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What OAT score do I need for optometry school?

First some good news! Even though 3 of the 4 sections in the OAT (Optometry Admission Test) cover the identical topics and question types as the DAT (Dental Admission Test), the scale for OAT scores is more lenient than for DAT scores. This means that you do not have to exert yourself (or obsess!) as much as your predent friends.

Before designing an OAT study schedule, check which optometry schools you wish to attend. Aim for the needed OAT score and a bit more. Avoid chasing details that rarely become part of the real OAT. Assess your needs and then stick to your program. Regular practice, as we will discuss below, will keep you on target.

Click here for: OAT scores by optometry school

How long should I study for the OAT?

A high science GPA and a habit of reading English editorials, books or journals (meaning you can read English and/or research articles quickly and efficiently) will usually result in a great OAT score even with little preparation (i.e. just one or two weeks, mostly spent completing and reviewing useful OAT practice tests). For most students, quality prep materials and a disciplined OAT study schedule (average 3 to 6 hours per day for 3 to 6 months) are needed to get the score to be accepted to optometry school. Within that range, in general, higher GPAs require less time while lower ones require more time to review.

The best OAT study schedule should include rewards, breaks and limitations in review materials. Be sure that good study habits are rewarded with breaks to go out and socialize, play sports or enjoy some other hobby. The best study habits also include a strict limitation on your study materials. Some students see OAT prep as an opportunity to accumulate a private OAT library of materials! Avoid the trap of stocking information that you cannot fully review and worse, may lead you to rush through the most frequently tested material in attempt to “see everything”. Such a strategy could lead to a suboptimal OAT score. Of course, we believe that the Gold Standard OAT materials, along with TopScore and the official practice test from ASCO (developed in conjunction with the ADA) are all that you require in order to obtain an OAT score that would get you accepted to any optometry school in the country. Should you use other OAT prep materials, you should still try to minimize what you accumulate.

{FYI: ASCO is the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry and the ADA is the American Dental Association. They work together to produce the OAT which can be helpful to know when it comes time to study and to use practice tests since 3 of the 4 sections of the OAT and DAT are identical: NS (Natural Sciences), QR and RC. Physics is unique to the OAT and PAT is unique to the DAT.}

OAT study strategy

Buy into an OAT study strategy that works for you. Of course, everyone is different, but we will describe a strategy that works for most people. The central dogma for OAT prep is: content review -> practice questions -> full length exams.

Content review during your OAT prep is normally when you review books like the Gold Standard OAT Physics and OAT study guides. Our strategy with review guides is that your aim is to read a chapter once. Reading a chapter is clearly the least efficient way to study (well, unless you are including attending a typical university class which is even less efficient in terms of retaining information). So we will describe how you can retain information more efficiently.

Always ‘map’ first: ‘Mapping’ means that you never read a chapter before having already gauged where you are going. Start by reading the first page of the chapter which describes what you should memorize, understand, etc. You also read all the titles and subtitles in the chapter, review all tables and images (as well as their captions). Now you are ready to read and you have the proper concept and objectives.

Some students like to watch science review videos before or after reading a chapter. Depending on how you learn best, content review can be optimized through the synergy between video and reading material. You will find that our science review videos, which we had originally designed for the MCAT, will help you get an efficient review of all OAT sciences including OAT Physics.

The next step is to complete chapter review questions so that you get feedback on your understanding of the material that you read. And finally, you must encode your review and practice experience in quality personal notes. Once the content review and chapter review questions are complete, then you are ready for full length OAT practice tests.

Your OAT prep personal notes

“I know I studied that 2 months ago, how could I forget?”

When starting your OAT content review, if you read a chapter, it should result in a half page or less of notes. Ideally, you read the chapter like it’s the last time you will ever see it (even if it is 6 months before the real test). Every line you read is a decision: Do I know this already? Is this related to something else I read? Is this a core OAT topic or advanced? (i.e. do I really need to know this?)

The personal notes you write are more like hieroglyphics than course notes. You are trying to write study tips or notes that trigger an idea. For example, you should never have notes with PV = nRT because presumably you know that already. But you may have been unclear on the reasons that the ideal gas law breaks down: this presents a need to take a brief note that triggers the concept.

What's the point? Studying is an active process. You can't sit in front of a book and demand: "Learn me now!" While you read you are continually asking questions, relating facts and taking very, very, very brief notes (for selfish reasons, we call them your Gold Notes!).

You read those notes 2-3 times per week and then every day in the weeks leading up to the exam. You never forget, not because you are some memory freak on 60 Minutes, but because you have seen the same OAT prep content dozens, if not hundreds, of times. You were not spending most of your time studying. You spent most of your time consolidating.

You finished a full length OAT practice test? One-half to one page of Gold Notes should have been created. After all the 5-10 OAT practice tests you may take, you have about 5 pages of truly Gold Notes. What do you look at the night before the real exam? (ummm, rhetorical)

Our website has a free OAT question of the day which can give you that little push along the way. Also, on our Members home page, you’ll find a Science video of the week (even for free accounts). Depending on your learning style, you may find one or more of our Gold Standard OAT products helpful like books, OAT apps, mp3s, DVDs, science review online videos, online practice tests, and more. Whatever you may choose for your OAT prep, we hope that you take the time and energy to achieve your goal. Good luck!

OAT Study Schedule Summary

OATsummary