OAT Preparation Advice from OAT Test-Takers

This is a discussion taken from SCCO’s Facebook Group for Pre-optometry Students: 


Question:  Has anyone ever heard of Exam Krackers? I know their audio osmosis mp3 was recommended to me but I haven’t heard much about their study materials.  Has anyone used this to prepare for the OAT?  Any other general tips you can recommend?

Answer#1:  The “big” Kaplan book (a.k.a. The “fat” Kaplan book; a.k.a. The “thick” Kaplan book) is a more in depth review of all of the CONCEPTS covered on the OAT. It does not have full practice tests in it. YOU CANNOT BUY IT FROM A STORE (ex. Borders, B&N, Amazon, etc.). It is given as a a part of the Kaplan OAT Review Class along with a lot of other material. It is >1200 pages long and is divided into sections covering quantitative reasoning, bio, gen chem, organic, and physics material, with a few practice reading comprehension sections. Once you see it, you will know why it is called the “big” Kaplan book. 🙂

I would suggest using your networking resources if you want to obtain one of these books. I knew a few students in my graduating class who got into optometry school and they were glad to “will” me their materials. If your school has a pre-optometry club, maybe past members who already took the OAT, have prep material like this they don’t mind parting with. Better yet, you could also ASK them what worked best for them and how they would approach the exam if they could do it over. You will never know unless you ask!

As I mentioned earlier, I am a non-traditional applicant and my undergraduate institution did not have a pre-optometry club. Perhaps this is something pre-optometry clubs could/should think about. Where are your past members now? What tips do they have to offer to get into optometry school? I’m sure they would be more than willing to help.

Answer #2:  PS— From what I understand, the OAT and the DAT (dental admissions test) are extremely similar. They cover the same exact material in the same amount of “depth” EXCEPT the DAT DOES NOT COVER PHYSICS. You need to study your physics well since it’s a separate section of the entire exam. DAT test takers have to take a “spatial reasoning” section that OAT test takers do not. There is a lot of DAT prep material (more that OAT prep material, in my opinion) out there. I tried studying from some MCAT material and I got overwhelmed since it was guiding me through a different type of exam. Do what you will but you could also try to track down a “big” Kaplan DAT book and disregard the spatial reasoning section while studying physics on your own. Again, use all of the FREE material on opted.org!!!!

Answer #3:  I’ve just finished completing some of the practice tests on OAT Achiever, and I’m impressed with the difficult and challenging questions on the practice tests. The OAT Achiever allows you to pinpoint your weaknesses because it analyzes which sections you need help on based on the OAT outline. This program does an excellent job of simulating the actual test conditions with a timer also. You also have the option of reviewing the answers to all of the test questions. I would highly recommend this program as an OAT diagnostic tool (pretest and post test). 

Answer #4:  I’ve been doing research on which material to get and I’m pretty set on the following:

  1.  OAT Destroyer http://www.orgoman.com/oatdestroyer.html  – I thought it was review material at first, but it seems to consist of comprehensive practice problems with explanations. A lot of students recommend it at the Student Doctor Network Forums. Here’s a direct link to the Optometry section of the forums. (http://forums.studentdoctor.net/forumdisplay.php?f=128
  2.  OAT Achiever http://www.oatachiever.com/ – It’s three computer based OAT tests. Once again, highly recommended on SDN.
  3.  OAT Test Flashcards  http://www.flashcardsecrets.com/oat/  – These seem like they would be very helpful to study from throughout the day when I don’t have time to carry around books or access to a computer.
  4. Crack the OAT https://secure.crackoat.com/order/more_information.php?product_id=26  – It’s extra material strictly for the QR (Quantitative Reasoning) section of the OAT. Supposedly it’s the hardest section? But at the same time others say if the SAT math sections were easy for you, this should be ok too.

Answer #5:  After successfully surviving last week’s OAT administration, here are some of my post-test impressions of the OAT. In the Biology section, I felt that the questions on the real OAT were more general, and easier to answer than the sample test questions released by opted.org. Know the structure, function, and location of the different parts of the prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. For example, on the actual test, they may give you a photo of a specific part of a cell, and ask you the function of it. Another heavily tested topic is plants…know parts and function. After taking the real OAT, I would also recommend reading Barron’s Biology the Easy Way. This book should provide you with an adequate preparation for the real OAT biology section.

The general chemistry section on the real OAT was fairly simple. In my opinion, one of the more difficult questions was about rate of reaction…know how the coefficients affect the rate of disappearance of reactants and appearance of products. The nuclear chem problems were fairly simple because you can logically answer a half-life question without memorizing the actual formula. On the general chem portion, most problems will ask you to provide a set-up for the final answer, since you cannot use a calculator on the exam. Again, I would recommend using Kaplan’s MCAT prep book.

The O-Chem section of the OAT was similar to the practice test provided on opted.org. If you scored fairly well on the practice test released by opted.org then you should do fairly well on the actual O-Chem portion of OAT. Knowing the O-Chem content provided by opted.org will definitely help you on the real test. For instance, you should know the differences between substitution vs elimination reactions, substitution vs addition reactions, Sn1 vs Sn2, etc. Be prepared to know the names of specific reactions and how to identify them such as aldol condensation, diels alder, etc. Know how to predict products involving reactions such as Markovnikov and Anti-Markovnikov additions. Again, I would highly recommend using Kaplan’s MCAT prep book.

The physics portion of the OAT test was fairly straightforward..don’t worry about long calculations…you’ll need to memorize and understand the physics equations on the OAT outline. There’s plenty of conceptual physics questions. Again, Kaplan does an excellent job preparing you for this portion of the test.

Finally, the most difficult part of the OAT in my opinion was the quantitative reasoning section on the actual OAT. Of all the sections on the OAT, I spent the most time doing plenty of timed QR practice tests. After doing many QR problems under timed conditions, I’ve realized that there just isn’t enough time to complete all of the questions asked in 45 mins. Once you’ve practice enough problems, you’ll discover your own strategy to do well on this section. Again, if you read my other posts, the problems on the QR section are similar to the SAT math section. I’ve used the “Crack the OAT” QR problems as practice. The “Crack the OAT (CTO)” service will provide you with 25 timed QR practice tests with solutions. Beware that the provided solutions are sometimes not very detailed, so it is difficult to follow their reasoning to the answer. In some trig problems, there weren’t any detailed answers provided. Although there were some cons to CTO, it’s advantages outweigh its disadvantages. My actual QR OAT score was a lot higher than my practice QR score on the CTO. After a lot of practice, I was very satisfied with my real QR score. The company guarantees a full refund if you don’t score above a 280 on the QR section after using their product. CTO also allows you to test only on the topics that you are weak on. For example, you do a practice test on all algebra problems if that is your area of weakness. Again, I would highly recommend using CTO as practice in addition to another reference text…and focus on your weak areas! Please see my previous post about a specific book that I used that better helped me prepare for the more difficult & challenging QR word problems. Finally, you will definitely see your confidence grow and scores improve on the real OAT if you have done all the correct preparation.

One final note: These are my impressions/opinions about the real OAT…I cannot guarantee your test will be like mine.  Good luck everyone!


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