OAT Strategy Article 3: How to Handle Test Day
Welcome back! This article will cover some important test day information and strategies, and will also alert you to some common mistakes to avoid. This will be the final article in my general OAT series; so please check back soon for my next article, which will cover the Reading Comprehension section in much detail!
So the first thing you’ll want to do is register for the test; please refer to the following link for information on this process: https://www.ada.org/oat/index.html There are a couple restrictions, so I’ll summarize them here. All tests will be administered at a prometric test site; however before you can register your test date with them, you first need to obtain verification of your eligibility (again follow the link for full instructions on this process). If you have taken the OAT before, you must wait at least 90 days before retaking the exam. Finally, if you later need to reschedule the exam for any reason, you must do so at least 48 hours in advance.
So, once you’ve gotten your test date, great! If you need any study tips, please refer to my previous article here; the external links at the bottom of that page are especially helpful! As test day approaches, I’m sure you’ll be mentally exhausted from all the studying and worrying, but don’t worry, this is incredibly common. Take solace in the fact your ordeal will soon be over, and for those of you who just can’t take the pressure, remember: in an absolute worst-case scenario, what happens? You can always retake the test! Obviously this is not something you should be aiming for, but if it does come to that, remember that admissions committees generally don’t frown upon a second try. However, please don’t make the mistake of taking the OAT if you aren’t prepared to do well, as there is absolutely no penalty for rescheduling, except a small fee (as of August 2009, this was only 25 dollars).
The night before your test, you should definitely focus on getting a good rest and hopefully waking up well before your test starts. At this point don’t worry about studying; you’ve had plenty of that already over the past weeks/months. On the morning of the test, get up, eat well, and arrive at the testing center early to avoid any potential traffic problems. If you aren’t a ‘morning person’ then please do yourself a favor by scheduling your test for the afternoon! Once you’re at the testing site, all signed in and ready to go, you’ll be given your markers/eraser/dry erase board and be plopped at a computer terminal, and your test will begin. There is a short tutorial at the beginning of the test, and I suggest that you spend a few minutes on it. Once that is done, the first section of the test, the Natural Sciences section, begins.
This is the longest section of the test, and covers Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry. Following this is Reading Comprehension, and then an optional break (take it). After that is over with, the test ends with Physics, followed by Quantitative Reasoning. For this test, time management is key! You need to pace yourself well in each section in order to effectively complete them without having to rush through to the end; this has happened to more people than you might think! Don’t be afraid to use the “mark question” button to temporarily skip a question; however you should still select an answer, any answer if need be, before moving on to the next question. You can easily come back to the marked questions at the end if you have time, but if not, make sure every question is answered, because there is no guessing penalty on this test! For the Reading Comprehension section, however, I have an additional word of advice: DO NOT move on to the next passage until you have completed the current one. It is extremely difficult to try and go back to say, the first passage once you have moved on to the second or even third, because it is hard to remember the precise layout of all those passages, especially at once! It is far better to quickly go through all of the first passage’s questions and finish them timely, than to leave several questions blank and move on. If you need to due to time pressure, then make the best educated guesses you can before moving on. This was a very unfortunate and costly mistake made by one recent test-taker; please learn from her experience.
Once you finish the test, you’ll get to see your scores pop up before you even leave the testing center; pretty nice, right? They don’t get sent out in your “official score report” to the schools you selected until 30 days after your test, but don’t worry about that, it’ll be done automatically. A ‘good’ score in a section is anything around 340 or above, but anything above a 300 is decent. This does vary so much by schools though, so please contact admissions committee’s at your prospective schools to see how they view your scores.
P.S. If you have any requests for specific content you’d like to see covered in an upcoming OAT article (or anything else relating to optometry), then please use the comments feature at the bottom of this page to tell us, and we’ll do our best to accommodate you!
Also check back soon because you can because the OptometryStudents.com team has MANY more articles about the OAT to give to you guys 🙂