How to Prepare for the OAT Exam


 Preparing for the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) can be a daunting task. It is a crucial step on the road to becoming an optometrist and requires dedication, strategic planning, and thorough study.

The OAT exam assesses the understanding of scientific concepts as well as mathematical and verbal reasoning proficiency necessary for optometry school. In this blog post, we’re going to provide you with strategic tips and techniques to help maximize your OAT exam preparation.

Understanding the OAT Exam

Before you start studying, understand what the exam entails. The OAT consists of four tests:

  • Survey of the Natural Sciences (Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry)
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Physics
  • Quantitative Reasoning

Effective preparation involves not only knowledge of these subjects but also the ability to manage the examination's format and time constraints.

Who should take the OAT? When is it offered?

The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) is accessible to all applicants aspiring to join optometry education programs across the U.S. and Canada. Prospective students can sit for the exam at Prometric Test Centers located throughout the U.S., its territories, and Canada, benefitting from the flexibility of scheduling their testing appointments at any time during the year.

 Applying for the OAT

Begin by delving into the official OAT Guide, which offers comprehensive insights on:

  • The construction and scoring of the exam
  • Effective preparation strategies
  • Eligibility criteria
  • Information on fees and available waivers
  • Procedures to schedule, reschedule, or cancel your exam

After reviewing the guide, proceed by applying for the exam using a unique Personal Identification Number (PIN). Following the processing of your application, you will be issued an eligibility letter, granting you the authority to book your testing date.

Access the OAT Guide here (PDF)

 Where do I take the OAT?

The OAT is offered year-round at Prometric Test Centers throughout the U.S. and Canada. Once you have received your eligibility letter confirming that your test application has been accepted, you must contact Prometric to secure an appointment. We recommend doing this at least 60 to 90 days before your desired test date, since schedules fill up. Visit the Prometric website to see the testing location closest to you

Visit the Prometric site 

 OAT Retest Guidelines: Frequency and Policy

The policy governing the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) reexamination is firm and final, outlining specific criteria:

  • Candidates are required to wait a period of 60 days between attempts at the OAT. Within any given 12-month span, a maximum of four (4) attempts are allowed.
  • Should a candidate attempt the OAT three (3) or more times, they must seek official permission for any subsequent tests. This involves providing evidence of a recent optometry school application with each new request to take the test.
  • After a candidate's fifth attempt at the OAT, the policy restricts retesting to only once in every 12-month cycle.

Rescheduling or Canceling Your Exam: What You Need to Know

Should you need to reschedule or cancel your exam, it’s imperative to contact Prometric immediately. Reach out at 800.688.5804 or through the Prometric website. Ensure this is done more than 24 business hours prior to your appointment to avoid any issues. Please refrain from contacting the local test center directly, as they are not equipped to handle rescheduling or cancellations.

In the event of an emergency on the day of your exam, you’re required to submit a written request for consideration to the Department of Testing Services no later than 5 days after your scheduled test date. Emergencies that qualify for this consideration include, but are not limited to, sudden illness (with a doctor’s note or hospital record) or a death in the family on the day of the exam (with a death certificate, obituary, prayer card, or funeral program as proof). All documentation and requests should be directed to

Please be aware that canceling or rescheduling your exam comes with a fee payable to Prometric. Note that candidates who fail to appear for their scheduled exam without proper notice or are more than 30 minutes late will lose the entire testing fee.

The fees for rescheduling or canceling are as follows:

  • $70 if 30 or more days before your test date,
  • $70 if between 5 to 29 days before your test date,
  • $150 if 1 to 4 days before your test date.

Bear in mind that Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays do not count as business days for calculating these fees.

 Is it Possible to Obtain a Waiver for OAT Test Fees?

As of now, all fee waivers for the year 2024 have already been allocated. The following details are for your reference only.

In situations of significant financial difficulty, the OAT program offers a limited quantity of partial fee waivers each year. These waivers are designed to cover 50% of the OAT test fee. Please note that the waiver does not extend to additional fees incurred for rescheduling, cancelling test dates, or for score report requests made after the initial application. Eligibility for these partial fee waivers is determined on a first-come, first-served basis, provided applicants meet the required criteria and have furnished the necessary documentation.

Eligibility for a partial fee waiver requires that examinees:

  • Are attempting the OAT for the first time
  • Have never been granted a partial fee waiver before
  • Hold U.S. citizenship or are a resident alien
  • Can demonstrate financial hardship
  • Have been recipients of financial aid from their educational institution

When partial fee waivers are available, they can be requested through your PIN account. Simply log in, navigate to 'Submit Request', and then select 'Waiver Request'. Within this section, choose 'OAT' as the test for which you are seeking a waiver.

The OAT Program rigorously reviews each fee waiver request before making a final decision. Applicants will be informed via email about the decision, along with instructions on how to proceed with submitting an OAT application online. It is important to allow up to 10 business days for the review process of your partial fee waiver request.

Seeking Further Information?

Should you have inquiries beyond what is addressed in the OAT Guide, please reach out to the Department of Testing Services for further assistance.

Contact us via:

  • Phone: 1-800-232-1694
  • Email:
  • Mail: American Dental Association, Department of Testing Services, 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611

Begin with a Plan

Start by outlining a study schedule tailored to your weak points and sticking to it. Here’s how you can build a constructive plan:

  1. Assess Your Starting Point: Take a practice test to identify which areas need the most improvement.
  2. Create a Study Schedule: Allocate more time to challenging subjects while maintaining a balanced overall study plan.
  3. Set Clear Goals: Define what success looks like for each study session.

Key Strategies for OAT Success

1. Master the Material

Prioritize a deep comprehension of the material over simple memorization:

2. Simulate Real Test Conditions

Practice under actual exam conditions to become comfortable with the OAT’s computer-based format:

  • Time yourself while taking full-length practice exams. OAT practice tests and test modules from Prometric
  • Use identical breaks and pacing as you would in the actual test.

3.Concentrate on Improving Weak Areas

Dedicate additional effort to strengthen areas where your confidence is lower:

  • Divide complex subjects into smaller, more manageable portions.
  • Employ flashcards and mind maps to enhance your understanding and retention.

4. Enhance Reading and Quantitative Abilities

To excel in Reading Comprehension and Quantitative Reasoning, regular practice is pivotal:

  • Boost your reading pace and understanding by delving into scientific articles.
  • Familiarize yourself with mathematical principles and learn shortcuts for effective problem-solving.

5. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Don’t neglect your physical and mental health:

  • Ensure you get sufficient sleep and nutrition.
  • Allow time for relaxation and physical exercise to keep stress levels in check.

6. Seek Guidance

Consider an OAT prep course or tutor if self-study isn't enough:

  • Look for programs that track progress and provide adaptive resources.
  • Seek out mentors who have scored well on the OAT for insider tips.


Taking the OAT is a significant milestone on your path to optometry school, and adequate preparation is crucial. By understanding the structure of the exam, crafting a detailed study plan, and employing the outlined strategies, future optometrists can approach the OAT with confidence. Remember to maintain resilience, balance your personal well-being with study obligations, and stay focused on your goal of excelling in the field of optometry.

Begin your prep today and take the first step towards a successful career in eye care. Good luck!

Further Resources for OAT Takers

  • [Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO)](
  • OrgomanOATDestroyer
    • Remember, preparing for the OAT is a marathon, not a sprint. Support resources, consistency in your study habits, and confidence in your abilities will go a long way towards your success on test day.

      \#optometryadmissionstest #OATexam #optometryschool #futureoptometrists

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