September 27, 2009 | POSTED BY | Articles, Study Resources
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Welcome back!  This article will help you get on track with a successful OAT study plan.  Why is a plan so important?  Well, most successful students take several months of studying to be prepared for the OAT.  There is just so much material on the test, that at first studying can appear to be a daunting task!  But not to worry, we have plenty of guidelines from successful OAT test-takers to share with you today.

The first thing you should do is figure out exactly what is on the test.  Sounds simple, right?  Well, the test covers six subjects:  Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Reading Comprehension, Physics, and Quantitative Reasoning. However, for all of those subjects, some categories appear over and over on the test, while others are quite rare.  For example, your Biology section is virtually guaranteed to have genetic probability questions on it.  It is still possible, although far less likely, to have a detailed question on taxonomy.  So what this obviously means is that you should spend the effort to master basic genetics, and not spend nearly as much time studying taxonomy.  I will be writing subject-specific articles in the near future that will give lots of information on what specific areas you should key in on during your studies; this should give you a significant edge on your OAT, so definitely check back in the coming weeks!

The next thing you should do is to take a practice OAT test to see roughly where you stand.  Kaplan sometimes offers free practice OAT exams, so be sure to look for one!  This will give you a better idea as to what areas you really need to focus on.  For example, if you do quite poorly in General Chemistry but very well in Biology, you definitely can take some study time you might have allocated towards Biology and spend it instead reviewing General Chemistry.  These tests are known to be decent indicators of your expected OAT performance; but remember, that’s all they are, indicators.  You can definitely improve your scores considerably with proper studying, but if you are doing well in a sction and decide to blow off prepping for it, you could be in for a nasty shock when you get your actual OAT scores!  The general rule is, study every subject no matter how well you are doing in them; just focus more time on the areas you need improvement in.

Now that you’ve figured out what you need to study, next you should figure out how to study it.  My advice would be that every day, you should try and study at least two subjects, sometimes one if you really need the time, but no more than three as it’ll put too much strain on you.  This will work out so that every week, you are studying for each subject two to three times, which is great.  How long should you spend studying each day?  If you start studying well in advance, say a few months ahead of time, you should spend a few hours a day studying, but as test day draws closer, you might want to increase your study time if it looks like you have too much material left before test day.  If you start studying two weeks in advance (not my advice) then be prepared to spend most of your waking hours studying hard.  This does work for some people, but I will never recommend it.

Finally, what resources do you have available to help you in your study quest?  Well, there is a free online OAT test at This is published by the organization that administers the OAT and is highly accurate as to what the actual test is like except for Reading Comprehension.  This is because they only give you one passage whereas on the actual OAT you will have three, generally more difficult, passages.  Other useful materials are the Kaplan OAT books with full-length practice tests, which I personally found quite useful, and other products such as OAT Destroyer and OAT Achiever, both of which can be found online.  OAT Destroyer tends to be more difficult than the actual OAT, so please be aware that if you are having trouble in OAT Destroyer you may still do quite well on your OAT.  OAT Achiever offers additional “mock” exams should you require them, and is competitively priced.  Kaplan also offers classes, both live and online, specifically for the OAT!  While these are quite expensive, they can be well worth it if you have the time and money to take such a class.

Dale Paynter

Here are some helpful links to study resources

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  • Bethann Lyvers

    hey,this is Bethann Lyvers,just discovered your Post on google and i must say this blog is great.may I share some of the article found in your weblog to my local buddies?i am not sure and what you think?anyhow,Many thanks!

  • Dale

    Hi Bethann, this is Dale Paynter, author of this article.

    Any OAT information you find on here, you can certainly share with others, as long as you give our site credit as your source. The only thing we don’t want, is to have other sites directly posting our content, but links to us are fine.

    I tried e-mailing you, but the address you gave appears to be invalid (it probably had a typo).

  • Elbert Mandonado

    Simply wanna input on few general things, The website layout is perfect, the subject matter is rattling superb :D.

  • Jane


    Would you recommend studying for the OAT by taking a Kaplan course concurrently with taking classes during the school year (ie, Spring quarter, etc.)? If I decide to apply this year (cycle starting July 2012), I should have the test taken by this summer, right? I don’t think taking the prep course over the summer will give me enough time…


  • Mark

    Excellent article. I am an entering optometry student at SUNY-O class of 2019. I run the site OATQuestionOfTheDay. For an in-depth description of how (and what) to use the OAT studying resources posted above, feel free to visit
    The site posts regular OAT-like questions once a day for extra practice. Good luck to all students 🙂

    (Also compliments to the team in charge of this site 🙂 )