Once I stopped fixating on the score, it helped me to maintain a clear mind and ultimately perform better. Overall, just remember that you are a human and you will make mistakes, so try to learn from them! Each time you make a mistake, you will be better equipped to avoid that same mistake on the real DAT.
Meet Alli, a happy DAT Bootcamp customer who recently conquered the DAT. I’ve asked Alli to share her DAT experience with us as the Featured Student of November.
What is one piece of advice you would give to another student preparing to take the DAT?
Although it is much easier said than done, do not get discouraged when you have an “off” day while studying– whether that means not being as productive as possible, or not doing as well as you would have hoped on a practice test. It is inevitable that you will fall behind in your study schedule at times, but there will also be plenty of days when you have extra time to catch up and get a head start on the materials for the rest of the week. Rather than focusing on deadlines that you have set for yourself, try to be present in the moment and actively absorb what you are studying. If you find that you are losing focus, don’t keep going just so you can cross something off of your to-do list– step away and come back to it! And if you feel guilty for taking a break (like I often did), I promise you will be much more efficient and retain more information when you come back.
However, my biggest piece of advice would simply be to trust the process. Your scores on Bootcamp will probably not be linear, and that is more than okay!! Don’t assume you are heading in the wrong direction if your scores aren’t constantly increasing. As someone who initially equated progress with increasing scores, I felt confused and defeated whenever my scores would fluctuate. Eventually, I realized that being burnt out or placing too much pressure on myself would impact my scores– especially for the Reading Comprehension and PAT sections. When I first began practicing RC, I consistently scored in the 28 to 30 range, and I always had plenty of time to check my answers for each passage. A few weeks before my test, I saw my RC scores decreasing, and I started to feel very rushed and distracted during the test. However, once I stopped fixating on the score, it helped me to maintain a clear mind and ultimately perform better. Overall, just remember that you are a human and you will make mistakes, so try to learn from them! Each time you make a mistake, you will be better equipped to avoid that same mistake on the real DAT.
How did you use DAT Bootcamp to prepare for the DAT?
I studied for 8 weeks following Ari’s 2-month study schedule, and I could not have been happier with the pacing; it allowed me enough time to take advantage of all of the excellent resources on DAT Bootcamp, without dragging out the timeline beyond what was necessary. For each subject, I completed every question bank and practice test available, as well as a few of the Plus Packs for PAT and RC. For Biology specifically, I found that creating flashcards with Anki, or using the Bio Bites, allowed me to practice active learning while reading through the Bootcamp Biology Notes. I also highly recommend spending a few minutes each day to look over the GC and QR equation sheets, as well as the OC reaction sheet (or better yet, quiz yourself!). Similarly, using the PAT generators at least once a day really does make a huge difference in the long-run.
I followed Ari’s advice and went through every single question on the practice tests– even those that I got correct– and it was by far the most impactful part of my studying process. I took thorough notes on all of the questions I got wrong, as well as any that I was not completely confident in during the exam. For biology specifically, I would locate that section of the Bootcamp Biology Notes (or Biology Academy if I needed a more in-depth explanation), review it, and write down the key points. Most importantly, I created tons of concept maps, tables, and diagrams. By the time I had completed all of the practice tests, I had a great set of visuals for the most challenging concepts from every chapter! I followed the same basic strategy for the Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Quantitative Reasoning sections as well, and it helped me to notice patterns and common question types that I may not have recognized otherwise.
What would you do differently to prepare for the DAT?
I would have been less worried about allotting equal amounts of time to each topic for a given subject, and I would have provided myself with the freedom to try out new learning strategies. I often found myself hesitating to give up on a particular study technique– even if it wasn’t the most efficient– simply because I felt that I needed to be consistent across every chapter. In reality, I believe it would have benefitted me to take into account which topics I was the most unfamiliar with and adjust my strategy accordingly. In general, the areas with the most potential for improvement are probably worth the most time in terms of studying.
Lastly, I would have stressed less and not let my anxiety get the better of me! There were times when I would become overwhelmed, and it would affect my studying for the entire day. Right now, the DAT may seem like the most important thing you will ever do, but it really is just like any other exam at the end of the day (except a little longer). I barely slept at all the night before my DAT because I was so nervous, but as soon as the test started, I quickly understood why people say that the real DAT is easier than the practice tests. If I could go back, I would have been much more confident throughout the entire process, and I would have carried this confidence with me into the real DAT. I truly believe DAT Bootcamp provides you with everything you need (and much, much more) to do fantastic on the day of the test!