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2013 DAT Breakdown – 22/21/22 by itsmesmoothe

My Full DAT Breakdown, here to help!! [22AA]

Hey guys,
I took the DAT 6/1/13 and wasn’t planning on making a breakdown, but there seems to be a lack of them recently, so I decided to bust it out to (hopefully) help you out in your adventure. Keep in mind I decided to make a detailed overview, hopefully to benefit you guys. If reading all this just gets way too laborious, I’ve noted some take home messages throughout, so you can read that to get a gist of everything, yeah?

Well, here goes!

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

Materials Used:
PAT: CDP- 10 test version
QR: Math Destroyer 
RC: CDR- 10 test version
BIO: Cliffs [primary]; KBB, Barrons, [secondary]; DAT Destroyer
GC: Chad’s, DAT Destroyer
OC: Chad’s, DAT Destroyer

Test Overview:


Keyhole: Just like everyone’s been saying, the actual was a bit harder than CDP. None of the questions seemed impossible, it just took more intuitive thinking and adeptness to pay attention to fine detail. I think what really helped me was throughout this portion I kept reminding myself: make sure the hole is a perfect fit to the object. Despite being a tad bit easier, I would say CDP helped me look at each hole more carefully though, so the program is a must for good practice.

Top-Front-End: This was on par in terms of difficulty with CDP. At first glance the questions seemed so much more difficult, but I’m certain that it was probably just due to the nerves I had in taking the test. I ended up getting through it fine. So if you’re getting 13-15 correct on these in CDP I would say you don’t have to worry.

Angle Ranking: This has always been my kryptonite to the PAT. I would like to say that it was a bit easier than CDP, but I doubt it. I’d say they’re on par, but what I liked about the real DAT was that the angles were much larger in dimensions than CDP, and I really think that was advantageous. Just keep practicing and find the best technique(s) that work(s) for you. And stay confident in your intuition!!

Hole Punching: Much easier than CDP. Standard folds and all, nothing tricky. I would note, however, that all the answer choices really just differed in 1 or 2 hole punches, and so maybe that’s what gets us when we try and be quick at picking our answer choices. So be certain that the answer choice you picked is actually the one you want! (I made that mistake a couple times on CDP so I took note of it on the real test)

Cube Counting: Should be a piece of cake for you if you’ve done CDP. If you use the cube counting technique with the rows and columns, though, be careful! I know CDP usually only gives 5 figures with 3 questions each, but I had 7 on the real test. So just make sure that the answer you put correlates to the cube that you actually counted and not a new cube. I know that sounds ridiculous, but given the circumstances that we’re all probably ‘rushing efficiently’ to finish in time, a mistake could easily be made. I caught myself both times, but only after I had put an answer down. Then I looked at the cube and was like hey .. this is a new figure. I guess I just got too used to CDP where it only gave you 5 figures. But other than that, this should be your guys’ bread and butter to get 15/15!

Pattern Folding: Again, just like everyone has been saying, this is a bit more difficult than what CDP tests you on but really because the wrong answer choices are less obvious. Shaded figures and cubes are the same level of difficulty. As for unshaded, there were some that just seemed ridiculous at first glance. I don’t really have an answer as to how to solve this issue; I just really had to take the time to piece out the figure. I guess my best advice is when doing CDP make sure you can visualize out the figure when it’s folded because if you can, then these questions can and will be doable!!

Take home message: CDP will do you wonders for the real test

Time Spent: Around 52-54 minutes. I didn’t answer 1 keyhole question and marked down about 5-6, so this gave me ample time to go back to all of them.


Nothing absurdly difficult in this portion. If you have a decent background in math (I would say pre-calculus), and you practice with repetition I think you should be okay. If anything, I’d say have an SATII math review book close by, just for reference to brush up on topics you had trouble with when doing problems. Even though I’d say math is my strongest subject, I feel like this could apply to anybody. Practice problems are really the best way to prepare for this section, in my opinion. And if math isn’t your strongest suit, don’t worry! Relax and remind yourself that you worked too hard to end on a bad note. Sprint to the finish with all you got and you’ll do great .

Take home message: Practice problems will help you weed out what you’re weak in and help you prepare for the real thing.

Time Spent: It took me about 25-30 minutes to finish all 40 problems, leaving me 20 minutes to review everything (which makes me a little disappointed with my score, since I had the opportunity to double check everything. But it’s okay! I’m not going to dwell on it)


I don’t know if there’s any “perfect” strategy for this section. There are definitely a lot of techniques to try (those of which I’ll mention later when I go into detail about my studying), so just find the right one that works for you. Compared to CDR, I’d say that the real thing is much more straightforward. Questions were much more factual which was a plus. However, to compensate, each passage was longer and there were none of those “In Paragraph ___” questions, so you still had to work to find the answer. I usually use a technique where I end up reading the whole passage, but for each one I just stopped halfway and started using S&D after realizing all the questions just seemed too factual to need to read. I still had 1 or 2 ‘tone’ or inference questions, but they weren’t excessively difficult. In terms of the factual questions asked, they were mostly on par with CDR such as the ones with the answer choices of “I, I and III only, I, II, and III”, so that could be a little frustrating at times. 

Take home message: CDR, just like CDP, will do you wonders

Time Spent: 50 minutes. This was about on par with how I usually did with CDR, so this gave me time to look back at any questions I marked (which ended up being about 4 or 5).


Well. This was much more difficult than I had anticipated. I do agree with what people on here say in terms of breadth over depth, because they really could as you anything. I’d say DAT destroyer was helpful at just reinforcing the concepts, which I’d say is the most important thing. I think the first 10 questions I skipped about 4 of them, which if course made me go into “I’m done; I have to retake this thing” mode. Fortunately, I’m the kind of guy where once I get questions I know the answer to, I gain some confidence and start to pick it up and things turn out fine. As you can see though, this was my worst score, so I probably regret not doing more than just destroyer. I hear QVault is pretty good, so look into that. Cliff’s is a really good book to use, but I want to stress that it’s there to relay the concept to you. The test really makes you work into applying what you know. So when people say if you know the ins and outs of cliffs you’ll be good, that’s true, but you’re going to have to know how to use what you know and piece out the answer by process of elimination. For those of you wondering, I had only 1 question regarding phylogeny and none asking about plant structure and such. Just try and get as much ‘general’ info as you can would be my best advice. I was able to answer some of the questions that I had only because I had just recently taken anatomy and an intro to metabolism course. 

Take home message: Breadth over depth; Try to get an overview of the whole realm of biology in your head. If you took AP Bio in high school, channel in that knowledge of yours and you’ll be solid.


Chad’s videos are something that everybody planning to take the DAT needs to invest in. He really does give you all the information you need, and destroyer, though helpful, probably overprepares you for it (which may be beneficial to some). There weren’t any questions that caught me by surprise, so in Chad you should trust! For those of you wondering, I had 2-3 Ksp solubility problems, and contrasting to what others have said in the past, I had to calculate the answer mathematically by hand for a lot of questions, meaning they didn’t have it all set up for you. In fact, there was one question where all 5 choices differed by only 1 decimal (.39 vs .393 vs .40, etc), which was a little frustrating. Nonetheless..

Take home message: Use Chad!! 


Basically Ditto to what I said up there; Chad will give you essentially everything you need to know. In fact, I want you guys to really try to make this your highest score out of all the sections. Obviously I fell way short, but I really felt like it was the easiest section of the whole test, provided that I used Chad. Everything was straightforward, asking which structure had the strongest acid or highest BP, etc. Reaction questions were all covered by Chad, so there shouldn’t be any surprises. For those asking about IR/NMR or lab techniques, I did have questions in those, so definitely know them. IR/NMR just memorize the peaks and you should be fine. 

Take home message: Use Chad!! 

Time Spent: 60 minutes. This gave me a LOT of time to review everything. I’m usually the type of person that goes through tests fairly quickly and follow it up with review/double checking, so I marked any questions that I was even 85-90% confident in (meaning I marked a lot). I had plenty of time to go over them in the end, so it seemed fine.

The Studying Process:

I gave myself 8 weeks to get this done. I go to school in a 10-week quarter system, so my great idea was to grind it out for 8 weeks, take the test, and get a week free to top it off with my finals (which were all this week). I don’t know if I’d recommend you guys doing this; it takes a really big commitment and proper time management, and it’s really taxing mentally.
Weekdays: gym + class + work from 630 am – 7 pm, then study from 730 – 1130, go home, free time for an hour, and lights out by 1-130am. Basically repeat Monday-Thursday. Friday I gave myself the day to grind out all 4 of the classes I was taking during the day, and I had night time to.. well.. do Friday night “social activities”, if you know what I mean. 
Weekends: Wake up at 9 and gym and eat until 11. Then study from 11-5. After that was really just free time or any further catching up I needed with my classes (or if midterms, then study for those). Of course, as the last 2 weeks dwindled down, those “social activities” turned into “study time” and my weekends would turn into 8-10 hours.

I think really the only way I got this done was just self-discipline. When I say studying I mean: no checking your phone for texts/calls, no facebook, no espn/reddit/tumblr/anythingelsedistracting and such. Though, one of my teachers stressed that studies have shown that to maximize academic performance you should take a short break every 1-2 hours, so around those times I would give myself a “2 song break” to listen to any two songs I wanted, and then continue. Let’s face it, nobody wants to study for 10-12 hours all the time for an extended period; it’s just mentally taxing. I would say really try and be 110% completely focused during those 3-5 hours of studying, and you could get away with that. I’m not too keen on overstudying because I feel it really leads to staleness and burnout similar to how playing a sport for a whole season can be physically taxing. 
Also, do NOT shun out all of your social life. I feel like that’s really important to keep in mind. I still had my Fridays and latter part of the weekend to see everyone that I wanted, and I felt like that helped. That way it didn’t feel like I was in complete solitary confinement. I’m really keen on optimism and maintaining a level self-confidence, and friends always make you feel better, so yeah .

Materials Used: Extended

Weeks 1-4

I didn’t touch CDP at all during this time. In fact I really only spent about a couple days ‘learning’ how to do each section best. I used http://***********/perceptual-ability-practice-tests/ to help me learn most of the techniques. For Hole punching, I used LOS (, which really simplifies things. ( –> that helped a lot for pattern folding.

And of course, definitely use (My Wicked Sick PAT Tutorial) if you’re having any trouble with these.

Other than that, I didn’t put too much focus on the PAT during the 1st half of my studying.

I did tests 1-6 from Math destroyer. Very first test was a killer. I always thought I was pretty solid in math, but boy did the destroyer humble me a lot. I think I finished that whole test in about 60 minutes, and only got 29/40 right. But what I did was I always finished and immediately after went over all I got wrong and made sure I understood everything COMPLETELY. I think reviewing over your test is probably just as important as doing the practice problems. By the 2nd test I had no problem finishing in time with destroyer (took me about 40 minutes for tests 2-6) and I’d be getting on the high end of the 30s correct. I know destroyer’s tough on a lot of you guys, so like I’ve said before, don’t worry or stress over it. It’s a learning experience and it’s there to help toughen you up and prepare for the worst . Everybody knows that it’s difficult!! So don’t worry too much if you’re struggling at first. You’ll get there

I did tests 1-5 from CDR during these 4 weeks. Like I said before, after every test I would review everything I got wrong and understand why what I put was wrong. This really helped me deviate away from everything I was doing wrong and direct me to picking the right answers. I also just tried a variety of techniques to see what would help me the most. Some I tried were: [] and [….php?t=615852] (shout-out to them for helping us with their tips). 

My technique was somewhat similar to theirs:
– I didn’t look at the questions in the beginning, I’d just start reading
1) Read paragraphs 1-5. During each paragraph, I’d write the number on my sheet and write any key words that I thought seemed relevant.
2) Go to the questions, and see if there’s any you can answer within the first 3-4.
3) When done with that, read paragraphs 7-11 and do the same as I said in [1]. 
4) Go back to the questions and see what you can answer with the next 3-5.
5) I basically continued on, but by this point I probably diligently read 1-2 more paragraphs and lightly skimmed out the rest of the passage. I still noted anything I felt relevant down.
The key to my technique wasn’t from what I wrote down, it was that I really read the passage. What noting down key words helped me with was when I would get questions with “word X” and I’d be like, “hey .. I remember writing that down; let’s see which paragraph it was from”. What just really helped me was getting into what I was reading and just understanding the passage as a whole. 

Like I said though. Find your technique and what works out best for you! Reading has always been my weak link. In fact in the SAT my critical reading was always the worst. I just had to find my niche to succeed in the passages.

I read Cliff’s thoroughly once, and then read the ecology section in Kaplan [white book; I think it’s the one they give you if you take their course? A good buddy of mine gave it to me, so yeah]. I actually didn’t get through reading all of cliffs until about week 6-7, which is probably why it’s my lowest score. Like I said though, make sure you know as much info as possible in the general aspect. For those of you wondering, I’ve taken general biology, biochemistry, physiology and anatomy courses in college, so this probably helped me get away with not having to read the ins and outs of Cliff’s. Also, I took AP Bio in high school [which was probably my favorite class], and I’m being honest with you, I think any high school student who had just taken AP bio can probably get a 30 on this section for the DAT. So if you have a good background, try and dig deep to remember! 

But do not take this section lightly at all. There’s a lot of information the test could throw at you, so it’s best if you know as much as possible.

I vigorously went through all of Chad’s videos during the first 4 weeks. Pay attention to everything he says, don’t listen and do something else [like text/check your phone] while doing the videos. Make sure you write down more than what he writes too! If he says something that you feel is important to write down, pause and write it in your notes. If you can get through these it’ll be your bread and butter for your studies, and you won’t need to touch that old fatty textbook.

Weeks 5-8

This is where I started using CDP. My very first test I got a 16, and I wasn’t even close to finishing (I got to question 77, I think). Talk about busting my groove. Though it really demoralized me, it really helped me realize that something like this isn’t going to be a walk in the park. I didn’t even attempt the 2nd test until I went over all the links that I posted earlier above, and then I followed by going over the 1st test question by question and deciphering each answer as to why it was/wasn’t correct. After doing so, I moved on to the next test. By the last test, I was getting 25s, so that was a plus. What I usually did was no more than 1 test a day, and after finishing the test close the program!! The very next day I would open up the program and extensively review that test, going through each question one by one and understanding it to its entirety. This probably took about an hour each time, but I think it was well worth it. Like I said, reviewing the problems that you did is just as important as doing them itself. I can’t stress it enough!!

Everything still standard, just followed with tests 7-12, and went over each test after completing it. I had finished everything with a week and a half to spare, so I redid tests 1-5 just to keep my little math mind stimulated. For tests 6-12 I just skimmed over what I got wrong from the first go-around and made sure I understood the correct answer.

Same thing, just did tests 6-10, keeping up the practice. By this time I was set on my own technique (which I described above), so I just kept practicing it for good measure for these tests. I don’t think there really is any other way to sharpen this section other than practice. If you’re an avid reader, I’d say this should be a piece of cake for you. (I hated reading when I was younger, and I credit this as to why I still have 20/20 vision today, though I don’t know if my claim is entirely valid, it’s just fun to theorize it to my friends)

I continued reading Cliff’s from weeks 5-6 or 7, then followed up with by skimming with Barron’s AP Bio. I Also started Destroyer by this time, doing 40 questions at a time (to simulate the real test). Some days I would do 1-40, take a break, then 41-80, while other days I would just stick with 40 questions. Nonetheless, I couldn’t go on until I reviewed my answers and went back on everything I went wrong. I ended up finishing destroyer for bio only once. As for those wondering about Barron’s, I personally felt like it was a good little review after Cliff’s. I feel like Cliff’s goes a little more in-depth, and so for Barron’s to be a really big general overview compared to Cliff’s, I felt like it was a pretty good resource. It also touched up on a lot of subjects that Cliff’s failed to cover.

I started using this about at the end of week 5. For this process I basically simulated the actual exam, so in one sitting I’d do 40-biology, 30-GC, 30-OC. After doing so, I’d check my answers, marked what I had wrong, and then did extensive review. Basically, I went through all the questions I answered incorrectly and typed out notes of the questions I got wrong, sort of as a reminder to brush up on those topics. By the time I completed destroyer, I think I had about 15-20 pages of typed up notes for all 3 sections. I’d like to note that I did not do the QR section of DAT Destroyer, as I’ve heard it’s a little too easy compared to the actual test. If I were to go back, though, I’d probably try out those problems because it really seemed like those questions were more on par with what the actual test was like. But, if you don’t have the time, I probably would agree that if you know how to do Math Destroyer, then you’re ready for the worst thing to be thrown at you.
Keep in mind: I wouldn’t do destroyer problems on consecutive days. I’d devote one day to doing the 40-30-30 cycle once or twice followed by review, and the next day I would once again look over Chad’s notes or Barron’s.

Summed up version of Weeks 1-8:
– CDP and CDR tests 1-10
– Math Destroyer tests 1-12
– READ Cliff’s, SKIM Barron’s, DAT Destroyer [ONCE]
– CHAD’s OC and GC videos, DAT Destroyer [ONCE]
**I followed each one of these with extensive review of all the problems I did

Final Thoughts:
Well, I’m glad it’s done. I shot for the stars [I wanted a 24 AA], and landed a bit short, but hey who’s to complain? I know some of you are probably asking, “did you REALLY only use those materials? And NO PRACTICE TESTS?!” Let’s just say 1) I was a little too cheap to purchase topscore/achiever and all the other good resources people use, and 2) I guess I’m not really a ‘practice test’ kind of guy. Just like all of my college courses, I always just told myself, “Hey, if you grasp all the material at hand, then just trust yourself to be able to apply the concepts when the actual test comes.” I just felt like so many people relied on practice tests and its repetition to do well that sometimes they would brush aside reviewing the material too. But I mean, I also felt like I didn’t have time to invest in practice tests over 8 weeks with classes and work. If I had more time, I’d definitely consider taking some. I also didn’t worry too much about running out of time since I’ve always been one to finish my tests pretty quickly. 
Just Remember! This was my little plan of attack. I used a limited amount of resources, but made sure I really knew ALL of them well. I also knew I’d have to sacrifice a lot this quarter to stay focused on the task at had, but it was something I was willing to do. Everyone is different in how they study, so I’d say really just find what YOU think works for you. I’m a 3rd year, and I actually wanted to take the DATs the summer of my 2nd year, but hah, I chose girlfriend [since we’re long distance over the school year] over studying, so the price I paid was sacrificing this past quarter (I’d say it was worth it). I was fortunate to take all my chem/bio courses on top of biochem, anatomy, and physiology, so yeah. 

Take Home Message:
Don’t stress too much over it [since I know you’re probably going to stress at least a little bit]. Don’t think of it as a hard test, because by the end of it you’ll have prepared so much and worked too hard to not succeed. Stay positive, optimistic and confident in yourself. I only told a handful of people I was taking this test and the morning of, right before I took the test, I looked over my phone from 2 texts that my friends sent telling me I was gonna kill it. Then I went off, pounded my chest with my fists and told myself “You got this” (haha, it’s a thing I do to keep me confident before tests and stuff). Believe in yourself, stay calm and composed and you’ll do great things!! [If I were to take the test again, I’d seriously consider downing a beer or taking a quick swig of vodka right before the test to just calm my nerves and build my confidence. I’m serious]

Well, if you read all this, I really appreciate you taking the time. I also want to thank EVERYBODY on SDN for helping me out, each one of you probably contributed in some way so I’m really thankful for that.

For the rest of you getting ready to take the test. Don’t worry, you guys are gonna do great .

P.S. I’m here to help! If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to ask here or PM me! I want you guys to succeed.

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