A Helpful Guide to Study for the OAT
The OAT is the main gateway to optometry school! Every student who wants to join an optometry program in the United States must take this one. The main goal of this test is to let academic institutions assess students’ capability and potential for success.
Studying and preparing oneself for the OAT test is not an easy job. In fact, a good student usually needs several months to prepare for the test. Many of the students even take private tutoring to improve their test results and enhance their potential to get into the optometry program they want.
Yet, preparing for the test by yourself is still possible. Below, you will find many helpful tips and tricks to help you get better OAT test results and join the optometry program of your dreams.
Preparing Yourself for the OAT
Many students usually prefer to take the OAT test right after they complete their junior year. This is mainly because, by this time, they have typically completed most of the prerequisites for applying for an optometry school.
To give yourself a better idea of what and how to prepare for the OAT test, read the following points.
Subjects Assessed in the OAT
The OAT test assesses several sections that are essential for predicting students’ scientific knowledge, which include Reading Comprehension, Quantitative Reasoning, Survey of Natural Sciences, and Physics. Each section has a different time limit, which is why it is crucial to set up a smart strategy when taking the test.
- Survey of Natural Sciences (Chemistry and Biology)
Many experienced test takers say that you should focus more on the Biology portion of the section because it is made up of more questions than the Organic Chemistry and General Chemistry portions. That being said, you will need to become informed about topics such as cells, genetics, anatomy, and so on.
The other two portions of the section are considered less challenging and students are generally able to answer them with a proper understanding of the fundamentals. What you need to pay attention to is that you only have a maximum of 55 seconds to answer each question. So, you should be serious with your time management.
This section offers 40 questions that cover anything from units and vectors to statics and dynamics to thermal energy and linear kinematics. You will have 50 minutes to answer all the questions. It’s, therefore, a wise idea to focus more on the areas you are strong in and revisit the other areas later.
- Reading Comprehension
In this section, you will find 50 detailed questions based on three comprehension passages. Students who took the test believe that the questions are very easy to answer, even without a full understanding of the passages. When preparing for this section, you can be easy on yourself since it does not require intense practice.
- Quantitative Reasoning
To prepare for this section, you have to familiarize yourself with data analysis, word problems, algebra, etc. If it sounds like you need to review your high school subjects, you are right!
You will be able to use an on-screen calculator while completing this section. Still, you need to get yourself up to speed if you have not gotten your hands on any math problems in a while.
Different Ways to Study for the OAT
Self-studying is probably the most practical and economical way for preparing for an OAT test. But, without a doubt, you need to make sure that you are dedicated and self-motivated enough to be successful if you want to go down this route.
Luckily, there are already a bountiful of OAT self-practice blogs and videos you can find online. You can also buy ADA OAT full-practice tests to help you ensure that you are ready for the actual OAT exam.
If you have the budget, taking an in-person is also a reasonable choice. This option allows you to get a more immediate and detailed explanation of each topic. But, this kind of preparation method is pretty pricey. Kaplan OAT, for example, offers such a service and it is priced starting from $599.
Online Prep Courses are probably a more affordable option if you want a self-studying method that is better guided and structured. Many of the coursed, such as OAT Bootcamp and Kaplan’s OAT, are self-paced and they will offer you both live or pre-recorded online lectures.
Several of them have free membership options but getting the paid ones gives you access to premium materials, which often include smart and innovative test hacks. Overall, these courses are great for a student who needs to understand all the materials but doesn’t want a strict study schedule and prefers a more flexible one.
What is the Best Time to Prepare for the OAT?
Because OAT preparation demands hours of reading and practicing, it is best to start preparing once you have a solid base in the involved subjects and have less workload from your other college courses. This is why each student will have a different time frame for their OAT preparation.
Some students may only need several weeks to be ready for taking the test, while others may need up to four months. Usually, you will know how much time you get to prepare after you have signed up for the test. Online prep courses usually give you an 8-week study schedule, but it is better to have spare time in case there is an emergency.
Acing the OAT
The right to prepare for an OAT test is not about buying the most expensive prep course or spending multiple hours each day of the week studying the subjects! What you actually need is an effective preparation strategy and doing the tips below will help you make one.
Know Your Goals
When it comes to preparing for the OAT test, not every one of us comes from the same starting point. More importantly, the optometry program we want to join will have a unique set of requirements, which is why you and the other students will have different preparation goals.
What you first need to do is set achievable goals by breaking down the OAT sections into specific subjects. Making weekly or daily goals is recommended because they will help you digest the materials in a non-burdening way.
It is always better to focus on one subject at a time than try to study a scope of materials simultaneously. This not only increases your preparation efficiency but also helps you understand subjects that complement each other better.
Create A Study Plan
The best way to create an OAT study is by breaking down the subjects into weeks. For example, if you have an 8-week time frame, you can have 4 weeks for Survey of Natural Sciences, 2 weeks for Physics, 1 week for Quantitative Reasoning, and 1 week for Reading Comprehension and reviewing all the subjects.
Of course, you can always change the schedule if you want to spend more time strengthening your understanding in a certain area. Overall, this study should act as a guideline that prevents you from spending too much time focusing on a particular area. If you have very little preparation time, make sure you know which area needs to be prioritized.
One helpful tip is to take breaks often when studying to allow your brain to relax and avoid getting burned out. You can also set up your study session and make more complex subjects a priority so that you study them first while your mind is still fresh.
Take Practice Tests
Taking practice tests is very crucial for your OAT prep because it does two things: familiarizing yourself with the questions and helping you evaluate the preparation goals. Without taking these tests, it would be impossible for you to know what areas you need to improve.
If you have test anxiety, taking practice tests may also help you alleviate this issue. An OAT prep course usually provides you with such a test, and it is usually designed to be similarly challenging to the actual OAT exam. If you are self-studying, you can use OAT test prep books from ASCO that includes the OAT format, test material examples, and other crucial details.
Track and Evaluate Your Progress
Always keep records of your practice test results so you know how far you have progressed. Doing so will also help you figure out the efficiency of your preparation strategy. If you think something needs to be changed, make the adjustment and see how things improve for you.
FAQs about Studying for the OAT
It is hard to deny that preparing for the OAT exam is a challenging process for many of us, especially if we have to juggle many activities. However, the guidance above should give you a better and deeper understanding of preparing yourself to face the OAT test.
If you still have any questions, the FAQs below may clear up your confusion.
- How much does the OAT test cost?
An OAT test currently costs about $500, but it may vary depending on when and where you take the test. You might also be subjected to additional cancellation and rescheduling fees. Any information about the test and how much it costs is available on the official website.
- How much should I spend on an OAT prep course?
You will find a wide price range for an OAT prep course and how much you spend on one usually depends on what kind of feature you are looking for. The OAT Destroyer is among the most affordable courses, with prices starting from $399. Courses with live classes may cost up to $2,999.
- When should I register for the OAT test?
To make sure that you have enough time to study, aim to register for the test at least 8 weeks before the test date. If possible, choose a test date that does not conflict with other important events. Online registration is available for the OAT exam.
- How many hours do I need to study for the OAT test?
Experts believe that you need to put in at least 200 study hours to prepare for the OAT test. So, if you have an 8-week time frame, you should spend approximately 3.5 hours per day studying for the test.
- Is the OAT exam really that hard?
The OAT is not necessarily impossible to pass, but you should still be serious about the test preparation. It covers a wide range of topics, and many of them are relatively complex. So, unless you give real effort and make it your priority, it might be hard for you to nail the test.
- Can I take the OAT test more than one time?
The OAT did not set any limit to how many times one can take the test. But, what is important to note here is that you should wait at least 90 days before taking another test. And, you will need to ask for permission if you have taken the test more than three times.
Preparing for the OAT demands a lot of reading, mainly because of the many sections included in the test. But, with enough preparation, it should not be impossible for one to properly showcase their understanding of the concepts.
Simply follow the tips and guidance and you should be able to approach the OAT exam with confidence. Know which section you need to focus on more, make a study plan, and keep yourself disciplined! This way, you should find yourself ready to take the test.