optometry52358

2+ Year Member
Nov 9, 2014
12
2
Status
Pre-Optometry
Reading about others’ experiences with the OAT on this forum really helped me so I figured I’d share my experience as well! Here are my scores from my practice tests and the actual OAT.

Bio/GC/OC/RC/Phys/QR/AA

Kap1 – 340/280/280/350/210/350/300

Kap2 – 340/260/200/290/240/340/280 (note I didn’t answer any of the organic but super frustrating to see my scores go down)

ADA – 350/330/300/ x / 300/ x

OAT – 380/320/350/350/300/360/340

I tried to start studying when I finished up the semester in the middle of May. I must say it took me a few weeks to really get motivated and figure out what kind of study strategies would work for me. At first I tried using Kaplan’s big OAT prep book and studying solely from that. I figured I had already spent enough money just to take the OAT, I didn’t want to purchase OAT Achiever or Chad’s videos on Coursesaver. After about a month of struggling through the Kaplan book I decided to purchase Chad’s videos (seriously the best decision EVER!)… My friend (who was studying for the DAT) and I split the cost for two months of Chad’s videos and DAT Bootcamp.

I was first scheduled to take my test at the end of June (I scheduled this before I knew you could submit your application without scores) but at that time I had only used the Kaplan book as a resource. I did NOT feel ready so I rescheduled for the end of July.

We had a big get together for the Fourth of July so for the last week of June and first week of July I always had family at my house and didn’t study at all… Probably not a great idea but it’s worth it to spend time with family!

Here is a breakdown of my studying....

Biology:
I read every biology chapter, underlined, took minimal notes and did the problems at the end of each section. I have a relatively strong biology background so the Kaplan book was easy to run through as a review. I had to spend extra time on developmental biology, plant biology, taxonomy, evolution, and endocrinology. I used Feralis biology notes from DAT bootcamp to help sum up these subjects. Honestly going in to the test I still didn’t feel very good about these subsections of bio.

Gen Chem:
I had AP credits for chemistry so I never actually took gen chem in college. I think this really hurt me because it’s been about 4 years since I’d gone over a lot of the material. I tried studying using Kaplan’s book but didn’t feel I was retaining the information. I really procrastinated studying for this section and watched almost all of Chad’s videos in like three days. Chad is seriously a lifesaver with his gen chem videos! I would NOT recommend trying to learn this subject in a matter of days.

Organic:
It has been two years since I took organic and I thought I would remember more than I did! I also procrastinated studying this subject because I figured it would just be an easy review. I was really surprised at the amount of material I had forgotten. I watched all of Chad’s videos and took notes. I think Chad does a great job covering everything that you need to know conceptually for this exam. I always struggled with the idea of how nucleophiles and electrophiles interact (which is so important for organic…) so I basically just tried memorizing reactions that I didn’t already know. I printed out the 11 pages of reactions from Coursesaver and memorized as many of them as I could like two days before the exam. Again I would not recommend studying this way. Give yourself time and really try to understand. DAT Bootcamp has a lot of practice tests and there are videos that explain almost every answer which I really wish I had utilized more.

Reading Comp:
I read through Kaplan’s study strategies for this section and did a couple practice tests on DAT Bootcamp. The tests on DAT Bootcamp were a lot harder than the actual OAT! I don’t really have any study tips for this section, just familiarize yourself with reading passages from a computer screen for 50 minutes.

Physics:
Ahhh physics… I also had AP credit for physics and hadn’t gone over it in a couple years. Physics has never come easily to me and I procrastinated studying. I tried studying with Kaplan’s book but didn’t retain a lot. I watched (most) of Chad’s videos in a couple days and took notes. I wrote down the formulas multiple times on a single sheet of paper to commit them to memory and have a concise reference sheet (that I took to the OAT to look at during my break). I wish I hadn’t procrastinated so much with physics, I would really recommend doing as many practice problems as possible for this section! Even if you really don’t understand physics, at least memorizing the equations/processes for the different types of questions will help you. I was really nervous going in to the OAT about my physics score especially. I didn’t really cover harmonic motion, waves, or optics in my studying and it hurt me during the test.

QR:
I studied from Kaplan for this section in two days earlier on in my studying. I felt pretty confident about my math abilities after going through Kaplan as a review. I have always been good at algebra and word problems so I really just had to focus on probability and memorizing some formulas for this section. The biggest thing for me was the time limit!

The actual test…
I got a call from the prometric center a couple days before the exam saying I should arrive between 7:15 and 7:30, I’m glad they called and told me this because with my appointment at 8:00 AM I figured I would just come like 15 minutes early. I live an hour away from the testing center so I got up at 5:00, showered, and reviewed the organic reactions and physics formulas as a I ate breakfast. I wasn’t feeling tired or that anxious but I played some music and drank coffee on the drive there to kind of get pumped up I guess haha… I got to the testing center at 7:15 and gave them my license and a signed debit card as ID. I brought a lunch box with a sandwich, water, and an energy drink (gross I know) in my locker and used the restroom. Before I was allowed into the testing area they took my picture, finger printed me, checked my pockets, and had me roll up my sleeves and pant legs. You are not allowed to wear a watch or have anything on your wrists when you enter the testing area. I was given two laminated sheets of paper and two markers. One of my papers was like graph paper on both sides and the other sheet had one side of graph paper and the other side was plain. I don’t know if I am just picky but I thought the markers were way too thick and had an odor. I was expecting something more like a fine tip sharpie pen or something to write with. The markers smeared and it was hard for me to write small like I typically would with a pen or pencil. I took the entire 15 minutes to do the tutorial and just relax.

The science section started and I literally did not know the answer to the first question. I stayed calm and worked through the entire science section. If I didn’t know how to do/answer a problem immediately I just clicked an option, marked the question and moved on. DON’T leave answers blank, just click A or something just in case you somehow run out of time you don’t want to leave anything unanswered. The bio was pretty straightforward but there were quite a few I felt like I was between two answers on. Being able to cross out answer options by right clicking was really nice. I didn’t know a lot of the gen chem off the top of my head so I made some educated guesses. Organic was straight forward as well. The problems that always get me are the ones where it shows an organic molecule then has it react with like three things and you need to predict the product. I finished everything with about 8 minutes to spare and go over the questions I had marked. Honestly I feel like you just need to go with your gut when you don’t know an answer off the top of your head. After finishing the science section I felt like I scored really poorly like below 300’s but apparently my gut feeling was right for some of the things I had to guess on!

Reading was pretty easy and the biggest struggle was timing. As I read I highlighted words and sentences I thought they might ask questions on. I felt like it was pretty easy for me to pick out the important parts of what was being said in the passages. All of the passages were organized and easy reads. I had thought I would score higher on this section but I ended up leaving some questions blank and running out of time. I marked a lot of questions that I really shouldn’t have because I knew the answer and just wanted to double check. This hurt me because I spent a lot of time going over answers that were right. Don’t doubt yourself and only mark the ones you seriously need to go back and look at. At the end of the section you can either choose review incomplete or review marked. I reviewed the marked questions first but review the INCOMPLETE first so you’re sure to answer all questions. I feel so dumb for leaving answers blank and letting the clock run out of time! I didn’t realize I had marked so many just to double check…

During the break I went out into the waiting area and ate my sandwich and got a drink. I reviewed physics formulas from my sheet and used the restroom. It does take some time to get checked back in to the testing area so don’t stay out there for the whole 15 minutes. I got two new sheets of paper when I signed back in to the testing area. I still had 4 minutes left on my break when I got back to the computer and I wanted to write down some formulas but I wasn’t sure if I was allowed so I just used the time to relax and get my head in the right place.

There were a lot of things on the physics section that I really wasn’t expecting. I tried memorizing formulas for this section because the whole concept of physics really doesn’t make sense to me. I know that sounds ridiculous because essentially it’s the way the whole world works but unfortunately I don’t get it haha… There were some straightforward calculations but a lot of it was hard for me! Try to understand the relationship between variables in the equations because a lot of the questions weren’t just straight up calculations. You had to manipulate formulas and show an understanding of those relationships. I’m surprised (and pleased) that I got a 300 because I thought I was going to bomb this section. Also I only allowed myself to use one sheet of paper for this section because I knew I wouldn’t have time to get up and get a new one. It would’ve been a lot more convenient if the marker tips weren’t so HUGE because I tried cramming everything onto one sheet and could hardly read my work.

QR was honestly harder than I expected, maybe because I was feeling a little drained from testing all morning but I felt like I could’ve done better. There were some questions where I didn’t really know where to start and just made an educated guess. I only had one sheet of paper to use during this section and really ran out of room. My advice would be to do it in your head if you can. I wasted a lot of room on my paper writing things down just because I was too nervous I’d mess it up in my head. Like you know the square root of 16 is 4 don’t waste space on the paper and TIME in the test writing it down!

After time ran out on QR a survey popped up asking if you were satisfied with your appointment and the testing center. I said I was overall dissatisfied because I thought I scored poorly. There is a place to add any comments about the testing center/experience and I did note that it was really distracting for me being in a room with a bunch of other students. In my room there were a lot of people typing and the keyboards were really loud. Also other people are taking different exams so they kept getting up for breaks at different times. I studied in a very quiet environment so maybe this is my own fault that I was so distracted by everyone around me. The center did provide big earmuff type headphones which I wore but they really weren’t that good at keeping sound out.

Your scores pop up as soon as you end the survey and I was so shocked! I thought I was going to have to retake but everything was above a 300! I seriously don’t know how they score this thing but apparently a lot easier than the practice tests.

I feel like I just rambled on about everything but hopefully this can help someone else preparing for their OAT! I will say that Kaplan’s practice tests are WAY harder than the real OAT so don’t let them discourage you but also don’t ignore it if your practice scores are way low. If I could change things I would have started studying sooner using Chad’s videos and taking the quizzes for each section after every video. I do NOT recommend cramming… I know I could have scored soooo much better but I tried learning basically everything I didn’t know in 2-3 weeks. I didn’t allow enough time to cover all the material AND practice it. I wish I had done more practice problems! If I could study again I would have given myself enough time to go through every video and quiz on Coursesaver and left at least a week before my test for just a general review of everything and practice tests. I spent almost three months half studying and not taking this exam seriously. If I would have taken it seriously in the beginning of summer I’m sure I would have been able to take it earlier and score a lot better.

Also don’t be afraid to postpone. I postponed my exam twice. If you don’t feel ready go with your gut and postpone if you can afford to. But I will say if you DO choose to postpone, start taking your studying seriously!! I should not have had to postpone twice but I kept putting everything off until it was too late it cover it all and practice.

To sum everything up the advice I would have for those who still have to take the OAT would be use Chad’s videos and take notes on the outlines as you watch (it’s worth the money!!), do practice problems (chad’s video’s quizzes) after each section, and review both your right and wrong answers every time you practice (I felt I learned most from my mistakes!). If you're like me and can't retain much just studying from the Kaplan book, you NEED Chad's videos. I would not take this exam without using them! If you have the money and want more practice I would recommend buying DAT Bootcamp! It was really helpful to have so many realistic practice tests! Ultimately you just need to find your motivation for taking this test and pursuing optometry use that to push through the studying! Don’t get discouraged by low practice test scores or feeling like you don’t know some of the answers on test day. I had low practice scores and I didn’t feel confident about a lot of my answers on test day but my scores ended up being a lot better than I expected! Good luck everyone!!!
 
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Angela_yh

2+ Year Member
Jul 14, 2016
5
0
Hello! Thanks for sharing your experience! I am taking my exam on Friday and I'm very nervous. I had a question about the scores that pop up after you take the exam. Are those 100% your actual scores? Or do they just give you a raw score? Also, do they give you a score sheet that you can take with you or do you have to wait until your scores are uploaded online? Thanks!
 
Aug 8, 2014
7
2
Status
Pre-Optometry
Thank you SO much for sharing your experience in such detail! I take my exam on Thursday, and I've been freaking out a little that I haven't gotten the scores on my Kaplan tests that I would have liked. I'm glad to hear you thought the practice tests are way harder. And I would agree that Chad's videos have helped SO much with breaking down concepts and learning short cuts.

Great work on the OAT and best of luck on your journey to opto school!
 
OP
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optometry52358

2+ Year Member
Nov 9, 2014
12
2
Status
Pre-Optometry
I think that the scores are audited and then sent to the schools you chose! I'm pretty sure they are going to be the same scores, they just check for like abnormal answer patterns and stuff. You don't get a raw score but you do get an unofficial score report that has your scores and percentile for each section, TS, and AA!

Good luck to you both!! I know I wasn't as prepared as I would have liked to have been going in to the exam but things turned out better than I expected! I'm sure you'll do great!
 
May 5, 2016
18
0
Status
Pre-Optometry
Congrats on being done! I still don't understand why they don't just give us real paper and a pencil...

Can you ask for more during the test? Or only during the break?
 
Jul 25, 2016
8
7
Status
Optometry Student
I've been doing decently with Kaplan (310 overall) and was worried that the actual OAT would be just like it! Glad to know it's a bit easier than that :)
So happy for you!! Good luck with everything and congratulations on being done!!
 
OP
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optometry52358

2+ Year Member
Nov 9, 2014
12
2
Status
Pre-Optometry
The people at my testing center didn't do a very good job at explaining things and they were kind of intimidating (probably just me being nervous!) but they said if I wanted more paper I had to leave the testing area and get some. During my break I brought my paper out and asked if I could have two new sheets and the lady was like what do you want me to erase these? I felt like such an annoyance to them! I was worried that during my physics and QR section I would have to get up ask for more paper and wait for them to erase my sheets which would waste time so I figured I'd just try to use only two sheets. Before my exam I was under the impression that you could just raise your hand and they would give you new paper but apparently not at my testing center.

But thanks guys!! Good luck! :)