Emily's Detailed Breakdown to Receive Multiple 25s

Author image
Star icon
Star icon
Star icon
Star icon
Star icon
"It was a tough process, but Bootcamp and my amazing support system helped me make it through and succeed. I definitely would recommend this study program to everyone!"
Emily Moll
21 AA

I studied for the DAT for about 3 months while working a full time job in research. I went from a 17aa on my first ever practice test to a 21aa and multiple 25s on my actual exam.

I used the full Bootcamp program along with a private Bootcamp tutor (shoutout to Vinay). My tutor and I met once a week for 8 weeks, about 2 hours at a time, leading up to my exam. I followed the Bootcamp schedule pretty closely, but moved the modules and practice tests around to fit with my work schedule. I would definitely recommend trying to fit in studying before work instead of waiting until after to finish everything. Although it’s not fun to get up extra early to study, it worked much better for me instead of doing it after a long day of work when I was mentally tired already.

When comparing the practice tests to my actual DAT, I felt like Bio, QR, and RC were a bit easier than the practice tests. I scored higher on all these than I had on the practice tests. PAT was about the same, but the curve was definitely better on the actual DAT. Gen Chem and Orgo were about the same difficulty and I scored about the same as what I had gotten on the practice tests.

My two biggest tips are to make time for fun and to use the practice exams as a tool, not your enemy. Studying for this exam can be overwhelming and isolating, so taking healthy breaks is KEY. Make time for walks, going outside, seeing friends and family. Those things help my mental health and helped me stay in a good mindset along the way.

Second is that the practice tests are a tool, not your enemy. I struggled in the middle of studying when I took practice tests and did not see the scores that I wanted. However, these tests do not necessarily indicate how you will do on test day! I changed my mindset to view them as a tool to practice timing and to determine my weaknesses and that really helped me. Then after the tests, I would focus my energy on the things I got wrong or wasn’t familiar with so I was prepared for those questions next time. I saw a lot of improvement with this strategy.

General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry

I completed all the Mike’s videos and the practice problems. For Gen Chem, I definitely recommend creating a solid knowledge of the concepts because more questions are conceptual and less are calculations. I did come in with a background of tutoring General Chemistry at my college for 3 years, so that gave me a leg up for sure while studying this section. For Organic Chemistry, I specifically recommend studying the following topics since they were definitely more frequently tested: alkene/alkyne reactions, carbonyl reactions, EAS, SN1/SN2/E1/E2. What also helped me improve my score was taking time after my practice tests to write down the problems that I got wrong, why I got them wrong, and how to solve it correctly. Then I wrote additional notes on the topics that I made mistakes on. This really helped me target the areas that I was weak in and get better at them.


This section definitely worried me at first due to the large amount of content it covers. However, once I internally accepted that I was never going to be able to memorize and master every little detail of the content, I was able to focus much better on the high yield topics. I watched all the videos and did all the practice questions. For topics I wasn’t as familiar with, I would make notes for myself and go over those before doing the practice problems. I found the bio bites were good for some sections, but not the best for others. I definitely would recommend doing all the official practice problems though, as they are more similar to exam-like questions. Similarly to Organic Chemistry, there are patterns of topics that are more frequently tested than others, so I made sure I had those down and then would do my best to eliminate and guess on the ones I wasn’t as familiar with. After bio practice tests, I made a flash card deck of questions I got wrong, questions I got right by chance, and all the terms I didn’t know. Then before my next practice test, I would study these flash cars and this helped me master the concepts I wasn’t as familiar with going in.


I completed all the learning modules for this section which helped me get some strategies going into these types of questions. What helped me with this section was going through some practice problems for each type slowly and finding a consistent strategy that I could use to get most of those problems correct before worrying about timing. Once I had my method for each section, I practiced the questions timed and learned how to go faster. My main strategy overall was eliminating wrong answers until I was left with one answer instead of trying to find the correct answer. Elimination really helped my speed as well. I learned how to trust my gut when eliminating and that helped me with speed also.

Reading Comprehension

I was fortunate that reading comp came pretty naturally to me so I didn’t practice this one as much. I did the vanilla method, but would try to skim the passage a bit so I had more time for questions. I would mentally summarize what each paragraph was talking about as I was reading also. I don’t recommend highlighting as you read as this slowed me down a lot. For timing, I aimed to do 20 minutes per passage, with 10 to read and 10 to answer the questions. I also don’t recommend wasting too much time on one question. If you can’t find the answer after a minute of searching, better to mark it, guess and move on for now because you’ll often figure it out as you answer other questions.

Quantitative Reasoning

I actually struggled with QR a bit and was a bit nervous for it going into the exam. However, there are lots of patterns in the types of questions that are asked. Therefore I used the practice tests to my advantage and targeted the problem types I was consistently getting wrong. I would learn how to get these questions right and then do a lot of practice until I could consistently get them correct. I found it was also key to be a smart test taker in this section. I realized that I couldn’t waste time in the beginning on questions I didn’t know how to solve right away and would guess, mark them and move on. Therefore I could get to all the “gimme” questions I knew how to solve and would use my extra time at the end to go back to the questions I had marked.

This was a tough process and I had many doubts along the way, but Bootcamp and my amazing support system helped me make it through and succeed. I definitely would recommend this study program to everyone taking the exam!

Score Report
Save 100+ hours of your life studying with Bootcamp.com

Get everything you need in one place. Start studying today for free.

Start Studying for Free
Hannah Brein, DAT Bootcamp Student