About The Optometric Admission Test – OAT Test Prep #1

Hey everyone. I would like to present to you a new member of the OptometryStudents.com team. His name is Dale Paynter and he has been one of my good friends since sophomore year of undergrad at SUNY Albany. Dale is applying to Optometry schools for the 2014′ year and with his outstanding academic skills and passion for optometry I am very confident he will find himself a seat at which ever school he desires.

Dale performed superbly on the OAT exam but today he is here to tell you about the OAT Exam and to supply details that you may never have heard before. Keep in mind that Dale will be writing a multi-part series regarding the OAT including test overviews and specific study skills. Enjoy the article!


I will be writing a series of articles concerning preparation and strategy for the Optometry Admission Test, commonly referred to as the OAT.  First, I’d like to give a little background on the test.  This test must be taken by all students who wish to apply to optometry school, and it tests the student’s ability in each of six subjects: Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Reading Comprehension, Physics, and Quantitative Reasoning.  I intend to write separate articles for each of these sections over the coming weeks, so please check back for updates!

The purpose of the OAT is to give the optometry schools to which you will be applying a general idea of how well you understand these subjects.  This test, along with your undergraduate gpa will be the cornerstone of any application; even though academic ability is by no means the only factor in an admissions committee’s decision-making process, it is crucial that you can show your ability to thrive through the rigors of optometry school by performing well on the oat.

The test is scaled from 200-400 in increments of 10, with 400 being the highest possible score and 200 being the lowest, while the mean is targeted to be around 300.  In recent years, however, the average score on this test actually drifted up towards 320!  To compensate for this, beginning in the Spring of 2009 the scoring scale was re calibrated in order to correct this problem; it is still between 200-400 with a targeted mean of around 300, but hopefully now the average scores will in fact be close to 300 again.  You may be thinking to yourself “great, now I get to compete with people who had an easier score scale than I did…” but not to worry!  The admissions committees are fully aware of this change, so you should be at no disadvantage as to when you decided to take the test.

This test is taken on a computer at a Prometric testing center, and you will only be provided with markers and a dry erase board and an ON SCREEN computer calculation during the test.   It is also a very long test, as most people tend to take between 4 and 5 hours to complete the exam.  The sections in order are: Natural Sciences (Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry), followed by Reading Comprehension, Physics, and finally Quantitative Reasoning.  Each section is individually timed, and there is an optional 15 minute break in the middle which you are highly advised to take.  Finally, each of the six subjects receive their own score, and there are also two composite scores, called TS for total science, and AA for academic average.  The total science score is based off of your overall performance in the Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Physics sections, while the AA is directly based off of the average for all six subject scores (rounded to the nearest ten).
There will be much more in the near future, so please check back for updates, and good luck with your exams everyone!

To register for the OAT please refer to the following website:  https://www.ada.org/oat/index.html

Thanks for listening,

Dale Paynter

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