Jun 3, 2015
37
14
Status
Pre-Optometry
I graduated 5 years ago with a BSc in bio, so studying for the OAT meant relearning just about everything from scratch. I was able to get a 3 month leave from work to study for the OAT, but I was also doing an online English course, working on all 12 of my applications, volunteering, shadowing, and working remotely for my employer on emergencies at least a few hours a week.

I finally just finished going through all the material once, I've been doing whatever questions I can as I come across them (Princeton Cracking the OAT for physics, Barron's AP bio, Chad's QR and Ochem, Kaplan for bio, Ochem, chem, and QR). I'm working my way through my 'second go through', since I feel like I've forgotten everything I studied! Although normally I need around '5 go throughs' to feel completely comfortable with any material, but I highly doubt I'll have time for that. I don't know if I'll have time to go through all bajillion practice tests, and honestly, I'm too terrified of doing them, not doing well, and panicking on test day.

Can I get away with just doing all the practice questions on the OAT Destroyer and maybe one or two Kaplan practice tests, or do I need to do all 5 Kaplan tests? I'm currently going over my weak points in bio, chem and Ochem. Factoring in some QR and RC practice that I'd also like to squeeze in, I'm not sure I'll have time to do most of the practice tests.

I write my test Saturday the 19th. I'm feeling quite stressed, scared, and overwhelmed. It feels like I just can not meet any of my studying deadlines, time just goes by too fast while studying!

Thanks for the help!
 
OP
knioette
Jun 3, 2015
37
14
Status
Pre-Optometry
I haven't done any, I'm just doing practice questions. It depends on the day and the source, for Chad's quizzes, Kaplan book, Princeton's physics and Barron's bio, I'm scoring 80% or higher. I just started the OAT destroyer, and I'm working my way through bio, I'm only getting 60% ish though, mainly because a lot of the questions are not even covered by either Kaplan or Barron's. I'll start working on the online Kaplan questions soon though.
 
Jul 9, 2015
49
31
Status
Pre-Optometry
Hi! At this point, assuming you check back here before you take your exam this Saturday, I'd recommend taking at least one more practice test between now and Saturday. The Kaplan class I took recommended a minimum of at least 2 full length tests before attempting the real thing. Time permitting, I would do 2 between now and then if you haven't done any at all (keep Friday off, of course). Keep in mind that doing well on individual practice questions and sections is great, but what really matters is the full length practice exams. The more full length practice tests you take, the higher the chance that you will perform well on the real thing. Regardless of whether you feel like you're improving or not with each practice test, you are, even if your scores may not necessarily show it.

With that being said, if you haven't done many full length practice tests at all at this point and do not have a comfortable/normal level of anxiety for your test this Saturday, I would consider delaying it for a few weeks until you are able to retain and apply the material more effectively on your practice tests. I think it's a better option than going in on all nervous/not as prepared as you should be, and then having to wait another 3 months and pay another 300 something bucks to retake. Whichever you choose, good luck and let us know how you do! :)
 
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knioette
Jun 3, 2015
37
14
Status
Pre-Optometry
Thanks a lot PandaVol! This really helps. Do you know if taking the test later by say, 2 weeks (I think 2 weeks is plenty of time to do all the practice tests and questions...) would negatively affect my chances at acceptance due to rolling admission? It would then be October 2nd. I have a 3.18 GPA, but I've been working full time for 4 years doing regulatory affairs for a natural supplement company and am a co-author on a microbio paper.

I'm trying to find any test openings for next week but I can't find any :(
 
Jul 9, 2015
49
31
Status
Pre-Optometry
No problem! It's really just a matter of how confident and comfortable you feel by test day. For some people (like me) it takes a lot longer than for others. Obviously the exam content is key, but your test taking strategies & timing are just as important. It's important to be comfortable with both. Spend one day for a practice exam, and then take the same amount of time (if not longer) during the next day to review each question & figure out why you got a problem wrong, or to confirm why you got it correct! If you ran out of time on a section, ask yourself why? Make an adjustment to your strategy if you need to, then give the whole thing another go with a different practice exam the day after that with that in mind. It's brutal for sure but definitely worth it in the end!

As for rolling admissions, I personally don't think 2 weeks is going to be that significant, especially if your OAT is the last thing on your to-do list. Of course the earlier the better, but it also depends on the schools you're applying to. If you were applying in January, then that would be a different scenario. You should be fine!

Also, I think it's important to weigh your options at this point. If you're not comfortable & confident that you'll get the competitive OAT score that you need by this Saturday, then really, your only option is to delay a bit. Otherwise there's a chance you'll have to retake in the future, thus delaying your acceptance even more so than if you had just originally spent a few extra weeks preparing. That's awesome! Definitely will help! I hope this helps :)
 
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knioette
Jun 3, 2015
37
14
Status
Pre-Optometry
Hey PandaVol, I just wanted to thank you for your kind words and advice! It really helped me out quite a bit!

I did a Kaplan practice test on Thursday, unfortunately last night I had quite a bit of panic and pulled an all nighter, so I only slept for 3 hours before the exam which I think affected my QR and physics score. Nonetheless, I managed to score 400 TS / 370 AA :-D so, thanks so much for all your help!
 

catsomgcats

2+ Year Member
Mar 23, 2015
260
67
Status
Pre-Optometry
Hey PandaVol, I just wanted to thank you for your kind words and advice! It really helped me out quite a bit!

I did a Kaplan practice test on Thursday, unfortunately last night I had quite a bit of panic and pulled an all nighter, so I only slept for 3 hours before the exam which I think affected my QR and physics score. Nonetheless, I managed to score 400 TS / 370 AA :-D so, thanks so much for all your help!

What the hell! NICE JOB ! I want that score!!!
 
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Jul 9, 2015
49
31
Status
Pre-Optometry
Oh wow! That's incredible! And here you were worried the whole time. Looks like you were actually a LOT more prepared than you sounded! Congrats!
 
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knioette
Jun 3, 2015
37
14
Status
Pre-Optometry
Haha yea I have no idea how it happened, I'm still worried they'll change their minds after auditing! But I did get 370 TS/ 360 AA on the practice though, which I thought was strange and figured it might have been a fluke.

Catsomgcats: Let me know if you have any questions or need help!
 
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knioette
Jun 3, 2015
37
14
Status
Pre-Optometry
Cracking the OAT was really good to teach me the concepts, but you also want to understand the whole radian conversion thing which cracking the OAT didn't spend much time on. There were some (very few) questions on the test that were more difficult than what was on cracking the OAT but were more similar to Kaplan, but I didn't practice much with Kaplan and in hindsight I think I would've done better if I had. I still got 350 on physics though, so considering that 99% of my physics studying was based on Cracking the OAT, it's not bad preparation by any means.
 
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Sep 28, 2015
27
6
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Do you mind sharing what your individual scores were? Which subjects did you find the OAT destroyer were most useful for? In particular I'm curious about bio, did you find that Kaplan and Barrons was good enough?

I've read through a lot of these threads and they say the OAT has easier physics questions (probably my worst subject) than most practice tests but Ochem and GChem are pretty on par in terms of difficulty. Did you find that to be the case?
 
OP
knioette
Jun 3, 2015
37
14
Status
Pre-Optometry
Sure thing! I'll just go through my entire study plan though for anyone asking in the future, as I probably won't remember much later :)
QR: 340, RC: 360, Bio: 400, Chem: 400, OChem: 360, Physics: 350, TS: 400, AA: 370

To answer your questions specifically first: I only used the destroyer for some of bio and ochem. I found it helpful for bio (in the sense that it provides more random information that may or may not show up on the test), but it was definitely more difficult than the real test. For ochem, what was awesome about it is that the authors got back to me in 24 hours when I was confused about one of the questions, but I didn't do all of ochem questions on it. If I were to write the test again, I would go through all of ochem, physics and math questions for sure, because I think I would've done better if were able to do so. But again, I didn't, so I can't tell for sure.
I do think Kaplan and Barron's cover just about all you need for bio. But OAT destroyer lets your practice so it would be nice to do it if you have time.

Personally, I found that GChem and Ochem were easier than Kaplan's practice, and on par with ADA's practice. As for physics, although most of it was similar to Cracking the OAT questions, there were a few difficult questions that were more similar Kaplan's physics, and the amount of calculations really messed me up. Honestly, you just need to practice physics A LOT and that's why OAT destroyer would probably come in handy. I barely practiced physics.


On to my full study schedule:

Physics and math have always been my strongest subjects (as in, always got A's on them throughout high school and intro classes in university with barely any studying), so I didn't spend too much time on them. However, it's been 10 years since I've last done them. I've always gotten C+'s/B-'s on chem and ochem - again, 10 years ago, so I spent the most amount of time on them. My background is in cell and molecular bio and almost minored in psych, I got adequate grades in bio (B range), straight A's in psych, and for the past 4 years I've been doing research at a supplement company, and I just did Anatomy and Physiology a few months ago (and got A's), so bio seemed quite familiar except for taxonomy. Basically, I had to relearn chem, ochem, math and physics, and maybe parts of bio.

I started ~3 months before test day with Math. Kaplan was ridiculous and made no sense, so I completely relied on Chad's videos and quizzes. I think the reason I didn't do so well on it is because I didn't have time to do any more Math practice before the test, and I'm already quite rusty on it as is. Also, the online calculator SUCKS and lagged, didn't realize until halfway through the test that I could use the number pad, but it only worked for numbers not division/multiplication/addition/subtraction symbols. Time ran out without me noticing as I was reading question 37. I would have done better had I been able to spend time on the OAT destroyer Math questions, after all, there are barely any concepts to 'memeorize' in math, you just need to practice practice practice.

About three weeks or so later, I started doing Bio. I had to get through an English course in the meantime hence the hiatus. I only did half of it in about 10 days. At the time, I relied primarily on Kaplan's online course - I did the self paced one, and used the lectures, powerpoints, and textbook. I got back to it again about 2-3 weeks before test day to get through the other half, and as I was reviewing my notes, I felt that there is a lot of info missing (like plants, some details on cell division). I found Cliff's AP Bio online for free, but I prefer having a physical book. But I'm in Canada, and I couldn't find Cliff's in indigo/Chapters, but I found Barron's so I got that (amazon shipping would've taken at least a week, and I didn't have that time). I felt I needed both Barron's and Kaplan. Kaplan is more of a general, higher level coverage, whereas Barron's can get a little more specific on some intro topics, and it also has tons of questions. As I was going through Barron's and Kaplan's text and powerpoint (not lectures for the anatomy and physiology section), I did some OAT destroyer questions. I thought they were helpful, I didn't score myself as to not panic, but because I barely studied taxonomy (boring! and not many questions on it anyways!), I felt that the OAT destroyer filled some of my knowledge gaps. The real test wasn't as hard as the OAT destroyer for bio, Kaplan and Barrons were enough.

Around that time I did one of Kaplan's RC comprehension, scored 330, thought 'good enough' and that was the full extent of my RC prep.

Then, I spent about 2 weeks on Physics. I used primarily Princeton's Crack the OAT. Kaplan was way too confusing and frustrating for me. Then, about 2 weeks before test day I reviewed my notes, redid Crack the OAT questions, did some of Chad's quizzes (didn't watch the lectures), but they're very similar to Crack the OAT in difficulty. When I did Kaplan's diagnostic test two days before test day, it highlighted physics as a weak subject, so I spent the day before doing Kaplan's online physics quizzes, only to consistently score 270's - which only made me panic and I think contributed to me blanking (test anxiety) on test day. I certainly wish I had either done them earlier or not at all. For me, the physics section had a lot of calculation and not too many concept based questions, which made the time quite tight. I also felt most of the questions were similar to Cracking the OAT, and very few were on par with Kaplan's online course practice quizzes. Although after all, I got 350 and I attribute that to really understanding the topics due to Crack the OAT. I don't think much of Kaplan's quizz review 'made it in my head' because I was panicking and barely able to register the information. I didn't have time to work on the OAT Destroyer for that section. In short, I scored 350 solely because of Crack the OAT, which isn't a bad score. I think if I had spent more time really trying to understand Kaplan and did all the OAT destroyer questions, I would've scored 400.

About 2 months before test day, I did General chem. I only did Kaplan's text book and questions, it took me a week. Then about 1.5 weeks into test day, I spent about 2 days reviewing my notes, and doing Kaplan's online chemistry quizzes. I thought those were really helpful. I didn't have any time to even look at Oat destroyer for chem.

Around 1.5 months before test day, I spent three weeks on Ochem. I used Kaplan's text book and book questions, as well as Chad's videos. I hate ochem. About 1 week to test day, I started reviewing ochem, lots of crying ensued. Spent some time on Ochem odyssey (supplement to OAT destroyer, because I know I suck at Ochem), but I didn't even make it to the equations sections as time was running out. I also did all of Kaplan's online quizzes (more crying), and I also found this awesome youtube channel that helped me understand a lot of the concepts, it's called "Professor Dave Explains". He's adorable and pretty awesome. I spent a day going through all his Ochem videos and taking notes.

About 2 weeks to test day, I found ADA's online practice test. I was doing a few random questions, looking up the answers as I go through them, try to understand why those answers look like that. Nothing serious or timed.

Two days before test day, I did Kaplan's diagnostic test, which I was supposed to do like the first day I signed up for the course but didn't see the point of highlighting 'everything' as my weak subject and causing me panic, since I haven't seen most of the material in 10 years. It highlighted physics as a weak subject, I spent the day before the test day doing physics quizzes and doing terrible on them until 6 pm, then started reviewing ALL of my notes (about 200 pages) around 8 pm. Stayed up all night reviewing my notes, went to bed at 7 am, woke up at 10 am, wrote my test at noon. Bad idea, definitely contributed to slower thinking on the physics and math sections, therefore time running out, therefore panic, therefore blanking, and even slower thinking, resulting in a terrible positive feedback loop.

tldr:
Biology:
Kaplan text, powerpoint and quizzes + Barron's + OAT destroyer (even just a few questions here and there) are awesome, got 400.
Chemistry: All I needed was Kaplan's text, powerpoint and quizzes, got 400.
Organic Chemistry: Professor Dave Explains (youtube channel) + Kaplan's text, powerpoint, and quizzes + Chad's videos and quizzes got me 360. Would've done better if I did more OAT destroyer questions on it.
Physics: OAT Cracker (Princeton) + Chad's quizzes + Kaplan quizzes got me 350. Kaplan may have dropped my score because it scared me rather than helped. I don't think Chad's quizzes contributed much. May have done better if I did OAT destroyer questions.
QR: Chad's videos and quizzes got me 340. I may have done better had I done OAT destroyer questions, especially during the week leading up to the test.
RC: One Kaplan practice quiz, got 360. No idea what I could've done differently, maybe practice more?
 
Sep 28, 2015
27
6
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Wow thanks for all the details! You got a kickass score regardless especially on three hours sleep :bow:. I'm in Canada too, I'd apply to Waterloo but they'd immediately go "nope" because my GPA isn't high enough. Good luck on your app! I'm sure you'd get in pretty much anywhere.
 
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knioette
Jun 3, 2015
37
14
Status
Pre-Optometry
Yup, tried Waterloo. They also noped on me, although it was because my OAT was taken after their deadline, although they would've probably noped on my GPA too. Waterloo noped one of the Optometrists I shadowed too. So, join the bitter club :-D
Good luck!