Biology on the DAT
The first part of the Survey of the Natural Sciences on the DAT is biology. This section has 40 questions on topics that you can see below. Remember that you need to have greater knowledge than the content area mentioned here to be able to answer the questions, and for some questions, you also need knowledge from General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, or other fields, so having a good background will be beneficial:
- Cell and Molecular Biology: the origin of life, cell metabolism (e.g.photosynthesis/enzymology), cellular processes (e.g. membrane transport, signal transduction), thermodynamics, organelle structure and function, mitosis/meiosis, cell structure and function, experimental cell biology, biomolecules, and integrated relationships
- Diversity of Life: Biological Organization and Relationship of Major Taxa (Six-Kingdom, Three-Domain System) – plantae, animalia, protista, fungi, eubacteria (bacteria), archaea, and integrated relationships
- Structure and Function of Systems: integumentary, skeletal, muscular, circulatory, lymphatic/immune, digestive, respiratory, urinary, nervous/sensory, endocrine, reproductive, and integrated relationships
- Developmental Biology: fertilization, descriptive embryology, developmental mechanisms, and integrated relationships
- Genetics: molecular genetics, human genetics, classical genetics, chromosomal genetics, and genetic technology, and integrated relationships
- Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior: natural selection, population genetics/speciation, population and community ecology, ecosystems, and animal behavior (including social behavior), and integrated relationships
Questions in biology tend to be more integrated than before, so just learning a biological concept in isolation is not enough, you need to learn the interactions between the biological systems as well. In order to achieve that, first, you need to memorize the basic information in the field. This will enable you to answer direct questions related to the concepts. Next, you should learn how to answer questions that require you to make inferences or conclusions based on the connection between those concepts.
Some sources recommend that you spend 20 minutes to answer all 40 questions so that you can have 37 minutes for General Chemistry, 30 minutes for Organic Chemistry, and 3 minutes to review any skipped or marked questions.
The scope of the material covered in DAT biology is so randomly big, so the material covered on the exam is very random. Your practice test scores can vary in range depending on what questions you get on that specific test, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t score as high as you wish you did on a certain exam. Identify the topics in which you need more studying and practice according to your exam results and continue from there.
Generally speaking, it is suggested that you study a topic completely until you get a good grasp on the concepts related to it first. Afterward, you can test how much you have learned and identify your weaknesses or mistakes by solving the problems related to that topic. When you have identified your weaknesses and strengths, you can spend more time on your weaknesses and less on your strengths; you should find out why you could not answer a question or chose the wrong answer. Were you not familiar with the words and concepts you saw in the question and the items, or did you just confuse some concepts with each other? If the problem is related to understanding a concept, naturally you should spend more time on learning that topic and the related concepts. You can use this method for many subjects and not just biology. Although it is true that some students may have different preferred methods through which they learn better, this is just our suggestion regarding studying methods.
You can start studying for the biology section by reading or reviewing some biology notes and books that are written at a high school level and explain many topics in a simple and understandable manner. Also, you can make flashcards or notes on the topics you aren’t familiar with and then try doing some tests on the topics you have read. You should look back at your notes often as a refresher.
Try to avoid leaving a concept that you haven’t learned behind and just hope no questions related to that concept or topic will be asked, don’t think what you have already learned is enough. You can use whichever method or information that works best for you like flashcards, notes, videos, free materials on the internet, and so on.
The important thing when studying this section is to familiarize yourself with as many questions and topics as you can without spending too much time on all the details. Because the information that exists on the details is so much that you can’t possibly learn them all. It is also helpful to familiarize yourself with the terminology so you will be able to have better guesses on the questions you don’t know the answer to.
Get a Better DAT Score
Upgrade your membership and get instant access to 60+ practice tests, review notes for Quantitative Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry, 10 full-length DAT-like tests, and a lot more for a 1-year subscription!