OAT Preparation on a Budget

Another great information exchange on the topic of preparing to take the OAT came together on the SCCO’s Pre-Optometry Facebook Group pagespearheaded by 2nd year student, Michael Goering. I asked him to reproduce it for the Blog and so here it is…

Goerhing White Coat

Michael Goering at his Class of 2019 White Coat Ceremony with SCCO’s Dean, Dr. Stanley Woo

My name is Michael Goering and I’m a second year student at SCCO/MBKU. As a Student Ambassador, I’m fortunate to be a facilitator of SCCO’s Official Pre-Optometry Group on Facebook. Many prospective students, probably like most of you reading this article, have asked about how to study for the OAT. It can be a stressful time! What is even more stressful than trying to relearn and cram years of information into your brain, is how expensive the whole process can become. Not only that, but there are so many resources out there for studying for the OAT, that it can be difficult to navigate through which ones are worth your time (and money) and which ones aren’t.

Continue below to read how I was able to study for the OAT “on a budget.”

It may come as a surprise, but actually I didn’t spend a single dollar on any materials. I asked around and borrowed the DAT destroyer from my pre-dentistry friend. The DAT and OAT are made by the same company so the only difference is that their perception section is our physics section. (There is also an OAT Destroyer available, but I didn’t find anyone who had one and didn’t want to spend the money). I looked at how many questions were in each section and randomly picked the same amount of questions from the DAT Destroyer as a practice test. If this didn’t work, I was going to buy practice tests; but I was able to discover my weak areas from this method.

The DAT Destroyer was a great book because it explained every answer choice, not just the correct one. From my “missed” questions, I made a list of all the different areas that I continually missed questions, or had to speculate about and borrowed my pre-med friend’s MCAT Review book set. This set was the best for identifying almost all of my weak areas and really improved my reading comprehension efficiency. Also, this set helped me to fine tune the gaps—what knowledge I was missing from school or that I had forgotten. I also lived on Khan Academy for the majority of the physics section, or if I just needed a quick refresher on one of the other topics.

I also looked around at a few different libraries. My school library had the Kaplan OAT book that I perused here and there throughout the semester prior to taking the OAT. If there is a pre-optometry club at your school, that would be another great place to look!

Besides trying to figure out which books to buy (or borrow), prospective students generally want to know how much time to set aside prior to actually taking the OAT. I’ve seen students as if I have any scheduling tips for the OAT? Do I think a month would be enough time to prep?

My strategy was to set a whole month aside and treat it like a full-time job. It was honestly tough to maintain focus for a prolonged period of time when I first started, so I could only manage about 5 hours a day.  I progressively studied more and more as my test date drew closer. I peaked about a week before the exam by studying about 12 hours a day (but never really longer than 2 hours at a time). I probably could have been a little easier on myself if I had started studying more sooner, but I didn’t feel confident leading up to the exam. I then went online and was able to find free online practice tests through different organizations, such as Kaplan or the ADA. I highly recommend taking online practice tests, since it does take a slightly different strategy to navigate through different aspects of the exam.

I know studying and preparing to take the OAT can be a stressful time, but that doesn’t mean it has to be expensive for you. There are plenty of resources out there to help you out! If you have any questions at all you can visit or join the MBKU Pre-Optometry Facebook page or email ODadmissions@ketchum.edu to find more information!

Other OAT test takers—some SCCO students—chimed in, and here is what they added to the discussion (some confirming what Michael reported):

Kailey M: You may be able to check out prep books from the library, also the Dental entrance test is very similar except for the physics and it may be easier to find a prep book in the library.

Hanne H:  Chad’s videos! Great prep for general chemistry, organic, physics, and math. Just search it on google and it will come up. He records lessons he does for students at Arizona State, posts them online, and then provides quizzes at the end of each lesson and practice exams at the end of certain subjects. Incredibly helpful.

Jackie A:  I did the majority of my studying using only the OAT Kaplan Book, which comes with 2 complete practice exams, tons of questions at the end of each chapter, and great summaries of key concepts. Any concepts I couldn’t get down I’d then reference online resources like Chad’s videos and Khan academy. If you’re good with self-paced studying and have ample time to prepare (I read, practiced this book over the course of 4 months) then  I’d recommend it.

Karen T: Like Jackie, I bought and used the Kaplan OAT Review book as my main study guide. It was around ~$50 and was a long book to get through, but I was a bit rusty in the subjects, so it was a nice refresher for me. I utilized the 2 online test exams that came with the book and made sure to plan accordingly when I would take the practice tests.

To supplement the Kaplan book, I went on Khan Academy which is free to review my harder subjects like Organic Chemistry and Physics. I also went to the library and checked out Princeton Review’s version of the OAT Test Prep which also came with a code (which could be used an infinite number of times) to get even more full length practice exams with detailed answers. And finally, I checked the ADA website for their sample test for the OAT and actually their sample test for the DAT as well. The only thing I did differently with the sample DAT test was omit their Perceptual Ability Test section since we don’t cover this on the OAT.  Hope this helps. Good luck!


Marshall B. Ketchum Memorial Library



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