All 21 schools and colleges of optometry in the U.S. and Puerto Rico require that you take the OAT. The test is conducted by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) and is offered at Prometric Testing Centers around the country (but not in Bowling Green). In 2006, all OAT administrations became computer based (CBT). It is suggested that students take the test in summer of the year prior to seeking admission (e.g.. summer 2015 for fall 2016 admission). Taking the test in the fall may not give the student the best opportunity to gain acceptance, as by the time official scores are reported (approx. 3 weeks later) application deadlines are imminent and optometry school classes have already begun to fill. There is a $330 examination fee that includes copies of the report for the student, his/her pre-optometry advisor, and up to 5 optometry schools.
It is important that the student prepare adequately for the test. While taking OAT preparatory courses may or may not be helpful to you, it is important that you have finished your physics (2 semesters), chemistry (four semesters) and biology ( as much as you have time for) courses before taking the OAT. Students will find courses in cell/molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry, and physiology very helpful.
The test is exclusively multiple choice and is composed of four sections: 1) Survey of Natural Sciences (40 biology, 30 general chemistry, and 30 organic chemistry questions, lasting 90 minutes; 2) Reading Comprehension, usually 3 reading passages followed by 15-17 questions per passage, lasting 50 minutes; 3) Physics, 40 questions lasting 50 minutes; and 4) Quantitative Reasoning, 45 minutes (calculators not permitted). There is a scheduled 15 minute rest between the 2nd and 3rd section. The OAT is scored based on the number of correct answers, therefore candidates are not penalized for guessing. The score ranges from 200 to 400 with a median score of 300 and a standard deviation of 40. A 320 is a very good score and a 350 is an excellent score representing approx. 90% ile. An important note about OAT scores: In May 2009, scores were renormalized so that the mean was 300. In recent years the mean score on the test had risen to above 320. The renormalization makes it difficult to compare scores from before 2009 with those since.