Optometry Admission Test (OAT)

The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) is designed and
maintained by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). This
exam is used by all optometry schools as part of their admissions process.

Who is Eligible?

Those that successfully complete the OAT program usually have at least two years of college education that include courses in general and organic chemistry and biology.

It is suggested that you take the OAT well before your optometry school’s admission cycle.

There is a fee of $465 to take this exam that must be paid during the application process.

When and Where is it Taken?

After your application has been approved, you will be sent an email with an invitation to schedule your exam and the instructions to do so. These can be scheduled year-round, Monday through Friday and some Saturdays, except on holidays.

The OAT is a computer-administered exam given by Prometric Testing Centers. They have locations scattered throughout the U.S. and its territories, as well as, Canada. A complete list of available dates, times, and locations will be provided during your registration process.

While you can choose a testing session that is most convenient for you, it is recommended that you register as soon as possible to secure your preferred session. Space may be limited at some locations and is filled on a first come, first serves basis.

If you wish to reschedule or cancel your exam appointment, you may do so by contacting Prometric at least 24 hours before your original testing session. There is a fee for this service. After that time period, your changes will be accepted, and you will have to forfeit all fees paid.

Special accommodations can be provided for those with disabilities or who may not be able to test under normal circumstances. This request must be made during your registration process, and proper supporting documentation will be demanded.

What Should I Bring?

It is essential that you arrive at the testing center at least 30 minutes early to complete a required check-in process. If you arrive late, you will not be allowed to test that day and will have to reschedule, forfeiting all fees paid.

You will need to provide at least two current and valid forms of identification at the testing center. One must be a primary/photo ID containing a recent and recognizable photo. Both this ID and your secondary ID must contain your signature and full name as it appears on your application to be allowed entrance into the facility.

No personal items are allowed in the testing area and must be kept in a designated locker for the duration of the exam. If they are found in the testing area during the exam, you will be immediately dismissed and your scores voided. These items include:

  • Cell phones
  • Food and drinks
  • Calculators
  • Paper, pencils, and study materials
  • Bags and purses
  • Head coverings and coats or jackets
  • Watches and jewelry

Two note boards and markers will be given to you at the testing center. An on-screen calculator will also be made available to you during the quantitative reasoning section of the exam.

What is Covered?

The OAT is made up of 230 multiple-choice questions divided into four main sections. Some of those will be unidentified pretest items and will not count towards your score.

Below is a brief description of each section along with the number of questions included.

Survey of Natural Sciences (100 questions/90 minutes)

Biology (40 questions)

In this first subsection, you will be asked about genetics, evolution, ecology and behavior, developmental biology, structure and function of body systems, cell and molecular biology, and diversity of life.

General Chemistry (30 questions)

Here, you will be tested on your knowledge of types of matter, chemical kinetics, atomic and molecular structures, stoichiometry and general chemistry concepts, oxidation-reduction reactions, lab basics, periodic properties, and nuclear reactions.

Organic Chemistry (30 questions)

This subsection will deal with varying mechanisms, nomenclature, stereochemistry, chemical and physical properties of molecules, aromatics and bonding, and acid-base chemistry.

Reading Comprehension (50 questions/60 minutes)

In this section, you will be given three reading passages about various scientific subjects and then be asked questions about your ability to comprehend such information.  

Physics (40 questions/50 minutes)

The physics section will ask questions involving statics and dynamics, rotational motion, energy and momentum, waves, thermal energy, D.C. circuits and optics, units and vectors, and linear kinematics.

Quantitative Reasoning (40 questions/45 minutes)

This section will assess your skills in the areas of algebra, data analysis, quantitative comparison, probability and statistics, interpretation, and word problems.

You will have five hours and five minutes to complete all questions with a break after the second section of the exam.

How is it Scored?

Your scores are calculated by taking your raw score (number of correctly answered questions) and converting it to a scaled score based on the difficulty of all the items on your exam version. Scores can range from 200-400 and are reported in increments of 10.

You will receive your unofficial score report at the end of your testing session at the Prometric site. This will include your scaled score only. Your official score report will electronically be sent to your OAT account within three to four weeks of your testing session. A copy of this will also be sent to any optometry schools that were indicated on your application.

Each school sets its own minimum passing score. However, admission is not based on this exam alone. If you have failed or not met your schools minimum passing score, you can retake it by submitting a new application and fee. you must also wait for a period of 90 days from your last attempt. After your third attempt, it is required that you gain permission to test again and you can only test once per calendar year.

How Can I Prepare for the Optometry Admission Test?

That’s a great question.  We’ve broken down the answer into three parts.

  1. Do yourself a favor and study.  Do not walk in unprepared. We have recommended prep materials below, but that only helps if you actually try.  Plus, studying is actually proven to be the best antidote to test anxiety.
  2. Take care of yourself.  Make sure you’re eating well, exercising, and sleeping.  All of these things are scientifically linked to brain performance.  If you take care of your body, you’ll be helping your grades.
  3. Get a study guide or set of flashcards.  Some people study better a certain way. Find your study strengths and make the most of them.  We’ve tried to make it easy for you by tracking down the best study guide and flashcard set for your exam.  Below you’ll see links to both!

Study Guide




Last Updated: November 9, 2023