About OAT Test
A doctor’s profession is the noblest profession, and if this profession is clubbed with providing vision to a needy patient, it places the profession of a doctor closest to the Almighty. Such are the sentiments attached with the job of an optometrist. However, along with such sentiments, the job comes with great responsibility. An optometrist is required to be well qualified and skilled for the task that requires knowledge and accuracy. In order to ensure this, the process of being an optometrist includes selecting capable candidates for such education.
Optometry Admission Test or OAT is a standardized admission test for candidates willing to get enrolled into colleges of optometry. It is conducted by the organization called the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO), which is a non-profit organization of schools and colleges across the US and Puerto Rico and also of many foreign optometry schools. ASCO works to keep up the standards of optometry education and churn out well-qualified graduates.
OAT enables you to get enrolled for the four-year degree course, after the completion of which, the student is deemed as a Doctor of Optometry. It is a computer based test that evaluates prospective candidates for their academic abilities and abilities of comprehending scientific details. Along with other factors, the score in the test is a significant criterion used in the admission process by various optometry schools.
Students willing to take the OAT need to have taken at least one-year course in biology, chemistry, organic chemistry and general physics. This means that the students should have taken science courses of the pre-professional level, along with laboratory classes that help in preparing for the test. Generally, students prefer to take at least two-year courses in these subject areas before taking the test for better preparation.
The eligibility requirements for reappearing in the test require the candidate to wait for at least 3 months before taking the test again. Hence, it is advised that students should prepare and hit their target in the first attempt itself, since retaking the test would involve a lot of time, not forgetting the waste of money.
Test Administration and Cost
OAT is offered at Prometric Test Centers in the US, its territories including Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin islands, and in Canada. Generally, the testing dates are on weekends.
The cost of taking the test is $213 to be submitted at the time of registration. This fee is non-refundable and non-transferable. Partial one-time fee waivers are available for applicants who face financial hardships.
Registering for the OAT
In order to register for a testing date you need to apply to the OAT Program upon which you will receive an electronic notification of your eligibility.
Registration can be done either by paper application or by electronic administration. Your application of registration is processed and a notification of your eligibility to take the test is sent to you through e-mail as well as to the Prometric Test Center. After this, you can contact the Prometric Contact Center to schedule your test.
You can register for the test as early as 12 months before the test. However, it is ideal to register about 3 months in advance, which helps to secure a preferred testing date and center, as well as provides enough time to review your skills. With too much time between the test and registration, it is possible that you lose interest in it due to the long gap.
OAT Test Structure
OAT is a battery of four tests. These are:
- Survey of Natural Sciences
- Reading Comprehension Test
- Physics Test
- Quantitative Reasoning Test
Sometimes the test also includes un-scored questions in a pretest for the purpose of testing them for future test administrations.
The test is conducted in 275 minutes. This time covers the optional break, time for tutorials and survey. All questions are of multiple choice.
1. Survey of Natural Sciences – This is the first of all the tests to be conducted and is 90 minutes long. There are a total of 100 testing items divided into three subjects. These subjects are as follows:
- Biology – There are 40 questions in this part of Survey of Natural Sciences. It includes topics like cell and molecular biology, developmental biology, genetics, ecology etc.
- General Chemistry – This section contains 30 questions, which are asked from the topics related to general chemistry concepts, gases, liquids and solids, acids, bases, solutions, thermodynamics, nuclear reactions etc.
- Organic Chemistry – 30 questions are asked in this subject. Properties of molecules and organic analysis stereochemistry, nomenclature, aromatics and bonding and the like are the topics from where the questions of organic chemistry are asked.
This section requires preparation of the content as is taught in pre-professional science courses. Students should make a note of the specific syllabus as mentioned on the official guide and prepare accordingly for it.
2. Reading Comprehension Test – This test is the next section to be administered and is of 50 minutes. There are a total of 40 questions asked in it. This is a typical comprehension test, where questions are based on certain reading passages.
There are three passages that contain some scientific information that needs to be read and understood to answer the questions. Prior knowledge of the content of the passages is not required. However, the level of difficulty of the content of these passages matches to the level of first year of optometry school.
3. Physics Test – After an optional break of 15 minutes, the testing session resumes automatically with the Physics test. This is a 50 minutes long test. There are 40 questions in all in this section. The questions deal with topics like units, vectors, statics, dynamics, motion, energy, momentum, waves, thermal energy, magnetism etc. This section also requires students to have knowledge of physics of the undergraduate level.
4. Quantitative Reasoning Test – The Quantitative Reasoning Test is a test of 45 minutes. There are 40 questions asked in it. The questions pertain to mathematical topics of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, probability, statistics etc.
OAT Scoring – Score Report and Interpreting Scores
OAT scoring is an integral part of the test. With the help of scoring the performances it is possible to form judgements about the caliber of students. It is particularly helpful in admission process when each student is compared with other students. The features of OAT scoring are listed below.
- An unofficial score report can be received at the Prometric Test Center soon after completing the test. This score report is then audited and the official version is sent to the selected optometry schools in about three weeks.
- The questions answered correctly contribute towards the score in each of the test sections. There is no negative marking for incorrectly answered questions.
- The points collected from correctly answered questions form the raw score.
- The raw score is converted into a standard score that ranges from 200 to 400. These standard scores help to compare the performances of students with other students taking the test.
- A percentile rank is also received for each of the sub tests.
- The score report contains the scores of up to 4 most recent test attempts.
Good OAT Score
An average performance in OAT is generally around the score of 310 to 360. If your score is above 360, it pronounces good news for you since you will be considered as a competitive candidate by most of the A-schools. A score of around 375 can rank you in the 90th percentile, which is very significant in terms of getting enrolled into a good optometry school.
Scoring well in OAT is extremely rewarding. With exceptional scores one has an upper hand in the admission process. If your scores aren’t good enough, you will have to depend upon other factors to make your application impressive. Therefore, in order to have more control over the selection procedure, one should make efforts and score as high as possible in the test.
For preparation, students must stick to a well-defined preparation strategy, which includes good amount of learning and practice of skills. Preparation must be carried out with the help of preparation materials like books, notes, and software. Some preparation material for all subtests and sample questions is also available in the official website of ASCO.
Optometry is ranked as one of the best careers in 2009 by a survey conducted by US News and Work Report. There is not only a great demand for Doctors of Optometry, but they are also paid really well. Therefore, in order to be a part of such a sought-after profession one has to put great efforts in preparation and score well in OAT.