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8 February, 2024

Are Calculators Allowed on the DAT?

You’ll encounter calculation-based questions on the Chemistry section of the Canadian DAT. In this article, we discuss whether calculators are allowed and how to solve these types of questions.
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If you are wondering whether the use of calculators is permitted on the Canadian DAT, you are likely familiar with the content of the test by now. Although there is no explicit math section, there are questions within the Chemistry section that require calculations.

A common question we get asked by students is if they should bring a calculator to the test center or if one will be provided to them. However, the answer is neither. You are not permitted to use a calculator on the Canadian DAT.

This may not be the answer you wanted to hear; however, this is not a reason to panic. Fortunately, there are only a few questions that you will encounter on the test that require calculations. Of those, the calculations required are relatively simple similar to what you’ll see on DATCrusher’s practice tests. This skill may seem daunting now, but with the tips and tricks we listed below, you are sure to master it.

🎯 Accuracy

Lucky for test-takers, the Canadian DAT is a multiple-choice test. This means your answers do not need to be highly accurate. As the answer choices will be relatively spaced out, approximations will suffice.

The test administrators are aware that students do not have access to calculators and have limited time to complete the test, so the questions are not designed to be complex. Do not be frightened by big numbers or complex calculations, as the answer will be simple.

📏 Estimation

If a question involves numbers that are difficult to work with, then it is safe to simplify.

For example, if the question requires you to answer 101.75 ÷ 4, you can simplify this to 100 ÷ 4. Instead of attempting to work with difficult numbers, rounding values will save you lots of time without compromising the accuracy of the answer. As mentioned above, the answer choices will be relatively spaced apart so this will be a beneficial technique.

If the question involves calculations that cannot be answered easily, then the answer choices will be given in equation form.

For example, if the question requires you to find pressure using the ideal gas law (PV=nRT), then the answer choices will all be given as a fraction, such as rRT/V. In this case, you do not have to do any actual calculations. Instead, this type of question tests your knowledge of the gas law concepts to determine if you can correctly rearrange the formula and plug in the given values.

Example #1: A 0.3125 mole sample of methane gas is held in a 2.5L chamber. The temperature within the chamber is 25°C. What is the pressure of the methane gas?

In the unlikely event that the answer choices are all very close, be sure to remember if you rounded values up or down. If you rounded up, then the actual answer will be slightly lower than the calculated answer. For more information, be sure to click here to check out the following video to round numbers on the DAT.

Remember, you will not be given a formula sheet for the test. You should be familiar with all the basic equations. You have access to a formula sheet, including all the ones required for the test, with premium DATCrusher membership.

💡 Basic Concepts

Although the calculations that have shown up on the Canadian DAT in past years have been simple, there are still some basic arithmetic concepts you may want to brush up on. Some students may not have used mental math or some of these techniques in years; an easy way to refresh yourself is by watching YouTube videos. There is an abundance of videos available explaining each of the following.

  1. Scientific Notation
  2. Order of Operations (BEDMAS)
  3. Unit Conversions
  4. Logs and Negative Logs
  5. Manipulating Factors of 10
  6. Long Division
  7. Multiplication (using decimals or values raised to the 10)
  8. Rearranging formulas

Understanding these concepts thoroughly will save you lots of time when answering questions later down the road.

⭐ Prioritize

On the day of your test, if you notice that you are doing complicated calculations or spending a long time on one question, move on and come back. Time is limited when it comes to the Survey of Natural Sciences section, as you have 60 minutes to complete 40 Biology and 30 Chemistry questions.

As all questions are weighted the same, it is better to make an educated guess rather than wasting time on one question and running out of time for others.

📝 Practice

One of the many reasons that students love DATCrusher is because of the comprehensive practice tests. As you go through these practice tests, you will notice that the types of questions vary significantly per exam. Some practice exams will be very calculation-heavy while others may not have any calculation questions. Since you cannot predict the types of questions that will appear on your test, you must be comfortable doing calculation-based questions without the aid of a calculator.

With enough practice, this will become second nature, and you will breeze through questions on test day. As with any skill, practice makes perfect.