What You Should Know — Optometry Admissions and SCCO

Timeline Strategy for Taking the OAT

I get this question all the time: “For SCCO’s rolling admissions cycle, when would be a good time to take the OAT?” Of course it would be best if applicants take the OAT well before the admissions cycle opens on July 1st.  That being said,  I put together this FAQ that lists all the points applicants should consider when planning their timeline strategy for taking the OAT, especially if they will need to take the OAT during the admissions cycle:

  • SCCO uses rolling admissions which means that instead of interviewing all applicants and making decisions at one time, the process of admitting the incoming class is extended over the entire admissions cycle (July 1 to March 15).
  • SCCO reviews your application as soon as it is received from OptomCAS. If an applicant qualifies academically, he or she is offered an interview. If the applicant interviews successfully, he or she is immediately offered a seat in the incoming class.
  • As accepted applicants accept offers, putting deposits down to hold their seats, the class fills throughout the cycle. To insure success with rolling admissions, applicants are encouraged to apply early.
  • There is a 90 day mandatory wait to retake the OAT; therefore, it is advised that the OAT be taken before the opening of the admissions cycle on July 1. With this strategy and should it be necessary for the applicant to retake the OAT for better scores, there will be ample time to retake the OAT and still not be too late for success with a rolling admissions cycle.
  • The OAT is given at Prometric Testing Centers. Make an appointment to take the OAT at a testing site near you by visiting www.prometric.com
  • The last date to take the OAT for any admissions cycle is March 1st.
  • If an applicant takes the OAT multiple times, only the best  set of scores will be evaluated. SCCO does not average OAT test scores from different test dates.
  • OAT scores expire after 2 years.  When filing your online application through OptomCAS, it is required that the OAT test date be no more than 24 months prior the beginning of the application season which always begins on July 1st of any given year.  For example, if you apply for the 2014-15 admissions cycle, an OAT test date would need to be within the time period of 24 months prior to July 1, 2014 for OAT test scores to be valid.
  • An applicant may apply through OptomCAS without having taken the OAT; however, an applicant will not be eligible for an interview invitation without OAT scores. It takes OptomCAS approximately 3-5 weeks to process an application and send it to the various optometry programs. On the other hand, OAT scores are routed to optometry schools directly from the agency who administers the OAT, which takes about one week. Bottom line: since it takes longer for the application to be cleared and sent by OptomCAS than it takes for official OAT scores to be available, to expedite the entire process, it would be better to go ahead and submit your application before taking the OAT.
  • Any application stays “open” all season meaning that an application can be updated with information coming in later like OAT scores, updated grades, LORs…etc.  Therefore, if an application is received before OAT test scores are available for download, it will be held awaiting official test scores to become available.
  • At the time  the OAT is taken, the applicant specifies an institutional code to designate which schools will have access to the applicant’s OAT scores.  Make sure to specify the correct code for Southern California College of Optometry (SCCO) at Marshall B. Ketchum University. (A common error is made when an applicant, meaning to select SCCO selects SCO, the Southern College of Optometry).
  • An application cannot advance in the review process without official OAT scores. Unofficial OAT scores issued to the test-taker upon completion of the exam at the testing center will not suffice. Snip_Timeline Strategy

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