Retake Success: Going from an 18AA to a 22AA

Meet Ashley Choi, a happy DAT Bootcamp customer who recently conquered her retake of the DAT. I’ve asked Ashley to share her DAT retake experience with us.

What did you change while studying for the DAT a second time that led to an improvement in your score?

I am the prime example of one who studied completely the wrong way the first time. The first time taking the DAT, I only allocated myself about 4 weeks, and spent this time watching Chad’s videos, while rushing through DAT Destroyer for Ochem and Gen Chem, only completing each section one time. However, I was only tricking myself into thinking I was studying in depth due to the number of resources I had, but in reality, I was passively absorbing what I was learning and only took about 2 practice exams. I scored an academic average of 18 the first time.

The second time, however, I drastically changed my mindset and religiously used DAT Bootcamp resources. I learn the most from practice and simulating testing conditions. I had about 7 weeks to study, so I tailored Ari’s 10 week guide to fit into this time frame because I finished my spring finals mid-May and had a testing date of July 5th. Every time I completed an item on Ari’s study guide, I would cross it off the list and was able to complete the majority of the items. His study guide is one of the most useful resources because it forces you to stay on top of schedule and prioritize each section (remember that each section excluding PAT 20%). I owe my score the most, however, to the practice tests. The DAT practice tests are the MOST accurate portrayals of the real exam. I completed every practice exam for each section (except for PAT and reading comp due to time constraints) at least 2 times (Bio and Gen Chem-3 times).

This may sound useless because you would think you would just memorize answers, but the DAT exam is all about recognition and speed. Timing will kill you if you are sitting there trying to ruminate over an answer, In the biology section, which so many people made me discouraged about due to randomness and breadth of info tested, is easily conquerable if you read every single explanation on Ari’s practice exam answer keys, even if you get the answer right. There was not one topic I did not recognize on my actual exam for the bio portion, and I ended up scoring a 22 compared to an 18 the first time. Pay close attention to his analogies and acronyms- you will find yourself repeating them to yourself during the test (FSH – fishies swimming like sperm, and follicle stimulating hormone).

What challenges did you face while preparing for your retake, and how did you overcome them?

In terms of challenges while preparing for the exam- the biggest one for me was getting discouraged, since I barely remembered any Gen Chem or Ochem and struggled with both in college. This was a major setback for me the first time because being discouraged at the amount of information you have to absorb will only cause you to be less motivated and make excuses. If you tackle each section of the DAT using Ari’s study schedule, it seems so much more achievable because you are tackling each section in small chunks, and I did not feel overwhelmed the second time studying.

The second biggest challenge was trying to study as fast as possible after starting off with low practice exam scores. You have to give time for yourself to absorb all the information, or else if becomes overload and you do not retain anything. Each time I completed a practice exam for every section, I would write down what I got wrong and look it over everyday until the actual test – I had a packets for each practice exam that I labeled for each section and practice exam number (i.e. Gen chem practice exam 2).

What advice do you have for other students currently studying to retake the DAT?

Advice for students currently studying to retake the DAT- do not get discouraged. This is the biggest setback. Stay motivated and make studying for DAT a learning experience everyday rather than a chore- I actually learned so much from studying, and studied with the mindset that if I did not follow Ari’s study guide and put in maximal effort, I would only have regret after. Trust me- putting in the work on a daily basis takes incredible motivation and effort, but the feeling after of reaching your target score is indescribable, especially since I remembered how I felt the first time I took the DAT.

  • Biology21
  • General Chemistry24
  • Organic Chemistry20
  • Reading Comprehension23
  • Perceptual Ability19
  • Quantitative Reasoning21
  • Academic Average22

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