The OAT Basics
The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) is a standardized exam required by all schools and colleges of optometry. It is designed to measure general academic ability and comprehension of scientific information.
It is computerized, and while you are allowed to take the OAT an unlimited number of times, you must wait at least 90 days between testing dates. Take the test the summer before your senior year. That way, you can submit your scores and your application by September and qualify for early submission. If you feel you may need to take the test multiple times, take the test earlier. However, taking the OAT multiple times is not ideal and may work against you in applying for optometry school. In addition, only scores from the four most recent attempts and the total number of attempts will be reported.
Register to take the OAT on the ADA website: https://www.ada.org/oat/index.html. Each exam costs $189.00. Inquire about test fee-reduction plans if you believe you are eligible. At the time of the test, you will be given your own score report. Official score reports will be sent within a three week time period to up to 5 optometry schools of your choice plus your pre-optometry advisor.
The OAT Content
For each section, the candidates' raw score (range from 200-400) is based on the number of correct answers only. All test items carry equal marks in OAT. That means that if a difficult question is taking time, then you should drop it there and move on to the next question. There is no penalty for incorrectly answered questions, so guess. The score report will contain 8 different scores: quantitative reasoning; reading comprehension; biology; general chemistry; organic chemistry; physics; total science (the natural sciences and physics scores combined); and an academic average.
The OAT test is divided into four sections:
1. Survey of Natural Sciences: first section, 90 minutes, 100 multiple-choice questions. Three subsections:
- Biology – 40 questions: cell and molecular biology, life diversity, vertebrate anatomy and physiology, developmental biology, genetics, evolution, ecology and behavior.
- General Chemistry – 30 questions: general chemistry concepts, solids, liquids, gases, acids, bases, solutions, chemical equilibria, thermodynamics, thermochemistry, chemical kinetics, oxidation reduction reactions, atomic and molecular structure, periodic properties, nuclear reactions and laboratory techniques.
- Organic Chemistry – 30 questions: mechanism, chemical and physical properties of molecules and organic analysis, stereochemistry, nomenclature, individual reactions of the major functional groups of combination of reactions to synthesize compounds, acid-base chemistry, aromatics and bonding.
2. Reading Comprehension Test: second section, 50 minutes, 40 multiple-choice questions. Assesses ability to interpret, analyze and comprehend complex, new scientific information by requiring students to read and interpret short passages of a scientific nature, similar to those encountered in the first year of optometry course. However, no prior knowledge of these topics is required by students.
3. Physics: third section, 50 minutes, 40 multiple-choice questions. Assesses your understanding of basic physics, including units and vectors, linear kinematics, statics, dynamics, rotational motion, simple harmonic motion, waves, energy and momentum, fluid statics, thermal energy, thermodynamics, electrostatics, magnetism, D.C. circuits, optics and modern physics.
4. Quantitative Reasoning Test: fourth section, 45 minutes, 40 multiple-choice questions. Tests your skills of reasoning and manipulating numbers and relation between numbers including mathematical problems and quantitative material in algebra, numerical calculations, probability, statistics, geometry, trigonometry, and mathematical word problems.
Preparation for the OAT is extremely important and takes several months of dedicated work. For tips on preparing, view the bottom of this page.