OAT 2017: Reading Comprehension Section!

This is Part 3 of a series of breakdown posts that will outline the OAT 2017!

Let’s dive into the Reading Comprehension section, which is the second longest section of the test, both in time and in number of questions!


Reading Comprehension is the second section of the OAT 2017!

There are 3 passages with 50 questions and it’s 60 minutes long.


While this section does not require specific prior scientific knowledge, OAT 2017 is testing how well you can comprehend and analyze the dense scientific information (quickly). The passages are science-based written like articles and all the information needed will be in the passage.


Some student say the reading comp section is the hardest to study for, since you just read the passage and answer questions the day of the exam so how do you prepare? Practice!

These are long and densely scientific passages and being able to read and breakdown them down efficiently is a skill you can hone! Possibly the most difficult part of the reading comp section is the limitation on time so in your preparation utilize time restraints! With the time allotted of 60 minutes, you should be spending about 20 minutes on each passage. But then of course you gotta keep in mind that not all the passage are the same length too!


Remember with OAT Cracker you can take Read Comp timed practice tests along with tests on all the other OAT 2017 sections. Until next breakdown… Practice Practice Practice and I know you can ACE IT! 🙂

OAT 2017: Introduction Guide to the Optometry Admission Test!

This is Part 1 of a series of breakdown posts that will outline the OAT 2017!

We’ve actually done a series like this before but the test has gone through some changes and here at OAT Cracker we like to keep you updated to make sure test day is the best day! First of all we’ll focus on the specifics of the OAT itself and then in upcoming posts we will discuss each of the sections in detail individually.

The Optometry Admission Test is designed by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) to assess your readiness for optometry school and is used by all U.S. programs in the application process as a factor in their decision.


The OAT 2017 is a monstrous marathon of an exam with a wide scope of testing topics and clocking in at nearly 5 hours!


What’s an OATPIN?

First thing is first you’ll need an OAT PIN (Personal Identification Number) for authentication for all Optometry Admission Test applications and official score report requests. Before you can even apply to take the OAT, you must obtain a PIN aka an OATPIN. Important: If you have ever taken the OAT before a PIN may have already been assigned to you and you can retrieve it here. If you are a brand new to the OAT entirely you can register for a PIN here.


Applying to take the OAT

With your OATPIN you can now apply to take the OAT here. Note: once you have been approved to take the exam you have a six-month window to do it after which you’ll have to reapply. If you wish to retake the OAT you have to wait at least 90 days and if you feel the need to take it more than three times you have to gain special permission. Plus with each retake you’ll have to reapply to take it and pay the test fee again. Speaking of test fee…


$ Cost of taking the OAT $

Currently the test fee is $450 and that includes sending official score reports to the up to 5 schools you specify on your OAT application. If you want your official OAT scores sent to an additional school you didn’t list on the application it’s $36 each. The $450 fee is non-refundable and non-transferrable so pick a date and stick to it! If you must reschedule, well more fees for you:


*Notice: The test fee changes as of July 1,2017 are now updated in this post!


Scheduling a test date

Once your OAT application is approved you’ll receive email confirmation and only then can you schedule your test with Prometric. You can take the test year-round at Prometric Test Centers in your area. Prometric administers quite a few different computer-based tests like the OAT, GRE, MCAT, etc. and depending on the size of test centers, the day you wish to take the OAT can fill up so schedule ASAP!


What’s on the OAT?

As mentioned earlier, there are four sections to the Optometry Admission Test and we will discuss each in detail in upcoming breakdown posts. There are as followed:

1) Survey of Natural Sciences (100 Questions)

2) Reading Comprehension (50 Questions)

3) Physics (40 Questions)

4) Quantitative Reasoning (40 Questions)


How long is the OAT?

Total test time is around 3.5 hours but there’s an optional 15-minute tutorial (to get you familiar with using the test interface), an optional 15-minute break, and an optional 15-minute survey after the test, so could be closer to 5 hours. Here’s the test schedule:


If you really need an additional break the timer on your test will not stop therefore try your best not! With proper practice practice practice and a goodnight’s sleep you can handle no extra breaks in your OAT 2017 test day no problem.


Can I use scratch paper?

The test center will provide two note boards and two fine tip markers to use during the test. Scratch paper, pencils, or markers that have not been provided by the testing center are prohibited. The note boards cannot be used as measuring devices and cannot be folded, bent, distorted, or mutilated in any way and you can’t touch the monitor during testing with the boards. All items must be returned to the test administrator before leaving the test center.


OAT Scores

We outlined the OAT Scores on the blog before so check it out!

Your scores are based on the number of correct responses, which means you’re not penalized for guessing so that means don’t leave any question blank! You will get an unofficial score as soon as you finish the test and official scores are available about 3 weeks later. OAT scores on made on a scale from 200-400 so there’s no passing or failing. Some schools require a specific score for competitive consideration so be sure to check with them and aim high!


What’s Next?

This breakdown to the OAT is really an outlined introduction the official ASCO OAT Guide that you should definitely check out in full here. Remember practice is key so keep on with OAT Cracker and check out some other pertinent OAT Cracker blog topics; for instance…

OAT Study Tips

OAT Test Day Tips


We will keep you updated and in the loop with any other future OAT 2017 changes. That’s all for now!

Get out there, study up, and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

Applying to Optometry School: OptomCAS 2017 is OPEN!

As of June 29th the 2016 – 2017 cycle of the OptomCAS is officially open!

If you are interested in going to optometry school next year, it is time to begin the application process! The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) uses the Optometry Centralized Application Service (OptomCAS) as the general web-based application to submit applications to the all optometry schools in the U.S.


Keep in mind decision on admission comes completely from the schools and programs you are applying to and not from OptomCAS; they are only a service you submit your applications and transcripts through.




Although the OptomCAS cycle is open from now until June 1, 2017 remember you’ll need to meet specific optometry program deadlines that you are applying to. This means you must not only complete and submit the OptomCAS by those deadlines but also be sure to get in transcripts, letters of recommendation, and any secondary applications specific schools may require as well.


First you’ll to create an account with OptomCAS here. You’ll use you’re the username and password you create to login, save, edit, and submit your application(s). Be sure to read all instructions carefully and to proofread everything you are submitting because this is surely not a task to be taken lightly!


Completely the OptomCAS costs $165 and that includes submitting your application to one school. Then it is an additional $65 for each school you choose to send your application to after that.

So to add that up it’ll look like this…

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 12.32.19 AM

In addition, specific schools may include secondary applications resulting in secondary application fees. Plus considering possible expenses for traveling to different schools for visits and interviews, the whole application process can really add up so you’ll want to really do your research to narrow down the programs you want to apply to!


With all the expense and stress of applying to optometry school, save yourself some trouble and check out OAT Cracker for you OAT prep and stay tuned to the blog for more topics on the application process like Personal Statement WritingGetting Letters and Recommendation and prepping for The Interview! That’s all for now!


Happy Applying!

OAT Breakdown: Scores!

This is a BONUS addition to our series breaking down the Optometry Admissions Test.

      Be sure to check out the rest of the series on each section of the OAT in the blog!


A while back in own OAT Breakdown: Introduction Guide to the OAT we briefly talked on the subject of the scoring the OAT but now it gets its very own breakdown post to cover it all!

So let’s get down to it, shall we?


During the test…

Quick Important Reminder: your scores are based on the number of correct responses and you are not penalized for incorrect answers. So…

Do Not Leave A Question Unanswered!

After you’ve exhausted 98% of the time allotted and the questions you do know are doubled checked, it’s time for educated best guesses!


What is a good score?

The OAT is scored on a scale of 200 – 400 thus the 50th percentile is at a score of 300.

It’s difficult to pinpoint a standardized “good” score because in the application process many components are in play along with your OAT scores. Perhaps instead it’s wise to refer to the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry’s (ASCO) Profile of the 2015 Optometry Entering Class here in PDF form. You can see the range of scores across the different optometry programs and decide based on all the information what a good score looks like for you specifically; accompanied by things like for example you GPA.


In the case of low scores…

Your OAT scores are only a part of the equation of your application. However according to OptomCAS data, schools consider the “OAT Influence” to be either “Significant” or “Moderate” so nobody’s dismissing scores altogether.


If other portions of your application such as your GPA are very strong you can worry slightly less about not amazing OAT scores. For some perspective, the ASCO folks say the average GPA of the 2015 accepted and entering class of optometry students was 3.43 so if your scores hover around the median 300 I’d most definitely recommend a higher than average GPA.


Apply Early!

The earlier the better when applying with not-so-stellar OAT results. Some optometry programs accept applicants on a rolling basis (as they come in) so get in your apps early everyone and really definitely especially if you got lower scores.


Consider Retaking.

The blog already covered Retaking the OAT so if you’re contemplating a redo read up on what you need to know.


Practice, Practice, Practice!

The endurance and stamina needed just to get through test day is going to take some getting used to. Practice tests like with OAT Cracker are not only helpful with in content tested but also in getting used to computer testing and exposing you to the time needed for your brain to last through the whole exam.


Once you’ve figured out the subjects you need extra help on tackle them! With the OAT Cracker diagnostic tests you can pin point specific areas in each section that you’re weakest in. Then focus on those sections individually as seen below…

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 5.29.20 PM


There you have it folks. Go forth & PRACTICE!


Career Spotlight: Pediatric Optometry!

Hello all pre-optomers. We are bringing in the New Year with a new segment here on the blog, called Career Spotlight, where we showcase and explore different specializations, career settings, technological advances, and more in the exciting world of optometry!


With your four years of optometry school you are crowned the title of an OD or Doctor of Optometry then beyond that you can do some residency time or even more school in order to specialize and hone your skills and knowledge in specifically the area of optometry you desire.


For our first trick let’s talk… Pediatric Optometry!




I thought this would be a good place to start with specializations since it’s still a broad population of patients you will see: children. Even though pediatric optometry refers to the treatment of the “pediatric population”, this actually covers a broad age range with widely varying needs, including all those between birth and 18 years of age.


  • The early years of a child’s life is a critical time for vision development and monitoring. Despite the younger infant and toddler patients communication skills not fully developed testing and treatment are still possible through means like eye muscle movements, visual behavior, and dilation of the eyes.


  • Vision problems can have a profound effect on how children learn and often parents don’t notice vision problems in children until after a child exhibits problems reading the board at school. Annual vision testing starting at 6months old is widely recommended to best diagnose and treat vision problems and eye diseases.


  • If the pediatric optometry department sounds like a place for you check out the American Optometric Association’s Clinical Practice Guideline for Pediatric Eye and Vision Examination here to learn more about the scope and practices of working with this very special population.


So there you have it a small beginners look to the specialization of pediatrics!

Stay tuned for more of OAT Cracker’s exploration into the nooks and crannies of the optometry world!



The Benefits of Joining a Pre-Optometry Organization!

You may have seen a Pre-Optometry table at a student organization fair and thought something along the lines of…

“Hey I know all about applying for optometry school and I got a pretty good handle on the OAT so I don’t need those meetings and membership fees”

…but let’s take a closer look, shall we?


Gaining Relevant Experience

Simply putting down on your resume that you were a part of a pre-optometry society isn’t much help but there are plenty of ways to get involved in events and programs put on by the organization. Pre-optometry clubs offer a wide range of opportunities to be proactive in bettering yourself through things like for instance mentoring programs or gaining experience volunteering in the world of eye-health.


Leadership Opportunities

Within the ranks of the organization you can lead peers and drive the club to success.

Taking on a leadership role can be challenging but you gain the very valuable skills for a future in optometry in communication,negotiating, and problem solving just name a few. Besides leadership positions always look great on a resume.


Access to Resources

These organizations have resources you may not even be aware exist and in order to take advantage of them you have to be in the know! An example of one of the many perks of a pre-optom organization is that school representatives from the different optometry programs will schedule more visits should they anticipate an audience of pre-optometry students. That means many clubs will host these representatives to come and talk to the group and answer any specific questions or even host a whole panel of representatives to speak!


Figure Out Exactly What You’re Doing

Optometrists, ophthalmologists, and opticians OH MY!

So what exactly is the difference and what exactly do you really want to do? Student orgs may bring in a wide range of people in the optometry profession to talk on what they do and offer advice and help you discover exactly what you’d like to do someday!


Misery Loves Company

You’ll meet other pre-optom hopefuls to share the woes of preparing for optometry school!

With everything from the OptomCAS, the OAT, letters of recommendation, etc making connections with fellow students that know exactly what you’re going through can be both comforting and helpful! Chances are at least a few of the people will be in the same classes as you so you can study together share the wisdom! You can even share your wisdom about how great OAT Cracker is! 🙂


Check out your school’s pre-optometry society/club/organization here.

If there isn’t one on your campus, why not start one? Find out how here.


In review, pre-optom clubs both spread awareness of the optometry profession as well as help members stay on the track and offer things like college panels and mentoring programs! So why would you want to join? The better question is why not?

Should You Retake the OAT?

Maybe you freaked out on test day or did not meet a school’s minimum score requirement.

For whatever reason you may be considering retaking the OAT, deciding to retake really depends on you!


Here are things to consider when faced with decision to retest or not to retest…


The Rules.

First off, you need to know the official word on retesting from the ASCO.
• Required to submit a new application and fee for each retest. Reminder that fee is $330.
• Must wait at least 90 days from their last attempt.
• You can take the OAT three times and after that you have to apply for permission to test again, and from that point forward may retest only once per twelve-month period.


Do you have time?

With deadlines looming and the required 90 days between tests, keep in mind the timeline of receiving your scores. If too close to application due dates, retesting my not even be a feasible option.
Also you need to think about if you can devote the time needed to prep for the OAT in order to pick up your score to where you want it.


Prep Check.

Now that you’ve taken the test once and want to improve here are two important questions to ask yourself and answer honestly:

How did you prepare the first time?
What will you do differently in preparing this time?

Pinpointing the issues and deciding how to move forward in studying for the next time is key. Is it just that you didn’t prepare enough or was it the way you studied? We would suggest that the essential factor in improving you score is PRACTICE. With OAT Cracker practice tests you will get better at testing taking in general while also studying the content tested.


Postponing Instead.

If you having serious concerns before the big test day and are already thinking about retesting, consider postponing your test instead. This is most definitely the cheaper option; check out the different OAT rescheduling fees below. It is quite possible that you may feel like you an extra week or two and rescheduling could be better than having to wait the 3months that the ASCO require you wait between tests.

Rescheduling Fees



Basically the only acceptable answer to

‘Should I retake the OAT?’ is…

it depends.

If you go with retesting, remember with OAT Cracker you build on your test taking skills, time management, accuracy, confidence, and improve you OAT scores!

Applying to Optometry School: The Interview

The admissions process is long, stressful, and at times it feels like a lot of waiting and uncertainty. During this trying time there’s one clear sign in the process before a rejection or a congratulations letter that your doing well… getting the call or email about setting up an interview!

Reaching this point in the admissions process is exciting and promising but don’t blow it now!

You’re not in yet!

You look good enough on paper to make it this far but are you really what optom schools want?…

prove it


So let’s talk about the interview and how to ace it!


Professional Basics

You know these things but they are important enough to drill into your head some more now…



Projecting “FOMO”

FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out and you basically need to instill in a admissions committee the fear of missing out on what an awesome prospect you are! The interview is a two-way conversation and you not only what to be prepared to answer their questions, you want to be engaging and have questions of your own. You are interviewing them as a potential school as much as they are interviewing you as a potential student and you gotta make them want you. This may be your top choice school… but hey, you’re a catch and half and got other options too so you want them to win YOU over too. Note that this kind of confidence isn’t cocky but reflects a genuine and avid interest in what the program has to offer. You are evaluating the school as much as they are evaluating you.


Be Honest

Besides your Personal Statement, the interview is the only place to speak of yourself in your own words. The school is trying to further get to know YOU and understand your motivations towards optometry. Be prepared for pitfalls and flaws in your application, like a less than stellar GPA or OAT score, to come up in the interview. This is your chance to shine and reassure them of any doubts and reservations they may have about you as a candidate. Speaking openly and honestly in the interview is always to way to go.


Be “On” At All Times

Each optom program’s admission interview is unique. Some schools do one-on-one interview while others opt for a committee-style set up. Most include all day visits with tours of the school, meeting professors, etc. and it’s important to understand that the entire you’re there is essentially your interview. While you’re on campus act as if you’re always being watched and examined by the admissions committee because you basically are. Making a good impression all day can lead to another professor mentioning something to the committee for instance like, “hey that candidate seemed great and asked really interesting questions on the tour earlier”; keep in mind that this works vise-versa too! So you gotta be on at all times!


With these things in mind you can have a winning interview and be one step closer the congratulations acceptance letter! Until then you can work on getting a winning OAT score to get you to the interview step with OAT Cracker. Let us know in the comments if you have any questions or advice to add on interviews!


Happy Practicing!

OAT Breakdown: Quantitative Reasoning!

This is Part 5 of a series breaking down the sections of the Optometry Admissions Test.

In fact this is the final breakdown post in the series so go catch up on the rest!

For our grand finale…drumrollQuantitative Reasoning!

I mean come on the OAT doesn’t have to be complete torture…

OAT Torture

It’s actually pretty fitting that this the final breakdown post since Quantitative Reasoning is the last section you’ll face come OAT day! There will be 40 questions and you have 45 minutes!

In this section you will be given a basic four-function calculator like the one below:

Basic Calculator


The ADA says the Quant Reasoning section “measures the examinee’s ability to reason with numbers, to manipulate numerical relationships, and to deal intelligently with quantitative materials.” What does that mean exactly?

Here are the topics covered in the Quant Reasoning Section:

– Algebra including equations and expressions, inequalities, exponential notation,         absolute value, ratios and proportions, and graphical analysis

– Numeric calculations including fractions and decimals, percentages, approximations, and scientific notation

– Conversions including temperature, time, weight, and distance

– Probability and Statistics

– Geometry

– Trigonometry


Just like the other sections, time is the enemy and although the concepts may seem simple they can get tricky.

Try these two sample questions out:

OAT Quant Samples


Answers: 27) A and 28) B.

Remember in conquering the Optom Admission Test, practice is key and with OAT Cracker you can practice the right way with full-length practice tests that look and feel like the real thing!

Well that’s it for OAT section breakdown posts! Stay tuned for more on all things OAT, applying to optometry school, and other lame optometry jokes I can find!

Happy Practicing!

Applying to Optometry School: Letters of Recommendation!

Applying to optometry school is a long, trying process and while the OptomCAS for the Fall 2016 cycle won’t even open until around July, it’s time to start thinking about your application!

Summertime and these applications may seem like a ways away but…

RIGHT NOW is the time to be making the connections and developing relationships with future letters of recommendation writers!


You can’t just go around asking like this, “I’m great! Write about it!” *self-five*



Anyway here’s the lowdown letters of rec:


Who to Ask?

Professors are bombarded with students asking for letters so the key is to ask the people who know you best in order to get the best letters. This is the time to be making nice with future potential letter writers and develop the kind relationships that make for compelling letters.

Basically you are recruiting for your optom school application team, so choose them wisely!

Schools sometimes ask for specific letter writers (like one from a professor, one from an employer, etc.) so research your potential optometry schools’ requirements and plan accordingly.


Ask In Person.

Everyone really harps on this, as they should! You can set up an initial meeting through email to discuss the possibly of them writing a letter for you but you shouldn’t ask outright over the internet; that’s an in person question! Plus what’s that saying, “it’s harder to say no to someone in person”, right?


Ask Early.

As mentioned before professors are getting flooded with requests and you want a good letter not a rushed one! The absolute least amount of time is three weeks to ask for a good letter.


Go Asking Prepared.

This last tip will really set you apart from what could be many letter of recommendation a professor has to write. Go to your letter writers with all the materials they may need when writing a beautiful letter about you. These things can include your resume, CV, and at least a draft or bullet points from your personal statement. You want to set them up and make it easy for them to write a great letter so they can get a feel for exactly what you’re going for your application.


With these things in mind go forth and prosper setting yourself up for the best letters of recommendation possible. P.S. If you’re stressing about the OAT fast approaching, practice and ace it with OAT Cracker of course and stay tuned for more of our OAT Breakdown series!