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2013 DAT Breakdown – 20/21/19 by haiKUHN

Hey SDNers,

I’ve debated giving a breakdown, but thought it may be helpful for those of you who feel that they cannot devote 6-8 hours/day studying for the DAT. I personally work 32 hours a week at an orthodontic office and spend the other 8 doing research at my graduate institution, so reading everyone’s breakdown who had studied 6-8 hours per day for 2 months was a little unnerving. 

The breakdown from my 7/12/13 DAT:
PAT: 19
QR: 17
RC: 21
BIO: 22
GC: 20
OC: 22
TS: 21
AA: 20

Study Materials: Kaplan BB, DAT Destroyer, Cliff’s AP Biology, Chad’s Videos, DAT Bootcamp, Ross’ PAT through ***********, and Crack DAT PAT.


The content of the test is really nothing extraordinary in terms if difficulty; it’s all material we’ve all seen before. The real kicker is anxiousness and personal emotions that make it difficult. I felt totally fine and calm leading up to my test until the morning of, when I felt that I couldn’t even eat anything. 

PAT: This section was, interesting. I only used CDP to study for this section. I had about 3 minutes left during the exam.
– Keyholes: much more difficult on the real deal. Some of my shapes, like other test takers, looked like a rock with very minute angles/height changes that made it difficult to examine. I actually felt like this was the most difficult section of the real PAT.
– TFE: this section was never my best, but I thought the questions given were reasonable. The line counting method doesn’t work, like at all, for the real test, so get good at visualizing the 3D object and understand what the solid and dashed lines mean for each perspective. I thought CDP was a little more difficult than the DAT. 
– Angles: angles, angles, angles. Do they ever not suck? I’d say CDP was a really good representation of the difficulty level, as most all of my angles were definitely only different by 3 degrees or so. I thought that here and there, the DAT creators threw me a bone and gave me an easier set of angles to judge, but mostly, this section wasn’t too fun. 
-Hole Punching: this was my strongest section going into the test as I was regularly getting 15/15’s on CDP practice tests. The difficulty level on CDP is on par, but the test itself was a little tricky because some of the hole punches absolutely looked like they were between two possible locations. I think using the line of symmetry method is really the most practical way to solve these problems. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t get the method down at first, practice! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ud0ZX0eEFA
– Cube Counting: Super easy. About 5 different figures, all with ~15 cubes. I may have had one figure where I had to take an extra second to decide if a certain area was truly a cube or not. Pretty straight forward. Much easier than CDP.
– Pattern Folding: a little tricky. I actually thought this was a little harder than CDP. Many of CDP’s pattern folds are easily solved by looking at the largest surface and comparing that the answer choices, but many of my real questions involved shading analysis. 
About this section: I wish I hadn’t bought Ross’ PAT material from ***********. Totally a waste. From reading the forums, I think it’d be best to buy DAT Achiever. Though it appears to be more difficult than the real exam, you’d be ready for anything. Better to be over prepared for this section than underprepared, which is how I think many would feel after only having used CDP.
How I studied: I never spent an entire “study session” or day devoted to PAT. I would throw it in every now and then while studying other subjects and do a hour worth of problems.. a little every day that I studied. 

QR: Perhaps I’m not the best judge of this section, because I did not spend more than 5 minutes studying for QR. I did however, take two DAT Bootcamp practice tests for QR and I can say with certainty that Bootcamp’s QR is WAY more difficult than the DAT. I took the free QR practice test from CDP and thought that was pretty similar to DAT. I’d say my exam was 20% trig/geometry, the rest was algebra/calculations. This is silly, but I was so used to doing the GC calculations by hand that it took me half of the QR section to remember that I had that little 4 function calculator! Needless to say that I ran out of time to thoroughly think every question through, but for not really studying this section, I’m not surprised nor disappointed with a 17.

RC: I don’t really know that there is a steadfast way to be successful, you just need to find the method that works for you. I’m decent at skimming passages and finding the key words. So during the exam, I went right to the questions and just searched for each answer in question order, a little S&D if you will. Two of my three passages were pretty light, however I swear that two questions required that I know a little something about geography (which I don’t, I think my brain only functions scientifically.) Some questions weren’t straight forward and actually required some numerical manipulaton, but all in all, if you can read quickly, this section shouldn’t be an issue. I didn’t do any type of practice tests or preparation for this section.

BIO: Though I didn’t value KBB for too much, I think it was a pretty good representation of the material you need to know for the exam. If you compare it to Cliff’s, KBB is the “light” version. Cliff’s has some extra info that probably isn’t too relavent. I would say that if you have some background knowledge on a certain topic, KBB is a sufficient refresher. But if you need to learn a concept a little more thoroughly, read the Cliff’s chapter. On the DAT, I think I may have had one dreaded plant question and two phylogenic-type questions. Sure, the scope of questions asked was wide, but nothing asked required me to recall specific detail. Breadth over depth. Know a little about everything, don’t worry too much about specific numbers in Glycolysis etc. Focus on the high yield topics, they’re high yield for a reason.
How I Studied: I tackled biology first before any other section. I read the entire KBB, taking very specific notes. After completing KBB, I answered every single question in DAT Destroyer. Admittedly, the first run through was disheartening. But I read every answer explanation, regardless of whether I was right or wrong to help drill the info into my head. Though I’m not sold that the way the questions are phrased, “all are true except..” etc is a great way to test your overall knowledge, I think this is an okay way to really memorize the facts you need to know. I went back through the Destroyer, getting many more questions right. The week before my test, I went back and looked at the questions I had gotten wrong during my second run through an answered them again. The week before my exam, I also took every single one of DAT Bootcamp’s bio tests and I really think Ari has some gold here. Every test gives you a good idea of test topics and how it will be phrased.

GC: For preparation, ALL YOU NEED IS CHAD! I took GC a few years ago, and Chad did a swell job at refreshing, teaching you the tricks, and only giving you pertinent information. I tried reading the KBB section for GC, and I forgot everything immediately. Stick with Chad, he’s the man. For the actual DAT, many of the answer choices involved a set up equation rather than a numerical answer. Mostly you should be conscious of matching units and conversions. My exam was 50/50 conceptual:calculations.
How I Studied: I watched every single one of Chad’s videos and took each quiz directly after finishing the corresponding video. This is a good way to test your knowledge and drill it into your head rather than listening to it then forgetting it. Seriously, with all of the information you’re trying to take in, you need to do some applied learning ASAP after listening. I watched all the videos and did all the quizzes in one weekend. Somehow, Chad made all that info stick in my head in a short period of time. Again, DAT Bootcamp, great practice before the DAT. 

OC It’s been even longer since having an OC course, so I was REALLY out of the loop. Again, all you need is Chad. If you start watching some of his videos and start to think, “wait, what does this even mean? like, what does a negative/positive charge on an atom mean?”.. refer back to your textbook to refresh on the basics. The exam itself is just testing to see if you know the concepts of basic organic chemistry. Don’t sweat the complicated reactions and mechanisms. Even if you don’t know an answer, this is a section where you can definitely eliminate bogus answer choices.
-How I Studied: see GC description. Exactly the same, except I probably spanned my study time over a full week rather than a weekend. I actually studied this before GC, so by the time I finished GC I felt that all the organic info had left my head. I refreshed my memory by retaking all of Chad’s quizzes. 
* I had 16 minutes left over, so I went back and check my biology answers.
*The sciences in general are all about exposure. Try to work through every problem you can get your hands on.

As far as practice tests go.. Try to work through timed material the week before your DAT. I took the 2009 ADA practice test, timed. When I took it, I wasn’t sure how helpful it was, but thinking back on it now after taking the real DAT, I don’t think it was very helpful or a good representation of today’s DAT, except for maybe the QR section. The only other timed practice I had was DAT Bootcamp and CDP. Whether it’s full length exams or timed sections, you just need to do it. I felt that I didn’t need to take many full length practice tests because I had spent a few weekends studying for an extended period of time and that was enough for me to feel confident about my ability to stay focused for 4.5 hours. 

Lastly, a few words about the Prometric center itself. I took it in the middle of July, so you bet it was stinking hot outside. But the center, freezing! I wore a short sleeved shirt and capris and wish I had worn jeans and a hoodie. So if you’re a frozen girl like me, dress appropriately. As for writing during the tutorial.. I’m still not sure. The lady who signed me in said, at her own will without me asking, “the ADA says they don’t like you to write before the test time starts, (shakes her head) but we don’t really care (makes face like, whatevz). SoOoOOo, do what you want I guess. I was a a little nervous to start early, so I just made my hole punching grids really quickly before SNS started. (*EDIT*: And by that I mean, my SNS timer was counting down, but I hadn’t seen my first question yet.)

Overall, I probably spent 5 weeks studying for 12 hours during the week and ~15 hours during the weekends studying. Not everyone can devote weeks and weeks of their time to studying, so if that is you, then you need to be efficient with the time you do have. Using the proper study materials is definitely the biggest key.

Last tip, stay off of SDN the week before your exam. And if you do check out the site, DON’T read other breakdowns. You’ll freak about how well everyone else did, and compare your preparation with theirs and feel that what you’ve done is inadequate. Just be confident with your knowledge, relax the day before and day of, and enjoy a nice brew once you finish!

Good luck to everyone else :D

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