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My chances as a Canadian student applying to an American school

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DecadoSlade

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Hello Everyone,

I was wondering if someone could help me with understanding my chances of getting into an American optometry school. I just finished my undergraduate degree in a Canadian University and will be applying and writing my OAT for the 2017 entrance date. I am worried about my status due to my low GPA, which is 3.13. The reason for this is due to the fact I was an irresponsible student during my first couple years of undergrad. My GPA for each year is listed below:

Year 1: 2.8 GPA (64%) – took 5 courses per semester

Year 2: 2.6 GPA (70%) – took 5 courses per semester

Year 3: 3.17 GPA (77%) – took 5 courses per semester

Year 4: 3.53 GPA (80.9%) – took 6 courses per semester

Year 5: 3.55 GPA (80.9%) – took 4 courses per semester

Overall GPA of all 5 years is 3.13

As one can see there is an upward trend of my average percentage as I progressed in my undergrad degree.

Out of school I have done volunteering in both medical and non-medical settings, including volunteering at a Canadian hospital, volunteering in an Afghani hospital, volunteering in a program teaching children the importance of healthy eating and physical activity, tutoring high school students, and working backstage at a festival. I also have work experience but they are irrelevant (part-time jobs in fast food and grocery store).

This summer I plan on studying for my OAT, which I plan to write sometime in July, and shadow an optometrist. I hope and aim to achieve at least a 340 on my TS and AA OAT scores and would like to have at least 70 hours of shadowing hours from May-July.

The schools I am interested in applying to are the Illinois College of Optometry, New England College of Optometry, Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University, State University of New York, and one more school (any suggestions?).

As a Canadian student with a low GPA compared to the average acceptance GPA (but an upward trend) what are my chances of acceptance? What could be something I could do to bolster my chances? Any advice on studying for the OAT?

Thanks for your help
 

BV130

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Judging from your GPA trend, overall GPA, and extracurriculars, I would say you have a very good chance of being accepted into an OD program. A 3.13 GPA is actually fairly average for many schools, and the fact that you have a good upward trend will be seen very favorably. If you obtain an overall OAT score of 340 and apply early, I would say you have absolutely nothing to worry about!

As for OAT studying advice, I'd advise you to give yourself a good stretch of time to go over the material, because there is A LOT. If you're feeling particularly rusty on a subject, Chad's videos and Khan Academy are great for reviewing. The big blue Kaplan book is pretty much a must, and if you're comfortable with the basic sciences I'd say that doing the OAT Kaplan prep course isn't necessary. I also used Crack the OAT (an OAT simulator) to practice, and I would say that helped me feel prepared for taking the real thing. Hope that helped and good luck studying! Feel free to PM me if you're curious about anything else.
 

Optometry-m3ow

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I agree with BV130. Try to score over 300 in all sections, get at least 330-340 on your OAT and APPLY EARLY! You'll likely have a higher chance of being accepted if you apply around August-September. I would even say October-November is still considered "early". Your extracurriculars are good, just try to shadow as soon as possible since you'll need an optometrist reference for your application.

I am also a fellow Canadian and did interviews at these schools, please feel free to inbox me if you have any questions about interviews. I'm confident you'll get some! I heard NOVA and PUCO are good schools and have many Canadian students.
 
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DecadoSlade

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Judging from your GPA trend, overall GPA, and extracurriculars, I would say you have a very good chance of being accepted into an OD program. A 3.13 GPA is actually fairly average for many schools, and the fact that you have a good upward trend will be seen very favorably. If you obtain an overall OAT score of 340 and apply early, I would say you have absolutely nothing to worry about!

As for OAT studying advice, I'd advise you to give yourself a good stretch of time to go over the material, because there is A LOT. If you're feeling particularly rusty on a subject, Chad's videos and Khan Academy are great for reviewing. The big blue Kaplan book is pretty much a must, and if you're comfortable with the basic sciences I'd say that doing the OAT Kaplan prep course isn't necessary. I also used Crack the OAT (an OAT simulator) to practice, and I would say that helped me feel prepared for taking the real thing. Hope that helped and good luck studying! Feel free to PM me if you're curious about anything else.

Thanks for the encouragement BV130. I was looking online for books to purchase for studying. I came across two Kaplan books for the OAT. I was wondering, which of these was the one you said was essential?
1) www.amazon.com/gp/product/1609781090/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=
2) www.amazon.ca/Kaplan-Strategies-Practice-Review-Tests/dp/1625233078

Also, is this the Cracking the Oat book you were talking about?
www.amazon.ca/Cracking-OAT-Optometry-Admission-Test/dp/0375427570/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

I also found these materials online as well, and was wondering your thoughts about it?
1) www.amazon.ca/OAT-Flashcard-Study-System-Questions/dp/1610723872/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461693056&sr=1-4&keywords=optometry+admission+test
2) www.amazon.com/Standard-Optometry-Admission-Complete-Preparation/dp/1927338212

Thanks for the advice and help BV130! I really appreciate your help.
 

DecadoSlade

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I agree with BV130. Try to score over 300 in all sections, get at least 330-340 on your OAT and APPLY EARLY! You'll likely have a higher chance of being accepted if you apply around August-September. I would even say October-November is still considered "early". Your extracurriculars are good, just try to shadow as soon as possible since you'll need an optometrist reference for your application.

I am also a fellow Canadian and did interviews at these schools, please feel free to inbox me if you have any questions about interviews. I'm confident you'll get some! I heard NOVA and PUCO are good schools and have many Canadian students.

I plan on applying by August. My plan is to study from May to end of June and write the test at the beginning of July. Then all of July to prepare my applications and get it done by August. If I feel I am not ready for the OAT by July then I will postpone it to beginning of August. PUCO was a school I was interested in, however, I do not have the requirements of two organic chemistry courses. If I get accepted to an optometry school I plan on re-taking an orgo course (I got a 60 in the course the first time) but will be short of another semester of orgo. I took a biochem course, however, it was the one without the lab. Also, with NOVA, I only have 9 semester hours of humanities courses instead of the required 15. I will definitely take you up on your offer about the interviews in the future, if you don't mind. Thanks for the help Optometry-m3ow!
 
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BV130

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Thanks for the encouragement BV130. I was looking online for books to purchase for studying. I came across two Kaplan books for the OAT. I was wondering, which of these was the one you said was essential?
1) www.amazon.com/gp/product/1609781090/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=
2) www.amazon.ca/Kaplan-Strategies-Practice-Review-Tests/dp/1625233078

Also, is this the Cracking the Oat book you were talking about?
www.amazon.ca/Cracking-OAT-Optometry-Admission-Test/dp/0375427570/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

I also found these materials online as well, and was wondering your thoughts about it?
1) www.amazon.ca/OAT-Flashcard-Study-System-Questions/dp/1610723872/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461693056&sr=1-4&keywords=optometry+admission+test
2) www.amazon.com/Standard-Optometry-Admission-Complete-Preparation/dp/1927338212

Thanks for the advice and help BV130! I really appreciate your help.

I used the Kaplan OAT Test Prep 3rd Edition, which I believe is an older version of the first Kaplan book you listed! The second one you listed looks really helpful as well, but I would probably only buy one or the other.

Crack the OAT is actually a program I bought that acts as an OAT simulator. It's fairly expensive, but I bought the Ace package ($200) and thought that was more than enough for practice. It helped me feel prepared for taking the real thing, but it is missing a physics section. I bought it here: https://crackoat.com/

I've never heard of anyone using the Gold Standard books for OAT prep, but those flash cards would definitely be helpful if you like using flashcards to study!
 

DecadoSlade

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I used the Kaplan OAT Test Prep 3rd Edition, which I believe is an older version of the first Kaplan book you listed! The second one you listed looks really helpful as well, but I would probably only buy one or the other.

Crack the OAT is actually a program I bought that acts as an OAT simulator. It's fairly expensive, but I bought the Ace package ($200) and thought that was more than enough for practice. It helped me feel prepared for taking the real thing, but it is missing a physics section. I bought it here: https://crackoat.com/

I've never heard of anyone using the Gold Standard books for OAT prep, but those flash cards would definitely be helpful if you like using flashcards to study!

Thanks BV130! I bought the Kaplan book and the Flashcards (these will be useful at work and on the go). I am also planning on using Crack the OAT as well. I've heard Chad's videos are great as well so I will be looking at those too. I was wondering if you heard anything about OAT destroyer? I heard it was good but it is expensive ($200), do you think I should get it? Or will Crack the OAT be sufficient enough to get a 340+ on the OAT?
 

BV130

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Thanks BV130! I bought the Kaplan book and the Flashcards (these will be useful at work and on the go). I am also planning on using Crack the OAT as well. I've heard Chad's videos are great as well so I will be looking at those too. I was wondering if you heard anything about OAT destroyer? I heard it was good but it is expensive ($200), do you think I should get it? Or will Crack the OAT be sufficient enough to get a 340+ on the OAT?

I've heard good things about the OAT destroyer but I never used it myself. I decided to get Crack the OAT instead because it mimics the testing environment more. However, the OAT destroyer probably has more practice problems and includes a physics section, which is a huge plus (I admittedly did horrible on the physics portion of the OAT). I would get either the OAT destroyer or Crack the OAT first, and then if you feel like you need more practice later on you can buy the other one.

In terms of my experience, I read the Kaplan book in about a week, took a bunch of OAT practice tests using Crack the OAT, then decided to watch the entirety of Chad's physics videos in one day because my poor decision making skills and horrible procrastination left me less than two weeks to study for the OAT. Nonetheless, I scored a 340AA/340TS on the OAT, so I'm confident you can score 340+ with all that preparation you're planning!
 

DecadoSlade

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I've heard good things about the OAT destroyer but I never used it myself. I decided to get Crack the OAT instead because it mimics the testing environment more. However, the OAT destroyer probably has more practice problems and includes a physics section, which is a huge plus (I admittedly did horrible on the physics portion of the OAT). I would get either the OAT destroyer or Crack the OAT first, and then if you feel like you need more practice later on you can buy the other one.

In terms of my experience, I read the Kaplan book in about a week, took a bunch of OAT practice tests using Crack the OAT, then decided to watch the entirety of Chad's physics videos in one day because my poor decision making skills and horrible procrastination left me less than two weeks to study for the OAT. Nonetheless, I scored a 340AA/340TS on the OAT, so I'm confident you can score 340+ with all that preparation you're planning!

Wow. Nice Job! You did really well in a short amount of studying. I'm hoping to do just as well as you
 
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