When preparing for the DAT, it’s understandable to want to know where you stand and what kind of score to expect on test day. Many students take practice tests in hopes of gauging how well they’ll perform on the real DAT, or if they’ll be able to meet a minimum score threshold they have set in their mind. This mindset is understandable, but it’s better to understand the true value of practice tests: it’s not in their estimated scores, but in their ability to check how well you understand the content.
The secret to raising your score isn’t to answer as many questions and practice tests as possible – the secret is to use the practice tests to find out what you need to review and study. You raise your score after you take the practice test by investing time into reviewing the explanations and studying your notes on concepts you’re weak in.
Here are a couple excerpts from DAT Breakdowns of students who understand this concept. Read this to understand the mindset you need when reviewing DAT practice tests to use them to their best potential:
- “What I did is that I reviewed all questions after taking a test, even though I was familiar with the concept and was confident with the answer I picked. The reason for this is that the explanations will usually involve something that you are not familiar, and there will always be something new to take away from the explanation.” – drsoni | 25 AA | view thread
- “…just keep in mind that what really matters is if you understand the questions you got wrong and knew why you picked the correct answer on the ones you got right. Focus on understanding why you got problems right/wrong. You are not learning effectively if you get a 25 on Bootcamp and decide you don’t need to look at the questions you got wrong. You are not learning effectively if you don’t look at the questions you guessed on and wound up getting right. You are learning effectively when you learn from your mistakes and acknowledge your strengths.” – Saint Richie | 21 AA | view thread
- “I used Bootcamp as a learning tool more so than a testing tool. After completing tests, I wrote notes on whatever I got wrong and even on those that I got correct, but I felt the explanation had important extra material. I reread all my Bio notes before taking each test.” – petechia | 22 AA
- “If there’s any advice I could give someone taking the DAT, it would be to include a heavy emphasis on reviewing. I have an entire 5 subject notebook full of every problem I got wrong and would review them about once a week and the day before the test. You start to understand why you get questions wrong and can begin to correct your train of thinking.” – Anthony H. | 25 AA
Read this post to see how to use your DAT practice questions to their best potential.
Also, there are many versions of the DAT. Some of these versions emphasize certain topics more than others. It’s important to remember anyone you talk to has probably only taken the test once. So if you hear a certain topic wasn’t tested on their DAT, do not listen to them. There is no guarantee that topic will also not appear on your DAT. I’ve seen it happen way too often where someone hears there was no trigonometry on someone else’s DAT, so they neglect studying it, and then they get a couple questions on trig which brings down their QR score.
In short, while practice test estimated scores could be used as a rough measure of progress, you shouldn’t focus on them on too heavily when preparing. Look for improvements and areas of weakness, rather than the specific number. Being “ready” for the DAT is not when you are hitting certain practice test estimated scores, but when you can comfortably work through practice tests with a comfortable pace and no significant gaps in your knowledge.
For further information, I recommend reading this post to see how to know you’re ready to take the DAT.