dat pattern folding questions

DAT PAT Pattern Folding Strategy: Key Landmarks

Pattern Folding questions in the PAT section of the DAT present you with a flat pattern and ask to select the 3D figure it would become when folded. Some questions require you to identify the structure only, as in the first example below, while others also present shading and patterns that you must identify, as in the second example below:

In figures that have unique shapes, an effective strategy is to eliminate any answer choices that do not contain the unique shape in the original pattern. For the first question above, the flat pattern shows a two-step shape with a rounded back. Choices (B) and (C) do not make the correct stair-step system, and choice (D) has the wrong proportions for the shape. Only choice (A) has the correct, unique shape, so (A) must be correct, regardless of how the rest of the figure comes together.

For figures that instead have unique shading as the predominant feature, the strategy is to instead focus on that shading pattern. For the second question above, the figure shows an alternating shaded-unshaded pattern. Again, elimination of answer choices is a very powerful technique here. You can eliminate choice (A) because it shows two unshaded faces together and (D) because it shows two shaded faces together, and you know the pattern should instead alternate. This leaves answer choices (B) and (C) as options.

Although identifying unique shapes and shading often allows you to eliminate down to the correct answer, sometimes more than one choice will be left, as with the second question above. In that case, the final piece to look at is a key landmark or point of interest in the figure. This builds on what you already identified with unique shape and shading but adds in evaluating the relationships among key pieces. For the second figure above, you already narrowed the correct answer down to either (B) or (C). Both answer choices feature the square with a diagonal line through it, so use the corresponding square toward the bottom and left of the original pattern as your key landmark. The square is attached to a shaded square, which is part of the alternating shaded-unshaded pattern you already identified. That means all the squares that intersect your key landmark must follow that pattern as well. Therefore, (C) can be eliminated, and (B) is the correct answer.

The important takeaway for all of these strategies is to evaluate a point of interest and focus in on that rather than attempting to visualize the folding and positioning of the entire figure, which is a much more difficult task. By focusing in, you break the pattern into more reasonable pieces that tend to be much less overwhelming but that will still allow you to narrow down to the correct answer.

Because Pattern Folding questions are some of the most challenging ones in the PAT, you can reasonably spend up to 15 minutes on this subsection at the rate of 60 seconds per question.