OAT Test

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The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) is developed by the American Optometric Association (AOA) and sponsored by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). It is an important examination for those wishing to have a career in optometry. The AOA is an advocacy group representing over 30,000 optometrists in the United States. Beginning in 1987, the exam changed to a format that included four components. They are as follows: a survey of the natural sciences, reading comprehension, physics, and quantitative reasoning.[1]


OAT Study Guide

The OAT is taken by college students seeking admissions to optometry schools. It is used by admissions committees as a component of selection. Every optometry school in the United States mandates this test for applications. The test measures general intellectual ability and understanding of scientific information. Those students interested in this test should seek out an academic advisor who can provide more information regarding the exam. Typically, students must have already gone through one year of college and have taken biology, chemistry and physics classes prior to sitting for the exam. Most students do not take the test until after two years of undergraduate training.[2]

Test Administration

OAT Flashcards

There are several necessary steps one must take when applying to for the OAT exam. First, read the OAT guide which clearly outlines eligibility requirements, rules of conduct, and testing procedures. Next, apply to take the test through the ASCO and pay the $270 exam fee. In your application you are allowed up to 5 schools to receive official scores.[3] Once your application has been processed and accepted, you will receive an email notice giving you instructions for scheduling your test. The OAT is administered by Prometic Test Centers and the exam is given throughout the year. Please be advised that if you must reschedule your test date, additional fees will apply. If you cancel the appointment, no refund will be given. Test-takers are allotted a total of 4 hours and 40 minutes (including pre-test questions and breaks) to complete the computer-based examination. There are a total of 220 multiple-choice questions and each subsection of the test differs in the number of questions and the time allotted.

Test Format

Sections of the OAT Test
OAT Test Subject Areas # of Questions Time Limit
Survey of the Natural Sciences 100 90
Reading Comprehension 40 50
Physics 40 50
Quantitative Reasoning 40 45
Total 220 235

Test Structure

The Optometrist Admission Test is made up of 220 multiple choice questions. These questions consist of four major content areas: Survey of the Natural Sciences, Reading Comprehension, Physics, and Quantitative Reasoning. Each of these content areas will be scheduled sections during the testing period. There will also be optional tutorial, break, and survey periods. All of these together make up a testing period of four hours and forty minutes.[4]

Test Environment

Each candidate must arrive at the testing center at least half an hour before the test begins. The Prometric Testing Center requires at least two forms of ID, one of which needs to be a photo ID. Food, electronics, outerwear (jackets and gloves), and bags are not allowed in the testing area. For the Quantitative Reasoning section, an on screen calculator will be provided. Two note boards, a marker, and other supplies will be provided by the testing center.[5]

Test Content

The Natural Science questions will include the fields of Biology (40%), General Chemistry (30%), and Organic Chemistry (30%).

  • Sample Natural Science Questions:
  1. All but which of the following processes are ways of moving solutes across a plasma membrane?
    A. Osmosis
    B. Passive transport
    C. Active transport
    D. Facilitated diffusion
  2. Describe the correct outer shell electronic arrangement of phosphorous.
    A. 4s2 4p3
    B. 3s2 3p3
    C. 2s2 3p3
    D. 2s2 2p3
  • Sample Reading Comprehension Questions:
Questions 11 – 22 are based on the following passage:
The phylum Annelida, named for the Latin word anellus, meaning “ring”, includes earthworms, leeches, and other similar organisms. In their typical form, these animals exhibit bilateral symmetry, a cylindrical cross section, and an elongate body divided externally into segments (metameres) by a series of rings (annuli). They are segmented internally as well, with most of the internal organs repeated in series in each segment. This organization is termed metamerism. Metameric segmentation is the distinguishing feature of this phylum, and provides it with a degree of evolutionary plasticity in that certain segments can be modified and specialized to perform specific functions. For example, in some species certain of the locomotor parapodia, or feet, may be modified for grasping, and some portions of the gut may evolve digestive specializations.
  1. What is the purpose of this passage?
    A. To describe the annelid nervous system.
    B. To describe the annelid digestive system.
    C. To introduce distinctive features of annelid anatomy.
    D. To define metamerism.
    E. To tell readers about earthworms.
  2. What is meant by the term metamerism?
    A. Segmentation of the anatomy
    B. A series of rings
    C. Bilateral symmetry
    D. Evolutionary plasticity
    E. Specialization
  • Sample Physics Questions:
  1. Two cars driving in opposite directions collide. If you ignore friction and any other outside interactions, which of the following statements is always true?
    A. The total momentum is conserved.
    B. The sum of the potential and kinetic energy are conserved.
    C. The total velocity of the cars is conserved.
    D. The total impulse is conserved.
  2. Which of the following statements about electricity flowing through a circuit can be correctly derived from Ohm’s law?
    A. Increasing the voltage decreases the current if the resistance remains unchanged.
    B. Increasing the current and the resistance decreases the voltage.
    C. Increasing the current increases the voltage if the resistance is unchanged.
    D. Decreasing the resistance increases the current if the voltage remains unchanged.
  • Sample Quantitative Reasoning Questions:
  1. Which of the following fractions is halfway between 2/5 and 4/9?
    A. 2/3
    B. 2/20
    C. 17/40
    D. 19/45
  2. Find the sum. (3x2 + x + 3) + 8x2 + 5x + 16
    A. 7x2 + 29x2
    B. 11x2 + 6x + 19
    C. 30x + 19
    D. (3x2 + 3x) + 13x2 + 16

More free OAT practice test questions.


Unofficial scores are available immediately after taking the test, while official scores will be automatically sent within several weeks of the testing date to any school listed on the initial application. If a person desires more scoring reports, additional fees are required. Test scores range between 200 to 400 and are calculated in increments of 10.[6] They are based on the number of correct answers, so educated guesses will not count against a person’s score. While there is no set score to determine passage of the exam, some schools do list what range they expect. For example, the College of Optometry at the University of Missouri-St. Louis states that a score of 270 or above on most sections, and an overall average of 300, is likely to earn a test-taker an interview for admission. Ohio State University lists that a score between 320 and 340 is needed for admission.[7] If a person wishes to retake the exam, they are required to submit a new application and pay the testing fee again. A 90 day wait period is in effect for retests. Anyone wishing to take the exam beyond three attempts must submit in writing. This request must include evidence that you are planning on applying to an optometry school. The OAT does provide reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities. When initially filling out the application form, check the box requesting testing accommodations. Then an applicant must email a completed accommodation request form and an evaluation report from a licensed professional attesting to the disability. Very importantly, do not schedule your test time until you have received approval for specials accommodations.[1]

Answers to Sample Questions

Natural Science 1:A; 2:B; Reading Comprehension 1:C; 2:A; Physics 1:A; 2:C; Quantitative Reasoning 1:D; 2:B;

Related Tests


  1. ^ a b Optometry Test User Guide 26 February 2014
  2. ^ University of Missouri-St. Louis 26 February 2014
  3. ^ Western Kentucky University 16 March 2014
  4. ^ OAT Content Outline 19 June 2014
  5. ^ OAT FAQ 19 June 2014
  6. ^ University of Toronto 16 March 2014
  7. ^ Ohio State 22 March 2014