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2013 DAT Breakdown – 22/23/24 by nardim

Background:

Just completed my junior year at a top 30 university and majoring in biochemistry (oGPA 3.67, sGPA 3.60, BCP 3.67). I am applying to 8 schools this year. I took the DAT after sophomore year so that organic chemistry stayed fresh in my mind. I studied the entire summer while working a 40 hour/week job. This year I decided to study for three weeks after my last final and take the exam instead. I was nervous that 3 weeks would not be enough time, even with my prior experience. I studied about 6 hours a day for the first two weeks 5 days of the week, then about 2 hours a day the other two days of the week (on weekends). After coming on SDN, I was a bit nervous about retaking because of some of the horror stories I’ve read – add that to the short preparation time for the retake. Here are my old and new scores:

Old
Date: 08/2012
PAT: 21
QR: 22
RC: 19
BIO: 20
GC: 20
OC: 21
TS: 20
AA: 20

New
Date: 06/2013
PAT: 24:D
QR: 21:)
RC: 23:love:
BIO: 23:D
GC: 22:)
OC: 23:D
TS: 23:D
AA: 22:love:

Very happy with the retake, especially with the improvement in RC and TS.

Study Materials
1. Chad’s Videos – I put this first because I did not use this the first time taking the test. I was doubtful of the videos and didn’t really want to “waste” time watching all of them. However, since orgo wasn’t as fresh in my mind, I decided to give it a shot. Worth every penny. Definitely worth the money. I would watch one day of GC and one day of OC which would take about 5 hours. I’d take the quizzes right after each video as well. Then, I did ALL the quizzes and questions for OC and GC 3-4 days before the exam. Also dabbled in some of the bio questions just because they were available. Bottom line: get Chad’s and use it. Take notes and read over them. Do the quizzes and understand what went right/wrong.

2. Destroyer – Great prep. I would go through the GC, OC, and BIO questions 100 at a time, and just flip between the questions and answers…I find that goes by the quickest. Is it overkill? Yes. Will it get you ready and feeling confident after the first trial? YES. Stick with it and don’t give up. Go through it 2, 3, 4……how ever many times, can’t get enough of it. But you HAVE to read the answer explanations!

3. Crack DAT PAT – Prepares you wonderfully. TFE about the same. Keyholes about the same. Angles are a little easier (thankfully). Cubes are exactly same. Hole Punch are a little harder because the folds can be ambiguous. And the folding is about the same again. I only got the 5 test package, but the only section that really gave me trouble were the angles. Just keep practicing and practicing – find a method that works.

4. KAPLAN Blue Book – Read through it once, did the practice tests (easier than actual, but good questions). A good overall review of everything, maybe wait till the end after you thoroughly went through everything else.

5. Cliff’s AP Bio – I didn’t use this as extensively as some people do on this site. I just used it to go over body systems, ecology really quick, and some plant information (which DOES show up on the exam). Go through the practice questions in the back and again understand what went right and what went wrong.

6. Topscore – Good practice tests. Definitely helpful for time preparation. I think I got 20 AA for each of the practice tests BOTH times I studied for the exam (which kind of made me nervous taking it the second time). Subjects vary but represents the real exam quite nicely.

Overall Advice and Comments

I think the most important thing that helped my improvement was simply another year in college. I overloaded both semesters heavily with sciences (biochem, physics, a chem, p chem, another bio elective…) which was tough but definitely helped me out. Biochemistry was the subject that helped out the most, and analytical chem and physical chem both rigorously were thorough in helping understand general chemistry, especially concepts. Even though I only had three weeks to prepare this time, I was more focused and urgent as the time limit for studying was slim. Take the exam whenever you feel most comfortable if you’re still in undergrad. Getting a 20AA the first time around made my junior year a little less stressful knowing I had already gotten a good enough score to get in. I wanted to make my application more competitive by increasing to a 21AA, but luckily I was able to improve further to a 22AA. I am not a genius by any stretch of the imagination, but just a hard worker. The score on this exam is definitely a product of hard work and your goal CAN be attained with the right amount of studying. I’ve also heard rumors that the tests later in the summer are more difficult than those taken earlier. I can say that my retake was easier, but can’t say whether that was because I was more prepared or if the content was “easier” to answer.

Bottom Line
STUDY STUDY STUDY. Get confident on all materials and find the method for answering specific types of questions that work for you. For practice questions: find out WHY you got something wrong, and don’t just skip over explanations for those you got right – read these explanations too because they might have something extra in them you missed. 

Please PM me or reply to the thread if you guys have any questions. I don’t really post on SDN that much but after reading so much advice, I felt I had to share back to this community :). Good luck to all that are planning to take it soon!! 

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