Sponsored by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry and developed by the American Optometric Association to measure comprehension of scientific information and your overall general academic ability, the OAT can be taken while you are still taking undergrad classes-but make sure you've completed your biology, chemistry, and physics classes first. The test can be taken year-round so visit www.opted.org to register.
Sections of the OAT
The OAT has four main areas: natural sciences (biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry), reading comprehension, physics, and quantitative reasoning. Here's a breakdown of each section:
- Natural sciences: 100 questions to be completed in 90 minutes; content includes a mixture of biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry questions
- Reading comprehension: Consists of three passages followed by a section of 40 questions; topics tested include ability to find main idea, ability to process information, and ability to read and understand dense passages
- Physics: 40 multiple-choice questions to be answered in 50 minutes; topics tested include vectors, energy and momentum, thermodynamics, magnetism, and optics
- Quantitative reasoning: 40 questions to be answered in 45 minutes; topics tested include arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry
Understanding Your Score
After taking the computerized test, you'll immediately be given an unofficial score report. The report will have eight scores:
- Quantitative reasoning
- Reading comprehension
- General chemistry
- Organic chemistry
- Total science (natural sciences and physics scores combined)
- Academic average
To calculate your score, the OAT measures a raw score on each test based on the number of questions answered correctly, and then converts this into a standard score between 200 and 400. OAT scores are always rounded to the nearest ten.
Preparing for the OAT
The OAT is a rigorous test that many students take during their junior year of undergrad study. In order to receive the score you want, make sure you set time aside to prepare yourself for the test. Students who score high on the OAT have put in the effort to do well and don't rely solely on any gimmicks or tricks from Web sites or study guides. Study the right topics, take practice tests, and review your notes from classes you took in college to get the best score.
For each of the sections on the OAT, here are a few things you should know backwards and forwards before taking the exam:
- Natural sciences and physics: Understand the concepts as a whole and don't be fooled by the might-be-obvious-but-might-be-wrong answers
- Reading comprehension: Find the key words and context clues to help make the right choice; keeping a good reading pace will help with time management as well
- Quantitative: Master your multiplication and other arithmetic skills; double-check your knowledge of prime numbers, exponents, and square roots
By Natalie Pezzenti, staff writer