Oct 7, 2020
6
1
Status
  1. Pre-Optometry
Hi! This is my first post, so I really hope I'm doing this properly.
I took the OAT in September and did not do as well as I had expected from my practice scores.
My actual scores were (taken September 15):
AA 310/ TS 270
Bio 270
GC 290
OC 240
Phys 300
QR 350
RC 380

My practice scores on the ADA test were (taken September 1):
Bio 370
GC 360
OC 350
Phys 310
QR 370
RC 300

My Practice Scores on Kaplan were (taken May 20&July 15):
1:
Bio 290
GC 250
OC 300
Phys 260
QR 340
RC 370

2:
Bio 300
GC 310
OC 310
Phys 290
QR 300
RC 390


So I was really gutted by my actual scores, I was not expecting them to be so low with all the work I put into studying and practicing for this test. I'm not sure what to do at this point. My test was pushed back twice from when it was originally scheduled in June to September and I can't retake it until January now (I graduate this December and will be traveling up until January 1 as well as moving and applying for jobs/interviewing hopefully), so I'm really nervous about getting in anywhere this application cycle. I fully plan on retaking in January, I've started studying intensely again.
I used the Kaplan book and Chad's videos to study along with old notes. I practiced questions using the Kaplan practice tests, the ADA test, and Chad's tests. I studied for three months leading up to June but then my summer job picked up and I couldn't do much June-August. From August 1 to my test date I studied 6 days a week for 8 hours a day with practice problems. I was wondering if anyone had any tips or advice for me. I just want to bring these scores up as much as possible. I have no idea if I have any chance of even being considered if I don't.
My science GPA is 3.4 and my cumulative GPA is 3.52. I have shadowed different optometrists in different settings for a total of 45 hours (I had more planned but COVID kind of ruined that), I am an officer of my Pre-Op club, I've volunteered in a professor's lab for the last year and a half, and I TA'd this semester. I have 2 letters of rec from professors who have taught me in a science class, 1 from an optometrist, and a committee letter with an advisor letter, character reference, and another science professor letter of recommendation attached.
 

PandaVol

5+ Year Member
Jul 9, 2015
48
33
Status
  1. Optometrist
Hi! I just wanted to say that your overall AA score isn't bad at all! You are right on the verge of having a competitive score, so please don't be too discouraged with those numbers. A handful more questions correct on your sciences & you will be good! I think it's important to remember that you do NOT need to know everything for this exam. All you need is to know enough, but to know that material well. That concept applies to when you will take your NBEO boards in optometry school. I say "when," because I know you will get in with your continued work ethic & determination.

Here are a few tips that you may or may not be doing already! Some of these they taught us while I was in optometry school.

1. Break down & focus your studying. Don't spend a full 8 hours on physics in one day. Your brain will hate you & you will start confusing concepts (if you're anything like me). Say you are studying 5 hours a day. Spend an hour on physics, an hour on bio, an hour on gen chem, & an hour on OChem. Before you go to bed, take that last hour to briefly review what you have studied that day for each subject. If there's anything that you studied during the day that stills seems uncertain, review that concept again. Repetition is KEY when you are learning anything, & I cannot stress this enough.

2. Take frequent study breaks! In optometry school, they told us in our 1st year to take a 10 minute break for every 50 minutes of studying because there apparently were studies that showed students will retain & recall information more effectively following this method vs studying for 2-3 hours straight without a break. Say you study Ochem for 50 minutes. Wherever you are at that time, stop & take a 10 minute break. When you come back from that break, take 5 minutes to reflect on what you learned. Can you recall what happens if you combine this molecule with that molecule? No? Go review it briefly before moving on to your next subject. Again, repetition repetition. The more you process the same information in your head, the more it will stick with you & become 2nd nature.

3. Compact the information. Make formula & cheat sheets! For physics, I created a formula sheet/s with all the formulas that I encountered from studying. About a week before I took the OAT, I would look at that formula sheet every night, go through each formula, & ask myself, "Do you know where, when, & how to use this formula?" If not, I would open the Kaplan book & go back to that concept or practice problem.
Chad's Videos also had an amazing OChem "cheat sheet" that basically was the only reason I did well enough in OChem. Know those basic reactions.

4. Set aside days for practice questions only. On Fridays, I would work & review practice questions only. Studying the info is key, but learning how to apply it correctly is just as important. Understand why you got the question wrong, & actively correct your mistake & rework the problem before moving on. Resist the temptation to go back & study large sections on these practice days.

5. Build your testing stamina. About one week before the OAT, I stopped reading the textbooks. At this point, it's all about practice practice practice. Take a practice test every day & spend time reviewing the questions you got wrong. Revisit the textbooks only if you need to brush up on specific details. Also, take the day before off to destress! You worked hard & there is nothing that you can do in one day that will drastically alter your score. Remember, learn to be okay with the feeling that you're not going to know everything. Be confident in yourself & the work that you've put in & that you know enough to pass at this point.

Finally, when you take the exam again, do not let your frustration & discouragement with 1 question influence how you approach the next question. What I mean is that if you hit a streak of 3-4 questions where you just don't know the answer, do not lose your composure. Treat each new question as if you know you've gotten 100% so far on the exam. Standardized tests are a test of mental fortitude, just as much as they are a test of your intellectual ability. Keeping the right mindset & confidence is so important.

The good thing is you know most of this information already! Brush up on the areas that you didn't know as well as you would've liked, & I'm confident you will be just fine. Apologies this is so long! Hopefully some of this helps you out!
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users
Oct 7, 2020
6
1
Status
  1. Pre-Optometry
Hi! I just wanted to say that your overall AA score isn't bad at all! You are right on the verge of having a competitive score, so please don't be too discouraged with those numbers. A handful more questions correct on your sciences & you will be good! I think it's important to remember that you do NOT need to know everything for this exam. All you need is to know enough, but to know that material well. That concept applies to when you will take your NBEO boards in optometry school. I say "when," because I know you will get in with your continued work ethic & determination.

Here are a few tips that you may or may not be doing already! Some of these they taught us while I was in optometry school.

1. Break down & focus your studying. Don't spend a full 8 hours on physics in one day. Your brain will hate you & you will start confusing concepts (if you're anything like me). Say you are studying 5 hours a day. Spend an hour on physics, an hour on bio, an hour on gen chem, & an hour on OChem. Before you go to bed, take that last hour to briefly review what you have studied that day for each subject. If there's anything that you studied during the day that stills seems uncertain, review that concept again. Repetition is KEY when you are learning anything, & I cannot stress this enough.

2. Take frequent study breaks! In optometry school, they told us in our 1st year to take a 10 minute break for every 50 minutes of studying because there apparently were studies that showed students will retain & recall information more effectively following this method vs studying for 2-3 hours straight without a break. Say you study Ochem for 50 minutes. Wherever you are at that time, stop & take a 10 minute break. When you come back from that break, take 5 minutes to reflect on what you learned. Can you recall what happens if you combine this molecule with that molecule? No? Go review it briefly before moving on to your next subject. Again, repetition repetition. The more you process the same information in your head, the more it will stick with you & become 2nd nature.

3. Compact the information. Make formula & cheat sheets! For physics, I created a formula sheet/s with all the formulas that I encountered from studying. About a week before I took the OAT, I would look at that formula sheet every night, go through each formula, & ask myself, "Do you know where, when, & how to use this formula?" If not, I would open the Kaplan book & go back to that concept or practice problem.
Chad's Videos also had an amazing OChem "cheat sheet" that basically was the only reason I did well enough in OChem. Know those basic reactions.

4. Set aside days for practice questions only. On Fridays, I would work & review practice questions only. Studying the info is key, but learning how to apply it correctly is just as important. Understand why you got the question wrong, & actively correct your mistake & rework the problem before moving on. Resist the temptation to go back & study large sections on these practice days.

5. Build your testing stamina. About one week before the OAT, I stopped reading the textbooks. At this point, it's all about practice practice practice. Take a practice test every day & spend time reviewing the questions you got wrong. Revisit the textbooks only if you need to brush up on specific details. Also, take the day before off to destress! You worked hard & there is nothing that you can do in one day that will drastically alter your score. Remember, learn to be okay with the feeling that you're not going to know everything. Be confident in yourself & the work that you've put in & that you know enough to pass at this point.

Finally, when you take the exam again, do not let your frustration & discouragement with 1 question influence how you approach the next question. What I mean is that if you hit a streak of 3-4 questions where you just don't know the answer, do not lose your composure. Treat each new question as if you know you've gotten 100% so far on the exam. Standardized tests are a test of mental fortitude, just as much as they are a test of your intellectual ability. Keeping the right mindset & confidence is so important.

The good thing is you know most of this information already! Brush up on the areas that you didn't know as well as you would've liked, & I'm confident you will be just fine. Apologies this is so long! Hopefully some of this helps you out!
Thank you so much, that really encouraged me! I will definitely implement some of your tips into my current method, I've always worked on one area a day and I think covering each every day will help a lot more! I also have always just kind of bulldozed through when studying and what you recommended for breaks and going over the material has already helped me with some of the gen chem questions I had always struggled with (and please don't apologize, it made my day to see the response and I appreciated all of the information you gave me, it definitely made me feel a lot more confident and motivated when I started to study again!).
 
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