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2013 DAT Breakdown – 21/22/23 by cducvu

I would like to thank those who’ve posted their breakdowns and tips – they were super helpful! Like many, I was a ghost member on SDN, not contributing much to the community, and now would like to give back. 

I took the DATs on 9/11/13 and here are my scores:

PAT: 23
QR: 20
RC: 20
BIO: 20
GC: 22
OC: 24
TS: 22
AA: 21

I know that these aren’t the best scores seen here on SDN but, nonetheless, I am extremely satisfied with how I did :).
A little background info:
I am currently a senior at UMass Amherst majoring in Public Health and have a 3.74 gpa.

Study Habits
Putting it out there, I am NOT the best studier. I would study for half an hour then get distracted by youtube and facebook for an hour an a half – the cycle repeats! After a few hours, my buddies would text me and I would go out to the bar or the club and get hammered :(. My test was originally scheduled for August 23rd but, being that I didn’t take it seriously, I obviously had to reschedule. Overall, with my distractions accounted, it took me about 3-3.5 months to study for the DATs. If you are more studious, you should be well off with 3 months!

PAT
I started off studying for the PAT with Crack PAT. I was scoring 20-22 in the first 5 tests and felt like I didn’t need to continue further. Angles gave me the most trouble since many of the questions only had a window of about 3 degrees. I guess the only method that worked for me was to look at the answers first and if there is a difference between the greatest/lowest angles in the answers, then I look at those angles only. For example, the answer choices have either angle #2 or angle #4 as the largest angles; I quickly glance back between #2 and #4 and see which is greater. Oo that brings up another point, don’t get too close to the screen! Have some space between you and the monitor – it’ll help you notice the differences more easily.
Later on when I started taking practice tests, Bootcamp PAT gave me 19-20s and qVault gave me 22s. Based on the actual test, Bootcamp was too difficult and CrackPAT & qVault are accurate to actual scores.

Tips: Start with CrackPAT, then qVault, then Bootcamp.

QR
To be honest, I’m slightly disappointed with this score. I’ve always loved math and was expecting a 22/23. I began studying here with Chad’s math videos. He covers everything you need to know for the exam!! I used Math Destroyer but I felt that was a little much. Yes, it covers everything you need to know but then some. I only got up to test #4 on the Math Destroyer. After that I did Bootcamp and qVault and those are VERY accurate! The explanations to each problem are on point and clarified any confusions.

Tips: Know your trig. Go through all of the easy problems first and those that you skipped, guess an answer anyway and mark it. The time runs out quickly and being that all questions are equally weighed, you can go back to the harder questions after. Start with Chad’s videos, then Math Destroyer (only to ease you into a time constraint and to familiarize yourself with the material, then finish it off with Bootcamp and qVault.

RC
I was never a good reader/writer. It bored me to death and just wasn’t my cup of tea. I didn’t starting studying for RC until about the last 2.5 weeks before my test. The only studying I did was through practice exams (Bootcamp and qVault). I initially tried S&D but that failed MISERABLY. I then tried an alternative (the Vicviper method): first, look through ALL of the questions. Note any keywords and keep them in the back on your noggin. Then, read the passage normally and when you come across a keyword, go back to that question and nail it. Don’t skim the passage too quickly because then you’ll lose focus of the tone questions (“How does the author feel about….”). On the actual DAT, I had an easy passage, an extremely difficult passage, then a slightly difficult passage one (in that order). When I hit that second passage, I saw how difficult it was and began to panic – NOT A GOOD THING to do. I decided to just skip it entirely and moved onto the last one. After finishing the last one, I went back to the 2nd one and had to guess on many questions since there was only about 10 minutes left on the clock.

Tips: Try to read one article a day from http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/staff. All of the articles on the DATs are scientific or research articles and this will help familiarize yourself with the structure of the piece. Find the strategy that works best FOR YOU. A lot of people like S&D, I liked the Vicviper method. So, when taking practice exams, test each method.

BIO
I have no idea how I pulled a 20 but oh good god I HATE biology :mad:. Was never a fan. I guess it’s because I don’t understand it that well? Being that I knew it would be the most difficult section for me, I studied biology first with Cliffnotes AP Biology. I wish I had the time to read it more than once but if YOU can, DO IT! I read the book, would take notes while doing so, and make flashcards out of all of them. NOT a good method since it doesn’t really help you understand the concepts but rather, only the terminology. I went onto the biology destroyer afterwards and that definitely helped a lot. I was getting most of the questions wrong at first but, I read through each explanation and tried to understand my mistake. Then, when I went to doing practice tests, I was getting 17s and 18s; never higher, sometimes lower. I honestly just gave up and told myself to accept the 18, and focus on the other areas to boost up my AA. I’m so grateful that I had a fairly easy biology section. Others may differ, but my test had a lot of questions on CELLULAR DIVISION (mitosis and meiosis). I don’t want to tell you to focus more on that section because you may get a different test and might not be as well prepared for the other topics. Like many others, I’ve found my test to not have that may questions on plants.

Tips: CLIFFSNOTESSSSS! Make that your bible. Know the concepts behind everything (reproduction, photosynthesis, the human nephron, etc). Also, if you have some time, look elsewhere (youtube maybe) to help you study taxonomy. I took anatomy and physiology last semester and that helped a lot.

GC
I love chemistry. Might be due to the fact that it goes hand-in-hand with math but that’s it, I love it. If I had to recommend one study material for general chemistry, it’d be CHAD’S VIDEOS. He is the MAN. Covers everything and makes everything so clear. Take good notes. I can’t even stress how good his videos are. I haven’t taken general chemistry for 3 years and I was still able to pull a 22 from his videos – and you can too!! After finishing his videos, go through the general chemistry destroyer. It’s a good test of your knowledge and although the questions are slightly overboard, it’s very accurate for the most part. And, again, finish it off with Bootcamp and qVault

Tips: Chad’s videos – watch it, know it, love it.

OC
I took organic chemistry 1 and 2 the year last year and good thing it’s still fresh in my memory. But again, CHADS VIDEOS! Just as good as his other videos and covers everything. Then, hit up the questions on the orgo destroyer. Yes, they’re a bit much but they’re good. Likewise, Bootcamp and qVault to finish it.

Tips: You guessed it. Chad’s videos . I only had one question on laboratory techniques (it was about C NMR) so, study those last.

Ending Notes & Tips

  • Study materials used: CliffNotes AP Bio, DAT Destroyers, CrackPAT, Chad’s videos, DAT Bootcamp, DAT qVault.
  • I didn’t get the Achiever because many people have said that it was just a confidence killer and wouldn’t help with the actual exam at all. I didn’t get it, did fine, and I’m sure you can too :).
  • Study materials are extremely expensive. If you can, find a buddy that’s also taking the DATs and split the costs.
  • Stay focused and keep your eye on the prize. If you’re like me and get easily distracted, download K9 protection – it’ll block youtube, facebook, and unproductive websites and will help you stay on track.
  • For some additional studying, go on youtube and rip off some audio on things you don’t understand. For example, if you’re behind on biology, go on youtube and search up lessons from KhanAcademy or other accounts. Use an mp3 ripper such as http://www.listentoyoutube.com/ and store the mp3 onto your computer and transfer it over to your music player and BAM. Pop that bad boy into your car and listen to it while you drive. It might sound silly, but hey, it works!
  • Bootcamp and qVault are probably the two most underrated study materials. When I was googling the best study materials, I haven’t even heard of them until I came across SDN. Both are relatively accurate to the real thing and I strongly encourage you to buy the subscription. Practice exams are the best not only because they help you with material, but they help you with timing. Which brings up another point:
  • Timing is KEY. Don’t dwell too much on one question. If you find yourself spending more than 20 seconds on a question and still have no idea how to do it, pick an answer and move on. You’ll most likely have time in the end to go back and review them.
  • 3 months time is perfect. Whether it’s reading Cliffs, doing destroyers, or watching Chad’s videos, do those things in your first 2.5 months and in your last 2-2.5 weeks, start doing practice exams.
  • I forgot to mention that I took the free 2007 DAT, too. It was way too easy and if you’d like, you can take it first before any other practice exam after you studied.


As you may have noticed, I kind of got lazy towards the end of this breakdown and I’m sure there are a lot of typos. BUT, if you have any questions or need me to clear up any points of confusion, post em below and I’ll be more than happy to respond to the best of my abilities. :)

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