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2013 DAT Breakdown – 21/23/20 by Aromatic Amine

Hello SDN!

I must say that it’s been an absolute pleasure learning from this forum. I feel that I need to give back by giving my breakdown and study method so you all can succeed. With a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck you can all succeed on this beast of an exam. It’ll be a tough journey but in the end when your scores pop up and you’ve scored in the 90th percentile you’ll know that every moment you spent studying on your chair in your room or library instead of partying with your buddies or just chillin out was totally worth it. That satisfaction of knowing that your scores will not hold you back from achieving your dream is truly amazing. I am not the smartest kid in the world, and most of my good grades/test scores usually correlated to my hard work ethic. If I don’t study for an exam I generally don’t do well (learned the hard way in college).

Ok so that’s my motivational spiel. On to what you all have come here to read. I studied for 1 and a half months.

PAT 20 – 73.8%tile
Quantitative Reasoning 17 – 62.3%tile
Reading Comprehension 19 – 53.2%tile
Biology 23 – 97.4%tile
General Chemistry 24 – 96.1%tile
Organic Chemistry 21 – 84.6%tile
Total Science 23 – 97.5%tile
Academic Average 21 – 91.3%tile

Materials Used
1) Chads Videos/Notes
2) Crack DAT (PAT, Reading)
3) Cliffs AP Biology 3rd Edition
4) DAT Q-Vault
5) Achiever Exams
6) Topscore Exams
7) DAT Question of the Day (by DAT Bootcamp)
8) DAT Destroyer
9) Math Destroyer


Let me first preface this section by saying that I struggled tremendously on this section. Not breaking over 18 on my first 4 attempts on the Crack DAT Tests. I am going to breakdown each individual section and tell you what I used. I used almost exclusively Crack DAT PAT for this section with the exception of PAT Tests I took in full length exams (i.e., Topscore and Achiever). 

I’d like to say that Achiever PAT is a waste of time. It was not nearly representative of the real thing. If u want to take 1 test just to get a feel for the difficulty, by all means go for it. I really didn’t find a use for it because I would just get frustrated when I saw a low score. Topscore was a little better then Achiever but because of time constraints I was only able to take one PAT test from them. In hindsight if i had more time then i would have definitely given them a shot. In my humble opinion I would rank CDP>Topscore>Achiever. I didn’t use Q-Vault PAT but if you have time, by all means give it a shot. It can’t hurt you.

Keyholes: I felt that this section was one of the easier ones on CDP. I would consistently get 12/15 or 13/15s on this section. There is no real secret for this except just rotate the image and try to fit it through the key. You could employ the squash method which states that you squish all of the sides from either (top to bottom, front to back, or left to right) into a single plane so that you can fit it through the keyhole. I found that method to be quite helpful. The person explains it pretty well in the CDP tutorial. The biggest CAVEAT here for this topic is that on the real test, you will not likely get it easy. As a matter of fact, I found keyholes to be quite difficult because it took into account proportions which is something CDP did very little of. You must pay attention to each length and piece sticking out to make sure that you have them proper. 

Top Front End: THIS WAS THE BANE OF MY EXISTENCE. Until I sat down and truly understood what the solid and dashed lines meant. To be honest, I find the solid lines to be more helpful than dashed lines. Do not use line counting, it’ll waste your time on the real DAT and it’s better you actually learn to visualize what the solid and dashed lines mean. A quick way to look at a solid line is to pretend that something is either jutting out at you or is pushed into the plane leaving either a step or change in height/depth – depending on which way you look at it. The way i proceeded to answer questions were as followed. Ultimately CDP was very similar to the TFE on the real test, although I did find that the real test was a touch harder. 

1) I would look at the depth of the object. If i found that the depth was either sticking out towards you or behind the image then one of the corresponding views (specifically top and end) would show an extra depth piece sticking out. The easiest object sticking out was usually a cylinder either jutting out to you. 

2) I would look at the dashed lines to see if there was anything that was remotely possible of being hidden behind the plane. 

3) I found myself looking at CDP tutorial for this section as well. It was truly helpful in determining that the Front View showed both the X and Y axis. The End view showed both the Y and Z axis. and the Top View showed the X and Z axis. IF you are able to learn this and relate each one to each other you will be in good shape. You can almost always eliminate 1 answer choice because it just isn’t the right proportion or depth.

This section is really hard to explain via words. If this confused you more, just ignore everything i just said. If it helped you a little bit..great!

Angle Ranking: In the beginning I used to struggle with these. To be honest, I still struggle with these, but the angles on CDP will definitely prepare you for the angles on the real deal. Frankly the angles on the CDP are much harder, and I had a quite easy section on my DAT for angles. So i think you all should just practice hard for the angles via CDP and you will be good to go. If you can pull 10/15 on those you should be ok for the real deal. Don’t get me wrong..I had a few tough ones, but probably not as difficult as the ones you’ll encounter in succession on a CDP test. The angles were a lot easier to distinguish between on the real deal. 

Hole Punches: It’s a real treat knowing you can get a 15/15 on this section without too much difficulty. Learn the Line of Symmetry method which is posted by a fellow SDNer (if you’re reading this i want to thank you from the bottom of my heart). This method is all you need and i was able to learn it in a matter minutes and perfect it an a few hours. I never missed a question on hole punches thereafter. I had a few weird folds on the real deal, but if you can perfect the LOS (line of symmetry method) then you will easily learn how to deal with a 1/3 fold. I had little to no trouble on this section on the real deal. Had 2 or 3 weird folds but you can figure it out through trial and error. 

Cube Counting: CDP people are mean. Simply put, you are gonna get some crazy illusions, and HUGE number of blocks to count. I can remember I had like 35 one of the CDP tests. That is not the case on the real deal. You will have normal numbers and no illusions. Easier on the real thing than the CDP

Pattern Folding: OK this was tough. Not fun to take but hey, when you get to this section you know the break is coming soon so you just push through it and you’ll get through this. The thing with pattern folding is, I never really tried to fold the pattern first. I always looked the answer choice and saw which face was pointing at me. I used to rotate the image and try to fold it based off that orientation then. Also look at shading and see which contiguous sides are shaded with each other. If the answer shows the opposite or something farfetched, it’s not your answer. 

My CDP Test Scores: 

60/90 DNF = 18
63/90 DNF = 18
61/90 DNF = 18
61/90 DNF = 18
71/90 = 20
71/90 = 20

On these practice tests the DNF stands for “did not finish.” I had a serious problem trying to finish because i was taking too long on top front end and angles. the DNFs represented me guessing on almost all of the pattern folding questions because i had about 5 minute left to finish 15 questions. On the real deal i had about 12 minutes left, and that was more than enough time to answer the questions without rushing through them.

Topscore PAT = 17 (the only one i took and that was the 1st test)
Achiever PAT = 15 (ridiculous, don’t waste your time, maybe aside from keyholes)

I only took 6 tests due to time constraints, but you can see where I made my progress. By adding a few questions to your total score per section you can easily get a 20. Just keep practicing. It is one of those sections where you must keep practicing in order to keep those skills refined. 

Phew that was long. Hopefully these next few sections won’t be too long. 

Quantitative Reasoning

Ok so you see that I got a 17. What did I preface earlier? If you don’t study you probably won’t do well. That is exactly what happened to me. I just didn’t have the energy to study for math at the end of my study days. I would put it off and in the end only managed to take 4 Math Destroyer Tests. Put more effort and you won’t end up like me. However a 17 in math is probably the least of my worries (although I wish i had gotten at least an 18 on this section). Just review your basics with Chads, and then use Math Destroyer. If you can do decent on those, you will have no problem getting a 20+ on those. BEWARE Destroyer is hard. It is meant to kill you, but if you can run a 10k then running 1 mile isn’t too difficult. 



For this section i started out using Cliffs AP Biology. It is probably one of the driest books i have ever read. It is just a bunch of facts. And since I haven’t learned plant biology/evolution/ecology since high school, I found myself really trying hard to keep attention to this book because it’s just a list of facts. However, it is almost 90% of the material you need to know for the DAT biology portion. I am going to say that whatever gaps/facts i couldn’t understand i would turn to youtube. I looked up plants specifically to Craig Savage. Look him up on youtube, he’s got a comprehensive biology review. I used a his videos on plants and diversity. They were tremendously helpful. In hindsight, if i had more time i would have started by watching all of craig savage’s videos, and then attacking Cliffs AP Bio book. After i finished reading Cliffs, i used destroyer. Although nothing specific from DAT destroyer came up on my exam, it was a tremendous book. It really is tough, so don’t fret if you get like 75% of the questions correct the first run through (like me). It really forces you to know why the answers are right or wrong. You really get a lot from this because in biology, if you know why an answer choices incorrect, you can change it to make it look correct. So not only do you learn from the right answer choice, but the other 4 choices will help you get some good facts down. The explanations were pretty helpful in some of the questions, and i felt that really saved me specifically for plants and taxonomy. Overall I would study with Craig Savage (or Khan Academy)>Cliffs AP Biology>Destroyer> Q-Vault. I used Q-vault for about 8 tests and it was truly helpful. Worth every penny and certainly gives you those random questions you don’t expect. Do not miss out and definitely buy it. It may save you on a few questions. 

On the real deal it was truly random and you must prepare from all angles. Even then i had a few questions that no matter how much i prepared, i wasn’t going to get the answer. So my advice? When you get biology questions that is funky, you must select the answer choice that is most plausible and makes the most sense. (easier said than done) but if you get a biology question that asks about the liver or heart, make sure your answer choice pertains to that and is not farfetched because you think the DAT is there to throw you off. It is a fundamental exam not a trick question exam. 

My Q-Vault scores: (I only took 8 tests because of time constraints)
34/40 = 21 
35/40 = 22
31/40 = 19
33/40 = 20
32/40 = 20
33/40 = 20
32/40 = 20
35/40 = 22

General Chemistry

Ok I sucked at general chemistry in High school. Probably got lucky with C-‘s and might have even gotten a D one marking period. lol (yeah i was horrible at chemistry). In college i was average nothing special. I learned my fundamental chemistry knowledge from a book i used to prepare for the MCAT with. It was from a company called Berkeley Review. It was a true gem of a book, but i realized that I didn’t need to read an in depth book on Gen Chem to do well. I used chads here, and might I say that if i was a female I would be head over heels for this guy. I mean he’s awesome! He really hooked it up with what you needed to know and taught you in a very nice manner. Great teacher and his quizzes were helpful reinforcing the material. I then moved onto destroyer. It was helpful and definitely a lot harder than the real deal. On my real test i had a few questions unsure but in the end chads was all you needed. Chads>Destroyer>Q-vault. Once again, Q-vault was helpful but it wasn’t as great as biology. I bought the whole package for $200. It probably isn’t worth your time to take the general chemistry for Q-vault because it’s really basic. But if you have time to burn it can’t hurt to take these tests. I found my real exam to be more like the topscore science sections. Topscore was great help. 

My Q-Vault Scores
27/30 = 24
25/30 = 21
24/30 = 20
27/30 = 24
28/30 = 26
24/30 = 20

Organic Chemistry

This was my best section whilst studying. I scored a 25 on the last topscore exam i took for organic and i really wished my exam was as easy as that. But instead my exam was pretty brutal for organic and it left me walking away feeling as though i didn’t know my fundamentals and reactions. In the end it was my lowest science score and it reflected. Once again Chads was everything you needed to know (I just didn’t recall his information well on my exam i guess). If you review his notes a few times and do Destroyer and know those roadmaps in and out, there is no reason why you cannot get a 30 on this section. OH not to mention i had a bunch of NMR questions. I HATE NMR so make sure you brush up on those values and you will be fine. Chads>Destroyer>Q-Vault would be my order once again. Do as much practice as you can and you will score well.

My Q-vault Scores
26/30 = 22
23/30 = 20
25/30 = 21
29/30 = 29
24/30 = 20
21/30 = 19

I am not going to do a Reading Comprehension Analysis because i am truly horrible at it. My real test was BRUTAL in reading. I mean i had hard time keeping attention because i had a crazy physics passage and had so much trouble understanding and keeping mental notes about what they were saying. I would say just do CDP Reading and you should be ok. 

My CDP Reading Scores
33/50 = 18
33/50 = 18

I only took two because reading and math were my two lowest priorities. LOOK…if you rape the sciences you will get a good TS and AA. The RC and QR are just brownie points. (that’s the way i look at it). The real test was more of a mix between CDP and Achiever. Topscore reading is only used for search and destroy. I got like a 45/50 on that test and my real test was 2x harder than that. 

Achiever Exam

OK so this exam series was truly difficult. I bought the 1-7 exam set but only had time and stamina to take 4 of these guys. I would like to say that i took 8 exam sets in 5 days before my DAT. I do not recommend this. It was very stressful getting 17’s and 18’s right before your exam. If in hindsight i had more time or (had better time management) i would have done the tests 2 weeks before my real exam. Then review my exams the final week and the penultimate week i would have review my AP Bio/Gen Chem/Organic notes and questions saved from Q-vault. That would be IDEAL.

However I just crammed and luckily it worked for me. I don’t recommend it. Achiever sciences were really tough. It had me feeling as though I didn’t know anything. They are really detailed questions so they help you get the fundamentals down.


OK so you got 3 topscore exams which i took. These exams were vital in me learning my taxonomy. Some of the questions were REALLY REALLY nitpicky and I did not like them one bit. In hindsight these tests were more similar to my real test than Achiever. I am not saying that achiever is bad, but the real deal is just not as difficult (although the nerves and feeling you did horrible throughout the test is a different type of stress). Use topscore it is vital. Ordering it was a little pain. those guys and their websites were like from the stone age. But once u download it and use it, it’ll help tremendously. Learn from the mistakes rather than use these exams to gauge your performance.

Achiever Test Scores
T1 T2 T3
Biology 21 17 17
GC 20 17 18
Organic 19 15 18
PAT 15 * *
RC 17 * *
QR 19 * *
TS 20 17 18
AA 19 * *

Topscore Test Scores
Topscore T1 T2 T3
Biology 20 18 17
GC 17 18 *
Organic 18 20 25
PAT 17 * *
RC 23 * *
QR 21 * *
TS 18 19 *
AA 19 * *

I hope this helped you guys a lot. I am around for questions so please feel free to ask. I am a little late in the app cycle but i’m gonna give it a whirl hopefully someone like me and I can start school. Study hard and Study smart. The 1 and a half months of working hard were really tough to keep pace. But when u cross the finish line it is SO SO SO SO WORTH IT!:)

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