Planning a Study Schedule for the OAT

This is a discussion taken from
 SCCO’s Facebook Group for Pre-optometry Students.   Various methods of how to plan study time for the OAT are discussed.

Question:   I’m curious to know how people scheduled their time to study within 2-3 months or less. With my situation, I will be working at an Optometry office 35-40 hours a week starting in Dec, and I also know the holidays are a busy time of the year– my OAT test  is scheduled in February.

How did you use your time to study? Especially those who had other commitments (work, family, class etc.) I’ve heard things like 2 hours a day, from 4-6 hours a day. Some people studied every day or others gave themselves breaks too. I guess I’m looking for some perspective so I don’t burn myself out trying to study so hard.

Answer #1:  Studying for the OAT is different for everyone.  In my case it had been a few years since I had taken O Chem and gen chem so I found that I had to dedicate a lot more hours to refreshing myself on those two subjects. However, I had to keep reminding myself that the OAT has an entire section dedicated just to physics whereas bio/gen chem/o chem are all grouped together.

Anyway, I used the Kaplan MCAT study guides and went through all the sciences thoroughly one time around. Instead of giving myself a daily “time limit” I gave myself chapter limits, so every day was different in terms of the time I spent studying (one day I would do 1 long chapter another day I would do 2-3 short chapters). Giving myself mini-goals made it easier for me to feel accomplished for the day. Once I was done with my daily chapter(s) I was DONE for the day. I ended up studying 5 or 6 days of the week.

Also, if you break down all the sections ahead of time you can work everything into your work/holiday/study schedule. I took my OAT in January so I definitely understand the burden of the Holiday season and working full time while studying. It’s rough but getting a good OAT score is SOOOOOO worth it!

After I went through all the sections I made sure to leave a few weeks at the end to take a bunch of practice tests, and review tougher concepts or problems.  The practice tests helped so much! You can even break those down and take half the test one day and the other half the next day.  Although I would definitely do at least one run through of a full OAT.   So that’s my story and like I said before everyone uses a different method but this seemed to work for me. Good luck and if you have any more questions let us know!

Answer #2:   I schedule my test for a few months after graduation so I had a good 2 months or so to focus solely on the OATs.  However, I knew many friends who were in your situation, where they worked and encountered the holiday season as well!  The best advice I can give is set goals for yourself.  I agree with Answer #1 in that you should break up the sections.  Focus on each section for a week or two (or however much you want).  I took the Kaplan class, so I read over each section and did practice problems and tests. 2-3 hours each day sounds about right if you plan on working as well. Definitely do as many practice problems as you can!

Answer #3:  Don’t get discouraged.   A couple of months, depending on how you use them can be plenty of time.  I also had the Kaplan materials (not sure the class was as helpful as the materials), and sat in a library for 3-6 hours, 5 days a week for a little over a month. The thing to remember is, the test is never as hard as the practice questions. For this same reason, it’s important to get through all of the material, even if you don’t recall the same depth you had while taking those science courses. A great example, and pleasant surprise was my Reading Comp score: I continually scored in the 50% range on practice questions, and almost never finished in a test. On the real thing, I scored in the 86th percentile, and finished with 10 whole minutes to spare! The subject matter for a good percent of questions is pretty basic.

Answers #1 and #2 were mentioning the holiday season.  This can actually work to your advantage if you take any time you would be studying for classes and replace it with library OAT time. Just try your best to stay motivated, and don’t be discouraged 🙂

BTW, I love the cooperative nature of optometry 🙂

Answer #4:  Glad to hear that you are well on your way to tackling the OATs! Just know that there will always be other commitments to life, it is not just about studying! It takes time to really get the hang of balancing work, school, and personal life… but the great thing about that is in a few months, you will have finished your OATs, made a lot of money (from work), and will be one step closer to becoming an optometrist! Just like what Jackie and Mel said– it will be soooooo worth it!

So in terms of studying, I was working part-time at an optometry office and gave myself 3 months to prepare for the OATs. I did this during the summer time, so it was hard to get back into the study mode. However, I had a study buddy to help motivate me. It doesn’t have to be another pre-optometry friend, it can be dental, medical, pharmaceutical, or just a friend taking classes at your college!

I used Kaplan’s OAT books, OAT Destroyer, and OAT Achiever. Below are some sites if you’re interested!

I studied for at least 3-4 hours a day based on how many sections or chapters I wanted to complete. As a method to keep focused, I would study one subject for 1 hour and change subjects again in the next hour. After taking breaks or doing errands, by the end of the day I would go back to the sections I reviewed and do more practice problems. Practice problems are KEY to helping you focus on your weaker areas. When doing practice problems, I also wrote down formulas or certain acronyms that often came up.  Don’t focus too much on one thing but rather make sure you have a basic understanding of all subjects!






1 reply »

  1. Hey Betty…these articles were written by pre-optometry students back in 2009 on my Facebook Group for Pre-optometry students. I reproduced them here. Sorry, they can’t respond to your comment. Dr. Jane Ann Munroe, Director of Admissions for SCCO

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