Meet Carlo Rodriguez, a happy DAT Bootcamp customer who recently conquered the DAT. I’ve asked Carlo to share his DAT experience with us as the featured student of December.
What is one piece of advice you would give to another student preparing to take the DAT?
Don’t get discouraged about studying for a section if you haven’t had a good experience with the subject in the past. When I first started studying, I was essentially tabula rasa in general chemistry – I hadn’t taken any for two years, and had never done well in the classes, making a low B and a C. On my first practice test, I scored a 15. I felt like I’d never re-learn everything, and that my lack of background knowledge would prove to be my downfall. As discouraging as my initial results were, I pushed back, going through countless practice problems and Chad’s videos. Although general chemistry did indeed end up as my lowest score, I improved dramatically. I want to stress that your past doesn’t define you – how you overcome your past and how you ride into the future does.
In addition, please remember that you are a human being and not a studying robot. Don’t neglect your mental and physical health. Take breaks as necessary, eat well, get enough sleep. Trust me, studying for an hour and getting a good night’s rest is exponentially more effective in retaining information than studying all night. The week before my DAT, I only took one practice test per day, and spent the rest of my time hitting golf balls, cooking, and going on walk. The day before, I didn’t spend a single second studying. Instead, I meditated and spent time with friends. This put me in a good place mentally as I took my exam. When you sit down and actually take the DAT, you want to be calm, well rested, and confident. Nothing kills performance like exhaustion or anxiety.
How did you use DAT Bootcamp to prepare for the DAT?
I made sure to take every practice exam that DAT Bootcamp offered. Afterwards, I took every question I missed (or got right but guessed on or was unsure of), made a Word document with all the multiple choice options listed, and a thorough explanation of each question. This way I had a bank of mini tests that I took later on. This allowed me to identify my weaknesses and improve them. I also made PowerPoints on each subject in the sciences (for example, the nervous system or kinetics) and gave “lectures” to my “class”. I would talk out loud and go through each slide as if I were a professor. If I found myself struggling to explain a concept, I knew that was an area I didn’t fully grasp. Whenever I began to get bored with a section, I’d take a short break by doing the PAT generators. I studied for roughly three hours a day for three months.
What would you do differently to prepare for the DAT?
I wish I hadn’t neglected QR as much. Although I scored well, I certainly wasn’t doing that great on my practice tests, and I believe I had a fluke performance (as much as I’d rather not admit it). QR is a section that often makes the difference between a 22AA and a 20AA.
Finally, I’d like to provide some words of encouragement to those who lack stellar GPAs. It seems like everyone has a 4.0, and you can’t get into dental school if you don’t. First off, this isn’t true, as many kids with 3.0-3.5 GPAs are admitted. Second, there is always time to turn things around. At the end of my third semester I had just come off a 2.6, leaving me staring down a measly 2.85 cumulative GPA. I decided I needed to adjust my study habits. I started attending every class, and taking notes like a courtroom reporter. Today, coming into my senior year, I have raised my 2.85 to a 3.38, and will hopefully be around a 3.45 by graduation. There is always time to turn your academic career around.
- General Chemistry22
- Organic Chemistry25
- Reading Comprehension25
- Perceptual Ability21
- Quantitative Reasoning24
- Academic Average24
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