The Complete OAT Experience


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Sep 21, 2010
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Here is a complete (AKA long) outline of the OAT:

You cannot take anything into the test center. No watch, no water bottle, no pens or pencils, nothing. They will give you some laminated paper and markers, and tissues if you ask for them. You will have to show 2 forms of ID and you will be fingerprinted. You get a cubicle to yourself. There were about 20 other people taking other tests at the same time, so there was plenty of keyboard clicking and other general test-taking noises, but nothing loud or distracting. Earphones were provided. You can start early. I arrived about 30 minutes early and allowed other people to check in and get started while I ate a sandwich in the waiting room.

Use these fifteen minutes to calm your nerves. You already know how to use a computer, but it can't hurt to read the instructions anyway, and then after you read them you'll still have about 12 minutes to breathe and force yourself to relax. There is a countdown timer on screen at all times. A popup comes up when you have 15 minutes and 5 minutes left. You have to click each one TWICE (I don't know why) to make them go away, and the timer keeps going while you're clicking.

It was a random smattering of questions. I can't pinpoint any area of focus. Know the reproductive stages of plants, basic anatomy of mammals, classification of various organisms, ATP synthesis, and pretty much everything else in your bio classes. Know the basic concepts of transcription, translation, and signal transduction like the back of your hand (no need to memorize every single transcription factor, but know the basics of each process). Bio majors that do well in their classes shouldn't need to spend a lot of time studying, but for non-bio buffs, I recommend doing lots and lots of sample problems to prepare for the vast array of material that will be tested here.

I was very surprised to see a popup to tell you that you are transitioning from Biology to General Chemistry. Really, it's just one more thing you have to click (twice) while the timer keeps ticking.

General Chemistry
Nothing really stood out here. Be able to draw Lewis structures and understand what they mean in terms of molecular geometry, know the trends of the periodic table, know redox reactions really well, know how to calculate rate constants, and how to calculate molarity/molality/normality. Pretty standard stuff, any gen chem review book should leave you well prepared.

Another popup to transition to Organic. Apparently we are being tested on how fast we can click OK for meaningless popups.

Organic Chemistry
Lots and lots of reactions (a lot like organic chemistry class!). I didn't know most of them, but did my best to figure them out. You need to not only know how the reactions work, but also the names of the reactions. Of course SN1, SN2, E1, and E2 will probably all show up, but don't forget about Grignard, Clemmensen, Diels-Alder, ozonolysis, hydrogenation, etc. Understand how protic/aprotic solvents impact reactions and understand how HNMR works.

When you finish Question 100, you can review all of the Natural Science questions. When the time is up, there is a popup to tell you the Reading Comprehension part is next. It doesn't start until you click OK.

Reading Comprehension
It was fair. I didn't think the third passage was any more difficult than the first two, contrary to others' experiences. I am a big fan of the search-and-destroy method, so I knocked out all the easy questions first, and marked the big-picture type questions for later. Like someone else posted, there were a few questions where there was a statement "XXX because YYY," and you had to decide whether the statement and/or the reason was true. I thought these questions were poorly worded and open to interpretation, but oh well, I guess the exam tests comprehension of the questions as well as the passage.

Now you get a popup to tell you about the break, which you can end anytime you want. I agree with a previous poster that you could make the break as long as you want, since the Physics section doesn't start until you click OK, but I didn't want to risk it. I wrote out the three kinematics formulas during the break (it helps me to see them in front of me).

This was pretty much as I expected. There were quite a few calculations, but I think most of the questions were conceptual. Lots of questions gave extraneous information, so make sure you know how to extract the numbers you need and ignore the ones you don't. I was glad I wrote out the kinematics formulas; if you're shaky on any formulas, I highly advise writing them down when you're relaxed so you can see them when you're stressed. Count on an acceleration-weight (what does the scale read when the elevator accelerates at XX rate) type question, understand centripetal force, know the relationships among distance, time, velocity, acceleration, kinetic energy, spring constant, etc. I've heard optometry schools weigh your physics score more than the other sections, so definitely be prepared for this one.

Another popup tells you when the section is over; when you click OK, Quantitative Reasoning begins.

Quantitative Reasoning
By some miracle, I didn't run out of time like I did on every practice test ever. It was triangle after triangle after triangle. You'll need to have all the trig identities down pat (or write them out during the break) to survive this one. Of course there were some "plane leaves Point A at at X speed, when will it be at point B" type questions, and lots of systems of equations. The key here is to know when to abandon an impossible question and move on. Somehow I ended up with an extra 10 minutes to go back and tackle the hard ones. To prepare for this, just practice, practice, practice and work as fast as you can. There is an on-screen calculator very similar to the basic Windows calculator.

There's a brief survey at the end, mostly about the Prometric center where you took your test. I was very happy with my test conditions (except the sick woman coughing behind me the whole time... there were earphones that I chose not to wear). Then a few nerveracking seconds after the survey, the scores appear.

Here are my scores: OAT / ADA Online / Kaplan Test 2 / Kaplan Test 1
Biology: 360 / 360 / 320 / 310
Chemistry: 380 / 340 / 310 / 300
O-Chem: 350 / 350 / 340 / 320
Reading Comp: 390 / 400 / 390 / 320
Physics: 380 / 360 / 280 / 240
Quant: 400 / 370 / 350 / 340
TS: 380 (not calculated for practice tests)
AA: 380 / 370 / 330 / 310

These are listed in the reverse order of when I took them, with Test 1 happening 5 weeks before the actual test. Practice pays off! I thought the ADA online sample test was easier than the real thing and the Kaplan tests seemed pretty close.

Suggested Materials
First the not-so-useful materials. I bought two different editions of the Kaplan OAT book (2005 and 2009-10), and found they were EXACTLY the same. Waste of $4.97 on EBay. I borrowed two MCAT sample test books from the library, but they just made me feel stressed. I also tried looking through my old notebooks from classes, but there was just too much information and I got overwhelmed.
Here's what was helpful: One Kaplan OAT book. This was my primary resource. The Kaplan MCAT Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences review books cover a broad range of Physics, Chem, Bio, and O-Chem. I also bought a Kaplan Organic Chemistry MCAT review book for a more targeted analysis of only the necessary O-Chem subjects. For Physics, I borrowed Barron's "Let's Review: Physics" from the library. The questions were WAY too easy (it is meant for a high school physics final), but it was a fantastic review of everything. I went to for help with specific topics, and decided I could have learned more by watching his YouTube videos instead of going to class. I will definitely be making a donation to this guy; I only wish I had found his videos earlier. I probably spent a grand total of $40 on all study materials by buying them used on EBay and Amazon, and borrowing from the library whenever possible.

Hope this is helpful! Good luck to all. See you in optometry school!

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Great overview! Thanks!

Being stressed out enough about OAT, it's nice to get a real world run down of how it will go. Also, thanks for the bit about the earphones although I'm not sure if I'd be more distracted by random noises from other people or hearing my own racing heartbeat. I'll have to think about that one. :)
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Thanks for sharing with us the study materials you used. I've heard of the Kaplan OAT book before, but I've only known it as the Big Blue Book.
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Big thanks to the original poster of this thread, it really gave me a good idea of what to expect. Here're some details about my experience.

BIO 350
CHEM 370
ORG 390
RC 370
PHY 310
QR 340
TS 360
AA 360

I attached the scores from my practice exams.

Bio - Do-able overall with a few tricky questions . I moved through the section quite slowly. I have a background in Bio but the section wasn't my most comfortable one, I didn't study for it as extensively as the other sections.
Chem - I was more comfortable with the questions than the Bio section and was able to move through it relatively fast.
Org - I thought the questions were quite straight forward and finished it in probably 15 minutes. It's actually my worst section and one of my worst fears when I started to prep for this test, but it ended up being my top scored (390)! I just have to say that all the effort for FORCING myself to get through Destroyer was quite worth it (indirectly..I guess, because the questions are significantly harder). Don't feel bumped if you don't do well on the Destroyer..I literally had to learn from looking up all the answers and it took FOREVER.

RC - I had a passage about a reptile, one with astroids/comets and its impact on the earth and another one that I can't quite recall right now. it's not the same as TopScore, in which all the passages were on pathologies. I'm also REALLY glad that there were no passage related to tooth caries or growth..for some reason, I get reallly bored by those. I know DAT and OAT were made by the same organization..but a practice passage on Catarax wouldn't hurt.right?.
There were a few tone/relationship questions, so it's not as fact based as the TopScore passages. I think the Kaplan practice exams are more representative. I had been scoring between 270-310 on this section. There wasn't too much practice material, so it's definitely the section that I was most worried about.

I finished the first 3 sections with about 20 minutes to spare, which was quite surprising since I moved through Bio very slowly (took about 40 minutes). I quickly checked all the marked questions in the bio section. Since RC is my biggest fear, I told myself that it was a worthy trade-off to take a break rather than checking Chem and Org. I'm extremely happy with that decision. I've never been able to do this during my practice exams…but I think this is a good tactic for those who are struggling with RC.
I've always thought that the OAT was rather inhumane to test for 2 hours and 20 minutes without a break. Even the MCAT had breaks every 50 minutes or an hour. So I left the room, stretched a little, took my mind off the test for 6-7 minutes and returned with more room in my brain to process. I ended up scoring 370 in the section - I think the curve was definitley more forgiving than TopScores. (Sometimes, I had scored 80% + correct on TopScore but still only ended up with 300 or 310)

Unlike others mentioned, I found that the timer goes off AUTOMATICALLY after the break, even if you don't press it. Don't risk taking a longer break...or at least be back at the desk when it's about time.

It's my second worst subject and it proved to be true. I think I did enough practices but there were still some questions that caught me off guard.

It was supposed to be my strongest section. My highest score was 380 on the Kaplan diagnostic. I did all 11 Math Destroyer tests + 5 practice testes and NEVER had problems with pacing , BUT I did during the actual test and it freaked me out, big time. I can say that I was in semi-panic mode with 20 minutes left, when I realized that I would have problem finishing it. With about 10 minutes to it, I still had about 15-16 questions left and I went into full panic mode. My heart was pounding so hard that it was hard to concentrate. I skipped around and found the most do-able questions. When there were 2 minutes left, I made sure that I guessed the 6 or so questions left (or skipped). It felt like a disaster was eminent and that I would have to repeat all this 3 months down the road. There was probably about another 6 or 8 or so questions that I feel uncertain about. Overall, I was caught quite off-guard by this… The questions were doable, but some of them had extra twists that I wasn't entirely familiar with. One thing I can lay my fingers on was the board and eraser. This is the section that it's used the most and I tend to write big and messy…so it wasn't cool to have to erase (the eraser doesn't erase that well). I guess the lesson here is to never estimate your opponent.
Also, the markers smelled awful. For those who are sensitive to chemical smells…keep the boards a little further from you. I hardly have any desire to complete the survey at the end except to complain about the board/eraser. I would have preferred pencil and paper indefinitely. I crossed my fingers that the QR section would be at least 300…so I wouldn't have to retake. Then it came up - 340 =)). Looked like I made lucky guesses, but it's more likely that there was a very forgiving curve in this section. I had to look at it several times to make sure it was real …because I was too busy being traumatized during the last 20 minutes of the test.

Study Materials:
Kaplan OAT 2008 version - quite informative, don't rely on it for all the practice questions though.
I thought the Flashcards were very good! Make sure you go through them.
Destroyer + physics + math
Wikipedia =)

Practice tests: Mock Kaplan, Mock OAT, Mock DAT, 3 TopScore exams.
Semi-studied for 3 weeks, intensively studying for 1 month. Started with Ochem, then Physics, GChem, QR, then Bio.

I hope this helps some of you out there =)


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BIO 350
CHEM 370
ORG 400
RC 330
PHY 310
QR 350
TS 360
AA 350

I got to the test center more than an hour early, I was able to start when I got there, this may be based on the individual place and time though.

I can't remember everything from the test,but I'll list what I thought of each section and some topics that were covered or tripped me up.

Bio – Not too bad, I am in a biology program, but there was some stuff I wasn't familiar with. I had a few questions on developmental biology, and someof the taxonomy questions tripped me up, like the names of the branch groups and what structures (like notochord, lungs, jaws etc.) they had in common or what developed when.
Chem – Went well, topics included Oxidation numbers and balanced equations,more than a few questions with acids and bases: relative strengths, titration,Henderson-Hasselbach equation application, etc. can't remember too much else, but shouldn't be too hard if you are comfortable with chemistry.
Orgo- There were more than a few that I guessed on, but by using elimination of answers and rationalizing the problem, I guess it worked! Some topics included aromaticity, give products or reactants to fill in the blank in the equation, type of bond highlighted (pisigma sp3 etc.) resonance, Carbon NMR. Unless Organic chem was a bad subject for you, I don't think it was that hard, and I saw that a few other people on this forum did well on this section this year as well!

I had plenty of time to finish the first section of the test.

RC – One passage on a reptile, one on comets, and one on the physiology of one of the body's sense systems (don't want to be too specific). I thought that the questions were really easy and had fifteen minutes of time to go back and review all of the questions! Ithought I did really well on this section, but it was my second-lowest score! I don't know why. Since the passage was listed below each question, I read the passage after each question, so kind of like the "search and destroy" method rather than reading before starting to answer the questions. I was really comfortable with this section and don't know why I scored lower than I thought I would.

You get a locker, so you can bring food and drink in to consume now. You could also consume some caffeine now, for those junkies who are wondering, they also did have coffee in the waiting room or I read online of some people bringing caffeine pills along. I just used the break to go to the bathroom and sit quietly to relax before starting up again.


This was pretty hard for me; one topic that I was not familiar with that was on a couple questions was buoyancy, so that might be good to study if you haven't covered it. Momentum, kinetics, graphs, lenses and mirrors, rotational kinetics, frictional forces, and more.


Wow, I really wasn't prepared for this! I hit a brick wall here, maybe partly because it was the last section and I was tired. I had to rush throughso many problems and even guess on many of them. I literally would have needed twice the time to properly do the problems. I really didn't prepare a whole lot for this though since I used an MCAT book to review. Some things that I would review: Solving more complicated equations for variables (like five questions!) Seriously, know how to do this, including three variables in multiple equations (xyz) or complex fractions of variables in the equation, or at what values x=y etc. Also know how to calculate volumes and areas of various geometrical shapes (at least a few questions worth) You will probably have to use the trig values, so know the values for sine and cosine. Remember about the calculator! It is helpful for finding average, mean, faster multiplication, division, etc. I have no clue how I did so well, I guess there is a large buffer for wrong questions or else I got lucky guessing!

Study Materials:
Kaplan MCAT 2005-2006 version – I got this really cheap online and it covers almost all of the biology, physics, and chemistry that you will need to know. I would definitely recommend getting this book for like $5. It does have practice questions, but I didn't do them, since the MCAT is a different style. I skimmed through sections and spent more time on ones that I wasn't as familiar with, then went back as I thought of various topics to review. This book will cover you for all of the physics, biology, and chemistry you will need, but would not be good forpractice questions.

If I could study again, I would make sure I covered the quantitative reasoning material. I really just reviewed the topics as I thought of them and didn't have a good resource to use other than past notes, textbooks, and online.

I didn't really practice the reading comprehension, but if you are a slow reader, I would do some timed practice passages and questions. Maybe read some technical writing and journals for analyzing,understanding information, and drawing conclusions, but I didn't think the passages were too tough to understand. Your market may vary.

The best preparation you can do is to do well in your classes at school; work hard and you will get a higher GPA AND be prepared for the OAT. Honestly, if you put in hours learning your class material and the main ideas well, you won't have to spend hours upon hours preparing for the OAT.

The last few days before the test, I searched online for physics and chemistry equation sheets to review. You should be able to find them with "MCAT Physics or Chem Equation sheet" I couldn't find anything searching for OAT equation sheets.

I probably studied a few hours every couple of days for two months after I got out of school for the summer until the test date.

Practice tests: Kaplan and the sample test on the OAT (AOA, ADA?)website.

Test taking strategies:

1) Be confident; your mindset does affect how you perform

2) Use elimination and rationalization to narrow your answer choices

3) Remember you have the periodic table and calculator to use

4) If possible remember to look for common "trick" question types from bio or chem. (like pOH vs. pH) or physics concepts of Newton's laws, Total energy, momentum, etc. of the System.

5) I would really recommend not reading the passage before going to the reading comprehension questions; It is really easy to scroll down through the passage below each question, although I did do worse than I thought. I think I would have had time to read the passage before going to the questions though.

6) Remember to "mark" questions. After you are done, you can "review marked questions" and quickly go through only ones you weren't sure of.

7) Use the tutorial or breaks to relax, write out formulas on your paper, and prepare your mind for the type of questions you will expect.
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Took my OAT on Thursday and thought I'd add to the list of experiences here! I know when I was coming up on the test date I couldn't read enough about it, so hopefully this'll help someone else out there.


I took my OAT at the Prometric Testing Center in Mobile, AL. I was the first one there in the morning and was actually waiting outside the gates when they unlocked them! They took me back to the office immediately and got me checked in. Two forms of ID and a picture later, they handed me two sheets of laminated paper, two felt tip markers, and an eraser. They also gave me the key to a locker where I could put all of my stuff (you aren't allowed to bring anything into the testing center. I was allowed to wear my jacket, but I was told I had to leave the testing center if I wanted to take it off and leave the jacket in the locker).


After the tutorial (which was really simple; obviously we've all used computers before), it was time for the biology section. This and reading comprehension are my strong points, so I wasn't too worried. Study up on anatomy/physiology and body systems (esp. kidneys, brain, cardiovascular, endocrine and digestive systems). Also brush up on population genetics (hardy-weinberg equilibrium, genetic drift, allopatric/sympatric speciation, etc), taxonomy, EMBRYOLOGY, photosynthesis/glycolysis/krebs cycle/electron transport chain, the basics. Don't memorize every little nook and cranny of these biochemical reactions, but do know what goes in, what comes out, and where it all goes down.


Honestly, I am not a general chem person. I hate it and always have, since I first took the class in 10th grade. That being said, this section wasn't too terribly difficult. A lot of acid/base (pH + pOH = 14, Henderson Hasselbach, Ka, pKa, equilibrium rxns, etc), molecular geomteries (bleh!), Lewis structures, solubility, PERIODIC TRENDS, ionizing energies, titration and so on.


Reactions were my strong point, and everything else my weak point. Know how to determine polarity, what substance is most soluble in a polar/nonpolar solvent, which substances will form the strongest bonds, etc. Honestly, it's hard for me to remember most of this section...

Like Augen, I had plenty of time for the first 100 questions of the test.


My second favorite! I had passages on antibiotic resistance, health screenings, and an enzyme (don't want to give too much away!). The questions were, for the most part, pretty straightforward, though there were a few on tone, intentions of the author, purposes of a sentence, etc that could get a bit tricky. I read the passage first and took quick notes on each numbered paragraph, then read and answered each question. I had about 10 minutes left at the end of the test to review the questions I had marked.


I used the 15-minute break to breathe, clear my mind, and write out some physics/QR equations. You are able to access your locker/use the restroom at this time, but I didn't want to leave the room. However, I would suggest you bring food/water just in case.


The "BIG FIVE" kinematics equations were really helpful, along with equations for magnetic force, gravitational force, rotational force/acceleration, light energy, c = lambda x frequency, the lens/mirror equation, electrical energy/electric fields, etc. Know mirrors and lenses (converging, diverging, what kind of images they can produce and where)! Also, brush up on liquid physics (pressure = dgh, buoyant force = dvg, etc). Remember that PE + KE = ME, and know how to apply that to all situations. Finally, keep in mind Newton's Laws because they will often try to catch you up with numbers when all you need to do is apply one of Newton's Laws to the situation! I didn't have too much trouble with time on this section, though I wasn't able to rework all of the problems I had marked.


Still traumatized from this section, but don't get too disheartened - timed math has always made me feel this way. Like Augen, I really hit a "brick wall" on this section - though clearly my wall was a bit more sturdy than his/hers! Honestly, I think the exhaustion from the exam just caught up to me here, and I was moving entirely too slow. If you come upon a problem you don't think you can handle IMMEDIATELY, move on! I cannot stress this enough. Also, don't forget about your on-screen calculator because I totally did. It was triangles, triangles, triangles along with complicated fractions/inequalities and deriving formulas from word problems. I was really expecting my score here to be MUCH worse - I had to flat-out guess on at least 8 problems due to poor timing. Fortunately, the curve here must be pretty generous...


Nerve-wracking! I was biting my lip the whole time waiting for my scores! But finally, they appeared on the screen...


QR - 330 - 84th percentile
RC - 400 - 100th percentile
BIO - 400 - 100th percentile
CHEM - 350 - 80th percentile
ORG - 360 - 90th percentile
PHY - 360 - 95th percentile

TS - 390 - 98th percentile
AA - 370 - 98th percentile


I wasn't able to study until about 3 weeks before my test. I ordered the OAT DESTROYER + PHYSICS DESTROYER and worked through all of the problems they had, making sure to read and take notes on all of the explanations in the back. I feel like the DESTROYER really helped me to identify where I needed to study. I looked up additional practice problems and explanations online. I found the youtube videos from khan academy to be really fun, and often watched the bio animations as a kind of "break" from drilling the practice problems. However, I didn't spend very much time at all pacing myself, and I feel like that really came back to bite me in the butt on the QR section of the actual OAT! (On the ADA practice OAT I made a 390 on that section, but worked 5 minutes over time, and took it after a long break so I wasn't as exhausted as I was for the real thing).

All-in-all, I felt like the actual exam was pretty similar to the practice OAT on the ADA website. Go over all the basics in each section, work on as many practice problems as you can, and I would also recommend the DESTROYER. It's a lot of relevant info in one in place.

Finally, don't freak yourself out! It will be okay. Just think about what a relief it will be once it's all over! :D
Hey everyone! I just thought I'd like to share my OAT experience, though I will try to make it short, since others have listed many of the things I could list as well.

To start off, I did the ADA online practice test. This was just to see where I stand with the knowledge I had before even studying. I gave myself 2.5 months to study, along with being in a concert band one night a week, working on average 10-15 hours a week and volunteering. I would study on a free day, and had about 35-40 study days in total, where I would study for about 3-6 hours, depending on the day. I completely went through the Kaplan Review Notes book and made over 200 pages of notes, as that's how I learn best. After that, I concentrated on doing practice tests from every source I could find. I also worked through a Kaplan notebook, which was about 100 pages long. It was a grueling 2.5 months...

As people have said above, you can't bring anything into the room with you. I wrote in the Prometric Center in London, Ontario and luckily the woman doing the test for me gave me a ton of white boards (around 8) each time when I needed them. I didn't have to ask her as many times as I thought I would have to! I actually bought dry erase markers because I was afraid that the ones they would give me wouldn't be very good, but they didn't allow me to use them. They gave me two black markers and at first they worked alright, but by the end I could barely make out what I wrote on the white boards. Fun fact: the OAT is apparently the only test, or one of the only tests that does actual fingerprinting.

I took this section pretty slowly, because I had only done one practice test in the computer format (the online Kaplan practice test) and I wanted to make sure I understood how to use the program.

I actually thought this was one of the hardest, or the hardest, section on the OAT. There were a surprising number of questions on topics that weren't even covered in the Kaplan Review Notes book. I spent a lot of time studying biology, because I didn't really study plants or other non-human life forms in my two years of undergrad.

General Chemistry
There weren't any big surprises in this section. Actually, there is nothing really memorable from this section at all.

Organic Chemistry
Typical organic chemistry questions. The OAT really focuses on ortho/meta/para directors and other such things.

Reading Comprehension
I was really nervous about reading comprehension because of some of the practice ones I have had. If I don't understand the passage, the questions are VERY difficult for me. Luckily, I got 3 passages that all were quite easy to understand, so it wasn't too difficult.

This section was actually quite easy as well. I struggled with physics during my practice exams, but I guess doing all the practice tests and problems really paid off, because I didn't have much difficulty with this section.

Quantitative Reasoning
This section may tie for the hardest with biology. In the end, I think I actually ended up guessing at least 1/6 of the questions because I legitimately could not do them. Actually being timed while doing this section, in my opinion, heavily affects how well you answer the questions. I guess since it was the last section and since I felt rushed, I didn't answer the questions to the best of my ability. I guess that's the real challenge with this section.

The survey is actually quite soothing after doing a 4-5 hour long test. I actually wasn't even expecting my results right after, so I was definitely shocked when I got them!

I have attached an excel file with all scores, in order of date (with the ADA test being first and the final results at the end) in an excel file.

Just in case you only wanted my final score, here it is:

Section: score/percentile

QR: 360/92.9
RC: 370/96.3
BIO: 380/93.7
GC: 370/96.3
OC: 390/98.2
PHY: 380/96
TS: 400/100
AA: 380/99.6

I hope this test goes well for everyone! It's SUCH a great feeling knowing I'll never have to do it again!

Also, if you have any questions, feel free to message me! I know how horrible this whole experience can be, so I want to help as much as possible!



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I love how they aim for consistency across the board but I had many things that were different!! I wasn't fingerprinted, was allowed to wear a watch, and allowed to access my locker on my break. I also only had to provide 1 form of id. I found that the noise canceling headphones were the best idea ever however! People next to me taking the essay section typing away on the GRE was more distracting than i had initially thought. I HATED the end of test survey but was excited to get my 340 TS/AA at the end. Biology is definitely my strongest section (390) but physics kind of canceled it out (300). I took my test at a DC testing center, did anyone else find that the security seemed lax if you took yours there?
Hi Jill,

your OAT experience is really helpful to me. I'm going to give OAT exam this season.Please suggest briefly what chapter I should follow (bio, chem & physics).
I'm really very nervous for this exam.

Thank you,
with best regards
Amazing detailed explanation! Thanks so much. I've actually taken your advice and I'm basically going to study from the same books you used!

I have a question for you, how long did you study for? Also how did you exactly "tackle" the studying did you focus more on Biology & Chemistry?

Tara M.
Not sure why this thread hasn't been updated recently, but just took my OAT today, and I wanted to share my experience!

Section / Standard Score / Percentile
QR / 350 / 89.6
RC / 380 / 99.0
BIO / 360 / 88.4
GC / 320 / 69.1
OC / 370 / 95.7
PHY / 320 / 70.5
TS / 350 / 87.6
AA / 350 / 93.8


BIO - Know your cellular respiration and embryology! I feel like there were a lot of details on these, so know the products and reactants for the reactions and the germ layers. Otherwise, nothing too exceptional in this section. Strangely, there was one photo of cells, and you needed to identify where they might be found. Thought that was kinda weird...

GCHEM - Hm, I expected to do a little better in this section, but where I probably had some issues was acid-base chemistry... Pretty standard questions about redox reactions, thermochemistry, and the periodic table.

OCHEM - I was actually most anxious about this section, because I found this to be my weakest section, but I was pleasantly surprised. While studying, it was best for me to make notecards about the reagents and what it does, and I think it got me through nearly all the reaction questions in this section. I think 80% of the section was reactions, and the rest were about boiling points and lab techniques. There were a few questions about H-NMR, and I didn't really review that, so I probably got them wrong.

READING - The passages were fairly simple, and most of the questions just required extraction from the passage. I think there are a lot of strategies out there (e.g. read through the entire passage then answer questions, skim and then answer questions, go straight to questions), but I found that it was best for me to read through the entire thing before doing the questions. I found it was easier to see the big picture and quickly see which paragraph I can fish for my answer. Before choosing an answer, I would highlight the exact sentence that answered the question, just for my own confirmation. (The highlighting doesn't actually stay marked.)

PHYSICS - There was a stronger emphasis on kinematics, fluid dynamics, and Newtonian mechanics, which are not particularly my favorites. No huge surprises though, although there were some problems I wish I had a calculator to confirm my answers. All the other topics were pretty well-represented, so don't hope that your weakest topic doesn't show up!

MATH - Using the computer calculator was extremely frustrating. You can't even in type in the numbers from your keyboard. It takes time clicking in the functions individually, so I tried to use it as sparsely as possible. Using approximations and writing out the work helped me save some extra seconds so I could finish the whole section. There was one stats question that threw me off-guard, asking about what a p-value is interpreted as, but everything else was pretty straight forward. Review your trig functions (cos, sin, tan, csc, sec, cot) if that is something you are weak on, because I got a handful of questions about that.

1. You get mini-whiteboards (basically, laminated sheets of paper) to do your scratch work and it doesn't erase very well. My testing center only gave me two sheets, so I made sure to raise my hand when I was on my last side to get fresh ones before I ran out of space completely. The proctors do take your used sheets.
2. During my break, I wrote a lot of physics and math equations so I can reference them later. No proctor came up to me, although I read from other posts that some testing centers may not allow this.
3. Right after you finish one section, the timer immediately starts for the next one! Keep your game face on until break or until it's over!

Choose your test date before starting to study. Nothing is a stronger motivator than an imminent test date. It allowed me to structure my studying schedule per week. (And let's be real, after a long day, sometimes you just don't feel like studying, so I gave myself some cushion for the days I was just feeling lazy.) I used Kaplan's 5th edition OAT prep book, and started studying 6 months in advanced. I realize that is a lot of time, but I am working 50+ hours/week, so I didn't want to feel rushed. I started studying with my strongest sections (math, bio) and left the weakest for last (ochem), so they would be freshest in my memory.

For practice, I used the test in the back of the book, the ADA's practice test, and Kaplan's online practice test. I would personally not recommended the ADA's test, because it was much easier than the actual test, and I felt like it gave me a false representation of how I would score. Kaplan's online test was the best representation because of its computer interface and difficulty level. Take this one seriously, as if it's the real thing! My actual scores were very similar to the online one. For extra help on the topics I wasn't strong in, I used ExamKracker's 1001 MCAT Questions per section. It was more detailed than what was covered on the OAT, but it was so great to get in some extra practice.

I strongly recommended using to anyone who is a visual learner and needs some step-by-step guidance on a particular subject! It doesn't have every topic needed for the OAT, unfortunately, but I find this website such an amazing resource! It's very comprehensive and engaging! I can credit my ochem score to KA, because I felt like I really understood all of the reactions and what exactly is happening. Check it out if you are in need!

I hope this was helpful to anyone who is taking their test in the near future!! Bring on the application season!
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Just recently took the OAT. Here is my experience:

QR 380/98%
RC 350/83%
Bio 380/97%
GC 390/94%
OC 400/100%
PHY 380/98%
TS 400/100%
AA 380/99%

Bio - Just random questions about random things. Embryology, cellular processes were big, had lots of hormone questions. Don't remember a single question about ecology or plants though. This is probably the hardest section to study for since it can be so varied.

Gen Chem - Lots of conceptual questions. Know your intermolecular forces, gases, phases, electrochemistry.

Orgo - Again, lots of conceptual questions. They want to know if you know organic chemistry as opposed to memorizing reactions. Know reaction intermediates, what makes things more acidic than other things, NMR (know about neighbors, know what shielding does and how it affects the NMR). Know about the different special mechanisms (Grignard, Diels-Alder, etc.). Know what they do and how they do it. And know them by name! Be able to work through problems with 2 steps and know the final outcome. 2 steps seems to be the max.

~I finished these sections with about 40 minutes left and spent the next 20 minutes checking over them. I ended this test with 20 minutes remaining since I knew what I knew and knew what I didn't know~

RC - Fair passages, just some weird wording on some questions. Never been a fan of reading comp on tests all the way back to high school standardized tests. I finished this section with about 10 minutes remaining and went over the ones that I marked.

Physics - Probably had the most similarity to the ADA tests online in terms of scope. Make sure you know your formulas like the back of your hand as they come handy not only with conceptual questions, but with the actual plug and chug as well. Know your Newtonian stuff, E&M (although they tend to focus more on the E part as I've noticed throughout the practice tests and such). My test had lots of angular acceleration problems. Also know what vectors do and vector math.

Math - Random smattering of everything from basic algebra to trig to probability. Be able to interpret word problems and turn them into mathematical functions quickly and efficiently. Know your way around the ACTS circle and the different radian measures. And know your SOH CAH TOA. Trig accounted for a good portion of my math section. The calculator really isn't bad if you are good with a mouse although some clicks don't register properly. I know lots of people say they felt time crunched in this section, but personally I didn't feel rushed at all.

Tiny Tidbits:
- They are only allowed to give you a certain amount of these laminated cards to write down stuff. I should've asked for new cards on the break between RC and Physics so I didn't have to waste time during physics holding up a card in my hand to get new ones.
-The section clock starts right away as soon as you click on next. I thought it would start after you read the instructions, but nope!
- I never felt time rushed throughout the test, but then again, I am a very very fast test taker. Don't dawdle on the questions if you are stuck. If you're stuck, pick an answer that seems reasonable and mark the question to go back to it later. This is especially true for math since you only have about a minute a question. If you don't know how to do it within the first 10-20 seconds, pick a good answer and move on and come back to it at the end. There is a nifty feature for marked questions that the program allows you to go back over marked questions only so that you aren't flipping through 30 questions to get to a marked one.

Study Materials and Strategy
I have been out of college for a little while so a lot of the stuff on the OAT was lost from my memory. I was essentially starting from scratch. I spent about 3 months studying. Practice ACTIVE LEARNING. Do not just look at notes and try to memorize them. You need to actively be learning the material. For me, I have a small white board that I use and write down everything over and over and over again. I went through 1 dry-erase marker per day. Active learning is the best way to get something into your head.
I used the Kaplan OAT book (the one you can buy on Amazon, not the course one), Cliffnotes AP Bio, Kaplan MCAT Biology Review, Chad's Videos, and OAT Destroyer.
OAT Destroyer I didn't like at all. The math section in the destroyer book was OK, but for the rest, it was complete and utter overkill.
Chad's Videos were the most useful for Chem, OChem, Physics, and Math. He is an amazing teacher and the quizzes on the site are extremely helpful.
For practice, I used the ADA OAT and DAT practice tests. I thought they were good practice to get used to the format of the test. You don't want to go in blind not knowing the format of the test. I also suggest purchasing the 2009 DAT test. Yes, it doesn't have physics, but it still gives a good practice test for the rest of the sections.
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I got to the testing center about 5 minutes before my appointment; there was no wait and after a quick check-in, I was at my assigned computer less than 15 minutes after my arrival.
I went to the Prometric center in Lake Forest, CA; they required two forms of ID (credit card can be used with a government ID but call your center beforehand if you have any concerns) and did a thorough security check (had to lift up sleeves, roll up pant legs, metal detecting wand.. it was like dealing with TSA ha) so don't even think about sneaking anything in!

Biology: students on these forums aren't kidding when they say its really random; I had questions on genetics, taxonomy, evolution, metabolic reactions (Cell respiration and photosynthesis), ecology, cell bio, human/animal physio, you name it. Bio majors might have found this section a breeze but for everyone else I recommend thoroughly reviewing because it covers such a broad range of material

Chemistry: periodic trends, titrations, acid-base chem, balancing equations (including redox), electrochem, Lewis structures/VSEPR theory, Ka/pKa, lab techniques, Gibbs free energy, enthalpy, thermochem, rates of reactions (kinetics), chem equilibrium (Le Chat's principle), stoichiometry... pretty much everything you learned in Gen Chem. I was worried about doing lots of math but most of the questions don't require calculations, and the few that did were simple ones if you knew how to set the problems up correctly

Organic chem: Know your reactions inside and out! I had lots of problems that required you to fill out a reactant, reagent, or product for a reaction. Also know how to determine the most acidic compounds out of a group, sp, sp2, sp3, pi orbitals, AES, alcohol synthesis or oxidation, IR, NMR, oxidation numbers, formal charges.

RC: The passages I was assigned were pretty interesting and not too difficult to read but were packed with info you have to sift through. I skimmed through each article and wrote down key words on the laminated paper given, then while answering questions I referred to the corresponding paragraph based on my notes.
Questions were straightforward for the most part, but there were a few comprehensive ones (e.g. What subject areas did the passage cover? What did the author infer by blah blah)

Break (optional)-you get 15 minutes and you are not allowed to look at notes or go to your car. I went to the bathroom and had some coffee. There's another security check before you return to your computer.

Physics: womp womp :eek: kinematics, Newtonian forces, buoyancy, mirrors/lenses, work, capacitors/resistors, batteries, electric currents and fields, magnetic fields, gravity. Unfortunately I was so wrapped up in trying to solve the problems that I didn't get to go and check marked/incomplete questions because the time ran out.. I probably left about 7 questions unanswered :(

QR: My confidence was at its low when I got to this very last section, and being flustered definitely took a toll. Lots of word problems, a few straight-forward algebra equations, logarithms, rate problems, fractions, 1 or 2 probability, interest rates, trig functions, geometry (I remember getting a couple weird looking shapes and having to find the area). Like the physics section, time got me and I ended up leaving several questions unanswered and did not get to look at marked ones. There was a pop-up screen for a 5-minute warning but I still lost track while working on the last problems.

Final scores: Section/ OAT score/ percentile
QR 320/71.4
RC 400/100
Bio 340/77.7
GC 340/82.8
OC 350/90.6
Phys 300/56.9
Total Science 330/76.9
Academic Avg 340/88.5

Study strategies and what I would do differently:
I used my old class notes and textbooks from my undergrad classes (gen bio, chemistry, ochem) and borrowed Princeton's AP Physics and SAT Math from the library. I also used OAT Destroyer (2007 version that did not have physics) and thought it was awesome for QR. Doing all of the destroyer problems and understanding them would definitely prepare you for the actual exam because they're a tougher, but I waited until 2 1/2 weeks before my test to really start studying so I skipped over most of the Destroyer items (except QR). I did the sample problems offered on datqvault and can say they're similar to the real OAT. I couldn't afford the program but if you can I would recommend it.

If I could change anything, it would hands down be to start preparing earlier and more efficiently. I dreaded taking this test so much that when I did set aside time to study, I would waste it (ended up watching 4 seasons of Breaking Bad over a few weeks instead of practicing physics... and it showed on my scores!) I didn't get much serious study time in until a few weeks before the exam, and even then I wasn't working as hard as I should've been. My fear of the exam morphed into apathy, but after taking it I saw how do-able it is and wish I didn't put that mental block on myself.

For future OAT takers: it truly is NOT that bad, I personally thought it was a fair exam and did not feel "tricked" by any questions. Look at previous posts to see that it is very possible to smash the OAT! I did poorly on some sections due to lack of preparation. I made the big mistake of NOT timing myself while practicing QR so I suggest that to anyone who is struggling with that section. The only way to get better at math is to practice, so do problems over and over until you can do them quickly and accurately. I went into the exam really tense and nervous, which reflected my sub-par studying.
Have confidence :rofl: If you put in sufficient study time and practice, you'll ace the OAT :punch:

Excuse the verbose review, but feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
Best of luck to everyone!!
Hi guys. I would like to know how long you all studied for your oat? I just began studying today and am taking the test in a month and a half. Enough time? Please let me know!
That should be enough! Use 4 weeks to review/study all of the material, and the remaining 2 weeks to do practice exams. Thats what I did and did just fine! I hope that helped! Good luck :)
Can I ask if anyone has OAT kaplan book for sell? if you don't need it anymore after the completion of OAT test. Thank you!
I just wanted to add in a trick I found very helpful within the Reading section. The dark font on a light background was very hard for me to read and concentrate on after a few tests, so I instead highlighted the entire article and read them that way. MUCH MUCH easier to focus on.
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good job on scoring really good on the OAT. I'm studying for the oat but I'm using dat destroyer and dat bootcamp for the bio and all the other sections except the PAT. for the physics section, I just bought the OAT physics gold standard book idk if its that useful? Can you please suggest anything for the materials that I am using for the physics is it good or do I need to buy the Kaplan? And, also do you know if its worth apply in the late cycle for example 2019 cycle doesn't end until March or May for some schools. do you think it's better to wait or should i just apply and see?
This thread is now out of date, so we are unsticking it and replacing it with this one: