The Complete OAT Experience

CAMANIAM

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Hey guys, I am a current Optometry student. I remember reading tons of posts about OAT experiences on here when I was studying for my OAT. I found the posts extremely helpful, so I wanted to share my own OAT experience with you all! I was able to use this information to score a perfect 400 on the OAT.

The OAT is a big part of your application and is arguably one of the most challenging exams that pre-optometry students will take. However, it is important to remember that this exam is only one factor in the total evaluation of you as an applicant.

Booking Your Exam
I recommend booking the actual date of your exam well in advance of when you plan to begin studying (I booked my test date about three months before I actually began studying for the OAT). This gave me ample time to plan and put together a study schedule that worked for me. I found that having a well thought-out, realistic study schedule was the key to my success! Booking my test date well in advance also allowed me to ensure that I got a date that worked for me, since test dates can book up fast. If you decide that you want to move your exam date (and there is absolutely no problem with this!) make sure you plan to do this early to ensure that you can book a new date that works with your schedule.

Studying
I wrote my exam at the beginning of September and began studying for the exam in May. At the time of writing the exam, I was entering my third year of a Biological Sciences undergrad and had taken introductory Biology, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics and English Classes. I took a 6-week Organic Chemistry course during the Spring Semester before I wrote my exam. I found that taking this course the Semester before my exam worked for me, as I did not have to allot as much time to studying Organic Chemistry in my overall OAT study schedule since the material was fresh in my mind. However, taking the class also meant that I did not have as much time to dedicate to studying other subjects for my OAT during the months of May & June. I also worked a part-time job for 16-20 hours per week during the entire period I studied. While I enjoyed working, and it’s definitely possible to work and study for your OAT at the same time, it’s important to factor the hours you will be working (and hours you will need to decompress from work!) into your study schedule to ensure that you do not get overwhelmed. During the months of July & August and the week leading up to my exam in September, I did not have any classes, so I purely studied for the exam and worked. This meant that some days I would study for 6-8 hours, while other days I would study for 2-3 hours and make time to hang out with my friends. The key to preparing is to maintain balance.

May-July
I began studying by downloading the OAT Candidate Guide and spent the first three months reviewing notes on each of the topics outlined in the guide. I actively took notes on subjects that I was unfamiliar with or wanted to spend more time learning. When I encountered concepts that I was having trouble mastering, I found that changing my method of learning, such as by watching videos, was helpful for solidifying the material in my mind. I also made flashcards for topics that I found tricky or wanted to memorize. I didn’t typically use flashcards when studying during undergrad, but I found that these flashcards came in handy for quick review sessions and for studying the day before the exam.

August
During the month of August, I continued reviewing material, however, I added practice tests to my study schedule. I believe that this was one of the most important parts of studying because not only did it allow me to assess where I was at with the material, but it also allowed me to work on building up my test-taking stamina! I completed 6 practice exams, and on days that I would do practice tests, I would try my hardest to simulate the actual OAT by starting the practice test at the same time I had scheduled my OAT, sitting in a space that I did not normally study in (a private room at the library) and plugging in a mouse to my laptop to use during the test. After completing the test, I would take the rest of the day off from studying or lightly review flashcards if I was feeling up for it! The next day, I would review all of the questions, including the questions that I got correct to ensure that the topic was solidified in the mind. I kept a “Why I Missed It” chart where I would record questions that I got wrong, alongside the answer that I chose, the correct answer and a short explanation as to WHY the correct answer was what it was and why I missed it. This allowed me to identify gaps in my knowledge of the material and patterns in my test-taking. These charts also served as quick review material when I wanted to do some light studying. I would also mark the sections that I scored the lowest on.

On days when I wouldn’t do practice exams, I would continue reviewing notes as well as practice problems for physics and quantitative reasoning. During the month of August, I tried to focus more on concepts that I was struggling with, and sections that I had scored the lowest on on my practice exams. Two weeks before I wrote my OAT, I wrote the sample ADA OAT. While the questions style of the sample OAT was fairly similar to the actual OAT, it is important to remember that the sample OAT is easier than the actual OAT. This makes it a great confidence booster and I would definitely recommend doing it as the last practice test before writing your actual exam!

The day before my exam, I took it easier on the studying. I reviewed the charts of questions that I had missed on the practice exams and reviewed some flashcards! I worked out, watched some movies and tried to relax. I definitely think that what got me through studying was pacing myself, allowing myself to take breaks and trying to keep a positive mindset!

Test Day:

Check-In
I was super nervous the morning of my exam and arrived 45 minutes early, so I sat in the car and calmed myself down by listening to music for about 15 minutes. I remember bringing flash cards with me but being way too nervous to try to read them or absorb any more information! I decided to leave everything in the car, except for my ID’s (I brought two pieces of government issued ID) and entered the testing center 30 minutes early. Some testing centers (including the one I went to) have lockers where you can keep items, so it’s best to call ahead to know if you will be able to bring items with you inside. The testing center was not busy while I was there and there were only three other people (taking other tests) in the same room, so the entire testing center and the testing room was quiet. There were headphones available to be worn if we chose to. I was able to start right when after being checked in, so I actually began my exam before my scheduled time. I was given laminated sheets of paper with dry erase markers and tissues that could be used to make notes during the exam. I did not run out of space but was told I could ask for new sheets if needed.

Tutorial
I would recommend not skipping through section, but rather using the time to take a deep breath and calm your nerves and collect yourself! They also show you how to access functions such “highlight” and “strike-out” using the software. The section clock starts right away as soon as you click on next.

Biology
To be honest, this was the section that I was most nervous for - even as a Biology major! Not only was it the first section, but like most people say, this section is quite broad and there is a lot of content. There were a couple more questions about plant biology than expected, otherwise the subject matter was quite random. For me, I found that the most effective way to prepare for this section was to try to know a little bit about everything, rather than try to know specific details about fewer subjects. After finishing this section, I definitely didn’t think I did as well as I did, so don’t be discouraged if you have mixed feelings after completing this section. Don’t be afraid to skip a question, or ‘mark’ a question to come back to afterwards - answering questions that you feel good about is a good way to build your confidence and get your brain warmed up!

General Chemistry
This section was very straight-forward. While there was a mixture of both conceptual and calculation questions, there were more conceptual questions overall. Questions varied from stoichiometry, gas law, bonding, thermodynamics and periodic table trends.

Organic Chemistry
I found that this section was pretty straight-forward as well, however I would definitely make sure you have a good grasp of reactions (Aldol, Wittig and Grignard, SN1, SN2, E1 and E2) because this was a huge focus for this section. Other topics included were stability, acidity, determining polarity, etc.

After finishing the Natural Sciences questions (100 total), you are able to review any questions that you need to. I found that I did have time some time left over after these three sections, so I used the extra time to review questions that I had ‘marked’. Once I had reviewed the marked questions, I had a couple more minutes to spare. I debated running the time for a short break, but my adrenaline pushed me forward to the next section!

Reading Comprehension
Oh man, I was not looking forward to this section! I remember feeling antsy during this section as it was right before the break and I had been sitting a while. Like many others, I utilized the search-and-destroy method as it allows you to get rid of easier questions first. Then I went back to answer questions that required more comprehension. I remember being flustered in this section when I couldn’t find the answer to a question right away - my advice in this situation is to mark the question and come back to it later. One thing to note is that the paragraphs in the reading comprehension section are numbered - if you prefer to take notes on each numbered paragraph. I found that my passages were pretty interesting to read!

Break (15 minutes)
You are able to access your locker and use the restroom if you need to. I would most definitely recommend getting up to stretch and bringing a light snack with you to the testing center to eat during this time. I did not bring a snack with me and really regretted it during the second half of the exam!

Physics
This section had plenty of conceptual questions with a few calculations as well. Being able to quickly & correctly identify which formulae to use (Know the “Big Five” Kinematics equations!); and plug in the numbers was invaluable as my exam had plenty of questions about kinematics and dynamics. Other topics included: Momentum, kinetics, graphs, lenses and mirrors, rotational kinetics, frictional forces, etc. Overall, I found this section much easier than any of the practice tests I had completed.

Quantitative Reasoning
At this point in the exam, I was definitely starting to run out of fuel! I had an on-screen calculator with basic functions during the exam. For this section, I would skip questions that I knew would take longer to calculate and attempt questions that I know I could do quickly. There were PLENTY of trigonometry questions. Like many others, I found that the best way to prepare for this section was to do plenty of practice problems because the key to this section is speed.

Survey
There is a short survey after the exam and by this point, I was feeling a mixture of relief and exhaustion. This quickly turned to panic when I remembered that following the survey, my scores would show up on the screen! I was SO nervous to see my scores. After submitting my survey, there was a short lag and then my mark appeared on the screen and I was *SHOCKED*! I thought for sure there must have been a mistake. I remember walking out of the testing room and receiving a score report that said the same score on it and I was still in disbelief! It was surreal to physically hold my test scores in my hands and feel that my hard work had paid off!

Scores
Here are my scores: Practice Test 1 / Practice Test 2 / Practice Test 3 / Practice Test 4/ Practice Test 5/ ADA Online/ OAT
Biology: 390/ 370/ 360/ 370/ 340/ 390/ 400
Chemistry: 340/ 350 / 330/ 370/ 390/ 400/ 400
O-Chem: 390/ 350/ 360/ 330/ 370/ 400/ 400
Reading Comprehension: 360/ 380/ 310/ 350/ 350/ 400/ 400
Physics: 350/ 330/ 300/ 310/ 380/ 380/ 400
Quantitative Reasoning: 390/ 360/ 310/ 320/ 330/ 380/ 400
TS: 380/360/330/ 360/ 390/ 400/ 400
AA: 370/360/350/ 340/ 360/ 390/ 400

I hope that this helps! This is what worked for me, but I definitely encourage everyone to do what works best for them while studying and taking the OAT. I wish you all the best on your OAT/Optometry journey! You have picked a wonderful profession to pursue that is unique in that you are given the opportunity to meet the comprehensive eye-care needs of increasingly diverse patient populations and really make a difference in the lives of others. With that being said, it’s important to have students and professionals that are reflective of the communities we serve to promote improved access to care for all, more patient choice, improved patient-provider communication, and expanded educational experiences for students.

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thats awesome! do you fee like the time constraint was a big issue for you? Im honestly terrified of running out of time!
 
thats awesome! do you fee like the time constraint was a big issue for you? Im honestly terrified of running out of time!
I didn’t feel like the time constraint was a huge issue for me BUT I was definitely worried about this going into the exam as well. I think the best thing to do to prepare for that is just plenty of practice exams (especially for the QR section) . :)
 
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Hey guys, I am a current Optometry student at the University of Waterloo. I remember reading tons of posts about OAT experiences on here when I was studying for my OAT. I found the posts extremely helpful, so I wanted to share my own OAT experience with you all! I was able to use this information to score a perfect 400 on the OAT.

The OAT is a big part of your application and is arguably one of the most challenging exams that pre-optometry students will take. However, it is important to remember that this exam is only one factor in the total evaluation of you as an applicant.

Booking Your Exam
I recommend booking the actual date of your exam well in advance of when you plan to begin studying (I booked my test date about three months before I actually began studying for the OAT). This gave me ample time to plan and put together a study schedule that worked for me. I found that having a well thought-out, realistic study schedule was the key to my success! Booking my test date well in advance also allowed me to ensure that I got a date that worked for me, since test dates can book up fast. If you decide that you want to move your exam date (and there is absolutely no problem with this!) make sure you plan to do this early to ensure that you can book a new date that works with your schedule.

Studying
I wrote my exam at the beginning of September and began studying for the exam in May. At the time of writing the exam, I was entering my third year of a Biological Sciences undergrad and had taken introductory Biology, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics and English Classes. I took a 6-week Organic Chemistry course during the Spring Semester before I wrote my exam. I found that taking this course the Semester before my exam worked for me, as I did not have to allot as much time to studying Organic Chemistry in my overall OAT study schedule since the material was fresh in my mind. However, taking the class also meant that I did not have as much time to dedicate to studying other subjects for my OAT during the months of May & June. I also worked a part-time job for 16-20 hours per week during the entire period I studied. While I enjoyed working, and it’s definitely possible to work and study for your OAT at the same time, it’s important to factor the hours you will be working (and hours you will need to decompress from work!) into your study schedule to ensure that you do not get overwhelmed. During the months of July & August and the week leading up to my exam in September, I did not have any classes, so I purely studied for the exam and worked. This meant that some days I would study for 6-8 hours, while other days I would study for 2-3 hours and make time to hang out with my friends. The key to preparing is to maintain balance.

May-July
I began studying by downloading the OAT Candidate Guide and spent the first three months reviewing notes on each of the topics outlined in the guide. I actively took notes on subjects that I was unfamiliar with or wanted to spend more time learning. When I encountered concepts that I was having trouble mastering, I found that changing my method of learning, such as by watching videos, was helpful for solidifying the material in my mind. I also made flashcards for topics that I found tricky or wanted to memorize. I didn’t typically use flashcards when studying during undergrad, but I found that these flashcards came in handy for quick review sessions and for studying the day before the exam.

August
During the month of August, I continued reviewing material, however, I added practice tests to my study schedule. I believe that this was one of the most important parts of studying because not only did it allow me to assess where I was at with the material, but it also allowed me to work on building up my test-taking stamina! I completed 6 practice exams, and on days that I would do practice tests, I would try my hardest to simulate the actual OAT by starting the practice test at the same time I had scheduled my OAT, sitting in a space that I did not normally study in (a private room at the library) and plugging in a mouse to my laptop to use during the test. After completing the test, I would take the rest of the day off from studying or lightly review flashcards if I was feeling up for it! The next day, I would review all of the questions, including the questions that I got correct to ensure that the topic was solidified in the mind. I kept a “Why I Missed It” chart where I would record questions that I got wrong, alongside the answer that I chose, the correct answer and a short explanation as to WHY the correct answer was what it was and why I missed it. This allowed me to identify gaps in my knowledge of the material and patterns in my test-taking. These charts also served as quick review material when I wanted to do some light studying. I would also mark the sections that I scored the lowest on.

On days when I wouldn’t do practice exams, I would continue reviewing notes as well as practice problems for physics and quantitative reasoning. During the month of August, I tried to focus more on concepts that I was struggling with, and sections that I had scored the lowest on on my practice exams. Two weeks before I wrote my OAT, I wrote the sample ADA OAT. While the questions style of the sample OAT was fairly similar to the actual OAT, it is important to remember that the sample OAT is easier than the actual OAT. This makes it a great confidence booster and I would definitely recommend doing it as the last practice test before writing your actual exam!

The day before my exam, I took it easier on the studying. I reviewed the charts of questions that I had missed on the practice exams and reviewed some flashcards! I worked out, watched some movies and tried to relax. I definitely think that what got me through studying was pacing myself, allowing myself to take breaks and trying to keep a positive mindset!

Test Day:

Check-In
I was super nervous the morning of my exam and arrived 45 minutes early, so I sat in the car and calmed myself down by listening to music for about 15 minutes. I remember bringing flash cards with me but being way too nervous to try to read them or absorb any more information! I decided to leave everything in the car, except for my ID’s (I brought two pieces of government issued ID) and entered the testing center 30 minutes early. Some testing centers (including the one I went to) have lockers where you can keep items, so it’s best to call ahead to know if you will be able to bring items with you inside. The testing center was not busy while I was there and there were only three other people (taking other tests) in the same room, so the entire testing center and the testing room was quiet. There were headphones available to be worn if we chose to. I was able to start right when after being checked in, so I actually began my exam before my scheduled time. I was given laminated sheets of paper with dry erase markers and tissues that could be used to make notes during the exam. I did not run out of space but was told I could ask for new sheets if needed.

Tutorial
I would recommend not skipping through section, but rather using the time to take a deep breath and calm your nerves and collect yourself! They also show you how to access functions such “highlight” and “strike-out” using the software. The section clock starts right away as soon as you click on next.

Biology
To be honest, this was the section that I was most nervous for - even as a Biology major! Not only was it the first section, but like most people say, this section is quite broad and there is a lot of content. There were a couple more questions about plant biology than expected, otherwise the subject matter was quite random. For me, I found that the most effective way to prepare for this section was to try to know a little bit about everything, rather than try to know specific details about fewer subjects. After finishing this section, I definitely didn’t think I did as well as I did, so don’t be discouraged if you have mixed feelings after completing this section. Don’t be afraid to skip a question, or ‘mark’ a question to come back to afterwards - answering questions that you feel good about is a good way to build your confidence and get your brain warmed up!

General Chemistry
This section was very straight-forward. While there was a mixture of both conceptual and calculation questions, there were more conceptual questions overall. Questions varied from stoichiometry, gas law, bonding, thermodynamics and periodic table trends.

Organic Chemistry
I found that this section was pretty straight-forward as well, however I would definitely make sure you have a good grasp of reactions (Aldol, Wittig and Grignard, SN1, SN2, E1 and E2) because this was a huge focus for this section. Other topics included were stability, acidity, determining polarity, etc.

After finishing the Natural Sciences questions (100 total), you are able to review any questions that you need to. I found that I did have time some time left over after these three sections, so I used the extra time to review questions that I had ‘marked’. Once I had reviewed the marked questions, I had a couple more minutes to spare. I debated running the time for a short break, but my adrenaline pushed me forward to the next section!

Reading Comprehension
Oh man, I was not looking forward to this section! I remember feeling antsy during this section as it was right before the break and I had been sitting a while. Like many others, I utilized the search-and-destroy method as it allows you to get rid of easier questions first. Then I went back to answer questions that required more comprehension. I remember being flustered in this section when I couldn’t find the answer to a question right away - my advice in this situation is to mark the question and come back to it later. One thing to note is that the paragraphs in the reading comprehension section are numbered - if you prefer to take notes on each numbered paragraph. I found that my passages were pretty interesting to read!

Break (15 minutes)
You are able to access your locker and use the restroom if you need to. I would most definitely recommend getting up to stretch and bringing a light snack with you to the testing center to eat during this time. I did not bring a snack with me and really regretted it during the second half of the exam! I had read that some others used this time to write out the physics kinematics equations and I did this as well. I was so grateful for this during the Physics section of the exam!

Physics
This section had plenty of conceptual questions with a few calculations as well. Being able to quickly & correctly identify which formulae to use (Know the “Big Five” Kinematics equations!); and plug in the numbers was invaluable as my exam had plenty of questions about kinematics and dynamics. Other topics included: Momentum, kinetics, graphs, lenses and mirrors, rotational kinetics, frictional forces, etc. Overall, I found this section much easier than any of the practice tests I had completed.

Quantitative Reasoning
At this point in the exam, I was definitely starting to run out of fuel! I had an on-screen calculator with basic functions during the exam. For this section, I would skip questions that I knew would take longer to calculate and attempt questions that I know I could do quickly. There were PLENTY of trigonometry questions. Like many others, I found that the best way to prepare for this section was to do plenty of practice problems because the key to this section is speed.

Survey
There is a short survey after the exam and by this point, I was feeling a mixture of relief and exhaustion. This quickly turned to panic when I remembered that following the survey, my scores would show up on the screen! I was SO nervous to see my scores. After submitting my survey, there was a short lag and then my mark appeared on the screen and I was *SHOCKED*! I thought for sure there must have been a mistake. I remember walking out of the testing room and receiving a score report that said the same score on it and I was still in disbelief! It was surreal to physically hold my test scores in my hands and feel that my hard work had paid off!

Scores
Here are my scores: Practice Test 1 / Practice Test 2 / Practice Test 3 / Practice Test 4/ Practice Test 5/ ADA Online/ OAT
Biology: 390/ 370/ 360/ 370/ 340/ 390/ 400
Chemistry: 340/ 350 / 330/ 370/ 390/ 400/ 400
O-Chem: 390/ 350/ 360/ 330/ 370/ 400/ 400
Reading Comprehension: 360/ 380/ 310/ 350/ 350/ 400/ 400
Physics: 350/ 330/ 300/ 310/ 380/ 380/ 400
Quantitative Reasoning: 390/ 360/ 310/ 320/ 330/ 380/ 400
TS: 380/360/330/ 360/ 390/ 400/ 400
AA: 370/360/350/ 340/ 360/ 390/ 400

I hope that this helps! This is what worked for me, but I definitely encourage everyone to do what works best for them while studying and taking the OAT. I wish you all the best on your OAT/Optometry journey! You have picked a wonderful profession to pursue that is unique in that you are given the opportunity to meet the comprehensive eye-care needs of increasingly diverse patient populations and really make a difference in the lives of others. With that being said, it’s important to have students and professionals that are reflective of the communities we serve to promote improved access to care for all, more patient choice, improved patient-provider communication, and expanded educational experiences for students.
Great scores, I was wondering what material you used to study?
 
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Great scores, I was wondering what material you used to study?
I used a couple of different resources, including class notes! To be honest, I found that when I took my OAT, there weren't as many good resources to prepare for the exam.

If it helps, I would recommend checking out:
1. OAT Booster
2. OAT Destroyer
3. Kaplan
4. Chads Videos

Feel free to let me know if you have any more questions!
 
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I used a couple of different resources, including class notes! To be honest, I found that when I took my OAT, there weren't as many good resources to prepare for the exam.

If it helps, I would recommend checking out:
1. OAT Booster
2. OAT Destroyer
3. Kaplan
4. Chads Videos

Feel free to let me know if you have any more questions!
Thanks so much ! I have destroyer now but I think ill invest in booster too since ive heard quite good things about it
 
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Thanks so much ! I have destroyer now but I think ill invest in booster too since ive heard quite good things about it
I would definitely recommend that! OAT Booster is a resource that is new but well established for the DAT.

Best of luck with studying! I am more than happy to answer any future questions you may have.
 
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I would definitely recommend that! OAT Booster is a resource that is new but well established for the DAT.

Best of luck with studying! I am more than happy to answer any future questions you may have.
Just got booster thanks!! Ive been struggling with the bio section, I feel like I've read the bio academy notes and condensed bio pages (from bootcamp) quite a few times and lots of details are not sticking. Is there something you'd recommend me to do to start bio again? Im not sure if I should do Anki or dive into questions but I feel like I don't know enough for practice .
 
Just got booster thanks!! Ive been struggling with the bio section, I feel like I've read the bio academy notes and condensed bio pages (from bootcamp) quite a few times and lots of details are not sticking. Is there something you'd recommend me to do to start bio again? Im not sure if I should do Anki or dive into questions but I feel like I don't know enough for practice .
I would recommend checking out the Biology study notes on OAT Booster!

I also think that you should begin practice questions as well. You could try keeping a “Why I Missed It” chart. After you work on some practice questions and as you are going through the answers, record the questions that you got wrong, alongside the answer that you chose, the correct answer and a short explanation as to why the correct answer was what it was and why you missed it. This will help to solidify topics in your mind and ensure that you understand the topic completely!
 
I would recommend checking out the Biology study notes on OAT Booster!

I also think that you should begin practice questions as well. You could try keeping a “Why I Missed It” chart. After you work on some practice questions and as you are going through the answers, record the questions that you got wrong, alongside the answer that you chose, the correct answer and a short explanation as to why the correct answer was what it was and why you missed it. This will help to solidify topics in your mind and ensure that you understand the topic completely!
thanks for all of your help!
 
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