Understanding OAT Scoring Breakdown 2024

In evaluating potential applicants, one vital measure in an optometry program is administering the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). It serves as a means to assess their academic proficiency and understanding of scientific concepts, providing optometry schools with valuable insights into an applicant’s potential for success. 

Achieving a solid score on the OAT not only boosts confidence but also strengthens one’s credibility. To obtain an extensive comprehension of what denotes a favorable OAT score, it is imperative to explore the complexities of OAT scoring.

OAT Scoring Structure

The OAT scores are reported on a scale of 200 to 400 for each of the test sections, including Biology, General and Organic Chemistry, and Physics along with Reading Comprehension and Quantitative Reasoning. 

Moreover, the OAT exam utilizes two composite scores when evaluating test-taker proficiency. These scores include the Academic Average and the Total Science Score, which are combined to create the final OAT score.

Breaking Down OAT Scoring

a) Raw Score

The raw score represents the number of questions answered correctly in each section. If an examinee responds correctly to 20 questions in the Physics portion, their raw score for that section will amount to 20.

b) Scale Score or Standard Score

To ensure fairness and accuracy in scoring, raw scores are transformed into scale scores through psychometric equating procedures. To quantify student performance, the scale scores are used and recorded in intervals of ten within the range of 200 to 400. If a test taker skips a section, they receive a raw score of zero, corresponding to a scale score of 200.

Scale scores allow for fair comparison among candidates who took different editions of the OAT over the years. This ensures that scores can be meaningfully compared, regardless of when the exam was taken.

c) Total Science Score

The Total Science Score is based on the cumulative raw scores from the Biology, Chemistry (general and organic), and Physics sections. With a total of 140 questions in these science sections, the total science score is derived from the overall raw score.

d) Academic Average

The Academic Average is a composite score calculated by averaging the scale scores from the Biology, Physics, General and Organic Chemistry,  Quantitative Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension sections. The sum of the scale scores is divided by six and rounded to the nearest integer following the 10-point interval rule.

OAT Score Conversion

The American Dental Association (ADA) provides a score conversion chart to estimate standard scores from raw scores. You may see the score conversion chart below.

It is worth noting that scale scores are reported in blocks of ten (e.g., 210, 220, and so on), instead of individual digits like 201, 202, and so on. The OAT scores reveal the test-takers’ abilities without employing any curve. 

These scores reflect exam question complexity and compare results directly among all candidates. It is worth noting that the standardized score obtained by two students on the OAT could be identical despite having significantly different raw scores.

Unlike a curved scoring system, the OAT does not assign scores based on relative performance. Instead, the standard scores of the OAT take into consideration both the abilities of the test takers and the difficulty level of the questions presented in the exam. The use of standard scores permits a fair and accurate comparison among test takers who have undergone the OAT in various years.

We should acknowledge that the chart provided should be utilized as a rough gauge to assess your standard score, influenced by your raw scores. It provides a basic understanding of how the conversion process is carried out for OAT scores. The actual conversions for the official OAT exam will vary since they are adjusted individually for each specific exam.

Determining a Good OAT Score

The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) does not have a designated passing score established by the official governing body. Consequently, each optometry education program independently determines what score is considered acceptable for admission purposes.

In an ideal scenario where a group of test takers with similar abilities participate, the average scaled scores for all sections of the OAT would consistently equate to 300. In essence, the scoring range for the OAT is between 200 and 400, with 300 being the median score. 

However, in large-scale testing situations, it is uncommon to achieve such uniformity. Instead, some degree of variation in scores is expected, and this is where the standard deviation of 40 for the scale score comes into play.

OAT Score Ranges

Based on data from the 2021 OAT exam, average scores in different sections indicate how students performed relative to others. Students achieved higher average scores in Quantitative Reasoning, while Physics showed the lowest performance and correspondingly lower averages. 

OAT scores are comparative, meaning whether a score is considered good or bad depends on the performance of other examinees. The table below presents the average OAT scores attained by students in different sections, reflecting the 50th percentile scores from the 2021 OAT exam. 

Please refer to the table for detailed information on student performance.

OAT Section Mean Score Corresponding Scale Score
Quantitative Reasoning 317.1 320
Reading Comprehension 324.5 320
Biology 303.0 300
General Chemistry 301.5 300
Organic Chemistry 295.5 300
Physics 281.8 280
Total Science 293.4 290
Academic Average 304.6


Given the existing dataset, how can we determine what constitutes a favorable or unfavorable OAT score?

50th Percentile 75th Percentile 90th Percentile
Quantitative Reasoning 320 350 370
Reading Comprehension 320 350 380
Biology 300 340 380
General Chemistry 300 330 370
Organic Chemistry 300 330 370
Physics 280 320 340
Total Science Score 290 330 370
Academic Average 310 340 360


a) High OAT Scores

A high OAT score is one that places the test-taker in the top percentile. To achieve this, a total science score between 370 and 400 and an academic average between 360 and 400 are typically required. When one attains a score in the 99th percentile, it signifies excellence as it translates into a total science score of 400 and an academic average of 390.

Ranking Total Science Score Academic Average
92nd Percentile 370 360
95th Percentile 390 370
99th Percentile 400 390


b) Competitive OAT Scores

A competitive OAT score places the test-taker in the top 25%, indicating better performance than 75% of other candidates. To be considered competitive, a total science score higher than 330 and an academic average higher than 340 are typically required.

Ranking Total Science Score Academic Average
79th Percentile 340 340
8th Percentile 350 350


c) What is a Good OAT Score?

A good OAT score places the test-taker at the 50th percentile, indicating better or equal performance to 50% of other candidates. To achieve a good score, a total science score of at least 290 and an academic average of no less than 310 are recommended.

d) Below Average OAT Scores

Below-average OAT scores place the test-taker below the 50th percentile, indicating poorer performance compared to the average test-taker. This typically corresponds to a total science score below 280 and an academic average below 300.

A Strong OAT Score for Optometry School

While certain optometry programs may accept applicants who score at the 50th percentile, more competitive schools tend to be more selective, usually setting a minimum requirement of scores at the 75th percentile or higher.

An OAT score above 320 is generally considered favorable for admittance to optometry school. This puts you at least in the 60th percentile. Still, one must acknowledge that distinct schools set diverse minimum OAT score requirements. These demands can range from an approachable figure like 280 to a more demanding one of up to 350.

Ideally, OAT scores surpassing 300 are considered satisfactory for optometry school admissions. Obtaining a higher score can bestow upon you a noteworthy advantage compared to other candidates.

Additionally, it is essential to bear in mind that OAT scores are just one aspect of the overall application package considered by admission committees. Your GPA and other factors will also play a significant role in the decision-making process.

Frequently Asked Questions About OAT Scoring

The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) plays a crucial role in determining the eligibility and competitiveness of aspiring optometry students. To shed light on the intricacies of OAT scoring, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions along with detailed answers. 

1. What Constitutes a Passing Score on the OAT?

A passing score on the OAT is defined as achieving a score of 300, which corresponds to the median score, indicating performance in the 50th percentile. While a passing score places you above the average, it may not be competitive enough to ensure admission into a highly selective optometry program.

2. Is a Score of 330 Considered Good on the OAT?

Yes, a score of 330 is considered a strong OAT score as it places you at the 75th percentile. This indicates that scoring 330 puts you among the top 25% of all test takers, showcasing a competitive performance.

3. Are OAT Scores Available Immediately?

Upon finishing the OAT, an unofficial score report will be issued right away at the testing site. It’s imperative to acknowledge that said report does not hold any authorized significance and should strictly be utilized for personal reference purposes only.

Official scores, on the other hand, are released approximately 3-4 weeks after the testing date and are electronically sent to the optometry schools you have selected.

4. What Is the Minimum Accepted OAT Score for Optometry Schools?

For the 2022 admission cycle, the Inter-American University School of Optometry in Puerto Rico accepted the lowest OAT score, which was 280. Following that, the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University, Chicago College of Optometry at Midwestern University, and University of Pikeville, Kentucky College of Optometry accepted a minimum OAT score of 300.

5. How Are OAT Scores Used in the Admissions Process?

OAT scores are an essential component of the optometry school admissions process. However, they are not the sole factor considered. Admission committees evaluate applicants holistically, taking into account various factors such as undergraduate GPA, letters of recommendation, personal statements, and interviews. While a strong OAT score can enhance your application, it is important to maintain a well-rounded profile.

6. Can OAT Scores Be Improved?

Yes, OAT scores can be improved with focused preparation and diligent study. Many aspiring optometry students engage in comprehensive test preparation courses, utilize study guides, and practice with sample questions to enhance their performance. Additionally, adopting effective study strategies, managing time efficiently, and seeking guidance from experienced professionals can contribute to score improvement.

7. How Long Are OAT Scores Valid?

OAT scores are typically valid for a period of two to three years, depending on the optometry schools’ policies. Thus, it is important to check with the specific schools you are applying to regarding their score validity requirements. 

Some schools may consider scores from tests taken within the past two years, while others may have a three-year validity period. It is advisable to plan your application timeline accordingly and ensure that your OAT scores fall within the designated validity period of your desired optometry programs.


In conclusion, understanding the scoring breakdown of the OAT is crucial for aspiring optometry students. By comprehending the various scoring components and score ranges, candidates can gauge their performance and determine what constitutes a good score for their optometry school of choice. 

Remember, while OAT scores are important, they are just one aspect of the comprehensive application process. Optometry schools consider a holistic approach, taking into account other factors such as GPA, interviews, and extracurricular activities. With this knowledge, test-takers can strategize their preparation and aim for their desired OAT scores to increase their chances of admission into optometry programs.


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