My name is Matthew Queiroz, and I am senior at Gannon University for Chemistry. I recently took the DAT on August 4th, which was exactly three months after my last final. I wanted to give myself the full 90 days to prepare for my exam since I knew I would be particularly rusty on the biology section. In total, I studied eight hours a day for 90 days; I had maybe five days of respite for the entire summer. Although, studying was rigorous, I gained so much more than a high DAT score. Throughout my time using Bootcamp I felt empowered by the team of tutors and personal one-on-one with experts about specific questions. To make the program even more interesting, the academy videos relate the importance of each section of the DAT and its relevance in the field of dentistry. The encouragement from bootcamp were crucial in my success. This summer studying with bootcamp gave me an invaluable experience, which extended far beyond my performance on the DAT.
As a Chemistry major, I had not taken a biology class since my freshman year. Therefore, I was very lost when I began to assess my approach to studying; I didn’t know where exactly to start. To alleviate my apprehension, I began using Bootcamp following Ari’s study guide. This gave me more of an idea of how to pace myself based on the volume of material and set clear- cut deadlines for when I had to learn each lesson. After the first two weeks of following the plan, I felt that the study guide provided a solid understanding of how to study each different section. I was able to craft my own schedule to review salient material that I had watched in previous lessons. I began to focus more on my weak areas and stray away from the study guide.
I began by taking one reading comprehension test and assessing my performance. On my first exam, I received a 20; I was very content with this initial score. To improve my score, I watched every video in the RC academy before moving forward and completing another test. I deeply appreciated how the videos unpacked the different approaches for handling each type of question featured on the DAT. Ultimately, I adopted my own strategy for the reading comprehension component. Using a backwards approach, I would read through the text dependent questions prior to reading the passage itself. As I read each question, I would mentally annotate important details, such as names, dates, percentages, and other key words. Following this step, I would read the entirety of the passage. I spent significant time reading the passage to ensure I did not have to keep re-reading. It would take me roughly eight minutes to read the passage, which included annotating salient information via the highlighter tool. After having a solid overview and understanding of the passage, I was able to swiftly answer the questions in around five minutes. For questions that I grappled with, I would mark them to review for later. I found that there were typically around three questions per passage that I needed to further examine. I utilized this same approach for the other two passages. I found that I had ample time at the end of the section due to the time I saved throughout by implementing my strategy. I would use my additional time to review the questions I had previously marked for review.
This was my favorite section, particularly due to my affinity for problem solving and Rubik’s cubes. Therefore, I applied the strategy I typically use when I work with puzzles: repetition. To master this content, I watched every video regarding strategy in the PAT subcategory. I would then utilize the PAT generators to practice various simulations. Each day, I would complete 10 keyhole questions and work with PAT generators, allocating 15 minutes for each one. My practice for the PAT section would total to around one hour a day. As a puzzle enthusiast, I felt that this section inadvertently provided a break in the monotony of my study day. I would incorporate this session in the middle of the day, following lunch, and as a result I was able to relax and support my social-emotional health.
Due to my strong math background from being a Chemistry major, I opted to not watch the videos for the QR section. Rather than dismissing this section because of my mathematical competency, I utilized my allocated study time as an opportunity to hone my skills. I approached this section by completing all the practice banks and assessing my performance. For questions I answered correctly but felt unsure about, I would mark yellow. This then enabled me to watch videos on the topic. Regarding questions I answered incorrectly, I would mark them red, watch the video, and then identify the mini lesson to review the concept. I completed this approach until all my question banks were a solid yellow. From there, I would test myself until I answered most of the questions correctly, or if my bar was fully green.
Let me stress this, I am not great at biology; the first time I took a practice test Ari’s estimate was a 12. This is how I went from a 12 to a 24 in the biology section. I would start off by watching the videos on 1.25x speed. I would pause the videos every other slide to catch up on notes and re-write what I just had learned. I would then religiously go through the bio bites. I unpacked each bio bite by taking notes on every single question and and create different mnemonics to remember the information. By the end of bootcamp, I reviewed all the bio bites at least five times through until I had no red; my bar appeared mostly green with some yellow. I cannot emphasize this enough; I would not have gotten through the biology without watching all 507 videos. Bootcamp makes the videos manageable to watch by keeping them short and integrating them into every topic. I also found it beneficial that the videos featured questions by embedding them within the video. This allowed me to absorb the material and reflect on what I was learning in real time.
I focused on watching certain concept videos that I was unfamiliar with. This is the section I put the least amount of effort in studying due to my background as a Chemistry major and teacher assistant for my university. Nevertheless, I was overconfident in my abilities as this was my lowest section with a 21. I recommend to anyone reading this that despite your academic strength in a certain topic, you should dedicate time to practicing it in the framework of the DAT. My biggest regret is that I did not go through all the wonderful resources bootcamp had to offer. If I had done so, I am confident I would have scored higher on this category.
I watched all the videos and mainly focused on the reaction bites. I attribute my success in the organic chemistry section to Tyler’s approach to teaching. He was very straight forward and memorable, which made the hurdle of relearning organic chemistry more manageable. Additionally, Dr. Mike was incredibly helpful by unpacking the conceptual aspect of organic chemistry.
I kept myself sane by picking up different hobbies, one being crocheting. I was in a coffee shop one day and saw a group of women crocheting and it reminded me of a stitching up a wound. I decided to teach myself how to crochet, which enabled me to create some great early Christmas presents for my mom. This outlet was beneficial because I was able to relieve some tension and improve my manual dexterity. I also have a passion for cubing, otherwise known as “solving the Rubik’s cube”. I predominately worked with the 7x7x7 model in between study breaks. This break from the screen not only empowered me to re-center and focus on my purpose for studying, but also allowed for additional practice on manual dexterity. Both these activities helped me cultivate my threshold for patience and were crucial in building up the stamina to sit all day at a desk, a necessary skill for both studying for the DAT and attending dental school.