Conquering the DAT: Allen's Detailed Pre-Dental Success Story

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"This platform offered everything I needed to tackle each section of the exam with confidence, from Bio to PAT. One of the standout features of DAT Bootcamp is its extensive practice resources."
Allen Davidson
25 AA

Hey fellow DAT test-takers,

Embarking on my DAT journey, I opted for Ari's 5-month study schedule, which I found to be well-paced, allowing for rest days while keeping me on track with the material.

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of study materials and strategies, let's take a moment to set the stage. The DAT isn't just another exam—it's a journey. And like any journey worth taking, it's filled with twists, turns, highs, and lows. That's why I firmly believe that approaching the DAT should be viewed as running a marathon, not a sprint. Why the marathon analogy? Because the DAT is a beast of an exam, possibly packing more subject material than any other test you've encountered. At first glance, it might seem overwhelming—a mountain of biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and more. But here's the thing: just like training for a marathon, conquering the DAT is all about patience and persistence. Sure, you could try to sprint through your study materials, cramming every detail into your brain in a frenzy of late-night study sessions. But trust me, that approach is a recipe for burnout and frustration. Instead, take a deep breath, and recognize that it's okay to stumble along the way, to have days when you feel like you're barely treading water. What matters is that you keep moving forward, one step at a time. So, how do you navigate studying for the DAT? It's all about adapting your study habits and finding the most efficient way to absorb and retain the material. There won't be one strategy that will work for every student. It might take some trial and error to figure out what that looks like, but trust me, it's worth the effort.

In the next sections, I'll share some insights and tips based on my own experience tackling the DAT. From study materials to study methods, I hope to shed some light on the path ahead and help you chart your course to success.

When it comes to study materials for the DAT, I went all in with DAT Bootcamp—and let me tell you, it was the best decision I could have made. This platform offered everything I needed to tackle each section of the exam with confidence, from Bio to PAT. One of the standout features of DAT Bootcamp is its extensive practice resources. Seriously, I never felt like I was lacking in practice questions or tests. Whether I was brushing up on biology or PAT, Bootcamp had me covered. The question banks and Bio Bites were particularly useful and contained a lot of practice material to ensure I was thoroughly prepared for anything the exam could throw at me.

But it wasn't just about quantity—Bootcamp also delivered on quality. Take organic chemistry, for example. Not only did Bootcamp provide ample practice questions, but it also offered reaction bites for additional reinforcement. These bite-sized lessons were a game-changer, helping me solidify my understanding of various reactions and their mechanisms. What set Bootcamp apart, though, was its user-friendly interface. Navigating the platform was really easy. I never found myself struggling to find what I needed, whether it was a practice test or a review resource.

Bootcamp also provided insightful analytics. The Performance tab was an absolute godsend. Not only did it provide a snapshot of my overall performance, but it also color-coded my scores to highlight areas of strength and weakness. This made it easy to identify which subjects needed extra attention. And let's not forget about the ability to tag questions. Being able to flag specific questions for later review was incredibly helpful, especially when I wanted to revisit tricky concepts or challenging problems. Bootcamp also provided an unparalleled support system. The feature that allowed students to send questions directly to Bootcamp tutors was a game-changer. Whenever I had a specific question or needed clarification, I could reach out to the tutors and receive swift, easy-to-understand responses. It was like having a personal coach by my side every step of the way.

Now, let's dive into the study methods that helped me turn those practice questions into solid scores.


Let me tell you, tackling bio was no walk in the park. With its vast amount of information and intricate concepts, it posed a challenge. My approach to biology was all about balance—balancing breadth with depth, understanding the big picture while also delving into the details. Here's how I did it: First, I started with a light read-through of the material. I wanted to get a sense of the overall concepts and understand what was going on before diving into the specifics. This initial pass helped me lay the groundwork for deeper exploration. Next up: Bio Bites. These bite-sized lessons were a game-changer. I worked my way through the Bio Bites, pausing only when I encountered a question on a topic I hadn't reviewed yet. When that happened, I switched gears, delving back into the material to fill in the gaps. Once I completed the section, it was time for the deep dive. I went back through the information, taking the time to understand each step, why it was important, and how it contributed to the overall mechanism of the process. This step was crucial for cementing my understanding and ensuring that I could tackle any question that came my way on test day. Sure, studying for bio was no picnic, but with the right approach and a healthy dose of perseverance, I was able to conquer this challenging subject. And if I can do it, so can you.

General Chemistry

When it came to mastering gen chem, Dr. Mike's videos and outlines were my saving grace. I followed them religiously and it paid off big time. Dr. Mike's teaching style was like a breath of fresh air. He had a knack for making even the most complex concepts understandable and enjoyable. His videos were organized, and his explanations were clear and concise. I never found myself bored or lost while watching his lectures—in fact, they became the highlight of my study sessions. But Dr. Mike was more than just an entertaining teacher. He also taught me how to approach questions with logic—a skill that proved invaluable on exam day. Instead of relying solely on rote memorization, he encouraged me to understand the underlying concepts and why things are the way they are. This approach not only made studying more engaging but also helped me tackle questions more effectively. One thing that is very important to conquer is the importance of understanding periodic trends. Trust me when I say, these trends come in handy on exam day. Ionization energies, electron affinities, and other concepts became my best friends. In the final stretch before the exam, I made sure to review Bootcamp's cheat sheet of all the equations needed for the DAT. I spent a week memorizing each one and understanding when and how to apply them. It was a tedious process, but it paid off when I could eventually confidently tackle any equation-based question that came my way. So, if you're gearing up for the general chemistry section of the DAT, remember this: focus on understanding the concepts, nail down those periodic trends, and don't skimp on equation memorization. Know when to use which equation, what each variable means, and how to manipulate equations before plugging and chugging.

Organic Chemistry

Organic chemistry wasn’t as tough for me once I realized that it wasn’t about memorizing every single reaction—it was about recognizing patterns. When it comes to organic chemistry, efficiency is key. Spending hours trying to cram every reaction into your brain is not only unrealistic but also ineffective. Instead, focus on understanding the underlying patterns and principles that govern chemical reactions. By doing so, you'll be able to predict how certain reactants will interact with each other, rather than drawing a blank when faced with a new reaction mechanism.

One of the most valuable resources for mastering organic chemistry was the reaction bites. They were perfect for getting loads of practice and reinforcing key concepts. But here's the secret sauce: don't just breeze through them once and call it a day. Instead, do them over and over again, until you can practically solve them in your sleep. When you encounter a reaction that stumps you, don't panic. Grab a piece of paper and physically draw out the reaction, tracing the arrows to see how the reaction progresses from start to finish. Trust me, there's something about seeing the reaction happen in front of you that solidifies your understanding and helps you identify trends.

And just like gen chem, Dr. Mike's ochem videos were great, providing clear explanations and real-world examples that brought the concepts to life. Make sure to watch them all and periodically review them throughout your study schedule to keep the concepts fresh in your mind.


I'll be honest—I struggled with PAT in the beginning. It felt like a constant uphill battle, and I often found myself questioning whether I was practicing enough or making any progress at all. There were days when I didn't touch PAT practice at all, whether due to time constraints or sheer exhaustion. I was in shock when I took my first PAT practice exam and scored a 16. But since that day, I was able to turn things around and ultimately score a 22 on the DAT.

First and foremost, I changed my approach to practicing PAT. Instead of treating it as an afterthought, I started each day with PAT as a warm-up. I aimed to do 15 questions of each question type every morning before diving into the sciences. This not only ensured that I got enough practice each day but also took away the guilty feeling that resulted from turning my computer off right after I finished the sciences.

But perhaps the biggest shift came when I reframed PAT practice as something enjoyable, rather than a chore. I turned it into a game—a challenge to see how quickly and accurately I could solve each question type. Whenever I was bored, I’d grab my laptop and AirPods, play some music, and jump into question banks. Eventually, I was actually looking forward to tackling PAT questions.

Lastly, I fine-tuned my exam strategy. I realized that where I started the exam could have a significant impact on my overall score. So, I switched things up, starting with TFE and ending with keyholes. And wouldn't you know it? My score jumped up by a point.

In the end, I learned that PAT is all about consistent practice. By incorporating it into my daily routine, making it enjoyable, and refining my exam strategy, I was able to significantly improve my score.

Reading Comprehension

My score in this area was like a rollercoaster, fluctuating between an 18 and a 24 depending on the day.  First and foremost, I quickly realized the importance of exploring every strategy presented on Bootcamp early on. I tried them all: Search and Destroy, BYU4U, the simple method—you name it. But I was like a kid in a candy store, unable to settle on just one. Eventually, I circled back to Search and Destroy because, let's face it, it's the most time-efficient option.

One thing I discovered along the way is that practice makes perfect. As I got more comfortable with the passages, I started to predict what the questions would ask and began highlighting key points ahead of time. It was like unlocking a secret code—suddenly, the passages became easier to skim through, and I was able to tackle the questions with greater ease. But perhaps the most important lesson I learned is the art of strategic skipping. Time is the enemy in this section, so it's crucial to prioritize fact-based questions and skip over opinion-based ones. Trust me, getting bogged down on a single question isn't worth it. Keep moving forward, tackle the low-hanging fruit first, and come back to the tougher questions if you have time.

Quantitative Reasoning

This section gave me a run for my money. Despite considering myself decent at math, the practice questions made me question if I knew math at all. I mean, it had been years since I took an actual math class, so I was a bit rusty, to say the least. No matter how hard I tried—reviewing, redoing practice problems, watching YouTube videos for supplemental practice—my score stubbornly hovered around 19.

But here's the silver lining: Bootcamp made the questions much harder than they appeared on the actual exam. On test day, I found the questions to be much simpler and easier to tackle than what I had practiced. It was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. So, here's the advice I'd give to anyone struggling with Quantitative Reasoning: don't lose hope. Take a deep breath, go back to the performance tab, and identify which question styles are giving you the most trouble. Then, get in as much practice as possible. Try to become as efficient as possible when it comes to the pathway you take in solving each question type. In QR, time is also of the essence. You should aim to complete each question in around 40 seconds max. And just like in reading comprehension, knowing when to skip is key. Some questions are simply not worth the time investment. Instead of getting bogged down, mark and skip, and come back to them if you have time.

Final Recommendations

Here are some final recommendations to help guide you on your path to DAT greatness:

All in all, I felt like Bootcamp was a great program and definitely overprepared me for the DAT through its comprehensive materials. Now, let's talk strategy. When you reach the point in your schedule where you're taking full-length exams, here's a pro tip: mimic test-day conditions as closely as possible. Take the exams at the same time as your scheduled DAT to simulate the real thing. Take breaks between sections, just like you would on test day, and treat each section with the seriousness it deserves. And don't forget to give yourself a little boost before diving into reading comprehension and quantitative reasoning—whether it's a cup of coffee, an energy drink, or your beverage of choice, a little pick-me-up can go a long way. When it comes to studying, don't be afraid to get creative. Make weird mnemonics, concoct quirky acronyms—whatever helps you memorize those tricky concepts. After all, in the fantastical world of DAT prep, there's no such thing as too outlandish when it comes to remembering the ins and outs of biology, chemistry, and beyond. Become intimately familiar with navigating DAT Bootcamp—there's a treasure trove of resources waiting for you to discover. Make it a habit to visit the performance tab from time to time, checking which areas need a little extra love. This not only ensures you're covering all your bases but also provides invaluable peace of mind along the way. Remember, you're not a robot—don't be afraid to take those rest days as actual rest days. Sometimes, we all need to relax and hang out with friends. Studying 24/7 will only lead to burnout and make preparing for the DAT twice as hard.

Lastly, here's a golden nugget of advice: leave about a week and a half of time between ending your study schedule and your actual exam date. During that time, go back and complete every single individual test again. Aim to do about 3-4 tests a day, mixing up subjects if you feel like switching things up. This advice, passed down from a trusted friend, proved to be a game-changer for me. It highlighted areas I was still missing, reinforced old concepts I'd forgotten about, and instilled another level of confidence in me before exam day.

Trust in the process, embrace the challenges, and keep moving forward. You got this!

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Hannah Brein, DAT Bootcamp Student