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YU: CHEM 2020, CHEM 3020; UofT: CHM138H, CHM247S, CHM249S, CHM348F, CHM343S, CHM342F; McM: 2OA3, 2OB3, 2OC3, 2OD3, 3D03, 4D03; UWO: CHEM2213a, CHEM2223b.
* YU: York University;
UofT: University of Toronto;
McM: McMaster University;
UWO: University of Western Ontario
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The Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) is a standardized test conducted by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). It is very helpful for applicants to score well on the Optometry Admissions Test. All optometry schools use the test score as a factor to some degree or another. It is one of the important factors that are used in the selection process. A high score will definitely increase chances of acceptance.
OAT is designed to measure a potential optometry student’s academic ability through reading, comprehension, problem solving, and knowledge in scientific basics like chemistry, biology, and physics. The OAT measures an applicant’s skills and knowledge for consideration into optometry schools and colleges, and is sponsored by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). Currently, all optometry schools in the United States, Puerto Rico and 1 in Canada require OAT scores to be submitted with the application before the deadline.
On admissions data for the Fall of 2008 for the 17 optometry schools in the United States and Puerto Rico, 8 of the schools considered the OAT as a significant factor in the admission process.
Many schools have a minimum OAT score for the Total Science section, as well as an overall score. The others schools encourage those with scores under 300 to retake the test. There is no limit to the number of times the test can be taken, but there is a 90 day waiting period between each test. Scores are reported after the test and applicants can have their scores transmitted electronically to the schools they are applying to.
The OAT is made up of 220 multiple-choice questions distributed into four different sections: Survey of the Natural Sciences, Reading Comprehension, Physics, and Quantitative Reasoning Tests. The total time for the test is 3 hours and 55 minutes, but can be extended to 4 hours and 35 minutes due to an optional 15 minutes for a starting tutorial, 15 minutes for a break after the first two sections, and 10 minutes for an end of the test survey.
Table 1. Summary of OAT (Total Length: 4.25 hours)*
The OAT consists of four sections. For each section, the candidates' raw score is based on the number of correct answers only. Those are then converted to 8 standard scores based on group statistics. Each standard score ranges from 200 to 400. The three sections within Natural Sciences are initially scored separately, so there are 6 scores. An arithmetic average of these is 6 is also reported, the Academic Average, and a composite score of all science sections is also calculated (Natural Sciences and Physics).
There is no limit on the number of times allowed to take the test but only the four most recent scores and total times taken are reported to optometry schools of choice. The OAT is administered twice a year around October and February. Deadlines for applications are usually 6 weeks before the actual test date with late applications accepted about a month before the actual OAT test. Online applications are available at the ASCO website.
Plan to take the OAT after completion of at least two years of college education, which should include courses in Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Physics. Most students would like to complete three or more years of college prior to taking the exam.
Students need to take the OAT prior to February 1st to have scores submitted to the Centralized Application Service center prior to admission deadline of February 15th but since we have a rolling admission process, the class may have reached its capacity prior to receiving these scores.
An effective strategy for OAT preparation is to study the "easy" sections such as Biology and Quantitative Reasoning, and Reading Comprehension by yourself or attending the big preparation classes. This is because the major task to prepare for the Biology section is to find a good material and memorize the key points. The Quantitative Reasoning section covers only basic mathematical skills students learned in high school, including calculus, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry, and some word problems that use applied mathematics. For the Reading Comprehension section, where you are given three lengthy passages, each followed by questions about them to be completed in 60 minutes. While no prior knowledge of the topics presented is required, the material is typical of the types of reading in dental and basics sciences that one would find in dental school. A preparation class would be great choice for students to organize and analyze the material for this section.
However, most students found that the sections such as General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Physics are challenging. Self-study or attending big classes does not help them improve their test results within short time. Instead, one-on-one or small group instructing sessions provided by Dr. Ma at MPC Education Centre works very efficiently for individual student with different knowledge level. Dr. Ma is highly knowledgeable and experienced in instructing these subjects and training students in preparation the tests such as MCAT, DAT, PCAT and OAT, etc.
The Optometry Admission Testing Program may include pretest questions in some test sections. Un-scored pretest questions are included on the test in order to ensure that these questions are appropriate before they are included among the scored items. If pretest questions are included in a test section, additional time will be allotted to that section of the test. Pretest questions are intermingled with the scored questions; therefore it is important to answer all questions.
Section 1: Survey of the Natural Sciences
There is 90 minutes to complete the first part, the Survey of the Natural Sciences section, consisting of 100 questions. This section includes biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry including: Biology: Cell and Molecular Biology Diversity of Life: Biological Organization and Relationship of Major Taxa, Vertebrate Anatomy and Physiology: Structure and function of Systems, Developmental Biology, Genetics, Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior. General Chemistry: Stoichiometry and General Concepts, Gases, Liquids and Solids, Solutions, Acids and Bases, Chemical Equilibria, Thermodynamics and Thermochemistry, Chemical Kinetics, Oxidation-Reduction Reactions, Atomic and Molecular Structure, Periodic Properties, Nuclear Reactions, Laboratory, Organic Chemistry: Mechanism, Structure, and Stability of Intermediates), Chemical and Physical Properties of Molecules and Organic Analysis, Stereochemistry, Nomenclature, Individual Reactions of the Major Functional Groups and Combinations of Reactions to Synthesize Compounds; Acid-Base Chemistry, Aromatics and Bonding.
Section 2: Reading Comprehension
Reading Comprehension is the second portion and has a time limit of 50 minutes to answer 40 questions spread across three reading passages. Examinees will need to be able to read the passages, analyze, retain information and apply ideas on material that is at a level comparable to first year optometry school. After this is an optional 15 minute break.
Section 3: Physics
The third part of the OAT is the 40 question Physics section that must be complete in 50 minutes. The material covered are concepts, formulas, and rules taught in the first year of undergraduate classes and include the following: units and vectors, linear kinematics, statics, dynamics, rotational motion, energy and momentum, simple harmonic motion, waves, fluid statics, thermal energy and thermodynamics, electrostatics, D.C. circuits, magnetism, optics, and modern physics.
Section 4: Quantitative Reasoning Tests
The last 45 minutes of the OAT are saved for the Quantitative Reasoning section with 40 questions covering material taught in college level. This section measures the ability to perform math related calculations using formulas, word problems, conversions, probabilities, and other topics including: Mathematical Problems: Calculus, Algebra - equations and expressions, inequalities, exponential notation and logarithms, absolute value, ratios and proportions and graphical analysis; Numerical calculations - fractions and decimals, percentages, approximations, and scientific notation; Probability and Statistics; Geometry; Trigonometry, and numerical reasoning problems.
Examinees will have a total of 275 to 300 minutes to complete the tutorial, four tests in the OAT battery, post test survey, and have the option for a 15-minute break after completing the second test in the battery. If an examinee chooses to take the break, the testing session will resume automatically after 15 minutes have elapsed.
The OAT has a scoring system that converts the raw score of each section to a standard score. The raw scores are the sum of all correct answers, with no deductions for wrong or unanswered questions within each section and part. These numbers are converted to a standard score between 200 and 400, with the mean set at 300. For example, if the mean is set at 300 for the testing period and an individual gets 20 questions correct on the Biology sub-section, their score for that sub-section would be 300. If they score 30 correct answers, their score would be 370 for the sub-section. There are several scores that are calculated including Biology, General Chemistry, Physics, Total Sciences, and total overall so it is possible to have a lower organic chemistry score but a higher overall.
The score scales for OAT sub-tests were changed on May 1, 2009, which affected a lot of students entering that year because the comparison to scores from other years would not yield an adequate result. Schools could not compare an applicant’s score to past scores prior to May 1, 2009 without losing some accuracy. Percentiles are given along with the score to show a correlation to the raw score and standard score.