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Jan 6, 2020
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  1. Pre-Dental
So I haven't been an sdn user, I just made this account, but I visited the site frequently during the prep process and figured with applications coming up I would get more involved. Sorry if I unintentionally break any site rules, just let me know and I will try to correct any errors.

I found breakdowns to be very helpful when working through how to get through the DAT, which is why I figured I would try and do the same. I think I read chemistrydentist's, and rainbowsheep5's breakdowns like 3 times...

But! Something I didn’t see, and sort of wanted to, was someone’s COMPLETE breakdown of their approach, as I felt that just seeing “I studied 6 hours a day, 3 months” missed a lot of potentially interesting and important information about the pathway taken to a solid DAT score. This is my reason for having an obscenely long post (that and it was fun for me to reflect on what just happened).
I posted this on reddit and got decent reception so hopefully you guys enjoy this as well. Thanks again for all the info available on this site!


Scores.

BI: 30

GC: 30

OC: 26

(TS) : 30 (idk how they do this math tbh, but I’m down)

PAT: 28

RC: 25

QR: 30

(AA) : 28 :D



I’ve organized the post as followed:

These sections are labeled in all caps if you want to skip around.

BIG TIPS: At the top I went over a number of “tips” that I thought were key focuses to successful studying.

SCHEDULE: Then I went through the different phases of my schedule, along with my thoughts on how it worked along the way.

TEST DAY: Near the bottom of this schedule part I have my test day thoughts.

RESOURCE REVIEW: Then at the bottom I have my review of the different resources I have used.



Also, feel free to message me about further questions, although if it’s something I included on here, I’ll probably refer you back to the post. Hope you find something helpful in here!!



BIG TIPS


1st tip : Don’t risk a retake!!


Please do not register as a first step, I feel like I saw people doing this as a “motivator” but if you register before studying, you don’t have a complete idea of how much content needs to be learned, or how much time you are going to be able to commit (or focus). This test is hard, and for me I didn’t fully realize how much I needed to learn until I was a couple weeks into studying.

Take some time to see how well you are able to focus, see how much energy/time you are able to commit per day, and see how you feel with the content before deciding what test day to go for. Now this does involve some early planning if you want to hit a certain application cycle, and is not really consistent with the common schedule of taking the DAT Summer of Junior year (it’s harder to just say “oh I’ll do it in January” when there’s pressure to apply as early as possible).

For me I started planning on a 6 month schedule, but only signed up for a test date after I got a practice score that would get me into dental school, and after a few weeks into Fall term, as I wanted to see if I would be able to balance classes and DAT studying effectively before committing to a date. So this meant 3.5 months of studying, then registering for a test date 2.5 months out. This also allowed me to progress other parts of my application while DAT studying, and allowed me to be OK when I fell behind on my study schedule some weeks.

As an add on, if you don’t feel like your practice scores will get you into the dental school, there is no shame in a reschedule. Sometimes I saw people saying “you’ll get a few points higher on the real thing don’t worry”, and while that probably is true, it seems like an expensive risk. I walked into test day knowing there was a zero percent chance of a retake, which meant when I saw a few problems in a row that I didn’t 100% know the answer to, there was no “oh god this is it I’m done” and I was able to move on without losing too much time based on anxiety. I didn’t want risk my chances of getting into my dream job over 1 test, so I made sure I didn’t feel rushed to just take the thing and move on. Similar to the discussion above, being honest with yourself is important to avoid getting in an unfortunate position as an applicant.

I put this as the first tip because I think it is the most widely applicable way to ensure you don’t spend money you don’t have to on reschedules and retakes, or end up halfway into an application cycle and realize you have to wait until next year. I view this point as helpful for mental health as well, as I imagine feeling rushed and not being confident would cause a lot of additional stress/ anxiety.

I’m writing a lot for this breakdown, but in the end the main reason my score was higher than average was because I spent more time than the average person. Spacing out your studying over longer periods of time is likely a huge solution to the DAT for future dentists who need to work full time, are taking classes, or just aren’t the type to be able to lock themselves in a room for 10 hrs a day.



2nd tip : Motivation and mental health is an important topic.

For me, this test represented a pretty big hill to get over, and at the beginning the content looked like this impassable wall. I noticed it became easy to just think of the DAT as this standalone thing permeating through all of my daily thoughts. This made starting out studying an intimidating process, especially considering I hadn’t taken A&P or biochem when I started.

Point being, while I was willing to sacrifice some mental health for this test, I am overall a pretty stable/ focused person and this test still involved a struggle to stay focused, stay calm, and not burn out before test day. While I know everyone has their own strategies, I’ll talk about how I addressed this subject, although admittedly I wasn’t perfect with this component of studying (I barely held it together test day haha).

To start, I spent part of my time during the first few weeks watching YouTube videos of dental students to see people who were close enough to undergrad to still seem relatable (I’ll say it, real, successful dentists are still like Gods to me). I really enjoyed a channel called “FutureDDS” that not only had a lot good information on how to make yourself a good applicant/ how to approach the DAT, but also has a series that is comprised of interviews with a student from every school in the country. The two people are also just super positive. Additionally, I started going on Reddit/ FB for similar reasons. This sort of made me feel more involved in being a pre-dent, whereas previously, aside from a few pre-dent club meetings and shadowing, I felt more like some Microbio major that was OK with seeing gross teeth.

That helped with the activation energy to start spending a lot of time during Summer, but admittedly the hype started to dwindle by the time I was in Fall term and actually taking a full schedule of classes (which made this studying thing a whole lot worse). Once that point was reached, I used less sustainable methods, such as eating junk food and complaining with my friends (the ones who were studying for the MCAT) about how this standardized test studying kinda sucked. In the future I hope to develop more sustainable/healthy mechanisms for accounting for mental health such as regular exercise, but for last few months that’s what worked for me.

During winter break I was even more tired, however being able to focus on just the test was a lot more calming, and I gave myself a lot of 10-15 minute breaks throughout the day, as I was already in a position where I did not need to cram.

As a final note, I found taking a FULL break day before the test date (ok, I still did a few flashcards in the morning) to be incredibly valuable. The days leading up to the test I got limited sleep (despite 20 mg melatonin and having screens off at 9:30 pm), and felt jittery/ a little nauseated. Taking a day to just sit down and watch random YouTube videos allowed me some processing time and some time to remember that this test is something I am prepared for.



3rd tip : Objective based schedule > time based schedule (for me)

What I mean by this is that setting a number of things to get done each day seemed to work better than setting a certain amount of time per day. A time-based schedule seems to have the flaw of allowing a person studying to lose focus and space out for portions of time, and effectively just sort of “wait out” the allotted time for studying. Alternatively, an objective based schedule works independently of your ability to focus, (as if you lose focus, you don’t make progress towards completing the objectives) which may even motivate you to focus more in order to get through the day’s schedule as quickly as possible. There is the danger of setting a schedule and then not doing it, but I view this as just a risk of studying in general, rather than a risk linked to a particular study strategy.

Also, by setting up objectives per day it becomes easier to fill in gaps within your day with tasks. If you were doing a schedule based on time, its hard to fit in 5 minutes here or there, as that would include transitions, or it would be complicated to keep track of how much time you had been productive studying throughout the day. For example, if you studied for 60 minutes throughout the day, in the form of 12, 5 minute intervals, my guess is you would’ve been less productive then if you studied for 60 minutes straight. With objectives, filling a 15 minute wait for the bus, or getting somewhere a few minutes early, then can translate to checking off a box of things to do, which will be translate to the same amount of work regardless of when/ how you completed the task.

I would often break down my tasks by subject, so I would do something related to each subject each day. (Ex: 25 bio questions, 25 PAT generator questions, 3 chem videos, 2 ochem videos, ect.) By doing this, I got to feel smaller senses of accomplishment throughout the day, which helped everything seem more achievable. It wasn’t “oh god only half way through my 18 ochem videos today… puke” but rather “ok we got bio done, lets move on to chem”. This also helped because bio often translated to more learned information per day than the other subjects. If I had done subjects by day bio days would’ve killed me with the sheer quantity of content!

Additionally, constantly evaluating and reevaluating your schedule was important for getting through the most content per day. I would usually set up a day where I would like to be done with a “thing” (ex: I want to be done with the Destroyer in 20 days), then do the math to see how much I would need to do per day to get it done. Often times I would not even hit my “goal”, but I would get close, which was enough to fit in the use of multiple study resources throughout the months of studying.



4th tip: Scale up studying over time

Along with reevaluating the schedule to ensure it is right for you, if you are spending a lot of time studying, you’re going to get better at consuming DAT-related information, if not all information. Inversely, this means at the beginning, studying may go slower, as there is a ton of never before seen information. For this reason, I view it as advantageous to start a study schedule with a low number of things per day, then, upon reevaluation, increasing the amount of things done per day. In this way, you can take advantage of the skills you develop along the way, and also avoid starting too big and failing to keep up with your schedule.

In my schedule you may notice at the start I was doing a decent amount of studying, but not nearly as much as during Winter break/ late Fall term. This is an example of this principle.



5th tip : Do not rely on your background (to some extent)

Paying attention in your pre-reqs is extremely important for being successful on the exam, it takes a lot of time to learn all the chemistry, bio, and ochem for the first time. That being said, relying on the knowledge you’ve gained from those classes seems dangerous for me. While having a lot of background will definitely support your studying, I believe this advantage should only be used to make content review go faster, rather than skip content review to focus on other areas.

For any class or test, you don’t know what you don’t know, and the DAT is a super broad test for every section. So cover everything you can, even though it may seem annoying (having Mike explain to me how to balance equations during my Junior year did feel a little ridiculous, but then he mentioned something that made me able to do some problems a little faster, and I never know when stuff like that is going to happen).

It can even make some days feel more relaxing bc you are going over stuff you already know!



6th tip : Please try and use Anki (it’s free so I swear this isn’t just marketting)

Earlier I discussed the advantage to setting up a longer-than-three month schedule, and the main counterpoint I saw being made on the internet was “you’ll just forget what you learned if you go over 3 months”. There are two solutions I had for this issue. The first was just planning to do two sets of content review, (a review of my review…), however the second, and more important solution, was Anki.

While I understand everyone learns differently, I was someone who didn’t make/use flashcards before the DAT, and honestly I have always viewed myself as someone who is better at understanding concepts rather than someone who can recall large quantities of information. Although after forcing myself to use Anki I realized that it was ridiculously efficient for locking down information. It felt like if I had a card made on Anki, it was in my brain forever. So I would say, even if you don’t think it’s for you, at least try to use Anki and see if its helpful, because it could really speed up the studying process.

Just incase you haven’t heard of Anki before (if you have, skip the next two paragraphs), it’s a flashcard app based on the idea of spaced repetition, which, as explained to me by my friend who introduced me to the app, basically says that if you are forced to recall something just before you are going to forget, that information will more readily be commit to long term memory. Maybe that explanation is totally wrong, but it certainly felt true.

How it works is you make your flashcards, and when completing them it will give you an interval of time before you will see the card again. For example, a new card will come up in the next ten minutes, whereas a card you have seen and gotten correct before you may see in 7 days. After a while, the cards you know will only show up like once a month, whereas the cards you struggle with will keep popping up. In this way, you are basically forced to review the information you have less of a grasp on, and it effectively schedules and focuses your studying for you! I am sure other apps may to similar things but as far as I am concerned Anki has it down, and is generally offline so there is no dependency on Wifi or data.

As an added bonus I have an android phone, so the Anki app was free along with the already-free desktop app.

The catch is that Anki is effective when you do you all of your reviews (cards scheduled to be seen that day) every day, for a long period of time. This included break days, and it includes holidays.

Just to give fair warning, by the end of the 6 months, I accumulated around 4250 cards, with 60898 reviews, and during the term, along with my decks made for classes, this corresponded to 500-600 reviews per day, which took up a lot of time.

Note: I’ve gotten a few questions about sharing my Anki decks, but unfortunately, I think the typos and grammar I used (I have some strangely worded cards), and the fact that some are based on paid-for resources, leads me to not want to give them out. I think it would actively put you at a disadvantage to not make your own cards. Apologies.

My main tips for making this easier to keep up with are:

  • Don’t skip a day or else you’ll have 2x the cards due the next day, which will make it even more intimidating to do, and could lead to just not doing the reviews at all.
  • Its better to make a lot of easy cards than a few big cards.
    • I found it tempting to skip my big cards if I got only a few words wrong but felt I understood the subject, but those small misses are where misconceptions are born.
  • Refer to tip 2 on mental health.
    • While Anki on the phone makes it super easy to just do Anki on any sort of break (walking between classes, bathroom, ect.) I ended up getting my first and only panic attack by spending a few days in a row doing Anki during meals and breaks throughout the day. Sometimes just walking slowly between classes without doing anything is more helpful to your success than finishing those 50 or so cards that could’ve gotten done.
  • Make multiple decks by subject or by resource (ex: one deck for bio notes, one for practice test review, and one for Destroyer) so you can “take on” one deck at a time.
    • For me this also made things go faster, as I often would be able to complete one deck in one sitting, rather than going through half a deck, kinda burning out for the moment, then trying to push through the second half of a deck. This is similar to my point of splitting up tasks into bite-sized chunks by subject, as discussed in tip 3.
7th tip (ok last one I swear) : Invert your screen colors.

I did this late in the game, but I think that Anki and all of the bio notes often have giga white backgrounds, and by the end of studying my eyes felt really strained. For Anki, use night mode. For PC, doing a quick Google search on how to invert your screen colors and then studying with a black background may save you a lot of eye strain (there’s a reason all the coding people do it!). That being said, during practice tests just go for normal to replicate test conditions.



OK! Those are the main approach things I wanted to cover. Let’s move on to the schedule.

SCHEDULE

As you’ve seen, I’m pretty prone to rambling, so this section will follow suite.



Alright so end of sophomore year, Summer starts, and this DAT thing no longer is just a “I’ll get to that later” topic.

Early Summer (research/ testing + round 1 of content review) ~2 months

Additional responsibilities:

Lab work: 20 hrs/ week

8 credits, business classes: 8 hours/ week

Shadowing: 6 hours/ week (some weeks 4, some weeks 8)

Here is the period of time where I Googled resources, read a ton of breakdowns, and watched a ton of Youtube videos about what I was getting myself into.

Purchased a sub to Chad’s Prep chem/ochem/other stuff that I never used ($50, 6 month). Did I realized that when people said “Chad’s vids” they were talking about some course saver thing, nope. Am I alright with this mistake, yup.

PurchasedPATbooster ($75, 6 month).

Found Feralis notes.



For studying I started with watching some crash course videos, taking notes (whenever I say notes for this breakdown I mean handwritten, laptop notes don’t work for me at all) and making flashcards then attempting to make flashcards for the part of Feralis notes associated with the video’s subject.

Then, I would “complete” 3 parts of Chad’s gen chem course, where “complete” either means watch the videos and take notes (I did NOT make flashcards, as the course was not DAT specific), or answer the practice problems.

Then I would do 70 generator questions off of PATbooster, 35 for two different topics.

Within like 1.5 weeks I realized 3 things.

A. Feralis notes are wAYyyY to much for me to manage starting out studying. That doc is thiq.

B. This current schedule didn’t take much time at all. I still had a lot of free time. A part of my mind (probably an unhealthy part) was telling me, if you’re having a good time, you probably could be trying harder.

C. I was not doing anything for QR or RC.



So, time to revaluate and replan. One change is that I joined the Destroyer FB page, which has a lot of free resources.

Found Dr. Romano’s Dynamite bio review, instantly saw that this was much easier to digest.

Now the schedule turned into. 10 pages of Romano doc per day, no notes, just flashcards, making sure to do all the new flashcards the same day they were made. First day I did like 50 pages bc it was the more introductory parts.

Then, “complete” 5 sections from Chad’s vids (I did the math, and in order to finish the ochem and chem sections by a certain date this was the number), still taking notes, no flashcards.

Then I would do 70 generator questions off of PATbooster, 35 for two different topics. But after taking a practice test I realized that angle ranking and keyholes were….. rough. So now it was 35 of (AR or KH, alternating every other day) then 35 of (one of the other sections) or, if it was a cube counting, 20 generator problems, bc doing 1 generator problem is like doing 3 real problems.

Finally, I would do two readings, mainly whatever was posted in the DAT Destroyer FB page. The actual practice problems were intimidating, and I honestly didn’t want to look or feel dumb so I pretty much ignored these… For better or worse who knows.

Sundays were break days, at the beginning of the Summer I didn’t even do Anki on these days, but I did end up doing most of the homework for my business classes on these days… Eventually I started doing Anki on break days because it hurt too much to have double the cards due on Monday.

So this schedule I enjoyed, it got a little hard because in my lab some people gradated so I had to pick up on some of their responsibilities. My lab involves cell culture, and cells won’t wait until your weekend is over to need help…. Then when I got to the anatomy section of the Romano notes I began to fall a little behind my schedule, as there was a ton of super new information that took a lot of flashcards and time to work through. What helped motivate me through anatomy was knowing that learning this all now would make Fall term anatomy a whole lot easier, as I was very scared of Fall term given how I had no clue how I would fare with the combo of taking classes and DAT studying, along with extracurricular stuff.

Then part way through Summer (the day after I finished Chad’s gen chem course, as well as the ACS ochem refresher course on Chad’s site) my girlfriend and I went to Alaska for two weeks to her grandparents’ house. The week before this I was unable to get many Romano pages done, as lab responsibilities kicked up to 40 hours for that week, and my business classes had final projects/ finals due. So even though I originally planned to have the document done by then, I ended up spending some of the long car rides on this trip typing up Anki cards for the ecology section of the notes. Although bc we did a ton of hiking it was sort of fun to see examples of the ecology stuff I just read during that day’s hike.

Overall, didn’t enjoy making/ doing anki cards on the trip, but it was a nice break from the lab/shadowing/chemistry stuff. I will note that I also did NOT do PAT generators during this trip. Only bio and keeping up with Anki reviews. Additionally, the main reason I bring up this trip was because it was a motivator to stay on schedule during the two months prior (or at least mostly on schedule), as I knew it would recover any built up burnout accumulated over the early Summer.

Late summer (finish content review + Destroyer start + first practice test) ~3 weeks

Additional responsibilities:

Lab work: 25-30 hrs/wk (a few people got banned from the cell culture room for contamination, so I had to pick up their cell lines ☹ )

Shadowing: 4 hrs/wk

Romano notes finished!!! That was exciting.

With a round of review done for the chemistries and bio, I figured it was finally time for the Destroyer (the original big boi, 2019, $150). At the start I just went for 10 ochem, 15 chem, 25 bio, and 10 math problems per day. I probably missed all 10 of the ochem problems first day, (and probably others) but it was fine. For all explanations and problems, I made flashcards, although I did NOT just control copy the problem, because I knew I was planning on doing multiple rounds of the book. Mainly made flashcards for concepts, reactions, equations, and all the random terms dropped in the bio section.

Kept up with PAT generators, Anki, and readings, but I didn’t have a ton of time outside of this and Fall term was coming so I didn’t try and commit harder.

Took a practice test one day, as Chad’s prep had 5 free practice tests available (no RC or PAT section, so I just did 3 readings to substitute for RC, and a PATbooster test to sub for PAT). I got slightly lower than expected, as despite having maybe 1/3 of the Destroyer under my belt, and 2.5 months of content review I got between 18-20 for all of the sections, which is fine, but I just didn’t like seeing the 70%s on everything. Also even though I figured I had been building up stamina, I was very tired for QR, even without taking a real RC section. This test was hard, and honestly I feel like getting close to a 20 was partially due to some lucky guesses. One silver lining was that the timing was there.

At the time I had not even applied to set a test date, and I knew I had plenty of time, so overall, I was pretty content with this result. However, I still wanted to wait until the term started before committing to a test date.
 
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Jan 6, 2020
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Alright so we left off at the end of summer. If you're here for test day/ resource review, keep scrolling till you see it :)


Fall term (oh no!) (finish first round of Destroyer + DAT BC for content review round 2 + more practice tests)

Additional responsibilities:

14 credits, 12 science (MB lab, A&P 1, Biochem 1): (many) hrs/wk

Physics learning assistant (job): 6 hrs/wk, consider this my QR prep honestly… you may have noticed I haven’t talked about QR much.

Lab: 0 hrs/wk (included just to show that I gave up going to my lab for this term in order to avoid overcommitting)

Club stuff: 2 hrs/wk (mostly biweekly meetings)

Volunteering: 3 hrs/wk (6 hrs, every other)

I’ll be honest, grades turned out fine, but this was an oof. I started with the same schedule, 50 Destroyer problems a day, pat stuff, ect. But started getting smacked with waking up at 6:30 am, then barely finishing PAT generators by 10:30 pm. I knew that staying up later would only make this worse, and risk full burnout and poor grades, so had to adapt.

New schedule, did some math, to finish Destroyer in 20 days I had to do 8 ochem, 10 chem, and 24 bio (those might be a few off, I forget). But as I was making the schedule easier, I chose to say that on days where I finished earlyish (ex: weekend, Friday) I would do double the problems, in order to speed up the completion of the Destroyer.

Destroyer gets done (woo!), term is picking up, but mental health holding out. Spent a few times doing Anki at my school’s hot tub, definitely my favorite approach for memorizing the vocab for anatomy lab. Eating extra snacks to the point where I almost want to include it as part of my DAT money expenditures…

Note that I would NOT do Destroyer problems on days before midterms. Before midterms I would do my daily Anki reviews (as always) and MAYBE PAT generators.

Grades > DAT prep. You can reschedule DAT but you can’t reschedule midterms/finals. GPA first!! Almost included this in the big tips section of this doc.

Here’s around the time where I was 90 days out. $500 for BC? Yea, maybe. Honestly a ridiculous price that I think is because they don’t really track who is splitting. I originally was on the fence about Bootcamp, but after taking a second practice test (I did slightly better, the Destroyer was certainly kicking in) I decided using their resources was a good next step, given I planned on doing another round of content review anyways.

Personally, given I know that prep resources can only take a “best guess” at what will be on the test, I think not committing to any one resource is the way to go when possible. Additionally, its more efficient to go over content again from a slightly different source, as you get some small bits of new information along with the review itself, rather than just seeing the exact same thing again.

Of course at this point I should say I am very happy I am privileged enough to be able to have all of these prep resources I’ve listed available, but I kind of feel strange about because it feels broken to have my test performance partially linked to the availability of ~$600 for prep supplies. Hopefully Chad comes through with a DAT-specific playlist soon, and I think Destroyer has stayed pretty affordable which is respectable.

Point is… I got Bootcamp, and I’ll say it, there’s good content on there. However, given I had done the Destroyer, and had done Chad’s vids, I did not just jump straight into practice sections and question banks. As a matter of fact, I actively avoided doing any BC practice questions outside of taking full lengths. Going in I was paying for 2 things. 10 full length tests, and Mike’s vids.

Here’s how the schedule worked post-Destroyer.

Did some math, to finish Mike’s vids by week 10 (dead week, except I had two finals during it -_-). 20 minutes of ochem videos per day (to be specific, 20 minutes of video content, independent of how long it takes me, so if I paused a lot this could take 30 minutes to complete), 40 minutes chem (yes, I know I said time-based is not ideal, but bc of the irregular video lengths and limited time during the term this was an exception). For Mike’s vids I would take notes, and whenever he gave an example problem, I would pause the video and attempt it on my own. 2x speed for the problem-only videos, 1.5x for the rest. Then afterwards I would make flashcards based on the notes I took.

Then I would attempt to go through 10 pgs/day of the 121 page bio notes, although this was a little less consistent than the other stuff (this was the first objective to get cut if I knew I was low on time for a day, but this also meant when I had extra time I would go for above 10 to try and balance).

Still PAT generators and readings, same as the entire schedule. Although sometime I would cut down to 25 problems per section if I was running out of time on a day.

Then, every other weekend, I would do a full length, trying my best to do them close to 8 am, but most of the time I started at 10/11, because I was tired from the week. During the test I would just use pencil and paper for scratch work, then write down the numbers of any problems I felt strange about. Often times I would have like 25 problems written down for the science section, but then for the sections where time was tighter, I would have like 1 or 2 weird ones written.

As a note, on practice test days I would still do Mike’s vids and Anki in the afternoon, I considered the practice test as an equivalent to the energy required to go to classes during the week. Although damn those practice tests were still exhausting, and I often took a 2-3 hour break after completing them (not even intentionally it was just hard to motivate myself haha).

After the first Bootcamp full length is when I finally registered for a test date, Jan 3rd. I felt that while the term was challenging, the studying was getting done, and my understanding of the material was decent.

On the off weeks is when I would do corrections, as I didn’t want to do corrections during the week (impossible if I wanted to fit in other stuff and maintain ~7 hrs sleep), and because Sunday was the “break” day from DAT (this is when I learned all the muscle vocab for anatomy lab and did a decent portion of class homework). Grading the test a week later had some disadvantages, but it was the best way to make sure I really focused on the explanations. I had a separate deck for “test review” based on what I learned from the explanations. I usually only looked at incorrect answers for QR, RC, and PAT, but for the science section I read almost all of the explanations, as there were a lot of extra facts or terms that I didn’t immediately recognize.

Alright this is when things really were getting rough, and my mental stability felt somewhat threatened. Fortunately I had the support systems available (friends, girlfriend, didn’t talk to my family much but I knew they were available if needed), and was getting 7 hrs of sleep per night, but there was one day where I felt that I had to take an unplanned break day (still did Anki) just to get through the week.

Kept up somewhat with the schedule, but midterms here and there, along with other class-related stuff, and just getting tired, resulted in falling behind on completing Mike’s vids in time for week 10.

So Thanksgiving break came, low key a big save as my first final was the Monday after. My family was a little upset as I spent the majority of the break doing the full 8-10 hr days bc to try and catch up on Mike’s vids I ended up doing 2-3 hours of video content a day, and also had to spend time getting together all the projects due at the end of the term. Going back I probably would’ve spent less time studying on Thanksgiving day specifically, but at the time I was motivated by stress, and there’s no changing that now…

On Sunday before dead week I did some light review, but bc I didn’t have any new anatomy lab vocab to learn (no anatomy lab bc Thanksgiving break) I was able to spend some time playing some Dota 2 and chilling out before Finals. Just included this bc I thought days like this were helpful for avoiding full burnout.

Dead week I kept up with Anki reviews, and that was it. Had to focus on finals. As stated, GPA > DAT prep.

Made it through the term alive!!!! The worst was over.

Winter break (finish content review 2 + Destroyer round 2 + a ton of practice tests) ~ 2.5 weeks

Additional responsibilities

Get Christmas gifts for people: not that much time

Literally nothing!!



So getting out of finals, I finally finished Mike’s vids and the BC bio notes, and took a practice test, but for maybe 3-5 days after the term ended I had a lot of trouble bouncing back into sole DAT focus.

For Winter break Sunday’s were not longer break days, break days included Christmas, the day before the test, as well as a day early in the break where I went snowboarding and got to see a friend who goes OOS (although I still think I got anxious when I got home and did 100 Destroyer problems).

Even during Winter break, I found that unlike during Fall term, I couldn’t just focus and do stuff for 8-10 hours a day. I figure this is what is meant by burnout, but fortunately by taking a lot of short breaks throughout the day I was able to still complete all of the materials I had available to get through.

Ok so the study schedule.

Did the math, needed to finish 243 problem per day to finish the Destroyer in 7 days, although during these more relaxed days after finals I think I did a few half-days of 122 problems. Round two of Destroyer involved marking any questions I was iffy on, and reading the explanations for those problems, as well as problems I got incorrect. For a lot of the problems that I was comfortable with, the process just involved confirming I got the answer right and moving on, making this a whole lot faster than during the term where I read every explanation. Then, when going through answers, I would circle problems I thought I should do again in the future. I did NOT make new flashcards, as I figured the circling problems to do a third time substitutes for the spaced repetition that Anki would offer.

Additionally, something I actually forgot I had was the Math Destroyer (I think I did 1 practice test over the summer and got physically slapped by it). I forgot how much it was bc I got it at the same time as the Destroyer, but I think it wasn’t terribly expensive. So in order to have this all done by test day I was doing one of these a day on non-BC-full-length days (and I think 1 day I had to do two). Same deal here with reading explanations for things I marked and things I got wrong, then circling problems to do again. Only difference was I took these timed (or rather, kept track of time, I just happened to never go past 45 min).

Then, on the two Fridays preceding my test, I went up to see the testing center, and asked a few questions about markers and IDs.

As a final thing before I talk about the practice tests, I finally got the confidence to open up Feralis notes again, where I tried to do ten pages a day of making flashcards, but mostly skimming for vocab words that looked immensely unfamiliar. Admittedly none of the random, niche words that I got through this skimming showed up on test day, although this did not take a ton of effort bc at this point my mind was muc faster at picking up new words compared to the beginning of studying.

For practice tests, I had 5 more to go from Bootcamp, and 3 more to go from Chad’s free tests, so the first week I had ~2 day gaps in between full lengths, where I did BC tests, then after Christmas, I would do Bootcamp 1 day as a regular full length, then the next I would do the Chad’s practice tests, but I would take them as solo sections, because I was super tired and needed breaks in between everything.

This time I would actually start the test at 8 am (the time that my test was happening), and started getting used to waking up at 6 (bc my testing center was 40 min away so I was planning on waking up at 530 on test day to be comfortable).

For corrections before Christmas (so when I had more time between full lengths) I would try my best to get them done before the next test, but bc I was still going through the Destroyer problems during the afternoon, and because after tests I was still really exhausted, this was spotty.

After Christmas I finally had to bite the bullet and complete my same day corrections, but as the Destroyer got done by Christmas eve this was doable. I also would try and finish my Dynamite bio review deck (the one I made during early Summer) before practice tests bc I would be waking up at 6 then sitting around after breakfast for an hour.

My test review deck definitely grew intimidatingly large during this time haha. Also there was a LOT of refreshing reddit and FB every time I finished a small task.

New years eve I went and saw my friends down at the house we rent for college, finished some Chad’s practice test sections (woo! Last practice test done), and finished up Feralis notes while there. This is when it hit me that my test was in 3 days… Made sure to be home by 9 as to get 8 hours of sleep before 530, although this is when I really started struggling with sleeping, but hey at least that meant I was awake for the start of the new decade!

Jan 1st is when I redid all the Destroyer problems that I had missed, although I’ll be honest I did not end up redoing any of the math problems I had marked. Finished my last math Destroyer section this day (yay! Studying done).



TEST DAY (Jan 2 + the big day!!)

Took a break on the 2nd, woke up at 530 and went to Ihop with my girlfriend, and really quickly scrolled through my Anki reviews (not exactly doing the cards, but reading the info on them). By 12 I was done, and I watched random Youtube videos for the good part of the evening.

Alright by the evening I felt like I was having to manually keep myself calm, although I couldn’t tell whether this was being anxious, being excited to take down this test, or something else (prob a mix), but I was not able to sleep until like 230 am. Which felt a little comical because it was totally that cycle of “dude you’re not asleep and the DAT is tomorrow” -> results in being nervous that I won’t do well -> continue to stay awake -> “dude…”.

One more melatonin pill and we’ve reached 5:30 am test day.

Breakfast: eggs, toast, coffee but specifically less than I would drink normally. Don’t want to send myself into caffeine induced anxiety, and I was getting energy from stress anyways.

Snacks being taken: small orange, apple, one of those sweet/salty almond bars that probably has too much sugar, cool.

Tried to drink my coffee as fast as possible so I could make sure to go to the bathroom way before the test starts.

Get there at like 6:45, earlier than expected, cool. I go in to use restroom and they are immediately like “alright get in there boi”. Decline, but after I get back from the bathroom they were pretty insistent on getting me in my seat at 7:20. So I guess here we are, tutorial timer up on my screen 7:25 am despite my test being scheduled at 8 am. This was unexpected, still trying to stay calm, but at this point I felt more that I was super focused and jittery, it was strange.



Ok, lets walk through the sections. Honestly I do not remember much so I’ll try my best.

I did not have any horror stories with markers not being sharp enough or someone being loud next to me, the headphones worked really well which I was happy about.



BIO: I marked a few questions here, super surprised with the 30, but there were no really detailed questions, with the only nuance being they would use some strange wording to hide a giveaway term. So I guess my tip here is if you see some strange wording, there is probably a single vocab term it is referencing, although this is a pretty vague tip so apologies. The Destroyer notes and problems were the main resource for this section imo, that team has this section down.

Side note: I do not know how tf this happens but I got 2 questions word for word from the Destroyer. Honestly whack, some question writer is getting lazy or something I swear.

CHEM: Mike and Chad combined smacked this section, with the Destroyer really giving an assist on raw speed for the calculations. I made sure to check my calculations twice for the section (I finished the science section with about 30 minutes left).

OCHEM: All of your classic hits were here, the Sn/E ½ stuff, the CARDIO problems, hybridization, stereochem ect. I know I got one problem wrong bc I thought NaOR/ROH conditions represented acidic conditions for an epoxide attack bc ROH is a protic solvent (my gut told be it was basic, but I thought basic conditions were always followed by an acidic workup, rip). They didn’t even throw a fancy reaction at me (not even a Wittig!) I was a little annoyed haha. Overall, same as chem, Mike/ Chad had a lot of the info, Destroyer helped with nuance and speed.

Finished with time to spare, went back and checked a few answers. As a tip for this section in general is take advantage of the cross out fx. When you go back to a bio problem after doing ochem it can be easy to forget what you were actually thinking for the problem, so the cross out function gives you a reminder of what two answers you were debating between.

With the extra time left in the science section (after going over marked questions I have maybe 10-15) I got replacement sheets, then wrote out my 15 hole punch plots, and my cube counting plots (like 8 maybe), took a bathroom break, then spent 5 minutes calming down, and transitioning out of thinking about science.

PAT: Keyholes were easier than PATbooster, I got one rock but I think I may have even gotten that one right given the 28. TFE afterwards was fine, I view this section as KH but with lines lmao.

Angle ranking was better than expected, given on that section I felt even though I did 35 problems every other day I would still get like 5 wrong on BC practice tests lmao. (there were two practice tests in a row where I got everything right for the PAT besides like 7 AR questions)

Hole punching felt awkward, but I tried my best to check if my answers made sense (ex: check for symmetry) bc for the PAT getting 100% on HP and CC is the first step in getting a solid score imo. These are the two sections where you can know the correct answer via process alone.

CC same as above.

PF was something I’ve always done well at so marked a couple but the rest made sense.

Overall PAT carried by all the generator work. PATbooster practice tests were way harder.

Ended with 20 minutes to spare (Yea, I was surprised too). Checked over marked questions sort of quickly, then redid CC and HP (again, 100% on these sections is the top priority). Afterwards I spent more time on the marked questions that still were unresolved.

Break: Cool, we’ve made it to the break. Ate my snacks, looked at some dog pages on snapchat, and anxiously paced. Bc of BC practice tests I was a little worried for reading, as some of those 6-10 tests were nasty.

RC: Ok so I know this is my lowest score but honestly this section was way way more straightforward than I was expecting. I did a vanilla strategy where I would read the first question, then read through the passage until I saw the answer, highlighting any names, lists (I found that a of the questions that were “all of the following were mentioned except…” were based on lists within the passage), and any terms like “the main reason”, “the most important” ect. Finished with 10 minutes left. I think the reason for the 25 is bc its based on percentile and I figure more people killed this RC section than the average RC section, so the diff between 25 and 30 could be 1-2 questions. Who knows, I’m still very happy with how this went given by BC test 3 days prior had an RC score of 22 haha.

QR: Ok so throughout this breakdown you may have noticed I didn’t exactly prioritize math, and that is mainly bc I am the person who has been pretty decent with math for most of college, I took physics sophomore year, so my algebra was pretty fire when I started my DAT studying (I know earlier I said don’t rely on background, however I view that as primarily applicable to science, and I still did 1232 practice problems). That being said, I think the Destroyer/ math Destroyer was the main assist here, as while the BC tests were certainly helpful on the basis of giving me more repetition, most of my learning for this was based on Destroyer products, as well as through practice my algebra during fall term as a physics learning assistant.

This section became a little more of a time crunch than I was expecting, and honestly I found it pretty challenging (maybe I was just getting tired). I almost tripped up on a few words (ex: almost misinterpreting a graph bc I thought it was based on percents rather than raw numbers), but as you can see, it all worked out. The QC problems weren’t terrible from what I remember. I finished checking my answers with 11 seconds to spare.

DAT is over!! For those of you who’ve actually read this congrats, this is like a novel worth of text at this point lmfao.



RESOURCE REVIEW

Ok let’s now talk about what I thought of the resources, I kind of referenced in in the previous test day section but for those who haven’t read that lets get more focused.



So, in terms of RAW utility, I would say

Destroyer = BC > Chad’s prep = PATbooster

Although in terms of utility PER DOLLAR

Chad’s prep > Destroyer > PATbooster > BC



Chad’s prep is so high on the utility per dollar bc that guy had 20 free practice sections and all the vids for free. Honestly I view Chad as an up and coming god in the prep industry, given his prioritization of low cost. Dude’s like 1 DAT specific playlist from outcompeting Mike on price point alone.



PATbooster tests and generators are low key a silver bullet for the PAT section. The resource is not perfect (AR generator has a pattern that I noticed, but that is a free resource anyways, hole punching questions are often pretty straightforward) but it gets the job done if you put in the time for the generators. I didn’t used BC generators besides the free TFE one (PATbooster doesn’t have a TFE specific generator, but I found that the KH generators ended up making me pretty good at TFE anyways). To pay $75 for 6 months is also a really good price imo.

The only reason I had its RAW utility lower is because it is only solving 1/6 sections, but that’s all I was expecting anyways so I am a satisfied customer.



Destroyer as you’ve probably heard over and over again, is a solid resource for the sciences, and a good resource for the math. The main benefits I would say are the bio section, and the hard/ strange calculations that you’re forced to do in the GC section. Although I don’t want to undermine how helpful the OC/ QR sections were. Also, I think that by having challenging problems the book gives you the impression that you need to study more and work harder if you want to be successful on the test. For some, I would understand if this could be interpreted as unmotivating, but for me I thought it convinced me that I needed to keep grinding to be successful.

Now I would not use the Destroyer alone as a sole resource. For some people this was their strategy, and it has worked for many, but I wouldn’t place that much confidence in any one resource, as prep companies can only give their best guess, so getting multiple perspectives on the content is a good way to fill in any cracks. Having some video source for ochem and chem, and some notes for bio (ex: Romano notes) is important to keep all the information organized while doing problems in the Destroyer. If I didn’t have this review going into the Destroyer it would just seem like a whole mess of random topics, which would make the Destroyer much more intimidating, and much harder to learn from.

I think an important part is that this resource is one of the most affordable prep resources out there.



Math Destroyer given how I forgot I had this resource for a while, I wouldn’t say it was the sole reason for the 30 QR, but it gave me a lot of exposure and a lot of problem types that I originally hadn’t seen, so I would say that it is likely what boosted my QR from a good score, to a perfect score. Take everything like a timed test here!



Bootcamp is a good resource, but the price is high relative to the stuff I have listed so far. People talking about iprep for $1500, or in person courses, that’s a whole other level. I just feel like we should keep things in perspective bc while I agree that $500 is high, it’s not ungodly high in the world of standardized prep resources.

So I think that Bootcamp’s appeal is that it is comfortable. You have every subject in one spot, you have your full length tests, and all the generators and notes.

This is good, and worth spending money on in my opinion. Being comfortable is extremely valuable on test day! However it can be dangerous, as I have seen people get too comfortable with practice test scores, and go into a test under prepared. So if you are going to use Bootcamp, make sure to understand that it may give a false sense of security, and you need to be vigilant to keep yourself accountable while studying. Focus on your performance based on the percents, and your confidence with the content, not the estimated scores.

As I stated previously, when I got Bootcamp, the expectation was not that it would just solve the DAT for me, but rather that it was a resource to get comfortable with the test format by giving me practice tests, giving me more DAT specific GC/OC videos, finally giving me some practice doing RC sections, and expose me to another resource’s take on science questions.

Watching Mike’s vids during my second round of content review is where I really started to put everything together for GC and OC, and by the end of Mike’s vids is when I really started to feel I had a shot at pulling off a 30 in these sections. I do think these are a very valuable part of Bootcamp.

I did NOT do any of the question banks at the end of each chapter. Because I had all of the other resources for practice questions, I wanted to save these questions, as they are on the full length tests. I wanted the full length tests to be new questions only.

Having full RC sections to do was really helpful as well. Similar to the question banks, I did not do any solo RC sections, as I wanted to save these for when I did the full lengths. 10 RC sections was enough for me to practice some different strategies, and conclude the vanilla method was best for me (when I tried stuff like reading the questions first, I found out that I was terrible at remembering what questions were actually asked while reading, whereas with vanilla I often was successful at having a mental model of the passage). Also, BC did a good job of having some hard reading sections. I generally scored decently, as the daily readings gave me the speed I needed, but for all of the tests I felt super uncomfortable with a lot of questions, which I think prepared me well.

And then yea, the full lengths were all helpful for just getting comfortable with the time management and mental game of the DAT. I know that some people feel full lengths are overrated but I think this is person-dependent. For someone confident in their understanding of content, sure, you may not need full lengths, but for me I think that just doing a ton of full lengths made it a lot more straightforward and comfortable test day. Although again, pay attention to percents, not scores.



Overall, glad that is done. 6 months to go before applications so I probably should start thinking about what is going on there. As you may have seen, the DAT is a big test but going through this process gave me some pretty good study habits to move forward with (of course probably not enough for real dental school, but we will get there). Additionally, by spacing out my schedule I was able to progress other parts of my application as well.

Well, that is pretty much all I got. Feel free to pm me if you have questions! I hope you found something helpful here, even if its just getting some reading comp practice.



TL DR

20 year old forgot how to actually chill out and needed to feel productive for the days following a test, so he posted a needlessly long reflective exercise on the internet.... twice.
 

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ChemistryDentist

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Amazing job! I'm glad my breakdown helped and glad to see you returning the favor for so many other students. Congratulations!
 
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2thDoc11

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Alright so we left off at the end of summer. If you're here for test day/ resource review, keep scrolling till you see it :)


Fall term (oh no!) (finish first round of Destroyer + DAT BC for content review round 2 + more practice tests)

Additional responsibilities:

14 credits, 12 science (MB lab, A&P 1, Biochem 1): (many) hrs/wk

Physics learning assistant (job): 6 hrs/wk, consider this my QR prep honestly… you may have noticed I haven’t talked about QR much.

Lab: 0 hrs/wk (included just to show that I gave up going to my lab for this term in order to avoid overcommitting)

Club stuff: 2 hrs/wk (mostly biweekly meetings)

Volunteering: 3 hrs/wk (6 hrs, every other)

I’ll be honest, grades turned out fine, but this was an oof. I started with the same schedule, 50 Destroyer problems a day, pat stuff, ect. But started getting smacked with waking up at 6:30 am, then barely finishing PAT generators by 10:30 pm. I knew that staying up later would only make this worse, and risk full burnout and poor grades, so had to adapt.

New schedule, did some math, to finish Destroyer in 20 days I had to do 8 ochem, 10 chem, and 24 bio (those might be a few off, I forget). But as I was making the schedule easier, I chose to say that on days where I finished earlyish (ex: weekend, Friday) I would do double the problems, in order to speed up the completion of the Destroyer.

Destroyer gets done (woo!), term is picking up, but mental health holding out. Spent a few times doing Anki at my school’s hot tub, definitely my favorite approach for memorizing the vocab for anatomy lab. Eating extra snacks to the point where I almost want to include it as part of my DAT money expenditures…

Note that I would NOT do Destroyer problems on days before midterms. Before midterms I would do my daily Anki reviews (as always) and MAYBE PAT generators.

Grades > DAT prep. You can reschedule DAT but you can’t reschedule midterms/finals. GPA first!! Almost included this in the big tips section of this doc.

Here’s around the time where I was 90 days out. $500 for BC? Yea, maybe. Honestly a ridiculous price that I think is because they don’t really track who is splitting. I originally was on the fence about Bootcamp, but after taking a second practice test (I did slightly better, the Destroyer was certainly kicking in) I decided using their resources was a good next step, given I planned on doing another round of content review anyways.

Personally, given I know that prep resources can only take a “best guess” at what will be on the test, I think not committing to any one resource is the way to go when possible. Additionally, its more efficient to go over content again from a slightly different source, as you get some small bits of new information along with the review itself, rather than just seeing the exact same thing again.

Of course at this point I should say I am very happy I am privileged enough to be able to have all of these prep resources I’ve listed available, but I kind of feel strange about because it feels broken to have my test performance partially linked to the availability of ~$600 for prep supplies. Hopefully Chad comes through with a DAT-specific playlist soon, and I think Destroyer has stayed pretty affordable which is respectable.

Point is… I got Bootcamp, and I’ll say it, there’s good content on there. However, given I had done the Destroyer, and had done Chad’s vids, I did not just jump straight into practice sections and question banks. As a matter of fact, I actively avoided doing any BC practice questions outside of taking full lengths. Going in I was paying for 2 things. 10 full length tests, and Mike’s vids.

Here’s how the schedule worked post-Destroyer.

Did some math, to finish Mike’s vids by week 10 (dead week, except I had two finals during it -_-). 20 minutes of ochem videos per day (to be specific, 20 minutes of video content, independent of how long it takes me, so if I paused a lot this could take 30 minutes to complete), 40 minutes chem (yes, I know I said time-based is not ideal, but bc of the irregular video lengths and limited time during the term this was an exception). For Mike’s vids I would take notes, and whenever he gave an example problem, I would pause the video and attempt it on my own. 2x speed for the problem-only videos, 1.5x for the rest. Then afterwards I would make flashcards based on the notes I took.

Then I would attempt to go through 10 pgs/day of the 121 page bio notes, although this was a little less consistent than the other stuff (this was the first objective to get cut if I knew I was low on time for a day, but this also meant when I had extra time I would go for above 10 to try and balance).

Still PAT generators and readings, same as the entire schedule. Although sometime I would cut down to 25 problems per section if I was running out of time on a day.

Then, every other weekend, I would do a full length, trying my best to do them close to 8 am, but most of the time I started at 10/11, because I was tired from the week. During the test I would just use pencil and paper for scratch work, then write down the numbers of any problems I felt strange about. Often times I would have like 25 problems written down for the science section, but then for the sections where time was tighter, I would have like 1 or 2 weird ones written.

As a note, on practice test days I would still do Mike’s vids and Anki in the afternoon, I considered the practice test as an equivalent to the energy required to go to classes during the week. Although damn those practice tests were still exhausting, and I often took a 2-3 hour break after completing them (not even intentionally it was just hard to motivate myself haha).

After the first Bootcamp full length is when I finally registered for a test date, Jan 3rd. I felt that while the term was challenging, the studying was getting done, and my understanding of the material was decent.

On the off weeks is when I would do corrections, as I didn’t want to do corrections during the week (impossible if I wanted to fit in other stuff and maintain ~7 hrs sleep), and because Sunday was the “break” day from DAT (this is when I learned all the muscle vocab for anatomy lab and did a decent portion of class homework). Grading the test a week later had some disadvantages, but it was the best way to make sure I really focused on the explanations. I had a separate deck for “test review” based on what I learned from the explanations. I usually only looked at incorrect answers for QR, RC, and PAT, but for the science section I read almost all of the explanations, as there were a lot of extra facts or terms that I didn’t immediately recognize.

Alright this is when things really were getting rough, and my mental stability felt somewhat threatened. Fortunately I had the support systems available (friends, girlfriend, didn’t talk to my family much but I knew they were available if needed), and was getting 7 hrs of sleep per night, but there was one day where I felt that I had to take an unplanned break day (still did Anki) just to get through the week.

Kept up somewhat with the schedule, but midterms here and there, along with other class-related stuff, and just getting tired, resulted in falling behind on completing Mike’s vids in time for week 10.

So Thanksgiving break came, low key a big save as my first final was the Monday after. My family was a little upset as I spent the majority of the break doing the full 8-10 hr days bc to try and catch up on Mike’s vids I ended up doing 2-3 hours of video content a day, and also had to spend time getting together all the projects due at the end of the term. Going back I probably would’ve spent less time studying on Thanksgiving day specifically, but at the time I was motivated by stress, and there’s no changing that now…

On Sunday before dead week I did some light review, but bc I didn’t have any new anatomy lab vocab to learn (no anatomy lab bc Thanksgiving break) I was able to spend some time playing some Dota 2 and chilling out before Finals. Just included this bc I thought days like this were helpful for avoiding full burnout.

Dead week I kept up with Anki reviews, and that was it. Had to focus on finals. As stated, GPA > DAT prep.

Made it through the term alive!!!! The worst was over.

Winter break (finish content review 2 + Destroyer round 2 + a ton of practice tests) ~ 2.5 weeks

Additional responsibilities

Get Christmas gifts for people: not that much time

Literally nothing!!



So getting out of finals, I finally finished Mike’s vids and the BC bio notes, and took a practice test, but for maybe 3-5 days after the term ended I had a lot of trouble bouncing back into sole DAT focus.

For Winter break Sunday’s were not longer break days, break days included Christmas, the day before the test, as well as a day early in the break where I went snowboarding and got to see a friend who goes OOS (although I still think I got anxious when I got home and did 100 Destroyer problems).

Even during Winter break, I found that unlike during Fall term, I couldn’t just focus and do stuff for 8-10 hours a day. I figure this is what is meant by burnout, but fortunately by taking a lot of short breaks throughout the day I was able to still complete all of the materials I had available to get through.

Ok so the study schedule.

Did the math, needed to finish 243 problem per day to finish the Destroyer in 7 days, although during these more relaxed days after finals I think I did a few half-days of 122 problems. Round two of Destroyer involved marking any questions I was iffy on, and reading the explanations for those problems, as well as problems I got incorrect. For a lot of the problems that I was comfortable with, the process just involved confirming I got the answer right and moving on, making this a whole lot faster than during the term where I read every explanation. Then, when going through answers, I would circle problems I thought I should do again in the future. I did NOT make new flashcards, as I figured the circling problems to do a third time substitutes for the spaced repetition that Anki would offer.

Additionally, something I actually forgot I had was the Math Destroyer (I think I did 1 practice test over the summer and got physically slapped by it). I forgot how much it was bc I got it at the same time as the Destroyer, but I think it wasn’t terribly expensive. So in order to have this all done by test day I was doing one of these a day on non-BC-full-length days (and I think 1 day I had to do two). Same deal here with reading explanations for things I marked and things I got wrong, then circling problems to do again. Only difference was I took these timed (or rather, kept track of time, I just happened to never go past 45 min).

Then, on the two Fridays preceding my test, I went up to see the testing center, and asked a few questions about markers and IDs.

As a final thing before I talk about the practice tests, I finally got the confidence to open up Feralis notes again, where I tried to do ten pages a day of making flashcards, but mostly skimming for vocab words that looked immensely unfamiliar. Admittedly none of the random, niche words that I got through this skimming showed up on test day, although this did not take a ton of effort bc at this point my mind was muc faster at picking up new words compared to the beginning of studying.

For practice tests, I had 5 more to go from Bootcamp, and 3 more to go from Chad’s free tests, so the first week I had ~2 day gaps in between full lengths, where I did BC tests, then after Christmas, I would do Bootcamp 1 day as a regular full length, then the next I would do the Chad’s practice tests, but I would take them as solo sections, because I was super tired and needed breaks in between everything.

This time I would actually start the test at 8 am (the time that my test was happening), and started getting used to waking up at 6 (bc my testing center was 40 min away so I was planning on waking up at 530 on test day to be comfortable).

For corrections before Christmas (so when I had more time between full lengths) I would try my best to get them done before the next test, but bc I was still going through the Destroyer problems during the afternoon, and because after tests I was still really exhausted, this was spotty.

After Christmas I finally had to bite the bullet and complete my same day corrections, but as the Destroyer got done by Christmas eve this was doable. I also would try and finish my Dynamite bio review deck (the one I made during early Summer) before practice tests bc I would be waking up at 6 then sitting around after breakfast for an hour.

My test review deck definitely grew intimidatingly large during this time haha. Also there was a LOT of refreshing reddit and FB every time I finished a small task.

New years eve I went and saw my friends down at the house we rent for college, finished some Chad’s practice test sections (woo! Last practice test done), and finished up Feralis notes while there. This is when it hit me that my test was in 3 days… Made sure to be home by 9 as to get 8 hours of sleep before 530, although this is when I really started struggling with sleeping, but hey at least that meant I was awake for the start of the new decade!

Jan 1st is when I redid all the Destroyer problems that I had missed, although I’ll be honest I did not end up redoing any of the math problems I had marked. Finished my last math Destroyer section this day (yay! Studying done).



TEST DAY (Jan 2 + the big day!!)

Took a break on the 2nd, woke up at 530 and went to Ihop with my girlfriend, and really quickly scrolled through my Anki reviews (not exactly doing the cards, but reading the info on them). By 12 I was done, and I watched random Youtube videos for the good part of the evening.

Alright by the evening I felt like I was having to manually keep myself calm, although I couldn’t tell whether this was being anxious, being excited to take down this test, or something else (prob a mix), but I was not able to sleep until like 230 am. Which felt a little comical because it was totally that cycle of “dude you’re not asleep and the DAT is tomorrow” -> results in being nervous that I won’t do well -> continue to stay awake -> “dude…”.

One more melatonin pill and we’ve reached 5:30 am test day.

Breakfast: eggs, toast, coffee but specifically less than I would drink normally. Don’t want to send myself into caffeine induced anxiety, and I was getting energy from stress anyways.

Snacks being taken: small orange, apple, one of those sweet/salty almond bars that probably has too much sugar, cool.

Tried to drink my coffee as fast as possible so I could make sure to go to the bathroom way before the test starts.

Get there at like 6:45, earlier than expected, cool. I go in to use restroom and they are immediately like “alright get in there boi”. Decline, but after I get back from the bathroom they were pretty insistent on getting me in my seat at 7:20. So I guess here we are, tutorial timer up on my screen 7:25 am despite my test being scheduled at 8 am. This was unexpected, still trying to stay calm, but at this point I felt more that I was super focused and jittery, it was strange.



Ok, lets walk through the sections. Honestly I do not remember much so I’ll try my best.

I did not have any horror stories with markers not being sharp enough or someone being loud next to me, the headphones worked really well which I was happy about.



BIO: I marked a few questions here, super surprised with the 30, but there were no really detailed questions, with the only nuance being they would use some strange wording to hide a giveaway term. So I guess my tip here is if you see some strange wording, there is probably a single vocab term it is referencing, although this is a pretty vague tip so apologies. The Destroyer notes and problems were the main resource for this section imo, that team has this section down.

Side note: I do not know how tf this happens but I got 2 questions word for word from the Destroyer. Honestly whack, some question writer is getting lazy or something I swear.

CHEM: Mike and Chad combined smacked this section, with the Destroyer really giving an assist on raw speed for the calculations. I made sure to check my calculations twice for the section (I finished the science section with about 30 minutes left).

OCHEM: All of your classic hits were here, the Sn/E ½ stuff, the CARDIO problems, hybridization, stereochem ect. I know I got one problem wrong bc I thought NaOR/ROH conditions represented acidic conditions for an epoxide attack bc ROH is a protic solvent (my gut told be it was basic, but I thought basic conditions were always followed by an acidic workup, rip). They didn’t even throw a fancy reaction at me (not even a Wittig!) I was a little annoyed haha. Overall, same as chem, Mike/ Chad had a lot of the info, Destroyer helped with nuance and speed.

Finished with time to spare, went back and checked a few answers. As a tip for this section in general is take advantage of the cross out fx. When you go back to a bio problem after doing ochem it can be easy to forget what you were actually thinking for the problem, so the cross out function gives you a reminder of what two answers you were debating between.

With the extra time left in the science section (after going over marked questions I have maybe 10-15) I got replacement sheets, then wrote out my 15 hole punch plots, and my cube counting plots (like 8 maybe), took a bathroom break, then spent 5 minutes calming down, and transitioning out of thinking about science.

PAT: Keyholes were easier than PATbooster, I got one rock but I think I may have even gotten that one right given the 28. TFE afterwards was fine, I view this section as KH but with lines lmao.

Angle ranking was better than expected, given on that section I felt even though I did 35 problems every other day I would still get like 5 wrong on BC practice tests lmao. (there were two practice tests in a row where I got everything right for the PAT besides like 7 AR questions)

Hole punching felt awkward, but I tried my best to check if my answers made sense (ex: check for symmetry) bc for the PAT getting 100% on HP and CC is the first step in getting a solid score imo. These are the two sections where you can know the correct answer via process alone.

CC same as above.

PF was something I’ve always done well at so marked a couple but the rest made sense.

Overall PAT carried by all the generator work. PATbooster practice tests were way harder.

Ended with 20 minutes to spare (Yea, I was surprised too). Checked over marked questions sort of quickly, then redid CC and HP (again, 100% on these sections is the top priority). Afterwards I spent more time on the marked questions that still were unresolved.

Break: Cool, we’ve made it to the break. Ate my snacks, looked at some dog pages on snapchat, and anxiously paced. Bc of BC practice tests I was a little worried for reading, as some of those 6-10 tests were nasty.

RC: Ok so I know this is my lowest score but honestly this section was way way more straightforward than I was expecting. I did a vanilla strategy where I would read the first question, then read through the passage until I saw the answer, highlighting any names, lists (I found that a of the questions that were “all of the following were mentioned except…” were based on lists within the passage), and any terms like “the main reason”, “the most important” ect. Finished with 10 minutes left. I think the reason for the 25 is bc its based on percentile and I figure more people killed this RC section than the average RC section, so the diff between 25 and 30 could be 1-2 questions. Who knows, I’m still very happy with how this went given by BC test 3 days prior had an RC score of 22 haha.

QR: Ok so throughout this breakdown you may have noticed I didn’t exactly prioritize math, and that is mainly bc I am the person who has been pretty decent with math for most of college, I took physics sophomore year, so my algebra was pretty fire when I started my DAT studying (I know earlier I said don’t rely on background, however I view that as primarily applicable to science, and I still did 1232 practice problems). That being said, I think the Destroyer/ math Destroyer was the main assist here, as while the BC tests were certainly helpful on the basis of giving me more repetition, most of my learning for this was based on Destroyer products, as well as through practice my algebra during fall term as a physics learning assistant.

This section became a little more of a time crunch than I was expecting, and honestly I found it pretty challenging (maybe I was just getting tired). I almost tripped up on a few words (ex: almost misinterpreting a graph bc I thought it was based on percents rather than raw numbers), but as you can see, it all worked out. The QC problems weren’t terrible from what I remember. I finished checking my answers with 11 seconds to spare.

DAT is over!! For those of you who’ve actually read this congrats, this is like a novel worth of text at this point lmfao.



RESOURCE REVIEW

Ok let’s now talk about what I thought of the resources, I kind of referenced in in the previous test day section but for those who haven’t read that lets get more focused.



So, in terms of RAW utility, I would say

Destroyer = BC > Chad’s prep = PATbooster

Although in terms of utility PER DOLLAR

Chad’s prep > Destroyer > PATbooster > BC



Chad’s prep is so high on the utility per dollar bc that guy had 20 free practice sections and all the vids for free. Honestly I view Chad as an up and coming god in the prep industry, given his prioritization of low cost. Dude’s like 1 DAT specific playlist from outcompeting Mike on price point alone.



PATbooster tests and generators are low key a silver bullet for the PAT section. The resource is not perfect (AR generator has a pattern that I noticed, but that is a free resource anyways, hole punching questions are often pretty straightforward) but it gets the job done if you put in the time for the generators. I didn’t used BC generators besides the free TFE one (PATbooster doesn’t have a TFE specific generator, but I found that the KH generators ended up making me pretty good at TFE anyways). To pay $75 for 6 months is also a really good price imo.

The only reason I had its RAW utility lower is because it is only solving 1/6 sections, but that’s all I was expecting anyways so I am a satisfied customer.



Destroyer as you’ve probably heard over and over again, is a solid resource for the sciences, and a good resource for the math. The main benefits I would say are the bio section, and the hard/ strange calculations that you’re forced to do in the GC section. Although I don’t want to undermine how helpful the OC/ QR sections were. Also, I think that by having challenging problems the book gives you the impression that you need to study more and work harder if you want to be successful on the test. For some, I would understand if this could be interpreted as unmotivating, but for me I thought it convinced me that I needed to keep grinding to be successful.

Now I would not use the Destroyer alone as a sole resource. For some people this was their strategy, and it has worked for many, but I wouldn’t place that much confidence in any one resource, as prep companies can only give their best guess, so getting multiple perspectives on the content is a good way to fill in any cracks. Having some video source for ochem and chem, and some notes for bio (ex: Romano notes) is important to keep all the information organized while doing problems in the Destroyer. If I didn’t have this review going into the Destroyer it would just seem like a whole mess of random topics, which would make the Destroyer much more intimidating, and much harder to learn from.

I think an important part is that this resource is one of the most affordable prep resources out there.



Math Destroyer given how I forgot I had this resource for a while, I wouldn’t say it was the sole reason for the 30 QR, but it gave me a lot of exposure and a lot of problem types that I originally hadn’t seen, so I would say that it is likely what boosted my QR from a good score, to a perfect score. Take everything like a timed test here!



Bootcamp is a good resource, but the price is high relative to the stuff I have listed so far. People talking about iprep for $1500, or in person courses, that’s a whole other level. I just feel like we should keep things in perspective bc while I agree that $500 is high, it’s not ungodly high in the world of standardized prep resources.

So I think that Bootcamp’s appeal is that it is comfortable. You have every subject in one spot, you have your full length tests, and all the generators and notes.

This is good, and worth spending money on in my opinion. Being comfortable is extremely valuable on test day! However it can be dangerous, as I have seen people get too comfortable with practice test scores, and go into a test under prepared. So if you are going to use Bootcamp, make sure to understand that it may give a false sense of security, and you need to be vigilant to keep yourself accountable while studying. Focus on your performance based on the percents, and your confidence with the content, not the estimated scores.

As I stated previously, when I got Bootcamp, the expectation was not that it would just solve the DAT for me, but rather that it was a resource to get comfortable with the test format by giving me practice tests, giving me more DAT specific GC/OC videos, finally giving me some practice doing RC sections, and expose me to another resource’s take on science questions.

Watching Mike’s vids during my second round of content review is where I really started to put everything together for GC and OC, and by the end of Mike’s vids is when I really started to feel I had a shot at pulling off a 30 in these sections. I do think these are a very valuable part of Bootcamp.

I did NOT do any of the question banks at the end of each chapter. Because I had all of the other resources for practice questions, I wanted to save these questions, as they are on the full length tests. I wanted the full length tests to be new questions only.

Having full RC sections to do was really helpful as well. Similar to the question banks, I did not do any solo RC sections, as I wanted to save these for when I did the full lengths. 10 RC sections was enough for me to practice some different strategies, and conclude the vanilla method was best for me (when I tried stuff like reading the questions first, I found out that I was terrible at remembering what questions were actually asked while reading, whereas with vanilla I often was successful at having a mental model of the passage). Also, BC did a good job of having some hard reading sections. I generally scored decently, as the daily readings gave me the speed I needed, but for all of the tests I felt super uncomfortable with a lot of questions, which I think prepared me well.

And then yea, the full lengths were all helpful for just getting comfortable with the time management and mental game of the DAT. I know that some people feel full lengths are overrated but I think this is person-dependent. For someone confident in their understanding of content, sure, you may not need full lengths, but for me I think that just doing a ton of full lengths made it a lot more straightforward and comfortable test day. Although again, pay attention to percents, not scores.



Overall, glad that is done. 6 months to go before applications so I probably should start thinking about what is going on there. As you may have seen, the DAT is a big test but going through this process gave me some pretty good study habits to move forward with (of course probably not enough for real dental school, but we will get there). Additionally, by spacing out my schedule I was able to progress other parts of my application as well.

Well, that is pretty much all I got. Feel free to pm me if you have questions! I hope you found something helpful here, even if its just getting some reading comp practice.



TL DR

20 year old forgot how to actually chill out and needed to feel productive for the days following a test, so he posted a needlessly long reflective exercise on the internet.... twice.

Thank you SO much for the breakdown! As far as the chemistrys go, would you say Chads videos and doing all his practice questions/quizzes on his "defeat the dat" is sufficient for a good score? I've also been using the Dat BC reaction summary sheet.. like you said I also have the dat destroyer but it makes me feel way behind but then I do okay with defeat the dat so I'm not sure how to feel. Thank you again!
 
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Thank you SO much for the breakdown! As far as the chemistrys go, would you say Chads videos and doing all his practice questions/quizzes on his "defeat the dat" is sufficient for a good score? I've also been using the Dat BC reaction summary sheet.. like you said I also have the dat destroyer but it makes me feel way behind but then I do okay with defeat the dat so I'm not sure how to feel. Thank you again!

I'm glad you found this helpful!

Honestly I have no clue what his "defeat the DAT" stuff is (just googled it and it looks like it is new), however I took his practice tests, which are likely the same ones included on this site, and I thought they were very helpful.

If you already have the destroyer I will heavily recommend taking advantage of it as it helped me with speed, and an ability to deal with nuance on exam day. If you go through Chad's videos before starting the destroyer that may help but I'll be honest I had many days where I still was getting 30%-40% right in the destroyer. Even on my first day doing the second round of the destroyer I still got like sub-70% on my gen chem problems for the day which was hard to swallow (with my DAT being like 3 weeks from that date). In the end continuing to go over stuff I got wrong (and redoing the problems a few days later) helped me on test day. I believe in you eBrow!

In conclusion -> Do as much as you can with the resources you have!
 

2thDoc11

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I'm glad you found this helpful!

Honestly I have no clue what his "defeat the DAT" stuff is (just googled it and it looks like it is new), however I took his practice tests, which are likely the same ones included on this site, and I thought they were very helpful.

If you already have the destroyer I will heavily recommend taking advantage of it as it helped me with speed, and an ability to deal with nuance on exam day. If you go through Chad's videos before starting the destroyer that may help but I'll be honest I had many days where I still was getting 30%-40% right in the destroyer. Even on my first day doing the second round of the destroyer I still got like sub-70% on my gen chem problems for the day which was hard to swallow (with my DAT being like 3 weeks from that date). In the end continuing to go over stuff I got wrong (and redoing the problems a few days later) helped me on test day. I believe in you eBrow!

In conclusion -> Do as much as you can with the resources you have!
Thank you so much! Yea I'm thinking his defeat the dat site is just like the quizzes from course saver but a lot more problems. I have been doing the destroyer and I'm getting like 30-40% right just like you so I definitely understand! And that's why I'm trying to use another resource because its really discouraging! haha I'll keep at the destroyer and kinda rotate chads practice problems with them. But anyway do you think chads practice questions were easier than the dat or still representative??
 
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Thank you so much! Yea I'm thinking his defeat the dat site is just like the quizzes from course saver but a lot more problems. I have been doing the destroyer and I'm getting like 30-40% right just like you so I definitely understand! And that's why I'm trying to use another resource because its really discouraging! haha I'll keep at the destroyer and kinda rotate chads practice problems with them. But anyway do you think chads practice questions were easier than the dat or still representative??

I would say mostly representative, but I mean admittedly I am having trouble remembering perfectly now that its been a month.
 

2thDoc11

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I would say mostly representative, but I mean admittedly I am having trouble remembering perfectly now that its been a month.
Okay!! Thank you again! Just wanted to make sure the dat destroyer wasn't alot harder and then practice chads and have his be too easy. I'll just continue to do a combination of each!
 
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Rainbowsheep5

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Congratulations! Well-deserved achievement! I hope you're so proud of yourself. I'm so glad to hear that my relatively disorganized breakdown was of any help! Thank you for putting so much effort in producing a well-written one for the students in the future. Be excited for your bright future in dentistry!
 
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