It’s no secret that mastery of the sciences is essential for success on the DAT, yet all the hard work you devoted to studying can prove futile without honing your math skills. You can expect to find calculation questions throughout your DAT. However, you are only provided a calculator on the quantitative reasoning section of the exam. The rest of your questions must be solved using the materials given to you by the Prometric test site- 2 pieces of laminated graphing paper and a felt tip marker- and your brain. This can be intimidating. To help, we’ve outlined some tips and tricks on how to prepare for and solve DAT questions without a calculator.
Quick Tips to Implement Before Your Exam
Tricks for Approaching Your Math Problems
This may seem a bit complicated, so let’s put these tricks to the test with an example question:
Step 1. Use Friendly Numbers
After we recognize that this is a dilution problem, we plug our given values into the dilution equation (). However, 748 is a complicated number that can make our calculation more difficult. Therefore, we will round it up to 750 to make it a friendlier number. Because we rounded up, we must remember that our actual answer choice will be larger than the value we get by rounding, but since we only increased our value by 2, the actual answer will not be much different than the one we calculate.
Step 2. Eliminate Answer Choices
Before we even begin our calculations, we can recognize that our final concentration must be smaller than the initial concentration. This is because there is an inverse relationship between molarity and volume, so since the volume increased, our concentration must decrease. As a result, we can eliminate choices C and D. Without doing a single calculation, we have already increased our chances of getting the question correct from 25% to 50%.
Step 3. Simplify
There are two ways to use simplification in this example.
Option 1.
We calculate the numerator to get 1250 moles. We can then recognize that 1250 and 750 are each divisible by 250. Therefore, we can simplify to get 5/3. This will give us a final value of 1.66666M, which rounds to answer choice B, 1.7M.
Option 2.
We begin by splitting the equation into 2 values: 500L/750L and 2.5M. We have not changed the equation but have only split it into two more manageable terms. Looking at this equation, we can see that 500 and 750 are both divisible by 25. Therefore, we will simplify these values to give 2ml and 3ml respectively. We can then recombine our equation and solve it to once again get 5/3, which rounds to answer choice B, 1.7M.
Final Advice
Solving math problems without a calculator may seem daunting, but there is no reason to panic. Most of the values given to you on the DAT will be easy and straightforward. However, in the case that you face a difficult or time-consuming calculation, it is in your best interest to guess an answer, mark the question, and move on. The DAT is all about answering as many questions correctly as possible under a strict time limit. With this in mind, don’t be afraid to abandon challenging calculations that are taking away time that can be devoted to other problems. You can always return to more difficult questions later on. Nevertheless, following the techniques listed above can help you quickly and accurately answer math questions without a calculator.
If you are interested in learning more about other DAT topics, be sure to check out our other articles: