How Asa Taught Himself Organic Chemistry to Score a 23 AA and 23 OC

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"Bootcamp is by far the way to go. Take all 15 practice tests, but don’t get discouraged. Use them to learn. Every completed test is a success, scores don’t matter till test date arrives."
Asa Fitzpatrick
23 AA

When I started studying for the DAT, I knew it’d be challenging...I decided to pursue dentistry late into my sophomore year which meant I would need to take summer courses, packed fall and spring semesters, all while teaching myself Organic Chemistry to crush the DAT! Everyone laughed at me when I told them my goals. But here I am, post-DAT where I received a 23 AA, 22 TS and 23 OC after knowing 0% of Ochem when starting out. How is this possible? Am I just exceptionally smart? No! I struggled through it all – just like you may be feeling right now. But there’s a few things I did that I think will help any student. So, if you’re feeling like you aren’t smart enough or capable of achieving your dreams, keep reading. Because I got news for you – I’m nothing special!

Tips that Helped Me:

1. Know your purpose.

If you’re anything like me, there will be moments where you want to slam your computer shut, rip your textbooks in half, and stop trying so hard to learn things that seem impossible or never ending. When you face tough moments like these, you need to know why you’re doing what you’re doing. I can’t emphasize this enough.

2. Stay involved with your community.

Here’s a look into how studying went for me: Every second I had free time, I opened Bootcamp and did something. It will get so extremely busy especially if you have as uphill of a battle as I did, but the important thing is that you pick the priorities in your life. For me, that was staying involved with my church community and with my family. A week before my DAT, I traveled home (over a 3-hour plane ride) to spend the weekend with my family celebrating an engagement. This was important to me, so I made time to do it. Was it smart? Maybe not. Maybe I should’ve spent that time studying. But at the end of the day, what is always true is you are a person is loved by others. Make time for those in your life and STICK TO IT. It’ll be hard to prioritize loved ones when you really need to run through that Quizlet set again before bed, but trust me, it’s worth it.

3. Create a schedule.

Now this one looks different for every person. For example, I never wrote a physical schedule. I had a part time job, 18 credit hours, two student organizations, tons of meetings and commitments and had to teach myself ochem while studying for the DAT. Most people would say I NEEDED a physical schedule. But I didn’t make one. And maybe you don’t either. But if you’re someone who struggles to take captive of every minute of your day or find yourself forgetting things often, then make a physical schedule. Regardless, have an organized path to follow and follow it as close as you can. For example, set aside time every Monday night to do bio bites. If someone asks you to hang out Monday night, you say “Sorry, I cannot I committed to practice bio bites tonight.”

This schedule should also include making time for the loved ones in your life (point 2). At the end of the day, the test is just that –a test. You are worth so much more than any random two-digit number at the end of a test can tell you you are. So, remember that at all times.

4. Know you’ll miss out of things.

This is the hardest part of all of it. At least it was for me. If you are dedicated to achieving a good score, then you’re going to miss time with friends, time with family, parties, events, memories, and so much more. It’s part of the deal. You have to grind. There’s not much to it, but if you expect to stay involved with everything in your life while magically getting a 26AA, I hope you have powers, cause that ain't happening. But the grind is worth it (this is when point #1 helps). Pick what matters, keep those commitments and then know this is only a 3-month section of your life. You’ll be back to being the life of the party in no time!

5. Maintain healthy habits.

This is crucial. For me, I woke up every day at 5:53 am and went to the gym. I made sure to get around 8 hours of sleep every night (especially for the two weeks leading up to my test). And I ate super healthy throughout the duration of my studying. You can discount this point if you want, but at the end of the day if you get sick 2 days before your test, there’s not much you can do. Keep your mind, body, and mental state sharp! This will prepare you to do well on your DAT.

6.“Never give up. Don’t ever give up.”

This was a quote by a man named Jimmy Valvano. If you don’t know his story, look it up. Find stories and testimonies to keep you motivated and always remember your answer to point #1. It is going to be difficult. But you need to dig deep and focus on why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Someone I look up to recently told me, “Believing in each other is a gift we don’t give to each other enough.” I want you to know I believe in you. YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES. Believe in yourself and go conquer your goals. It will look different for you than it did for me and every one of these featured stories on bootcamp. Take pieces of my advice that work for you and pair them with other pieces from other stories that work for you. But regardless of what happens, remember that you are not defined by your test. Each and every day you have the opportunity to go out there and do something great. So do just that!

Super Practical Advice:

1. Bootcamp is by far the way to go.

2. Plug away at those OC reaction bites till you have them all memorized.

3. Bio Bites all the time-every minute you’ve got.

4. Watch every explanation to every problem until you stop missing them.

5. Take all 15 practice tests, but don’t get discouraged. Use them to learn. Every completed test is a success, scores don’t matter till test date arrives.


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Hannah Brein, DAT Bootcamp Student