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2013 DAT Breakdown – 19/19/20 by Jsmi339

So I’ve lurked these forums night and day since one of my friends told me about how helpful they are to your studying and what not, so I figured it was only right for me to post a breakdown about my studies to help anyone in anyway that I can since you all’s posts have helped me so much. I’m going to post a small breakdown of my first test, because it ties into what I did differently for the second time that ultimately helped me to achieve my goal for my scores, so bear with me….

I took the DAT for the first time in the beginning of January and received alright scores, but I wanted to improve just a bit to give me a better chance of receiving interviews at my designated schools, being that my scores were dead on average compared to last years acceptances. I had only 21 days from when I began my actual studying to the day that I took my test, so I tried many different sources for study material to try and gain as much knowledge and experience in solving problems as I could, whether it be too hard or too easy, I did it regardless. I studied each day for about 8-10 hours, with 10-15 minute breaks every hour or so to keep my mind fresh. I also took off 3 days in the 21 day period when I felt myself becoming discouraged or fatigued from studying. My first scores were:

PAT – 20 (73.8%)
QR – 17 (62.3%)
RC – 19 (53.2%)
BIO – 19 (75.3%)
CHEM – 21 (83.6%)
OCHEM – 18 (55.2%)
TS- 19 (72.7%)
AA – 19 (72.0%)

Study Materials Used: (1st time)

Biology – I didn’t really use any materials for this other than occasionally looking at Kaplan Blue Book for things that I wasn’t sure on, and scsc7211’s biology notes that I found about 4 days before my test. My major is Biology, so I figured I would be good to go on this section, but it was tougher than I expected. I also did all 3 TopScore practice tests.

Gen Chem- Chad’s Videos… that’s about all I have to say for that. They are extremely helpful and he is extremely good at explaining the tough parts of Gen Chem. For the first time, I didn’t use his quizzes. I also went through about 150 questions in DAT Destroyer, as well as practice test 1 and 2 on TopScore, and skimmed around Kaplan Practice tests.

O Chem – Same thing as Gen Chem

RC- I had no idea how to study for this section, so I just kept my reading eyes fresh by reading a scientific article of some sort each day. 

QR- I used the first and second practice tests in Math Destroyer along with all 3 TopScore practice tests and those were really easy for me, so I just left that section alone for the most part since I felt confident after just those small bits of preparation. (Bad idea)

PAT- I am very good with Perceptual Ability, so I purchased Crack DAT PAT 5 days before the test and went through 2 tests each day of that to prepare myself for the PAT. I also looked through Kaplan Practice tests, but those were much easier than the actual thing. 

Looking back on it, I studied way too broad of a spectrum of things and never really gained any true practice because some things were harder than needed to be (DAT Destroyer) or they were a bit too easy/ not representative of the actual DAT (Kaplan Practice Tests). I also think that I overstudied, which may seem impossible for the DAT, but you can definitely over engage your mind by studying non stop for days on end. Noticing these things, along with other advice for different materials to study with, I decided to shorten my study days and focus in more on my weaknesses and mastering those techniques, as opposed to trying to master all the techniques and categories on the DAT (which we all know is impossible).

So for the second time around, I allocated about 6 weeks to studying with varying degrees of intensity each week. The first two weeks, I studied for about 3-5 hours a day with no studying on those weekends. I used this time to review all of the concepts and materials for Gen Chem and O Chem by going through each of Chad’s Videos and taking detailed notes from each video, that I frequently referred back to while studying other things and also read over at the end of each day for the last week of studying. 

For the next two weeks, I ramped up my studies to 5-7 hours a day while also putting in study time on the weekends. During this time I went over DAT Destroyer for Bio, Gen Chem, and OChem and took notes on the missed problems. I also went through TopScore Practice Tests and took notes on those problems missed. I also started looking over the trig identities and different QR formulas. 

With 2 weeks left til test day, I ramped up my studying for just one week to 8 hours a day. In this week I purchased DAT QVault Bio and went through each of the practice tests, saving questions that I didn’t know to come back to the next week in my review time. I also re-did DAT Destroyer and marked down my missed questions again. I reviewed my missed concepts on all the TopScore tests and began getting my timing/strategies down for QR and PAT.

I used my last week of studying as review with about 4-6 hours of studying a day. I reviewed each of the problems I missed in Destroyer and figured out why I got them wrong and how I could avoid getting them wrong again, especially the ones I missed both times through.(If I was stumped on the answer, I would go to Chad’s videos to supplement myself with the material for the question and then do the quiz for that material) I went through 2 Math Destroyer practice tests each day, as well as a CDP or two each day mainly for timing purposes. I also decided to take the advice of people on SDN and get DAT Bootcamp. All I have to say is that anyone studying for the DAT should definitely get this! It really set the tone for how the actual DAT was worded and what types of problems they give. I was only able to use it for 3 days, but I think it was certainly the biggest help of all my study materials. 

The most important thing i feel in studying is to develop a routine and stick to it. For me, I would wake up each day at 9, spend an hour or two doing various things that needed to be done, then began studying after that until I had reached the point that I wanted to each day. After I was done studying, I would exercise and then relax for the night and try to get to sleep early to keep my mind and body rested. Since my test was at 8, the last week of studying I woke up at 7 just to adjust my brain to functioning early in the morning. 

Study Materials (2nd time)

Biology- Once again, I neglected getting anything for my Biology studies since I had taken Cell Bio and Biochem during the spring and a good bit of these topics were part of the Bio Part. I used Ferralis’ notes and scsc7211’s (Both of which are FANTASTIC) notes along with the DAT QVault practice tests to study for this section. I may have looked in Kaplan 2-3 times along with other various text books from classes to clarify things I wasn’t sure on.

Gen Chem- I used Chad’s Videos, DAT Destroyer, DAT Bootcamp, and TopScore Pro. I would recommend going through Chad’s Videos first before doing anything else just to get your mind refreshed on this material, because jumping right in could be very discouraging since most haven’t seen Gen Chem in 2 or so years. His quizzes are also highly helpful to keep you refreshed on specific things you are weak at and are pretty close to the questions the real DAT has. DAT Destroyer is a bit overkill, not nearly as tough or as many calculations as the real thing, but is helpful in pointing out your weak areas. TopScore is pretty close to the real thing, but some questions are kinda bogus and they don’t do that good of a job explaining the answers sometimes. DAT Bootcamp is by far the best material for Gen Chem and O Chem! Ari does an excellent job of explaining the answers an constructing the questions to how they ask them on the DAT. He does an excellent job of providing answers to trip you up just like they have on the real DAT. I would definitely recommend it over anything else!

O Chem- I used the same materials as Gen Chem and studied in the same way. DAT Destroyer is overkill in a few ways with the long, 3-4 step reactions, and with some of the concepts they test on. Don’t get me wrong, if you can do DAT Destroyer, you’ll be fine on the actual thing, but I wouldn’t use it as a sole study material for O Chem unless you are proficient in this area already. Chad’s Videos are excellent for this section, but he doesn’t really go over the mechanisms much which are helpful to know for distinguishing between SN1,E1,SN2,E2 reactions. Once again, DAT Bootcamp was the most helpful here especially with the explanations that are given to the questions. TopScore was also pretty representative of the actual thing. 

RC- just read a scientific article of some sort each day and practiced skimming through each paragraph for key words and phrases to speed up my reading a bit

QR- Math Destroyer and TopScore. Went over these practice tests in the week leading up to the test after getting familiar with the formulas and trig identities. Destoryer was definitely much harder than the actual DAT, but it provides you with easy, quick ways to solve seemingly tough problems which is extremely helpful since its not the questions on the test that are hard, but the time limit. TopScore was more representative of the real thing in this section

PAT- CDP. I went through each of the 10 practice tests in the week leading up to the test and got my timing down for this section. Keyhole on the actual DAT was much, much harder. TFE was similar, though I had to guess on 6 since I ran out of time. Angles were a bit easier, hole punching was similar, and cube counting was easier (less illusions and easier to distinguish cube connections). Pattern folding was easier I thought, with more focus on patterns than the actual shape. (i.e. easier, more distinguishable folded shapes, but more patterns/shadings on the sides to orient correctly)

Test Scores:
PAT – 20 (79.0%)
QR – 20 (94.0%)
RC – 22 (84.4%)
Bio – 19 (76.6%) 
GC – 23 (95.4%)
OC – 20 (79.9%)
TS – 20 (85.2%)
AA- 21 (93.4%)


On the actual test, I found Biology to be very random, I was marking what felt like every problem. I started to get a bit unnerved by this since I was doing so well on QVault, but I just continued on and stayed calm as best I could. (Staying calm is KEY) Definitely don’t disregard any plant physiology or taxonomy, cause it showed up a couple times on the test. 
When I got to Gen Chem, I had already eaten into 4 minutes of time that I designated for Chem. I got tripped up on a couple questions here as well, but just made an educated guess, marked, and moved on. Very similar to DAT Bootcamp. Had about 18 or so concepts, and the rest calculations that were either put into formulas for you or simple plug and chug.
Going into Orgo, I had eaten into 7 minutes of allocated time for this section so I was getting nervous since I was falling behind and felt like I wasn’t going to finish, which I didn’t. I just went through each question and if I knew it, I answered it and if not I just eliminated as many answers off the bat and guessed the answer with my remaining answers. Time ran out with 3 questions to go in Organic, so I was discouraged and felt like I was going to have to take it once more because I didn’t get my timing down, which was somewhat of a problem on the first one. The questions were mostly 1 or 2 step reactions, distinguishing between SN1/2 and E1/2, and concepts. I had 2 lab technique questions.

I took a deep breath and moved on to PAT. I have a very odd strategy to this section, but it worked for me both times. The angles, hole punches, and cubes are the easiest part so I skip directly to those and knock each of those out first with 6-8 minutes allocated for each portion. After that, I run through pattern folding quickly answering the easy ones and guessing on the others after quick elimination of 1 or 2 answers (~8 minutes first, followed by ~6 to review the marked ones). After running through that, I am able to review the entire section again from the beginning where I skipped 2 parts. I allocated 10 minutes for Keyhole and 12 TFE. The keyholes were much harder than CDP, as I said earlier, but I was able to narrow each one down to 2 answers and made a decision from there. I used more time than I wanted on keyhole, so I went through TFE the same way that I did for Pattern Folding, answering the easier ones and guessing on the ones that took more time. However, I took more time on this than I should have to start off because I was stumped by Keyholes and used more time than I should have there, which unnerved me once again causing me to run out of time leaving me to just click on an answer for 6 TFE problems.

If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m not the best test taker in the world and tend to get anxious and nervous very easily, especially under strict time constraints. After completing the PAT I took the break for all it was worth. Listening to music tends to calm me down, so that’s what I did for my break. I listened to songs that calmed my mind and this helped with the QR and RC sections. 

RC was pretty easy with a lot of SnD questions. One of the passages I was already familiar with so I knew answers to some of the questions without even reading the passage. Each passage was about 15 paragraphs long. Not much strategy here, just skimmed the passage first, keeping in mind key words and phrases for each paragraph, then went through the questions and back to the paragraph(s) to answer them. Tone questions were easily answered just from skimming the passage the first time. 

QR was a little harder than I expected, but still doable. I went through these and if I knew how to do them quickly, I did them and other than that just randomly answered and marked them to come back to. I went through this test with 5 minutes left to go over my marked ones and was able to figure out about 4-5 more of the marked ones. Definitely know your trig identities, area/volume formulas, and how to solve algebraic equations. 

Sorry this was such a long breakdown, but hopefully it helps some people out! I feel that preparing for the second time was harder than for the first time so that’s why I posted so much about both of them to give people a better idea of the different kinds of preparation for each time. If you have any questions feel free to PM me and I’ll be happy to help you anyway that I can!

Last thing, I have applied to UF, Colorado, and LSU. I am a Louisiana resident and have a 3.67 oGPA, 3.73 sGPA, and 3.68 BCP.

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