I would often not finish my goals for the day cause life happens, don't feel too stressed out by this just move those tasks on to the next day or figure out how to compromise. I highly recommend finding something that keeps you mentally strong during your preparation, this exam is mentally taxing (at least to me it was), so make sure to check yourself and take breaks if you need it, and postpone your test date if you need to!
Hey guys! I'm a rising junior who took the DAT in June and applying this cycle. I studied for the DAT for about 8 weeks using mainly DAT Bootcamp and wanted to share how I studied for it. I believe all you need is Bootcamp and I was lucky enough to qualify for a discount since I also qualified for a DAT fee waiver. As an Integrative Biology major, I found that my 4-year undergraduate upper-division courses prepared me quite well for the biology section, covering topics such as plants, fungi, prokaryotes, animal biology, anatomy, and basic molecular and cellular biology. I took general biology and general chemistry at a community college (Dual Enrollment). The community colleges in my home state are great; however, since I took these courses during online learning, I didn't retain as much as I normally would.
One thing I advise is to make sure you do all the practice tests and understand the answers, as well as why the wrong answers are wrong. This applies to both full-length practice tests and individual practice tests, especially during the last week of review. Overall, I felt that my exam was easier than the Bootcamp practice tests, but what you get on your real exam varies from person to person, so keep striving for better!
I watched all the videos on Bootcamp, took notes on paper, and created mnemonics to aid in remembering the information (the crazier the mnemonic, the easier it is to remember). Then, I watched high-yield subject videos a second time and rewrote my notes. In my opinion, anatomy and physiology, embryogenesis, cell biology, and genetics were especially important. I went through all the bio bites after watching all the videos on a topic. I also reviewed the practice tests, taking notes on questions I missed. Since I'm a visual learner, simply reading the high-yield notes and the notes I took wouldn't have helped me much. I relied on watching and actively listening to the videos and repeated note-taking. I encountered about 6 very similar questions from the Bootcamp practice tests on my actual DAT.
Like every subject, a strong foundation helps a lot. I performed well in the subject and tutored it so I didn't spend much time on review. I mainly focused on studying lab concepts and reviewing practice tests. Some questions on the practice tests made me anxious because I didn't recall learning the lab concept (IR spec) or ever seeing the reagent before, but I carefully reviewed them and was able to learn them building on prior knowledge. I also noticed that I was making silly mistakes by misreading the questions, so I worked on improving this aspect as well for all sections.
During practice, I would skip to the angles section because I was spending too much time on TFEs and keyholes. This helped me improve at first, but over time I got better at keyholes and TFEs using the trainer game and practicing with the generator during meals or on my way to work (an hour). I re-watched the Bootcamp PAT tips video three days before my exam and relearned some tricks that I had probably forgotten along the way. I then decided to start from Keyholes, to my surprise my time and score improved so I stuck with this on my actual DAT. With practice, hole punching, pattern folding, TFE, and cube counting became progressively easier for me. Keyholes and angles also improved, albeit to a lesser extent. For angles, there are many tips and tricks out there but I just stuck to focusing on the vertices and not second-guessing.
I was concerned because I always struggled to finish within the allotted time. Since I couldn't speed up my reading with the search-and-destroy method during the practice tests, I stuck with the simple method of fully reading the passage and highlighting, which made finding information much easier. My actual DAT passages were much more interesting hence easier to read. Surprisingly, the first time I completed a reading test within the time frame was on my actual DAT. Through trial and error, I discovered that the simple method and search and destroy took me approximately the same amount of time, so I decided to maximize my points by sticking with the simple method.
I was initially worried because the Bootcamp tests were challenging, and I couldn't finish them in time. However, as I practiced more, I improved, and my actual DAT turned out to be easier. I encountered some very similar word problems, with similar location names and trends. Going through the question banks on Bootcamp for the topics I needed to refresh on (logarithms, statistics, probabilities, and world problems) helped me a lot, and I revisited the problems I got wrong. To do well in this section, make sure you understand how to solve these problems, especially for your weaker areas. BUT focus on the practice tests if you are running out of time. I did encounter two problems on my actual DAT that I had no clue how to go about, I immediately guessed and moved on. Practice knowing when to stop on a problem if you can't solve it so you can have enough time to work on problems you can solve!
I took general chemistry in high school through dual enrollment, it was during online learning, so my foundation was very weak. I practiced extensively and improved my understanding. Instead of memorizing the entire polyatomic ion sheet, I focused on the ones recommended by Dr. Mike and Chad for their students. Fortunately, I encountered a question on my practice test the night before my exam that asked about the smell of rotten eggs (HCl + ZnS). I'm glad I came across it because I wouldn't have known the answer otherwise. With General Chemistry make sure to familiarize yourself with the Practice Tests, and also understand what equations mean not just what to plug in, this will help with some of the "conceptual" questions the DAT will throw at you. Also, if you get stuck on any equation problems just select an answer that gives you the units you want, you'll have a much higher chance of getting it correct than if you just randomly guessed!
Throughout my study period, I constantly felt overwhelmed, however having daily to-do lists on my notes App minimized this feeling. It was also the case where I would often not finish my goals for the day cause life happens, don't feel too stressed out by this just move those tasks on to the next day or figure out how to compromise (don't make this a habit though!! remember you want to do well on this test, you spent so much money and time on it so stay focused!). I also experienced burnout on some days. To rest and recharge, I took a day break from studying I binged watch episodes of One Piece and exercised more intensely. I felt so much better after this and was able to get back to studying strong! Additionally, I went for walks every night to help keep calm. I highly recommend finding something that keeps you mentally strong during your preparation, this exam is mentally taxing (at least to me it was), so make sure to check yourself and take breaks if you need it, and postpone your test date if you need to! I would've preferred to take 3+ months spread out to prep but couldn't, do it if you can! Also, reach out to friends, family, or mentors when you need advice or just a rant, it helps!
Good luck future dentists, you got this!
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