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How the OAT is Scored

The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) is among the admission requirements by all schools and colleges of optometry in the United States, as well as the University of Waterloo, Canada. Conducted annually at test centers managed by Prometric Inc, OAT purports to gauge overall academic ability and knowledge of scientific concepts. The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) administers the OAT.

OAT scores follow a predefined format. For every individual test, a raw score report is generated. A raw score is the sum of an examinee's correct answers. It is then converted to a standard score through an equating method. Standard scores range from 200 to 400 with a mean of 300 and reported in 10 point increments. In this system, a candidate may get the same standard score as someone with a relatively higher or lesser raw score. If an examinee leaves an entire section unanswered, the standard score would automatically be 200 which is equivalent to zero.

OAT Score Conversion Chart

At the back of the official OAT Sample Test, New Version, there is a table to estimate a standard score from your raw score for each of the OAT Sample Test's subsections. The 'Raw score-standard score conversion chart' can give you some indication as to the basic method used for score conversion and can be found towards the end of the following document: Sample OAT Practice Test (the preceding link opens a pdf file from the ada.org website).

The table for the OAT Sample Test shows the corresponding raw scores for each subtest and their respective standard score equivalent. For instance, a raw score of 29/40 in Biology is equivalent to a standard score of 350/400. Note: the preceding can only give you a sense of the process as the exact conversions for the real OAT exam are calibrated on an exam-by-exam basis.

OAT Score Breakdown

Eight standard scores will appear in the OAT report:

  • Biology
  • General Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Total Science score
  • Academic Average

Biology has 40 items while General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry have thirty items each. Though these three tests are classified under Survey of the Natural Sciences, they are scored separately. Physics, Quantitative reasoning and Reading Comprehension are separate forty-item tests. Each section yields an individual standard score.

The Total Science score is the sum of your standard scores in Survey of the Natural Sciences and Physics. To get the Total Science score, just add your biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry and physics standard scores together.

The Academic Average (AA) is the average standard score of all six individual tests. Consider the following standard scores:

Quantitative Reasoning 340
Reading Comprehension Test 310
Biology 350
General Chemistry 320
Organic Chemistry 300
Physics 330

1950
1950 ÷ 6 = 325

The sum would be 1950. Since there are six individual tests, divide this sum by six. Your arithmetic average is 325. The 10-point interval rule would require this figure to be rounded off to 330. If the score was 324, this would be rounded down to 320.

Average, good and high OAT scores

What constitutes a high, good or average OAT score? In an ideal setting where a skilled set of examinees has completed the OAT, the mean score for every test would always be 300. The ideal mean is regularly monitored to address score variations.

Assuming the mean remains constant, an OAT score rounded up or rounded down to 300 can be considered average.

High, good and average OAT scores are not set in stone, however. Optometry schools have different criteria for admission. A good score for one school may not be so for another. Make sure to check the website of the school you plan to enrol in. See the tables below for what is generally regarded as high, good and average OAT scores.

OAT Scores Percentile Rank Estimates

Percentile ranks are used to convey a candidate's OAT standing relative to other individuals who took the exam. A candidate's admission to an optometry school is not determined by his/her percentile rank. Percentile ranks are volatile and dependent on the number of test administrations every year.

OAT Standard Score Percentile OAT Score (Qualitatively)
300 50th Average
350 75th Good
390 98th Very High

OAT Scores by Optometry School

The following table displays the average OAT and GPA scores of the US Optometry School Enrolees in 2015:

US Optometry Schools Average OAT (AA) Average GPA
University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Optometry 325 3.61
Midwestern University, Arizona College of Optometry 325 3.48
Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University 331 3.5
University of California, Berkeley, School of Optometry 351 3.49
Western University of Health Sciences, College of Optometry 310 3.21
Nova Southeastern University, College of Optometry 324 3.4
Illinois College of Optometry 322 3.39
Indiana University, School of Optometry 320 3.47
MCPHS University, School of Optometry 301 3.25
New England College of Optometry 328 3.36
Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University 330 3.66
University of Missouri at St. Louis, College of Optometry 323 3.51
State University of New York, State College of Optometry 343 3.51
Northeastern State University, Oklahoma College of Optometry 310 3.6
The Ohio State University, College of Optometry 331 3.61
Pacific University, College of Optometry 330 3.53
Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University 320 3.34
Southern College of Optometry 328 3.53
University of the Incarnate Word, Rosenberg School of Optometry 310 3.37
University of Houston, College of Optometry 333 3.56

Source: Profile of the 2015 Optometry Entering Class published online by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry

The average OAT score (AA) for 2013 admissions at the University of Waterloo (Canada) was 370. Historically, applicants who have been admitted to the program have had an average of 86% and a range of 79% to 95%. For applications for September 2017 the University of Waterloo has introduced an additional requirement. Students must now complete CASPer (Computer-based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) test as part of their application process. For more information: University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science.

OAT Scores Release Date

Following the completion of your OAT appointment and prior to the release of your official score report, a personal copy of your unofficial score report can be claimed at the Prometric Test Center. The unofficial score report cannot be voided upon request. Should the applicant fail to receive a copy, he should immediately inform the OAT program within five days by sending an email to oatexam@ada.org.

Official scores will be sent electronically to the applicant's chosen optometry schools within three weeks or a month from the testing date. The applicant has to write an authorization letter for the scores to be released. An electronic request form is provided to accommodate score report requests for additional optometry schools. You can download this form at www.opted.org. From July 2016 candidates are able to select an unlimited number of schools to receive OAT scores at the time they submit their application. Sending score reports to optometry schools or recipients not included during the application process will require additional fees. For further information, please refer to the ASCO website.