Study Methods


• Keep your Motivation High.

If you have it in the back of your mind that “you’ll just take the test over if the score isn’t as good as you would like it to be,” chances are you will not be as motivated to study as hard as if you knew you only had one shot. This isn’t the SATs, it’s a 4-and-a-half-hour, expensive (~$700, depending on how many schools you apply to), computerized test. Unless you put in the time to study and test-prep, your score will not significantly change.

• Don’t put yourself through it more times than you really have to!

You’re a busy person. Once you take the DAT, you’ll have to wait 3 months before you are allowed to re-take it for any reason. This rule was probably created to deter test-prep companies like Kaplan and Princeton Review from coming in and copying test questions, and also to eliminate the possibility of receiving the same test that you had previously.


• Learn how to take the test.

I took Kaplan  it worked for me. They have an enormous test question bank, thorough review course, and great online resources.  They teach you test taking strategies specifically for the DAT. For instance, that some questions have no answer – they’re just there to see if you get hung up. Also, Some questions are seemingly insurmountable unless you have a specific method of attack, which Kaplan provides.

• When to take the DAT?

If you’re pressed for time, take the DAT after submitting your application. If you apply June 1st, you will be highest priority, even if your application doesn’t have DAT scores. Get your DATs done by mid-August – some schools start deciding interview invitations by late August.


• How to prepare:

You’ll need at least a month to be completely focused on the DAT.

• FIRST: Review and study all materials covered on the DAT.

Read, Research, take notes, USE FLASHCARDS (numbered and graded)

If you can, take Human Physiology @ a Community College before your DATs and study as much biology has you can (low level). Take notes on the whole Kaplan review book, and supplement everything you are not solid on.

• SECOND: Work as many questions as you can.

    If you do all the questions from TopScore and Kaplan, you will see the exact questions on the DAT except with different numbers. Take as many practice tests you can, work as many problems as you can – and understand why you got them wrong.

• Study Tips:

- Buy a digital timer/stopwatch from Radio Shack to use when you are doing practice problems, take breaks every hour to get the blood moving again, and get used to the completing problems under a time constraint.

- Re-work problems, memorize the steps to get the answers.

- For the two weeks before the test, take a Full-Length Mock exam every day for endurance. Grade them and understand them.

– There is a new DAT test introduced every 3 months, so chances are that you will be getting the same test as many of your friends who have just taken it. Talk to people who have taken it just before you take it, they may have helpful hints.

Maintain Your Sanity

“Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.”

- Max Ehrmann, Desiderata,


Most people battle depression and self-doubt when studying for extended periods. Take breaks, work hard, learn to relax on your time away from studying.

• On the day before test day:

Sit back, relax, get a massage, go surfing or hiking, or whatever else you love doing that has nothing to do with studying and that gets your blood moving. Don’t even think about the test! Your brain needs to be at full potential and un-fatigued for the test the next day. Some find it helpful to take a brief look (no more than 20 min) at some easy flash-cards the night before the test to get their brain in gear while they sleep.

• How do the Mock exams compare to the real thing?

Mock exams are generally more difficult than the real thing. Although you may see some extremely complicated problems on the real thing, generally they will be more strait-forward. Rest assured that you will generally score much better on the real DAT than the mock exams from Kaplan and Topscore, at least 2-4 points better. I was getting 18’s in general chemistry on the mock exams, and got a 26 on the real thing. The Kaplan PAT however, is much easier than the real thing. Generally, people score 2-3 points lower on the actual PAT.

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