How Katie Changed Her Studying Habits to Ace the DAT

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Kathie Thorne
23 AA

Meet Katie, a happy DAT Bootcamp customer who recently conquered the DAT. I’ve asked Katie to share her DAT experience with us as the featured student of August.

What did you change while studying for the DAT a second time that led to an improvement in your score?

My first time around I only took one practice test. I was trying to take my test in time for last year’s application and felt that spending over 4 hours each week taking a test was too time consuming and that I needed to focus on reviewing material. I was also afraid I would psych myself out if I got a bad score and my anxiety would get the best of me on test day. And for the PAT I thought, “how hard could it be……I’m a dental hygienist and work in the 3-D all day.” I learned my lesson come test day when I had no idea how to pace myself, Top front end may as well have been a foreign language, and I dug in on questions I probably had no chance of completing, taking time away from questions I probably knew and could have gotten correct. I probably only finished half of my organic chemistry questions and PAT questions on test day.

I also didn’t spend enough time doing practice questions. With DATBootcamp, I knew the questions were going to be a close representation to those on test day, so my second time preparing, I spent a lot of time going over problems. I did each chemistry calculation probably 3 times. I also did some extra research on why polyatomic ions got their names and that helped me make sense of small details. I found that Dr. Mike’s videos explained literally everything I needed to know and was more concise than the last prep course I used. It was more tailored to the DAT for sure. And his humor just helped keep me sane:)

I made flow charts and diagrams for biology concepts as well so that I could make sense of how they connected and it helped solidify the major concepts for me. By reading over the 121 page notes 3 times, things just continually added on in my head and started to make sense.

And as for the PAT, I did the app on my phone over lunch breaks, completed the videos and practice modules, and after taking the full length tests, redid practice modules and practice tests until my timing improved and I began to understand this “foreign language”.

What challenges did you face while preparing for your retake, and how did you overcome them?

I work full time as a dental hygienist and I was generally exhausted when I got home. I would literally fall asleep while sitting up during a video or reviewing notes. So I got in the habit of taking a nap after work, getting dinner, and then diving into the studying after I was a bit refreshed. I often got discouraged because I felt I should be able to be a machine and knock this thing out in 10 weeks. But for me that just wasn’t the case. I wanted to feel really prepared going into the test. I moved it out a few times when I felt I needed to in order to allow me adequate time to review my practice tests and repeat the problems. And I just listened to my boyfriend who regularly reminded me to “trust the process” and to take it one step at a time. Breaks are needed. We are only human. And we all have a life with varying commitments so we need to adjust and go with the flow sometimes.

What advice do you have for other students currently studying to retake the DAT?

Don’t focus on all the things you don’t know. Of course make improvements based on your practice tests. But if you “trust the process” and follow the outline, you will know what you need to know. In the last week, I was thinking of all the crazy problems that could show up on my test and thought “how am I possibly going to know EVERYTHING?!?” But knowing everything is impossible and there is always more to learn. So focus on what the program laid out for us and you will have a very solid base of knowledge to tackle the test.

And start with the main concepts in each subject, get them down pat. Then expand and add details from there. With repetition even the complicated organic reactions will start to become familiar and almost second nature.

I made a few youtube videos about my experiences with both DAT’s, under “Katie Nontrad” in hopes that other applicants like me may find them helpful. I relied a lot, and still do, on dental vlogs etc when preparing for the DAT and application time. Feel free to comment on the video and I will do my best to answer any questions. Best of luck to everyone!

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Hannah Brein, DAT Bootcamp Student