I'm new to SDN and I am thoroughly enjoying reading over all of the helpful posts! The university that I attend is on the smaller side so I have a hard time getting any helpful advice and tips from professors or advisors because they don't have much experience with pre-optometry students, however they do everything they can to be as helpful as possible. I have just a few questions regarding what efforts I can make to maximize my chances of being accepted into an OD program. My top two choices would be UMSL and NSUOCO.
First off I have about a 3.7 GPA (this will be going up as I am taking 18 hours this semester and have a 4.0 thus far in the semester).
I will be graduating from a four year university with a major in Biology:Pre-Optometry a semester early in December 2012. I had previously wondered if taking a semester off between undergraduate and optometry school was a good idea but since I work for an optometrist, more on that later, I figured it would be alright since I will still be getting experience.
I have worked for an OD in a private practice for over 2 years now. I average about 28 hours/week during the semester, and 43 hours/week during school breaks. I perform the duties of an optometric technician by screening patients, assisting the doctor during exams, checking IOPs, and dilating patients. I also assist the optician in frame styiling, completing orders, cutting lenses, dispensing, and optical repairs.
I have many extra-curricular activities including collegiate cheerleading my first year, vice president of the chemistry club, and vice president of the pre-professional club. I will be studying abroad in Belize for 10 days this summer which I hope will help me to appear as a more well rounded student.
I took the OAT today and wasn't too disappointed, but not overly thrilled either. I did well on the RC section (370) and decent on the QR (320) section. My lower score in the survey of natural sciences portion wasn't too much of a surprise because I have not taken Organic II yet (which I plan to do this summer before retaking the OAT). My physics score wasn't too great but I am taking Physics II at the moment and we haven't even touched on optics or magnetism which seem to come up frequently.
What surprised me the most was the biology section. It really threw me for a loop! I am a straight A student when it comes to biology courses at my university. The section seemed very random and the topics were not at all what I had predicted. For preparation I used the 2010 Kaplan OAT book and Crack the OAT royal flush edition. Any sort of general biology review would be helpful as I have not taken any general biology since high school (for dual credit). I jumped right in to anatomy II in college and just went from there so I could use a refresher.
So after that all too detailed biography (necessary for background information, but I do apologize) here are my questions:
What are some good resources I can use to prepare myself for that off the wall biology section? The physics section? Also a general chemistry review would help because I feel I wasted a lot of time there.
What else can I do, besides get a great OAT, to make myself a better candidate for acceptance? I do have some volunteer hours but not as many as I'd like considering my schedule is jam packed with work and school. Do some schools require a certain number of volunteer hours?
I know that at least at UMSL it counts against you to take the OAT more than twice, but there is no penalty for taking it the second time. Does the admissions departments look at both scores, the better of the two, or the most recent?
Again, sorry for the long post. I would really appreciate any feedback! Thanks!
I think taking off time in between will be a great thing actually. I graduated Dec 2007, worked full time for 2.5 years, then went back to school for my optometry pre-req's. I appreciated school a lot more, studied harder, and did better overall because I had recovered from my undergrad burn out :) So I think it will really just help you refresh your brain for school. You won't forget important material or anything either. And the experience will help a lot once you start clinics.
You already have really great stats, so I think you'll do fine if you can get a halfway decent OAT score. I really think that's all you need to focus on now, because your application is strong in other areas (like extracurriculars, optometric experience, etc.).
What Kaplan book did you use? Did you buy someone's that took the class? Or did you purchase one from a bookstore? If you did a bookstore one, that's not going to have the breadth or depth of what you need to study. The Lecture Notes book they give to students who take the class is what will really help you for biology (and maybe some for physics). The ONLY materials I used to study for the bio/chem on the OAT were from Kaplan. I used the Lecture Notes (and read each chapter multiple times), the flashcards, and the online materials (because I took the course). I got a 400 on both bio and chem, so I stand by the fact that those materials are top notch! My physics score was lower, but I only read a couple of those chapters in the Lecture Notes, used some of the online resources, and memorized all the flashcards forward and backward. Memorizing the flashcards was the best use of my time. You can't get everything from them, but they taught me the important formulas and I feel like that was really all I absorbed and used on the test. I still got a 350 on that, so I was fine with it :)
If a bookstore one is the only option, then I would take several practice tests from the books and take a look at all of the questions you are missing (the more practice tests you take, the easier it is to see trends). Find out where your weaknesses are and categorize them. Focus on the areas where you are missing the most questions as a starting point, and then once you master those you can move on to areas where you aren't missing as many but want to get an extra point or two. In the OAT Guide (link below), you can go to Appendix F near the end (starts on pg 38) and see exactly what concepts are covered on the OAT in order to categorize what questions you are missing.
Here is a link to the only official sample test put out. I think it has some good sample questions, but don't bother memorizing any of these word for word, because these are the same questions you see in the sample section at the beginning of the OAT when they are doing the walk-through, so you won't see these exact ones on the test! But they are good to help you get more of an idea where you might be missing questions. Get variety - take sample tests from as many places as possible (that are OAT-related) and that will give you the most comprehensive look at your skills (because each test will vary slightly from what the real one is like). Also, at the end of this test is a scoring guide that is really helpful to understand how things are scored and where you need to be to get a certain score on test day.
Good luck! I'm sure you will do great and get into the school you want.
I would shadow more OD's than just the one you work for. You have your private practice shadowing, now go out and shadow an OD that works at Wal-Mart or Lenscrafters, etc. Also, if possible shadow an OD that works in an institution such as the VA hospital, and then try and shadow an OD that works at an OD/ophthalmology clinic.
I used the OAT Destroyer for Bio, orgo and gen chem and for physics (and other subjects), I watched chad's videos (http://www.***********.com/index.php?)!
Hope that helps :)
As stated, shadow ODs (and MDs) at different institutions. After that, re-take the OAT and get a good score. Once you are granted an interview, prepare! Don't sound rehearsed and stale, but relaxed and confident instead. Personality goes a long way, and since this is your chance to show them what you look like off of the piece of paper you send them, make it count.
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