Meet Madison Tang, a happy DAT Bootcamp customer who recently conquered the DAT. I’ve asked Madison to share his DAT experience with us as the featured student of January.
What is one piece of advice you would give to another student preparing to take the DAT?
In order to overcome any challenge life, you have to be motivated, dedicated, and prepared. For such an important test such as the DAT, this is especially the case and it will almost certainly test your resolve and push you to the limits.
Of the traits listed above, motivation is the cornerstone. How can you dedicate yourself to a task and spend time and effort if you do not know if you would ultimately enjoy the result? Everyone who was ever conscious has wondered what they should do with their future. For some, the answer is obvious, but for others the question has a seemingly infinite number of answer choices and must only have one right answer. I came into college knowing that I had a love for science and in particular, medicine. However, I did not know whether I should pursue biomedical engineering, medicine, or dentistry. For the past two years, I dove deeply into the pros and cons of each path, asking friends and family for advice and meeting as many professionals as possible. After reading half the internet and shadowing a handful of individuals from each field, I know decisively what I want, and therefore I know with certainly that I want to be a dentist and that I would have to do well on the DAT in order to do so. Thus for the past three months, I was strongly motivated to ace the DAT and I happily sacrificed 6 hours a day to do so.
TLDR: do the groundwork, know for a fact that dentistry is what you want to do. If you are strongly motivated to pursue this path, the framework you need to succeed should fall into place. As Yoda once said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Give it your all!
How did you use DAT Bootcamp to prepare for the DAT?
I don’t want to sound like too much of a fanboy, but I can’t help it. DAT Bootcamp is single-handedly the best resource there is for DAT anything. The questions on DAT Bootcamp’s practice tests are very similar in terms of difficulty to the real DAT. In addition, I found Mike’s Chemistry videos and Bootcamp Bio Notes to definitively be the best resource for chemistry and biology, respectively.
Not to advise my studying strategy, as it is a little bit hectic, but it works for some people and is efficient if you have enough time. I initially used DAT Bootcamp’s section tests as a gauge for how well I knew the SNS material. The first time I went through the material, I would try to do it as quickly as I could while still retaining some comprehension of the material. Not so much as a sprint, but more as a very challenging jog. A few days later, when the material would start to fade in my mind, I go through the material again at a slightly faster pace. It is said that it takes 21 days for information to enter your long term memory, and in the case of the DAT, you really got to take this to heart and try to jam in as much information into your long term memory as possible. Repetition in this particular instance is far superior to cramming due to the scope of the test. Repetition is the key, so each time you feel as though you forgot a substantial portion of the material (or a DAT Bootcamp practice test suggests this) make an effort to spend a few hours for the next few days to fill the gaps.
When you are not building your longer term memory, practice your test taking skills. After I grew confident in my SNS knowledge I spent my afternoons going over section tests where the time limit felt especially strict, such as the PAT, RC, and QR sections. The PAT generator is wonderful for learning the skills you need to really fly through the PAT. Be sure to turn the timer on. Taking the 1 hr PAT tests is important too, as can start to find a balance for optimizing your time between a specific part you find easy and another you find hard. RC is almost entirely practice, and in my experience DAT Bootcamp’s RC sections are similar in terms of questions and passage difficulty to the real DAT, so definitely gauge your reading speed and ability with those 1 hr sections as well. Finally, the QR section was pretty scary this time around as the DAT recently overhauled their previous format to include a lot of quantitative comparison questions. But worry not, DAT Bootcamp has practice for that. Time is the primary concern for this section as well after you’ve created the right mental framework to answer any of the possible questions. The explanations after each question at the end of the practice QR sections are a godsend for learning how to approach each question efficiently. Repetition is key, so do the section you are having timing trouble with as many times as you can in a row until you get sick of it. Switch to something easier for a day or so, then do it again. It’ll pay off!
I know it sounds like a lot of effort, but know that whether you succeed or fail you will have pushed your life forward. So try your best and do it! In the words of Stannis “the Mannis” of House Baratheon and rightful Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, “We march to victory. Or we march to defeat. But we go forward; only forward.” (GoT fans, don’t think of the context lol, just the wisdom).
What would you do differently to prepare for the DAT?
I think the largest factor holding me back was time. I gave myself 3 months to prepare, but I honestly would have taken a much longer period of time (say about a year) and split the amount of time I spent evenly amongst the year. So maybe during the school year I would spend about an hour or two a day. I wish I had more studying cycles for some of the SNS sections and sometimes running through the material was a bit stressing because of time constraints and brain recovery times. I also tried studying while walking. It doesn’t work, just makes the walk a lot less enjoyable haha. I definitely would’ve given myself more leeway on taking breaks, and I only took full practice tests for around a month before test day, which I think was a mistake as keeping your head clear and efficient throughout the test is very important. Finding a strategy to sleep the night before the test is critical, and it could make an enormous difference on your mental performance. Unfortunately for me the testing nerves got me and I was very stressed the night before my DAT. I only slept for about 3 hours. I definitely do not want to do go through that night again. Luckily the adrenaline drove me through the test and the sleep I got afterwards was wonderful.
I wish you the best of luck! If you have any questions you’d like to ask me, I’d happily answer to the best of my ability! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- General Chemistry24
- Organic Chemistry25
- Reading Comprehension25
- Perceptual Ability22
- Quantitative Reasoning30
- Academic Average26
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