OAT Test Breakdown

OAT is a test of the student’s ability to accomplish the education carried on in optometry school smoothly. It screens candidates for their level of knowledge as well as willingness to be a part of this professional line.

Optometry schools are looking for candidates who are all-round personalities. Not only should they have good academic knowledge but also they should be upcoming and motivated. They should have the qualities of decision-making, leadership, and problem solving, which are requisite in a career of an optometrist. Although OAT does not measure all the skills that the schools are looking for in their candidates, the test is capable of providing an apt judgment of most of the skills. Therefore, it becomes essential for students to show their exceptional skills in the test and make their application worth the notice of these schools.

Many times a capable candidate is not able to prove himself due to lack of awareness about the OAT. Understanding the specifications of the test comes in as one of the foremost things that have an impact on performance in the test. While preparing a study plan, it is extremely essential to know what you are preparing for. Having an estimate of the content, number of questions and their types helps in mapping preparation.

Salient Features of OAT

  1. OAT is a computer-based test.
  2. The test format is standardized and disclosed before the test.
  3. There are four tests of different subjects in OAT.
  4. Questions in the test appear in the multiple-choice format.
  5. The test is administered in English language.
  6. The total testing time of the test is 275 minutes.

4 Subtests of OAT and Time Allotment

  1. Survey of Natural Sciences – 90 minutes
  2. Reading Comprehension Test – 50 minutes
  3. Physics Test – 50 minutes
  4. Quantitative Reasoning Test – 45 minutes

The initial 15 minutes before the first test is administered are allotted to complete the tutorial. There is a 15 minutes' optional break after two tests are completed. In the end of all the 4 tests, 10 minutes are allotted to post-test survey.

Sometimes pre-testing is included in the OAT administration, where un-scored pretest questions are asked. These questions are included to test new questions for future test administration. These questions are included in the sections mentioned above, and the questions are mixed together. Hence, it is not possible to know which question is a pretest question. This makes it essential to answer these un-scored questions with complete seriousness. About 25 minutes extra are allotted for answering these pretest questions.

Detailed Information About the Subtests

Survey of Natural Sciences

There are 100 questions asked in this subtest. It has three major domains in which the questions are asked. The content asked in this section of the test requires the students to have taken one-year courses in biology, general and organic chemistry. That is why it is called an achievement test, as it tests the knowledge achieved by students in their pre-professional courses. The three parts are as follows:

    1. Biology – There are 40 questions asked in this part. The questions pertain to concepts of biology like cell and molecular biology, life diversity, vertebrate anatomy and physiology, developmental biology, genetics, evolution, ecology and behavior.

    2. General Chemistry30 questions are asked on general chemistry. The syllabus of this section includes questions on the topics of general chemistry concepts, solids, liquids, gases, acids, bases, solutions, chemical equilibria, thermodynamics, thermochemistry, chemical kinetics, oxidation reduction reactions, atomic and molecular structure, periodic properties, nuclear reactions and laboratory techniques.

    3. Organic Chemistry - This contains 30 questions on the topics of organic chemistry. These are – mechanism, chemical and physical properties of molecules and organic analysis, stereochemistry, nomenclature, individual reactions of the major functional groups of combination of reactions to synthesize compounds, acid-base chemistry, aromatics and bonding.

Each of these three parts receives a sub score. Hence, it is important to prepare and do well in each of these parts.

Reading Comprehension Test

This test contains passage-based questions. There are 40 such questions in this test, which are based on three passages of scientific information. There are 10 to 17 questions based on a single passage. The topics of passages are similar to those encountered in the first year of optometry course. However, no prior knowledge of these topics is required by students.

The passages need to be read completely and understood in order to answer the questions correctly. Basic knowledge of pre-professional courses in science is helpful to develop the scientific outlook necessary to understand these passages. The students would be required to analyze the information, interpret and form conclusions by reading the details of the passages.

By answering the questions in this section, the students exhibit their ability to interpret, analyze and comprehend new scientific information. Such abilities are basic to education in an optometric school and to the profession of an optometrist since doctors and students usually have to read complex texts to form conclusions and inferences.

Physics Test

The physics test is also an achievement test and questions pertain to the content learnt in one-year physics course. There are a total of 40 questions asked in this test. The topics from where these questions are asked are units and vectors, linear kinematics, statics, dynamics, rotational motion, simple harmonic motion, waves, energy and momentum, fluid statics, thermal energy, thermodynamics, electrostatics, magnetism, D.C. circuits, optics and modern physics.

Quantitative Reasoning Test

There are 40 testing items in this part of the test. Questions deal with mathematical problems and quantitative material. The use of calculators is prohibited. Questions deal with the subject areas of algebra, numerical calculations, probability, statistics, geometry, trigonometry, mathematical word problems.

This section tests the mental aptitude of students with its questions. It tests how intelligently students can handle problems. It tests their skills of reasoning and manipulating numbers and relation between numbers.

Scoring of OAT Sections

Understanding the test pattern is incomplete if the students do not gather information about scoring. If students understand the scoring scheme before taking the test, it helps them to form test-taking strategies and avoid silly mistakes that can make a difference in their score. Moreover, having the idea of the score range, it is possible to set personal goals during preparation, which must be achieved in the final test.

All test items carry equal marks in OAT. That means that if a difficult question is taking time, then you should drop it there and move on to the next question. With this strategy you will be able to answer maximum questions without wasting time.

There is no penalty for incorrectly answered questions. This gives students the liberty to make guesses. The number of points collected for the correct answers forms the raw score. This raw score is converted into a standard score that is reported in the score report, which ranges from 200 to 400. Scores are reported in increments of 10.

There are 8 standard scores reported in the test, including a separate score for each of the subtests of Survey of Natural Sciences, a total Science score and an academic average. It therefore suggests that students should concentrate on preparing well for each of the tests as the score report reflects your complete performance. So you cannot neglect any part of the test.


The profession of an optometrist is not only lucrative but also highly satisfying. It provides contentment by helping others gain vision, which leads to gaining respect amongst people. OAT is a test that helps to achieve this trust and respect. Therefore, the road that leads to this profession should be taken seriously by learning about the test in order to do justice to your career.

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