ok easy. Now on each problem, you will be using the "line of symmetry" method, which works like this. Say you have one hole punch, and then the fold is, say flipping the paper from the bottom right corner to the top left corner. Ok, so you'd make a line going directly though the middle of your grid, but from bottom left, to top right, so you can REFLECT the image. It's like tic tac toe! Watch out for those half and quarter holes, as when you do the reflection, they might turn into full holes, and half holes, thus not reflecting anything over the line of symmetry (this may be confusing in words, but there are some good videos on youtube that do well in explaining this better visually). Start by doing the generators on BC (and you can even start by timing yourself, since this section is not nearly as difficult as the others). On the generators, you will start off with one hole, but the subject tests might have you start with two or three holes, so get ready to practice practice practice. Once you get better, you will see that this section is (Probably) the fastest one to get through.

    5) Cubes (5-6 mins): Also another one of my favorites. Really, there's nothing to learn about this section; it's just counting cube faces haha. Start with generators to get your feet wet, and then move onto subject tests. With these, I also timed myself right away, as they seemed straightforward to me. Something i'd like to point out: Many people get confused with hidden blocks, if blocks are present, or where exactly the block is. I'd like to point out two things here. 1) Only assume a block is present if it HAS to be there, meaning you can't have floating blocks i.e you cant have a block with nothing under it (unless it's the blocks on the floor). 2) If you're having trouble with how many faces each side has, do this: ask yourself, how many ways is this cube getting "hit"? Look at the block, and very quickly scan the environment. For example, I would say something like: ok, this cube is getting hit from the bottom, top, and front, therefore there are 3 faces left that are showing. This helps! Strategy wise, I'd say use tally charts, where you make a chart with 0, 1,2,3,4,5 (number of faces) on one side, and the other side you tally how many blocks have that many faces showing. I originally tried just going through each problem and just counting the number of faces for each one, but I found I was more error prone that way, and I did better and went faster using tallys. With practice, you should be able to get each set of three cubes done in~1 min, and finish total in 5-6 mins :)

    6) Pattern Folding( 10 mins): The end is here! I think this section is tricky at first, but definitely gets a lot better. Again, start with generators for practice. Yes they will be easy, but you will expose yourself. Now here's a great method that really helped me (on all types of patterns). You dont have to mentally fold the image, and I HIGHLY recommend you DONT! Instead, focus on a specific area, and look to see what pieces are touching it. For example, say you are looking at the bottom of the object. Ok, focus on a portion, say the black half. Ask yourself questions like, what is touching the black half, or what is the white half connected to? Doing this will REALLY help you get though these problems easily, and in no time, and you will start getting many right! And you can also do the same thing that you did with the other PAT sections: skip to the end, and get a few problems going! Honestly, pattern folding is all about matching up pieces...you really dont need to fold anything. Even those dice, you can still use the "matching" method. And as for timing, I'd say do ten minutes approximately. If you finish early on the other sections, you can obviously spend more time on this. But with this method that I suggested, you can easily get through problems; there will always be one or two wacky answers that you can cross out as well with most problems. I know there are some problems where it looks like "Gee, how am I supposed to match up these pieces, when they're all the same!" Ex: those cube problems that have triangle shadings everywhere, and it looks like it would take multiple minutes to solve them. Honestly, you may get some of those on the DAT, but if you do, try different possibilities: what I mean by this is, focus on one spot (especially if multiple spots look the same), and try out multiple possibilities to see if the pieces match up. This is not limited to cube-like problems, but really any kind! Also, one last thing! If you're having trouble figuring out how a piece is going to line up when it's folded over, dont fret! Just draw that small section of the figure, and see how it would connect if you did it on paper (MUCH EASIER!!), and this helped me a lot too with the matching method.

    Anyways, that's my little guide for PAT. I hope this helps some people out; I really like giving back to the SDN community, especially with all the help I received, and still receive today!

    Best of luck!
     
  2. BeaverLover

    BeaverLover SDN Gold Donor
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    I just finished studying PAT for the day, the advice will help tremendously, thanks!
     
    virtualmaster999 likes this.
  3. InternationalPreDen

    InternationalPreDen Never Gonna Give Up
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    thank you for sharing! I have trouble doing hole punching problems. do you draw a 4x4 grid for every single hole punch problem?
     
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  4. virtualmaster999

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    My pleasure! Yes I draw out one for each of the 15; sometimes you wont even need to use a grid because of how simplistic some problems will be :)
     
  5. rbg2015

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    That grouping advice for keyholes is GENIUS. Thank you so much! I was so helpless with keyholes, and so far that is the ONLY thing that has worked in terms of speeding me up! :soexcited: Can't believe I didn't find this post before. Still have to work on angle ranking though. I am right there with you, I have my good days and my bad days. haha!
     
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  6. Scumbag_Steve

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    My advice is a little unconventional, but it worked very well for me. If there is one section (for me it was TFE), that is just really killing you and you can't figure out how to improve, here's what to do.

    Skip it on the real thing. Go back to it towards the very end.

    There are 90 questions from the 6 different sections, 15 each. So that means there are 75 questions from the sections that aren't giving you trouble. Really become a beast at the other five sections. I told myself that in order to justify skipping TFE, I had to be confident that I would get all the other sections 100% correct. Spend your time making sure you have the correct answers on all the rest of the sections, and go back to the section that give you most trouble with 5 mins left on the test. I was so bad at TFE that me really trying to figure out the correct answer yielded no better results than a 20 second educated guess, so that's what I did. With the time I saved, I was able to correctly answer the rest.
     
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  7. virtualmaster999

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    Awesome, glad it helps! Best of luck!
     
  8. virtualmaster999

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    I was planning to go that route too tbh. Specifically for TFE as well. I did do skipping on BC, but I wasn't sure how fast I could skip on the DAT, so I kinda forced myself to not skip. Definitely a good route to try though! Maybe testing it by doing slower clicking would simulate it too. Either way, good advice for the troopers!
     
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