Aug 13, 2016
7
3
Status
Pre-Optometry
Before I took my OAT, I read almost every single OAT experience post ever made. These posts helped me so much during my preparation that I thought I'd share my own experiences.

Materials:

1. Big 2016 Kaplan Strategies, Practice, Review + Online Practice Tests
2. Princeton Crack the OAT Physics Book + Online Practice Tests
3. OAT Destroyer
4. Crack the OAT Software
5. OAT Achiever Software

Studying:

I studied for about three months, mainly 4 days a week (I worked approximately 23-25 hours on the weekends). In the first month and a half, I made notes for every chapter in the Kaplan/Princeton Books. I thought that Kaplan explained bio, general chem, and orgo concepts really well. I haven't taken physics for a while, so I thought that their chapters were a little too vague/brief for me to fully understand what was happening. The Princeton book was an actual life saver; it breaks down everything into simple terms and gives you many examples to help solidify your understanding (they also had online practice tests/study sheets, which I discovered last minute and thought were absolutely amazing!!).

Whenever I'd finish studying a section, I'd go to the OAT Destroyer for practice problems. The majority of these questions were very detailed/complicated (especially orgo/general chem), but I personally thought that if I could do these challenging questions then I'd be set for Test Day. I made notes as I went along based on the questions that I was getting wrong/thought were challenging, so that by the end of it I had a few pages of key points that I could easily review.

After that, I bought the Crack the OAT Software to practice under timed conditions. I felt like this REALLY helped build my confidence, especially in QR. The solution videos that they provide with every question enabled me to understand what I was doing wrong, develop my strategies, practice time management, and work under pressure.

Furthermore, I only used the OAT Achiever because back when I bought Crack the OAT, it didn't come with a physics section (it does now though), and I thought that I needed more practice. These tests were intense and super challenging, but again, I thought that if I was capable of doing these difficult questions, then I'd be set.

Two weeks before my test, I started doing full length practice tests. I did them every other day because they really drained my energy. I used that day in between to review the questions that I got wrong and go over concepts again. Kaplan's physics sections were challenging and time consuming. After failing my first one, I studied physics hard-core for the next week because I stressed so hard about it! I also did the ADA sample test. Despite what people say, I honestly felt like this was the most representative of the questions that I encountered on my actual test.

The week of my exam, I began to ease off on studying. I took more breaks, naps, and watched more shows to relax my mind. This was definitely the best way to save my energy for Test Day. The day before my test, I only read over formulas.

Test Day:
I was so nervous that I could not sleep the night before; I laid in bed for hours trying to relax but honestly couldn't. I was so worried that this would affect my scores, but I tried to keep myself together and take deep breathes. My test was at 8am, so I got up at 6am, ate a banana and some toast (I had no appetite) and got there 40 minutes early. They took my ID's, checked me in, and gave me a locker to put my belongings in. After that, they took me through security and gave me two, double-sided laminated sheets of paper and two markers (I was worried that these markers would be too thick, but they were thankfully super thin-tip and never smudged). Also, the headphones they provided were great because you'd be surprised how loud a room of people clicking away at their computers can be and I work best when it's silent!

I thought that the bio and general chem sections were straightforward. Orgo was a little challenging for me, but that's probably because I second guessed myself a lot and the subject in general is one of my weaker areas. I made sure not to leave any answers blank; if I didn't get a question, I'd quickly pick an answer at random and mark it for later. I didn't want to run out of time and have answers left blank. I thankfully had some time at the end to go through these marked questions and think them through again.

The RC passages that I got were overall easy to understand. The highlighting tool REALLY helped me; I highlighted anything I thought would be important. I skimmed each passage quickly (max 5 minutes skimming/highlighting) and then spent 15 minutes answering questions. That process averaged to about 20 minutes/passage.

In my 15 minute break I left the room, ate my granola bar/drank water, got new laminated sheets, and then went back in (you have to go through security again) to write down physics formulas. That took approximately 7 minutes, so I just used the rest of the time to relax.

Physics was better than I was expecting it to be. I had read many posts reassuring me that it would be easier than anything I'd ever encountered, but still I was worried. When studying for this section, I say focus on really understanding the concepts rather than dedicating the majority of your time to solving lengthy/complicated problems!

Having done so many Crack the OAT QR practice tests, this section just came natural to me. Anytime I'd encounter a lengthy word problem, I'd quickly choose an answer, mark it, and then move on to a more straight-forward, algebra-type question. I had time left over at the end, so I just went through my marked questions and attempted to solve them, changing my guessed responses to the correct ones as I went.

When that was over, I went through a general survey asking me about my test experience and then all my scores came up; this was probably the most frightening moment of my life. I was throughly surprised with my scores because they were a lot higher than anything I'd ever gotten on any practice test (plus I barely slept the night before, so I thought this was some miracle)!

BIO / GC / OC / RC / PHYS / QR / TS / AA
Kaplan 1: 390/340/320/320/290/350/340/340
Kaplan 2: 360/350/330/350/320/350/350
OAT Achiever 2: 330/310/330/340/320/310/330/320
OAT: 360/360/360/360/360/360/370/360

Moral of the story: If you put in the effort, your hard work and dedication will pay off! Be confident in yourself and your abilities and you will do very well! I hope you found this helpful. Good Luck!
 

SKP957

2+ Year Member
Aug 5, 2016
93
19
Thank you so much, my test is in a few weeks and I am crazy nervous, but your post helped a lot :)