What to Expect on the Day of the Test

The day of the DAT can be a stressful time, but it’s important to remain confident in your preparation. Knowing exactly what to expect the day you arrive can help ease a lot of the anxiety that comes with taking such a big test.

The day before arriving at the exam, make sure you verify the exact time and location of your Prometric testing center. Some of these testing centers are located within college campuses, so be sure to check in advance exactly where to head on campus beyond just the physical address. Know how long it takes to get to the testing center and what time to leave to ensure that you arrive early (according to the DAT Examinee guide, you must report to the testing center at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment).

It’s important to eat well on the day of the exam so you have sufficient energy for the test. For breakfast on the day of the exam, try to avoid foods that are excessively high in sugar (like cereal or donuts) to avoid a sugar crash during the exam. Some good foods to consider are eggs, fruits, and a source of grains like oatmeal or bread. For a snack during the exam, consider a dry snack like granola bars or nuts (the snack will have to be stored in the locker during the exam, so fresher snacks like fruits or vegetables are not advised). Remember that you can’t bring the snack with you into the exam – you will only be able to access it from your locker during the optional break.

Note: Confirm the following information with the instructions in your Prometric registration. On the day of the exam, the only thing you need to bring with you are two forms of identification: one government issued with a photograph and signature (e.g. driver’s license and passport), and one ID with a signature (social security cards, credit cards, library card, etc. all meet this requirement). The signatures between both IDs must be similar. The name on your DAT registration should match the name on your ID (if there are differences between your name on your ID vs. your registration, be sure to check in advance with the Department of Testing Services at 1-800-232-2162). Any other personal items brought with you will have to be stored at a locker assigned to you at the testing center. You do not need to bring any form of test registration with you; the testing center will be expecting you and know exactly what test you’re taking.

Once you arrive at the testing center itself, you will have to present both forms of ID. Your ID will be scanned, and there will also be a biometric scan (fingerprint). A locker will then be assigned to you, where you must place all other personal belongings (the only items you can keep with you during the test are your two forms of ID and the locker key). You will also be supplied with two laminated pieces of graphing paper and a marker to use during your test. You will then have to turn your pockets inside out to verify they are emptied, before finally walking through a metal detector into the testing room.

In the testing room, you will be seated at a computer to take your exam. Noise canceling headphones are generally provided. The table below shows the amount of scheduled time available to you for each section of the exam. Note that the tutorial, post-test survey, and scheduled break are entirely optional. If you wish, you can simply skip these and continue with the test immediately. I think it’s best to spend the first 15 minutes during the tutorial to just close your eyes and breathe to calm yourself down a bit.

It is strongly recommended that you use the scheduled break after the PAT section to replace your laminated graph paper with new sheets, so that you don’t run out of space for the QR section. You can request replacement graph paper at any point during the exam, but you must raise your hand and wait for a test center administrator to provide it.

You can only access your locker and personal items during the optional break. Any breaks taken outside of this break period (to use the bathroom) will not stop the exam timer and you will not be allowed to access your locker. Personal tip: I think you should also bring some floss, toothbrush, and toothpaste to wash your mouth after eating the granola bar. I always found the dry bits and pieces of granola stuck in between my teeth really distracting during the reading comprehension section. I think having fresh breath will help you be more comfortable and focus on the reading passage. #ocd

Once you’ve completed the exam (and taken or skipped the post-test survey), your scores will be displayed immediately and you can end the exam. Upon leaving the testing room, the scores will be printed by the test center administrator and you can gather your personal belongings and leave.

If you haven’t yet familiarized yourself with the format of the DAT on the computer, doing so in advance is a good idea. It generally will look very similar to what you’ve already seen on the DAT Bootcamp Full Length Exam Simulation.