2013 DAT Breakdown – 22/21/22 by lmcole3
-2 weeks. I’m a full time student getting a bio degree, so since my semester just ended ~2 weeks ago, that’s when I started studying. I did roughly 5-6 hours per day, so maybe 80ish hours total.
THE REAL TEST
1. Kaplan Blue Book
-This book was okay for starting out the study process, but it is super broad and doesn’t hit a lot of major topics. I went through it once, highlighting and taking notes, but I felt like it wasn’t super helpful, it was more of a review. However, the colored tear-out study sheets that come with the book were actually really helpful for last minute review of major topics.
2. Cliff’s AP Biology
-This was great for bio. I’m a bio major, but most of this stuff was from freshman year so this was a really good book for getting a little more detail than the Kaplan Blue Book. I also liked the practice questions at the end of each section.
3. Crack DAT – PAT
-I got the 10-test version and I LOVED it. Almost identical to the real thing. My only complaint about CDP is that my actual DAT had some hole punch 1/3 folds on it, and I never encountered any 1/3 folds in practice with CDP. Other than that, I think this was 100% worth the money and really helped prepare me for the PAT.
4. DAT Question Of The Day + DAT Bootcamp
-I’m not 100% sure, so correct me if I’m mistaken, but I think the same guy runs both sites. DAT Question Of The Day was great because I actually signed up for it a couple months ago and got a new DAT question in my email every single day – FOR FREE. Always a good thing. I took notes on all these questions and I feel like they were similar to the style/type of questions on the DAT. DAT Bootcamp was great too. I didn’t purchase the tests because I only found out about this a couple days ago, but I did all the free practice tests for each section and they were SO HELPFUL. I also went through and took notes on each of these questions too and I felt that these science/QR questions were also really similar to the style/type of questions on the DAT. Even though I only used Bootcamp for the last few days, I think I liked it the best and it was the most helpful out of everything I did.
5. Practice Tests
A) Kaplan Blue Book – There are 2 practice tests that come with this book, one printed in the back of the book and one online. I took both of them. I liked the online one because it gave me a feel for the length of each section, BUT – In my opinion, both Kaplan tests were much easier than the real DAT. Especially the PAT section. Don’t even look at Kaplan PAT stuff, because it is not representative at all.
B) Kaplan Free Online Practice Test – They have these on different scheduled dates throughout the year. Again, I thought it was easier than the real thing, and it was not a full length test. The science section was full length, but everything else was shortened, so not really all that helpful.
6. Old Notes
-I mainly used old notes for Organic and General Chemistry, since Kaplan was way too broad.
1. SURVEY OF NATURAL SCIENCES
A) Biology – Let me start by saying I have read tons of breakdowns where everyone describes biology as “random.” THEY’RE RIGHT. It was so random. I am a biology major, and there were things on there that made me say “what the heck is that?” With that being said, I think Cliff’s was a great resource and if I would’ve read through it a second time I probably would’ve known the answers to a few more questions. All the advice I have is to know a little bit of everything, but also know examples of different kinds of vocabulary/phyla/processes/etc. And do not disregard plants….or ecology…
B) General Chemistry – Definitely a straightforward section. Make sure you know all your major equations and constants, because all they give you is a periodic table. I think my biggest challenge in GC was making sure all my equations/calculations were done correctly, because you do not have the calculator during this section. What was nice is that most of the problems with long calculations have them all set up for you in the answer choices, which helped with time.
C) Organic Chemistry – I struggled in organic chemistry when I took it a couple semesters ago, and I still struggled with it on the DAT. I think I knew the basics, but I didn’t know things in depth. I’ve heard destroyer or Chad’s videos are great for organic. I didn’t buy either because I’m cheap, but I probably could’ve used the practice. In hindsight, I probably should’ve used one of those, but oh well!
**Sciences In General** – On practice tests, I had about 20-30 minutes to go over this section. On the real thing, I had 3 minutes left at the end. I was super stressed in this section because I was so bummed that I struggled through biology, when biology is my major! I think if I would’ve been a little quicker going through GC/OC I would have had a little more time to go back and review. So time management is key!
2. PERCEPTUAL ABILITY
A) Keyholes: In my opinion, these were a little more difficult than the ones on CDP. In CDP, a lot of times you can determine the answer by looking at the lengths/proportions of the shape, but the real DAT Keyholes required a little more flipping/rotating the shape (mentally) to determine the right answer.
B) Top-Front-End: Again, in my opinion these were much harder than the ones on CDP. Then again, TFE has always been my worst section, so I may not be a good judge. These are just tricky, I don’t have much advice for this section
C) Angles: The real angles were easier than CDP or comparable to CDP. Definitely a good section to go through a little more quickly and make up for lost time spent on TFE!
D) Hole Punching: Let me start by saying, at the very start of my DAT prep, hole punches were awful for me (I mean like getting 1/15 correct on CDP lol). Then I found a link to this video somewhere on these DAT Forums and it saved me!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ud0ZX0eEFA After using the line of symmetry method, I was getting 15/15. So thank you to whoever posted that on SDN and to the guy who made the video! My one downfall on the real hole punches on the DAT was that I encountered some 1/3 folds — never saw any problems like those until the real test today. Definitely threw me off, so try to find some problems like that to practice if you can.
E) Cube Counting: This was definitely easier than CDP or comparable to CDP. I think my structures on the DAT had less cubes overall than the ones in CDP (hallelujah).
F) Pattern Folding: These were tough on the real test. In CDP practice, I could get the right answers just by looking at the general shape, length, and size of the unfolded paper, but on the real test I had many more patterns with colors/shading that I had to take into account.
**PAT In General** This was definitely extremely similar to CDP! Spend the money and get the 10 test version if you can, I really liked it. My PAT Practice test scores on CDP were right around 21 or 22. So CDP is VERY representative of the real test!
3. READING COMPREHENSION
-I’m not sure how to really give too much advice on this. It’s a section you’re either good at or bad at! I personally am not a fan of the “search and find” method where you don’t read the passage fully. For me personally, I have to take the time to read it all the way through and get the main ideas, then answer the questions. Of course I had to go back to the passage for small details, but it was easier to know the inference/assumption questions after reading the whole thing. My passages were science related, but very easy to read, which was a relief! I guess my advice is to stay calm, read the passages through before you answer the questions, and watch the time!! I almost ran out of time.
4. QUANTITATIVE REASONING
-This section was awful. I didn’t even finish! 45 minutes goes by FAST, which I found out the hard way as I had 3 minutes left and 10 questions to finish. So I literally just had to select random answers for those before the time ran out. This was so depressing because I am very strong in math, I’ve never really had to try too hard to do well in my college math classes, but this section was definitely overwhelming. I think most of the problems just take time to set up correctly, so even though the material/concepts weren’t that difficult, the problems just took a while! If you can, take lots of practice tests and try to increase your speed on this section. I thought this would for sure be my highest score…LOL.
-General advice for this section: know your formulas, do not neglect trigonometry and all those trig identities, and BREATHE. I almost had a panic attack (not exaggerating) during this section because I was so overwhelmed with the time limit. You definitely need to work quickly and calmly to succeed in this section.
5. OVERALL TESTING EXPERIENCE
Wow. What a stressful experience! I’m glad it’s over and I’m happy with my scores! Even though they aren’t the typical 27/28/29’s floating around these forums, I’m proud of my scores! Here’s some random advice/experiences/tips/miscellaneous info.
1. They do NOT allow you to write on your papers and make your grids for the PAT during the tutorial!!! In Crack DAT PAT, they specifically said to use the tutorial for this, and many people on these forums have said to do this, but my testing person almost kicked me out for it!!! I almost had a panic attack (again haha). I was sitting in the tutorial writing out my grids and random formulas for chemistry when she came up to me and threatened to kick me out if I didn’t hand over my papers. She said “absolutely NO note taking during the tutorial!” This just got me all stressed out and worked up. So this definitely took a couple minutes off my PAT section having to write these out. Stressful! Check with your testing center/call ahead to see if they have the same rules.
2. If you’re a slow test taker like me, definitely take practice tests beforehand to get a feel for the time constraints – especially for Quantitative Reasoning.
3. BREATHE. I think I held my breath for minutes at a time I was so stressed. During QR my hands were shaking I was so overwhelmed and frustrated. If I would’ve taken a couple seconds to take a deep breath, I think I could have focused a bit better.
4. I had someone (my mom) drive me to the testing center which was SUCH a relief. My center is about 45 minutes away, so having someone else drive just put me a little more at ease. Have someone drive you or go see your testing center before hand just so you know how to get there.
5. I was concerned about the new pens and laminated paper. They’re actually really nice! One of my pens dried out, but that was because I left the cap off when she specifically told me to keep the cap on when possible lol. The pens are like fine tip sharpies and the paper at my center had grids on it like graph paper, which was great for hole punching. Try not to fill them up too quickly or too often, because if you do, you will have to hold it out and wait for them to bring you a new one, which takes a little time.
6. Go early. I got there about an hour before my appointment because I’m paranoid about being late to things like this, but they let me go ahead and start the test about 30 minutes before my appointment time! I like to get things out of the way rather than wait around and stress, so this was great.
7. Don’t wear a zip-up sweat shirt. They made me take mine off even though I said I was cold. So, I guess if you wore a hooded sweatshirt or pull over they may not make you take it off.
8. Eat breakfast before, and eat a little snack during the break. I needed that clif bar to help me stay focused and stop my stomach from growling.
9. I brought ear plugs and then wore the noise-cancelling headphones over them. People around me were typing a lot, so I needed to really block out the noise and it worked great.
10. This is just funny to me — They metal detect you and fingerprint you when you go in and out of the room, and I have very long hair which i put up into a high bun, and they kept running the metal detector over/around my bun every time I entered/exited the room! I just thought that was so funny, I guess they think I could be hiding notes up there in my hair? LOL. At least it made me laugh and helped me de-stress for a minute.
SO, FINAL WORDS: I’m so thankful to anyone who’s posted a DAT Breakdown on SDN. I found them all really helpful in getting prepared for my own test experience. I really do apologize for the super long post, but I warned you! And I like to be thorough. I hope this breakdown has at least one helpful word of advice for someone out there (probably a long-time lurker like myself). So good luck to everyone with upcoming DATs and I hope you all get 30’s on every section!