Jul 21, 2015
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Just took the test and I figured I'd do one of these. I scored fairly well so I'm also gonna give some advice and how I would approach studying/taking this test. After being exposed to the MCAT I think that the OAT is a pretty easy test by comparison, if you prepare well you can score above the 90th percentile with ease.

My Scores

Bio : 350
G.Chem : 390
O.Chem: 370
RC : 370
Physics : 400
QR : 380
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TS: 390
AA: 380


Preparation Materials

I recommend: Any comprehensive study material like Kaplan that covers all the content you need/should know for the OAT. I used Kaplan and I found it very useful. I also recommend any study materials that provide you with additional practice problems, quizzes, practice tests, etc.

I don't recommend: Chad's videos. I don't understand the hype around paying money for someone to verbally recite what's already in a comprehensive study book, that you also paid for. But to each their own. I also don't recommend any "classes" where tutors also verbally recite what's already in the book - I'm not sure if they even have these for the OAT, but my TPR MCAT class from one year ago was a huge rip off.


Studying

I think the reason people may be struggling with this test is because there is a lot of information you need to know and it's hard to find an efficient way to take it all in. You need to find a way to condense the material so you can quickly review it and memorize it. In reality, I only studied for about two weeks because I was already very familiar with most of the content via undergrad classes and MCAT preparation. However, this is what I would've done if I started from scratch:

Take about 1 month to go through all the material in Kaplan (or any other comprehensive material) and write down the key concepts, formulas, important things you need to know in YOUR own notes. Kaplan does a great job at dividing the content into sections, but the book is just too big and inclusive to use when you're studying - you need to pull out the important information. I would get a brand new notebook and take notes by section just as you would in a classroom. You can usually tell what the important information is by paying attention to bolded words, section headings and explicit mention. Also pay attention to what the high yield/low yield topics and questions are. For example, Kaplan takes a lot of room to detail the anatomy of the eye and what each part does - this section is useless - in the 1% chance case that you do get a question about the anatomy of the eye, it's just one question and you might just guess it right anyway.

Take another month to memorize the material, do practice problems and practice tests. If you took good notes, you should have the condensed material that you can efficiently review. You NEED to do practice tests - becoming adjusted to the structure of the exam and its time constraints is a must. Additionally, you get a feel for what is high/low yield on the actual exam as well as exposing yourself to more problems.

Of course, this is what I would do, I understand different methods work for different people. But choosing shortcuts because studying is "boring" or you don't feel like sitting down and reading the material might get you in trouble.


Test Day Experience/Strategies

Bio: I'm a little disappointed with my score in this section. I thought there would be way more emphasis on physiology, but there was a much bigger focus on what you would find in the first half of Kaplan's biology review. In any case, these questions are all knowledge based and you should answer them quickly to save more time for the chemistry sections. Chances are you either know the answer, you have to think about it for a couple seconds, or you have to guess.

G.Chem: To prepare for this section you need to do practice problems. The conceptual questions are really straight-forward, the harder part is knowing how to do the calculations. Kaplan's practice problems at the end of each section and their practice tests prepare you really well for this section. I would do all of the problems and review the gen chem section well after taking full length practice tests. Any additional resource the exposes you to more gen chem problems only helps.

O.Chem: Most people have already pointed out what you need to know for this section. I'm not really sure what else to say about it - Kaplan practice also prepares you well for this section.

RC: This section is all about strategy. The passages are all very similar in their approach and most questions will ask you to fetch explicit information from the passage. Unless you're a really strong reader with an exceptional memory, it's very difficult to memorize all the small details of what you've just read. So instead, you should memorize WHERE certain information is. When I read the passages I made a quick mental note after each paragraph or section about what kind of information is found there. ie. "okay, paragraph 3 talks about x and how y impacts z." This way, you can quickly find the information as you go through the questions. The test writers are really nice to only include passages with science topics, if you have some general knowledge about the topic you may even be able to answer questions without even reading anything in the passage.

I'll be honest, I hate reading and it's often difficult for me to maintain my focus on things like this. I got really bored during the last passage and my attention started to drift a little.

Note: Kaplan goofed up - there are actually 50 questions in 60 minutes on the real test, NOT 40 questions in 50 minutes. But there are still only three passages. Keep an eye on the time, you should be taking a little under 20 minutes for each passage/questions.

Break: Breaks are for the weak. Just kidding, do whatever makes you comfortable. I just recollected my thoughts for two minutes and continued (the sign in/sign out business with Prometric is such a pain in the ass that I prefer to just take the whole thing without breaks).

Physics: Yes, Kaplan is harder. If you wanna do well on the physics you need to memorize all the necessary equations and do practice problems.

QR: Kaplan prepares you really well for this section. You need to practice doing problems fast - if you're getting hung up on a problem and it's taking you well over a minute to do, mark it and move on. No reason to lose points because you used up too much time on a word problem - there are easy algebra/number crunching problems that you know how to do and you don't want to miss them.


Final Thoughts

I think practice tests are a pretty good reflection of how you might score on the real thing (with the exception of Kaplan physics), even though they vary in difficulty. If you want to score high on this test, don't take shortcuts. At some point you need to sit down and understand the material, as boring and time consuming as that might sound. Keep in mind that the OAT (and really any professional school admissions exam) is more of a test on your ability to prepare rather than how smart you are.

I'm happy to answer any questions. Good luck to those taking the test in the future.
 
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