Important Words to Recognize on the DAT and OAT Reading Section

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Reviewed by
Dr. Joel Meyerson
Key Takeaway
Table of Contents

    Often times on DAT and OAT reading passages, certain words and phrases will be used to convey the structure of the passage. By understanding what these words signify, you can more easily understand the structure of the reading passage. Here is a list of words you should look out for in these reading passages.


    You should always pay attention to names of people, places, and things. It’s likely they’ll be used as keywords in questions.

    List Markers

    If you see words like “first, second, third”, pay attention as the author is usually providing a lot of examples and reasons for their argument. Don’t get lost in the details in the dense paragraph, imagine that each marker is a bullet point.

    Transition Words

    This is the cream of the crop of the DAT / OAT reading section. A lot of inference questions are pulled from these sections. Often, a chain of reasoning will continue to be emphasized and supported or change directions. The author will usually reveal a lot about their argument when they start using the following words.

    These words signify a change in the author’s argument:

    • yet
    • but
    • nevertheless
    • however
    • although
    • despite
    • in contrast
    • nonetheless
    • even though

    These words signify a continuation of the author’s argument and usually contain supporting examples:

    • also
    • additionally
    • furthermore
    • in addition to
    • plus


    Normally, you can find the author’s “main idea” and “main point” in the conclusion of an argument. If you see these words, the author is probably writing a conclusion and will reveal their main idea:

    • clearly
    • therefore
    • thus
    • in summary
    • in conclusion (this is an easy one to spot)

    Attention words

    If you see these words, the author is about to reveal something critical. Pay extra attention to these parts of the passage.

    • crucial
    • most importantly
    • key
    • especially
    • primarily
    • in particular
    • strangely
    • interestingly
    • notably
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    Hannah Brein, DAT Bootcamp Student