"I used DAT Bootcamp for almost all of my studying, and only minimally supplemented it with material from my college courses. I studied for about three months during in the Spring, and I think that is a comfortable timeframe to cover all of the material in Bootcamp while leaving time for plenty of review and all the practice tests."
How did you use DAT Bootcamp to prepare for the DAT?
There are plenty of ways you can mix and match DAT resources as you see fit, especially since you can often buy practice tests or questions on certain subjects, but I myself used DAT Bootcamp for almost all of my studying, and only minimally supplemented it with material from my college courses. I studied for about three months during in the Spring, and I think that is a comfortable timeframe to cover all of the material in Bootcamp while leaving time for plenty of review and all the practice tests.
On my very first day of studying, I took a full-length practice test, and I think it was incredibly helpful for three reasons. First, it simulated the testing experience right at the start of my studying experience, which helped me understand the format and pacing of the DAT, the types of question it asks, and the endurance required to complete all 5 hours. Second, taking a practice test on the first day indicated where I should focus my efforts first. I wanted to have a baseline to show me where I needed the most improvement and which sections I already had a good background in. For example, on my first practice test, I did well on the reading comprehension and decently well on the math, but had a lot to catch up with chemistry and the PAT. And within the breakdown of my first practice test, I could see which subtopics I did better and worse on, which helped me further isolate what exactly I needed to learn and improve upon. And third, taking a practice test and knowing my baseline to start my studying helped energize me for the whole process. Starting and figuring out your studying process is overwhelming and requires a lot of self-discipline and endurance. For me, having the big event of taking a 5 hour practice test made me commit to beginning the process and enabled me to set measurable goals right from the start, goals that I kept pushing higher as I continued to review and take practice tests leading up to my real DAT.
Overall, I spent most of my time studying biology, general chemistry, and the PAT, often for hours on end, because there were many things that I simply had to learn for the first time (details of anatomy, ecology, the entire notion of a perceptual test!) or things I had forgotten from intro biology and chemistry classes. But by understanding the end goal and mixing in a good amount of practice tests every few weeks, I felt like I could keep myself on track and never felt like I was falling behind. In the three weeks before my test, I did two or three practice tests per week, taking tests one day and reviewing them fully the next day, and only did content review for the few areas I continued to struggle with. The rest of those final weeks was just about getting comfortable with the pacing of the test and improving my mastery of the material!
What was your favorite feature of DAT Bootcamp?
The Bio Bites. Next question.
Seriously, these were essential for my success because they cover all the subtle details of each biology chapter and force you to really know how everything works. I made sure to mark each question with the “Mastered,” “Reviewing,” and “Learning” tags, and I cycled through them each day until I had mastered over 3000 of them. And with the DAT Bootcamp app, I could easily use them as flashcards on my phone, helping me take my studying on the go, too. On my actual test day, I completed the biology section really quickly because the questions just seemed simpler than all the Bio Bites I had reviewed for the weeks.
What do you think your biggest struggle was while you were studying?
The biggest struggle for me was actually convincing myself that it was okay to stop studying for the DAT to finish my semester strongly. I felt guilty when, at the end of long school days and homework and projects, I just didn’t have a lot of time to study for the DAT. But I quickly found that when I forced myself to watch a review video or do more practice questions late at night, I was not really learning it and had to go back and review a lot more in the future. So, I decided to just put the DAT away and only focus on schoolwork for the last few weeks of the semester. Only after I was finished with my classes did I return to studying, and I think it was the best thing for me, though it took some good introspection to recognize and commit to it.
What is one piece of advice you would give another student preparing to take the DAT?
Regardless of how you approach studying for the DAT, the most important thing is to keep yourself on track by making a schedule ahead of time. There are some schedules available with DAT Bootcamp, but be sure to adapt them to suit your needs. The key to success is recognizing what you do not know, and making a focused effort towards learning it early and reviewing it often. (Again, for me, taking a full-length practice test right from the start was really helpful for this!) And I think that DAT Bootcamp does a great job of refining and explaining what you need to know for the test and identifying strategies, so if you are pressed for time, you can still be sure to learn high-yield topics and maximize your opportunities to score points.
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