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2013 DAT Breakdown – 22/23/22 by J777

 Breaking it Down: The DAT (5/1/2013)

Hello Fellow PreDents,

If you get anything from my breakdown, it would be this: DURING YOUR TEST, YOU WILL LIKELY FEEL LIKE YOU ARE DROWNING AND THAT YOU WILL PROBABLY HAVE TO RETAKE. I’ve read it in many other breakdowns but when I was taking the test, I truly felt like I was indeed performing poorly and that my application would be compromised. However, if you prepare for this test, these thoughts should not get in your way. Push them aside and realize that you have prepared, that you are probably doing better than you think.

My background: I am a non-traditional student. I studied economics during my undergrad. Several life-changing events eventually led me to pursue dentistry. I am currently finishing up the prereqs for dental school in a post-bacc program for career changers. In my program, I have taken Intro Cell Bio, Genetics, Physics, OChem, GChem, Biochem, and Physio. Though my test strongly lacked physio topics, I would highly recommend taking physiology right before your test. It helps put together concepts from many disciplines and will facilitate your studying.

Undergrad GPA: 3.65
Post Bacc GPA (all prereq science courses): 4.0

Scores

PAT 22 (93.4%)
QR 21 (96.4%)
RC 21 (76.7%)
Bio 22 (95.9%)
GC 23 (95.4%)
OC 24 (95.7%)
TS 23 (97.8%)
AA 22 (97.0%) 

Materials Used

Cliffs: Like a broken record, this resource was invaluable in my studies. Know the info in this book and you are almost there for the biology section.
Chad’s: Broken record again. He tells you what you need to know. Understand his concepts for OC and GC and you will be golden. His quizzes were representative of a majority of the test.
DATQVault (all subjects): AMAZING resource for biology. In addition to the standard biology concepts, DQV really helps teach you important concepts that were lacking in Cliff’s. Pay specific attention to some of the physio, INTEGUMENTARY SYSTEM, SKELETAL SYSTEM, and random anatomy. ADDITIONALLY, THEIR TAXONOMY GRIDS WERE VITAL. If you know those grids, you will be prepared for a majority of the random biodiversity q’s that can come up on the test. Their chem and ochem sections were not bad either. The GC and OCHEM tests are largely underrated and help with conceptual questions. With that said, they had their fair share of mistakes and ochem presented obscure reagents that were probably beyond the scope of the exam.
Destroyer (All subjects): People tend to say that Destroyer is overkill. I somewhat agree with this. However, I can think of several instances where Destroyer’s chem/ochem sections led me to the correct answers on the test. Compared to 2009 GC and 2007 GC/OC, my test was a bit harder and so I felt that Destroyer really helps prepare you for the tougher questions. Additionally, the biology section was GOLDEN. There were a handful of Q’s from my DAT that were directly out of Destroyer. I’d suggest taking notes in the margins next to each question and running through them the day before your exam so that you have a good sampling of random facts ready to go.
Math Destroyer: A MUST if you want to succeed in QR. Know tests 1-10 cold and you will be set. I wish that I had spent more time with this because my QR test was very comparable to the Math Destroyer. 
Old Textbooks: I borrowed my sister’s Campbell’s AP bio book from 2004 (7th ed). This was helpful for filling in gaps. However, I still say Cliff’s is pretty sufficient. I also used old genetics, physio, chem, and ochem textbooks to expand on topics I was unsure about.
CDP: I felt that my test was comparable to CDP in difficulty. Holes were on par (maybe slightly harder), the proportions played a larger role. It was also more difficult to eliminate wrong answers on the real thing than in CDP. For TFE, as many have said, line counting does not work for the most part. There were several instances where it did, but I would highly suggest visualizing the object because that is what will get you through. Angles were on par with CDP, maybe slightly easier. Hole punching was a bit harder. Look out for whacky folding. Cubes were easier. Pattern folding was probably a little bit easier.
CDR: Somewhat helpful for tone questions and tackling a strategy. But the passages were not representative of the real test. My passages were heavily science based and were 14 paragraphs each. 

Thoughts on the Test

Bio: During the section, I probably marked 15 questions. I found this section to be challenging because there were many questions that had two answers that I would have considered correct. I just went with my gut and hoped for the best. There were also several analytical questions that caught me off guard. However, for the most part, the section was doable. I feel like I could have answered nearly every question simply using Cliff’s, DQV, and Destroyer. However, I did supplement my studies with textbooks so it is hard to say. The questions were asked at a higher level of specificity than I was expecting. If you run through the suggested material and learn from your mistakes, the broadness of the test is still very manageable. All and all, this test was somewhat broad did not cover several high-yield topics that I thought would definitely be covered. 
Chem: Chad and Destroyer are really all that you need. The test consisted of approximately half conceptual, half calculations. Calculations were pretty basic. There were a few oddball questions that you really cannot prepare for. Just trust your knowledge in chemistry and you should be ok. If you feel like you need to brush up on concepts, look into the ACS exams.
Ochem: As others have said, this section was pretty simple. Know your basic reaction mechanisms, acidity, aromaticity, reaction products, and nomenclature. Also look out for NMR, IR, lab techniques, and basic biochem questions. Chad prepares you perfectly. Also, USE THE ROADMAPS IN DESTROYER. Make a sheet of the roadmaps with the products whited out. Add reactions from Chad’s videos that are not covered on the roadmaps and you will be covered. I took my time during Bio and Chem and so I only had 22 minutes to complete this section. However, it was more than enough time.
PAT: Already talked about it above. However, I did not mention anything about Achiever. I took 5 Achiever tests and found them to be more difficult, especially in the keyholes, TFE, and pattern folding. I also took too much time at the beginning of the PAT and had to guess on a good chunk of the pattern folding questions. I had 7 mins to complete this section so I was scrambling and made many educated guesses with several blind guesses.
RC: I took notes on each paragraph and then tackled the question. After trying many techniques during my studies, I found that this worked the best for me. I then ran through the questions and referred to my notes to answer. This was not the most time effective strategy as I had to answer the last 10 questions with about 4 minutes to go. Also blind guessed on a few here.
QR: This was quite challenging. Math is one of my strengths so I was hoping for a higher score. My guess would be that this was a more difficult QR section than normal. It was on par with Math Destroyer 1-10, if not slightly more difficult. There were stretches of long word problems with brief periods of simple problems scattered throughout. There were also a few tough probability q’s. HARDER THAN DQV MATH. Again, if you thoroughly review Math Destroyer, you will be fine. 

Practice Tests (Bio, GC, OC, PAT, RC, QR, TS, AA)

Achiever 1 (20, 20, 19, 20 17, 19, 20, N/A)
Achiever 2 (18, 17, 18, 21 18, 20, 18, N/A)
Achiever 3 (19, 14, 20, 20, 15, 19, 18, N/A)
Achiever 4 (17, 18, 15, 18, 15, 16, 17, N/A)
Achiever 5 (17, 13, 17, 18, 15, 20, 16, N/A)

Thoughts on Achiever: OVERKILL. The chem and ochem sections were ridiculous and probably not worth your time. Bio was more helpful because it highlighted areas of weakness. PAT was helpful and the most valuable aspect of the program. If your confidence is easily shaken, I would avoid Achiever. I do not think that it is necessary to performing well on the exam, with the exception of the PAT section. If you are compromised for time or money, you can safely skip Achiever. My scores were 3-7 points higher on the real exam.

Topscore 1 (21, 20, 20, 21 25, 23, 21, 21)
Topscore 2 (22, 23, 23, 25 22, 24, 23, 22)
Topscore 3 (19, 23, 25, 25, 21, 24, 22, 22)

Thoughts on TS: Many have said it before.. Most representative of the real test. The chems were spot on. Bio focused more heavily on taxonomy/bio diversity than my real exam. However, scores were very close. If you plan to take practice tests, DO NOT SKIP TOPSCORE. 

DQV Bio Tests 1-10 (22, 18, 25, 19, 20, 22, 25, 22, 22, 19) AVG: 21.4

Note: I must admit that I flipped through some notes during a few of those higher scores so my average would probably be slightly lower.

DQV Chem Tests (29, 21, 24, 29, 24, 20, 22, 26, 22, 24) AVG: 24.1
DQV OChem (20, 22, 20, 20, 21, 22, 20, 24, 20, 26) AVG: 21. 5
DQV Math (25, 24, 27, 24, 26, 26, 30, 25, 24, 24) AVG 25.5 

Parting Thoughts: The DAT is a beast. Throughout your studies, you are going to experience a wide range of emotions. From elevated confidence, to absolutely no confidence; calm to anxious; prepared to second-guessing all of your knowledge. PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT WE ALL FEEL THIS WAY AT ONE POINT OR ANOTHER. Try to maintain your sanity as best you can. Exercise, eat healthy, make time for friends and loved ones, do things you enjoy. With that said, the DAT should always come first. Don’t study for more than 3.5 to a max of 4 months (if the DAT is your main obligation). You will forget things that you learned early on. DON’T FREAK OUT IF YOU GET LOW SCORES ON YOUR PRACTICE TESTS OR IN THE DESTROYER. Learn from the mistakes and don’t make them on game day. 

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE TEST, DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT ME. I know that this process is difficult, long, and emotionally draining. If I can help in any way, I’m only a PM away! 

Best of luck!

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