2013 DAT Breakdown – 28/28/25 by small0424
Hi all So I’m finally done with my DAT, which I’ve been stressed out about for the whole semester. I’m so blessed to have such good scores (I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw them), and I feel the urge to write my experience down to give back to the community since I gained so much useful information from the previous breakdowns and postings. Feel free to ask me any question and good luck with your study! I can assure you that hard work does pay off!
My breakdown is:
The first thing and the most important thing I want to state is: don’t get discouraged by the practice test scores! To prove this I would like to show my science scores on the three topscore tests and let you compare the huge difference between them and my real test scores.
Topscore1: 17(Bio) 23(GC) 23(OC)
Topscore2: 18(Bio) 21(GC) 21(OC)
Topscore3: 17(Bio) 19(GC) 19(GC)
I took the third test the night before my real test, and you could imagine how terrible I felt when seeing these scores. But I thought: hey, I did do the review. Especially for Bio I did almost everything I could. I would even relate the word “CAM” I saw on a random car to photosynthesis. I should be confident and not get distracted by these practice test scores. So I went back to study more and nailed the real test down the next day.
Now when I reflected back, I felt that topscore, especially the bio part, sucks. The wording is weird and self-contradictory. And there are biodiversity questions I’ve never seen in either Destroyer or QVault. One QR question I encountered even has two exact same answers. I think topscore will give you a good sense of what taking a five-hour long test is like. But don’t treat the scores you got too seriously. Focus more on Destroyer and QVault.
Despite the difficulty of this section, I actually really like it. I think this is the section that sets DAT apart from other prehealth tests which makes me feel that I’m devoted to this particular field. I like those models and 3-D structures and enjoyed solving the hole-punching problems. The only part that I dislike about this section is the angle ranking.
I practiced with CDP but only did 6 of them. I also did the free test on QVault and 2 topscores. Here are my practice scores:
CDP: 21, 22, 22, 22, 25, 23
QVault: 23 (I actually got 87/90 on this test but not sure why I only scored a 23..)
Topscore 21, 28
In my opinion, the angle ranking on CDP is quite similar to the real thing (I was hoping that the real thing would be easier). The differences between the angles are just too small to tell by naked eyes. I would say definitely practice a lot with the CDP on that. I think QVault has a good representation of hole-punching problems even though I only did one test on it. On the real test a lot of punching starts with a fold at 1/3 of the paper, which I didn’t see a lot on CDP. For keyholes and pattern folding, they are harder on the real test but still doable. Be ready to see a lot of similar answers with only slight differences for keyholes. In pattern folding the structures showed up on the real thing are usually more complex than a single cube. (I had a lot of dice problems on CDP…)
One tip for PAT, try to eliminate wrong answers instead of visualizing the correct one. A lot of the time you will find that the elimination helps you getting the correct answer directly.
I have to admit that I didn’t practice much for QR. I only went through Chad’s videos and did a couple problems on the Destroyer (not the Math Destroyer). I had a solid math education in high school and feel like everything just fall in my previous knowledge. I’m sorry that I don’t have much thing to say for this section. But the general advice would always be practicing more until you get comfortable with answering 40 questions within 45 minutes.
I’m not a fast reader so I did practice for reading. I did 4 QVault tests and here are my scores: 21, 22, 20, 22. I think generally the articles on QVault are longer than the real test (QVault has a lot of articles with over 15 paragraphs= =). And the order of the questions usually jumps back and forth on QVault. I think if you practice with QVault and get used to the length of the articles there, you should be fine with the real test. I think topscore has a better representation of what RC on real test is like. The three articles I got were all science-related (one is solid science with pchem stuff) and I was able to finish them on time without much problem.
In terms of strategy I never used S&D. It just doesn’t work for me. I would just read the first question and starting reading the article and writing down keywords for each of the paragraph until I can answer the first question. Then I would move to the next question. The thing is that I don’t look at each paragraph very closely but only try to get a general sense of the main idea so I can easily search back for the answer. I think taking notes during reading is a good habit because most of the questions are detail-based and you will easily lose track of the details in your mind. At the end I’m really happy with my reading strategy.
The killer section on DAT for me is Biology, no doubt. There is too much knowledge to memorize and too random for me to picture them together. The bio courses I took were all cellular and molecular bio and I never had good exposure to biodiversity before. I went over Cliffs AP Bio twice and started to do QVault practice. Here are my practice scores: 18, 18, 19, 18, 19, 19, 18, 22, 20, 19.
As you can see, I was struggling even to get a score above 20. I was studying with the Destroyer at the same time and wrote down facts on index cards but it still didn’t help me to improve my score. So the last week before my test I started to sit down and study with QVault again. The questions underneath the practice tests on QVault are organized and the format turned out to be drastically helpful. I went over each question and solution carefully and organize them into my notes. I found out that I memorized the knowledge better this way than by just looking at the cold facts. After I was done with the procedure (it was like two days before my test), I realized that I’ve never had such a clear and thorough picture of what’s going on in biology. I did like 100 Destroyer questions the last night before the test and was able to get about 34 correct out of every 40 questions. Still, I’m surprised (and thrilled) to see such a huge bump on my real test score. I think it’s because the real test, as everyone else said, doesn’t focus that much on specific details. I was trying so hard to memorize about the skeletal and integumentary systems and even structures of ears and eyes. But on the real test they barely showed up.
In my opinion, QVault is the number one resourse for biology preparation. But you need to get a solid exposure with Cliffs before you start practicing with QVault.
GC & OC
As a Chemistry major who just finished the two years of the intro courses, I feel like the GC and OC are basically review for me. I did watch all Chad’s videos carefully because I don’t want to pull out my old notes. I took good notes when I watched them and went over the notes twice after that. Other than that I practiced with Destroyer and finished 2/3 for both sections. I was quite nervous before taking the test because a lot of people went over Destroyer twice but I didn’t even finish the first round. But it turned out that as long as you have the general concepts and reactions rooted in your brain you should be fine with the real test. For gen chem I didn’t spend the time doing all the calculation problems on Destroyer because I just don’t believe they will ask you to do sophisticated calculation without providing a calculator.
In gen chem I think the topics that you should really be familiar and comfortable with is: balancing regular and ion equations (I had a couple of that on the real test); figuring out the geometry coordination from a Lewis structure and knowing what do the lone pairs do to the structure; colligative properties and the effect of intermolecular forces. I mean all the topics are important but these ones seem most commonly tested.
For orgo I would suggest go over the roadmaps in Destroyer and know each reaction by heart. Especially be familiar with the condition difference between Markavnikov and anti-Markavnikov (I didn’t even know this term before studying for DAT).
That’s all for my very long breakdown. I hope it’s helpful and I’m happy to answer any question