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Blog / Mastering Dat Test Taking Strategies Tips For Answering Multiple Choice Questions

Mastering DAT Test-Taking Strategies: Tips for Answering Multiple-Choice Questions

Written by Seza on Jul 24, 2023

Mastering DAT Test-Taking Strategies: Tips for Answering Multiple-Choice Questions

All students know that in order to excel in the DAT, they need to master the content but you also need to learn effective test-taking strategies to be able to use that knowledge effectively.  The DAT consists entirely of multiple choice questions and that’s why in this guide, we will offer you valuable advice and techniques that would help you answer these questions confidently. These strategies will help you improve your performance, increase your accuracy, and ultimately increase your chances of success.

How to get the perfect MCAT score

Understanding Multiple-Choice Questions on the DAT

Multiple-choice questions play a significant role in assessing your knowledge, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities in the DAT. This section will delve into the structure and nuances of multiple-choice questions to help you maximize your performance.

Analyzing the Stem

The stem is the initial part of the question that introduces the problem. Analyzing the stem is the most important stage of answering any multiple choice question, since it contains essential details, keywords, and cues. Here are a few points that you need to have in mind when reading the stem:

Read Carefully 

First, read the stem carefully and make sure that you understand the question. Pay attention to keywords, qualifiers, and any specific instructions. Take your time to make sure that you know what the question is asking  before moving on to the options.

Identify the Central Point

Try to find the central point or topic of the stem. This will help you focus on relevant information and not get distracted later by the options. When you identify the core concept, you can have a clear understanding of what the question is asking.

Anticipate the Answer

Before looking at the options, try to formulate an answer or predict the correct response based on your knowledge. This can prevent you from getting confused by incorrect options later. Making an educated guess is a skill that develops only by practice.

Identify Keywords

Highlight or underline keywords in the stem that provide clues to the correct answer. These may be verbs, nouns, or specific terms related to the topic. Identifying these keywords can help you remain focused on and not get swayed by irrelevant details. 

Consider the Stem Format

The format of the stem is also very important. Is it a direct question, a fill-in-the-blank statement, or a scenario-based problem? If you understand the format, you can  better guide your thoughts and approach the question more effectively.

Evaluating the Options

Read all Options

Go over the options carefully before you pick one. This will give you an understanding of the range of possibilities and help you identify any distractors. Time limitation is a key factor in the DAT, nevertheless you need to go over all options to make sure that you’re not missing out on anything. 

Look for Qualifiers

Pay attention to qualifiers such as “always,” “never,” “most,” or “least”. These qualifiers can be tricky and could significantly affect  the meaning of a statement. It’s a good idea to underline these qualifiers as you read to make sure that you haven’t missed anything. 

Consider Contextual Cues

Analyze the options in relation to the stem and the overall context of the question. Some options may be partially correct but you need to look for the ones that address the central point more accurately. Evaluate how each option aligns with the stem and choose the one that best fits the context.

Use the Elimination Technique 

The elimination technique is a lifesaver when you get confused and need to narrow down the choices. If you are unsure of the correct answer,. Eliminate options that are clearly incorrect and thereby increase your odds of selecting the correct response. This would make it easier to focus on the remaining choices.

Key Approaches to Excel in DAT Multiple-Choice Questions

Develop Strong Content Knowledge

Comprehensive content knowledge is the foundation for success in any multiple-choice exam. No multiple-choice question technique will get you far if you don’t have the knowledge required to answer the question. Devote enough time to review key concepts and practice with sample questions to always stay on top. 

Look for Patterns and Repetition

When working on practice questions, try to observe patterns and repetition in the types of questions or concepts tested. The DAT tends to cover certain topics more frequently, and finding these patterns can give you an advantage. So don’t forget to familiarize yourself with high-yield topics.

Practice Time Management

DAT’s time limit is an important factor that makes the test even more challenging. That’s why effective time management is crucial. Try to simulate test conditions during your preparation and take timed mock tests to improve your pacing and avoid rushing or leaving questions unanswered. Familiarize yourself with the time limits for each section and allocate your time accordingly. Develop a strategy that suits you best and allows you to make steady progress while staying aware of the time available.

Different sections of the DAT may require different time. For example, the Survey of Natural Sciences section typically has more questions and you may need to spend less time on each question in this section compared to sections like Reading Comprehension or Perceptual Ability.

Don’t underestimate Practice Tests

Incorporate practice tests into your study routine. This allows you to familiarize yourself with the questions, identify your weak areas, and hone your test-taking skills. The  simulated exam conditions will also help you prepare yourself mentally.

Review Mistakes 

Analyze your incorrect answers and understand the reasons behind them. This helps you learn from your mistakes, identify patterns, and strengthen your weak areas. Keep a record of the questions you answered incorrectly and revisit them periodically to ensure a deeper understanding. Use this analysis to guide your future studying and prioritize the topics that need further review.

Understand Test Construction

Familiarize yourself with the structure of the DAT. This would help you plan your study schedule effectively and prioritize certain topics. Also don’t forget to refer to official DAT resources to gain insights into the test structure.

Manage Test Anxiety

Even when you have mastered the content and learned test taking strategies, test anxiety can impair your performance. Use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing to regain control. A pre-exam routine can also help you stay calm and focused. Remind yourself that you have put enough effort into your studies and nothing else matters now. Practicing mindfulness and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can also reduce your anxiety levels.

DAT Sample Questions

Sample DAT Multiple Choice Questions

Question 1:

Which subshell would an electron with the following quantum numbers be found?

  1. A) 4s subshell
  2. B) 4p subshell
  3. C) 4d subshell
  4. D) 4f subshell


4d subshell

A principal quantum number (n) of 4 indicates that the electron is in the fourth energy level.An azimuthal quantum number (l) of 2 means the shape of the orbital where the electron is located is d.


Question 2:

What is the molecular geometry of PCl3?

  1. A) Linear
  2. B) Trigonal planar
  3. C) Trigonal pyramidal
  4. D) Tetrahedral


Trigonal pyramidal

The first step is to draw the Lewis structure based on the number of valence electrons in the molecule. PCl3 has 26  valence electrons. A bond is required between each Cl and the central P. To satisfy the octet rule, P needs a lone pair. When we count the number of electrons in this molecule, the total is 26 (2 in each bond, 3 lone pairs around each Cl, 1 lone pair around P). The VSEPR table states that a molecule with 4 electron domains consisting of 3 bonding pairs and 1 lone pair is trigonal pyramidal.


Question 3:

Which element is the least electronegative on the periodic table?

  1. A) Fluorine
  2. B) Oxygen
  3. C) Francium
  4. D) Nitrogen



Francium (Fr, atomic number 87) is located in the bottom  left of the periodic table, which is the opposite of the electronegativity trend.

Mastering test-taking strategies is essential for an optimal performance in the multiple-choice questions on the DAT. If you understand the structure of the multiple-choice questions and are able to analyze the stem and options effectively, you can significantly improve your performance. Keep in mind that as with any other skill,  practice is the key to success. 

Remember that if you need help with any aspect of your DAT journey, you can count on Jack Westin experts and we’ll offer you tailored advice to help you excel on your DAT and take a significant step towards your dream of becoming a dental professional.

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