The DAT: six weeks out from test day

By Aisha

During my junior year of college, I was taking five classes, working two jobs, and finishing up a year-long independent study. Without much time to spare, I delayed the start of my DAT studying to May 15, the day after my organic chemistry II final.  The catch? My test day was set for July 1, leaving me only six weeks to review all of the material on the DAT.

This is not a situation I would recommend to find yourself in. However, life does happen, and if you end up short on time for your DAT preparation, here are the three actions that carried me through my six weeks of studying: 

  1. Developing a strict review schedule 
  2. Reading through and adhering to the exam guidelines
  3. Taking timed sections

All three of these elements were key to helping me be perseverant and efficient.

A strict review schedule

I unfortunately began studying while also exhausted from an extremely full year.  It would have been quite easy for me to become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of material I needed to learn, procrastinate for several days, and ultimately run out study time.  Instead, the schedule ensured that every morning I knew what sections I needed to learn and therefore did not waste time determining review content for the day.  It also provided me with a foundation that I could adjust whenever I found a new area of weakness. 

The exam guidelines

The exam guidelines allowed me to remain accountable, especially when it was tempting to give myself too much leeway.  For example, knowing that quantitative reasoning would impact my overall academic average score just as much as biology encouraged me to do at least ten math problems every day, despite my strong aversion for math.  

Timed Sections

Six weeks is not a lot of time to fit in several full length practice tests. This is where timed sections came into play: it was critical for me to fit in as much of the real testing experience as possible, and using timed sections as substitutes for full length practice testing was a fine solution for my situation. 

Alongside these three actions, it's important to note who your support system is. There were certainly points in my experience where I was frustrated, discouraged, or just plain upset.  During these times, I called family and friends to help me relax and encourage me to keep going. And when those conversations were insufficient? Well, that's where my three point approach really came through for me. Since I had taken ownership of my process, since I was the one who set out and made a plan for myself, I knew that at the end of the day, my score would be a product of my creation and effort.  Once I internalized this information and truly came to believe it, I gained a sense of control over my studying.  Yes, I would need to recall and apply material from my freshmen fall, but I had personally developed the tools and strategies necessary to do so.