How To Study For The OAT In 2024

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Written by John Reed
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Studying for the OAT can be challenging for most students, especially when you can’t afford to hire a tutor or don’t have the time to commit to a conventional prep course.

Even with all the OAT resources at their disposal, some students struggle to organize their OAT study schedule which prevents them from successfully passing the optometry admission test on their first attempt. 

This step-by-step guide aims to help pre-optometry students understand how to study for the OAT.

You get to learn what the OAT is all about, get a feel of the test, and figure out the best way to study until you’re ready for the test. 

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Quick Summary

  • The recommended OAT study period is 2-4 months.
  • There are a variety of study methods available including taking an online prep course, taking in-person classes, or self-studying altogether.
  • The best OAT prep course that we recommend is OAT Bootcamp.
  • The best OAT prep books that we recommend for self-studying are OAT Destroyer and the Kaplan OAT Book.
  • If you prefer online OAT oreo tutoring, we recommend Kaplan OAT Prep Tutoring.

How To Study For The OAT: A Step-By-Step Guide

What Is The OAT Test Like? 

The Optometry Admission Test is designed to predict a student’s scientific knowledge, general academic ability, and analytical ability. These are all essential skills that future optometrists need to possess. 

This entrance exam does that by testing your knowledge of biology, chemistry, and physics. It also tests your quantitative reasoning skills and your reading comprehension ability. The subjects tested include:

No. of Questions

Time Limit

Subject Knowledge

Survey of Natural Sciences

• Organic Chemistry
• General Chemistry
• Biology

30 Qns.

30 Qns.

40 Qns.

90 Minutes


40 Qns.

50 Minutes

Vectors, Momentum, Magnetism, Optics, Thermodynamics.

Reading Comprehension

50 Qns.

60 Minutes

Ability to read, understand and analyze scientific texts.

Quantitative Reasoning

40 Qns.

45 Minutes

Probability & Statistics, Algebraic & Numeric Calculation, Trigonometry, Geometry &  Deconstructing Word Problems

What Does The OAT Test?

The real OAT experience is different for every student depending on your preparedness, but here’s what to expect from each section tested: 

1. Survey of Natural Sciences

Biology is the hardest part of this section for many students because of the breadth of materials tested. The tested questions in the actual test are something of a coin toss.

As such, the best way to prepare is to get as much exposure as possible to all concepts from genetics to evolution, cells, plants, anatomy, and others. 

Organic and General Chemistry sections are pretty straightforward and most students can perform well with a good understanding of the basics.

The Kaplan course is good enough for practicing as it will help you understand what every reagent does to a molecule, a skill that comes in handy. Thousands of students have also found success with OAT Bootcamp and OAT Destroyer

You’ll have less than 55 seconds to complete each question, so time management is crucial.

Some questions may take longer to answer compared to others, so start with your strong areas where you fully grasp the concepts. You can mark the difficult questions and revisit them later. 

2. Physics

Some students find the physics section easier in the exams after using the OAT Destroyer and Chad’s Physics Videos, but your experience will depend on how hard you’ve prepared.

It’s important to equally practice calculations and theory as students have a hard time because of concentrating on one part when studying.  

3. Reading Comprehension

The reading section is all about detailed based questions and not the application or conceptual-based questions.

Each of the three comprehension passages features 16-17 questions and it’s easy to answer them even without fully understanding the passage. 

Some students chose to go straight to the questions and go straight to the passage scanning for keywords related to the answers.

The text-based scavenger hunt might make it hard to complete all the questions in an hour, but the section is easy to ace even without intense practice.

4. Quantitative Reasoning

The calculations tested in the quantitative reasoning section are similar to what you did in high school, focusing on word problems, data analysis, and algebra.

You’ll have an on-screen calculator and there’s no calculus in this section. If you’ve not tried math in a while, the OAT Destroyer should bring you up to speed quickly. 

What’s The Best Way To Study For The OAT?

Choosing the best way to study for the OAT is the first question that most pre-optometry struggle with when starting to prepare for the OAT.

Students can choose to either hire a tutor for in-person classes, self-study, or take an online OAT prep course. 

Best Way To Study For The OAT
  • Online Prep Courses

Commercial online OAT prep courses like OAT Bootcamp and Kaplan’s OAT self-paced course give you a classroom structure where you learn by listening to live online or pre-recorded lectures.

You’ll access all the premium materials you need and the study schedule is developed for you, which also includes when to take a practice test. 

Online prep courses are an excellent study choice for students who don’t have all the time to develop a strict study regimen and stick to it.

We recommend trying the OAT Bootcamp online prep course for students who choose this study method. This comprehensive online prep course offers 300+ chemistry videos and 8800+ practice questions.

Up to $90 OFF


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The all-in-one OAT prep that everyone is talking about is here, plus with a discount.


Provides all materials needed to ace the OAT.

Regularly updated practice questions and high-yield tests.

An advanced markup feature to easily improve on your weaknesses.


No live lessons

Use code at checkout: TESTPREPPAL10

  • Self-Studying

Self-studying is the most affordable method of preparing to take the OAT.

This requires a dedicated and self-motivated student who can develop and loyally follow a definite study plan. 

When you choose self-studying, you’ll need to buy useful resources like Kaplan’s OAT book to know what the actual test is all about and identify your strengths and weaknesses.

We also recommend buying the ADA OAT full-practice tests and watching Chad’s physics videos online. Essentially, you’ll need all the practice you can get when you choose to self-study until you’re sure you’re ready for the actual exam.

Other helpful resources for self-studying students include OAT biology chrome extensions and iPrep’s free practice tests.

  • In-Person Classes

This option can be quite expensive for OAT students working with a tight budget.   

Some students may prefer hiring a tutor for in-person classes to get an immediate response on any concept and get the concepts best explained for quick understanding.

Kaplan OAT offers great online tutoring starting at $599 and you can choose the hours of OAT tutoring you need.

Some students choose to combine in-person classes with self-studying or OAT online prep courses, although that might not be necessary for you.

We also recommend sticking to one or two study methods and taking as many practice tests as possible even when attending in-person classes.

When Should You Start Studying For The OAT? 

The best time for you to begin studying for your OAT exam is after finishing most of the requirements set by your optometry program.

Major requirements include taking various classes in biology, physics, general chemistry, and organic chemistry.

It’s also easier to start studying for your OAT program once you have a solid base in these subjects as lots of the materials taught in class will come up in your study materials.

We recommend taking the OAT when you have a light workload from other college courses.

The OAT is already difficult enough and there’s no need to worry about more things affecting your GPA. Some students may take several weeks, while others need up to 3 months. 

We believe that students should begin studying for the OAT 3-4 months before the test date to give themselves enough time to understand the concepts and strengthen their weaknesses.

Our study schedule is around eight weeks, but we believe you need to have more time in case of emergencies or you need more time to work on some concepts. 

Regardless of when you choose to start studying for the OAT, ensure you register for the test beforehand. That gives you a timeline to plan your study schedule and know what to prioritize depending on the time you have.

Nevertheless, the number of hours you dedicate to studying for the OAT daily depends on the type of student you are and your performance on your first practice test.  

How To Ace The OAT

Understanding the basic concepts tested in the OAT and practicing beforehand is the simplest way to manage your exam time and ace the test.

That requires completing as many practice tests as possible and following a few basic tricks and strategies when preparing for the test. These tips, tricks, and strategies to ace the OAT include: 

Create a Study Plan

Creating a study plan should form the basis of your OAT prep. Take time to develop a thorough study plan, as it will keep you organized and fully prepared for the test day.

You can use an interactive online calendar to keep track of your study plan and don’t forget to include personal obligations like hobbies and chilling with friends. 

Set Achievable Goals

Breaking down the OAT content into specific, achievable daily or weekly goals keeps your studying in check and helps you ace the test.

After establishing your short-term goals, you should try and achieve them more efficiently and effectively, helping you make the most of your study sessions. 


Always create your own notes when studying, whether you have an expert tutor or you’ve chosen to self-study.

Active participation in study lessons increases your retention and makes it easy to refresh your memory at a later date/time. 

Practice, Review, and Tracking

Set time for reviewing practice tests and notes while studying.

The process of reviewing your notes and practice questions reinforces the connections that you have developed in your brain, building long-term retention, which is exactly what’s needed to ace the OAT.

How Students Have Studied For The OAT

Here’s a good example of how an optometry student organized his study plan to suit his learning needs and ace the OAT. 

OAT Testimonial 1
OAT Testimonial 2
OAT Testimonial 3

FAQs About How To Study For The OAT

How Many Hours A Day Should You Study For The OAT?

You should study for the OAT for 200-300 hours total. This translates into 2-4 months of studying for the OAT.

That being said, the hours you dedicate to your study guide daily or weekly depends on the kind of student you are and your specific learning methods. 

How Do I Know If I Am Ready To Take The OAT?

You’ll know you are ready to take the OAT  when you’re able to correctly answer most of the practice tests and manage your test time effectively.

That’s why you must take a full-length practice test after every topic as they simulate the real test. 

How Much Does It Cost To Take OAT?

The OAT costs $505 to take, with limited partial waivers for students that may need financial aid to afford it. The waiver accounts for 50% of the total exam fee.

What Do I Need To Know For The OAT?

The actual OAT is pretty easy to ace, although some students struggle with the Physics and Biology sections.

Fortunately, OAT Bootcamp and OAT Destroyer will help you practice for these sections. You should also prepare for General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and solving word problems in Quantitative Reasoning.  

When To Apply For The OAT?

Students must register and schedule the OAT testing appointment 60-90 days before the day they plan to take the test. This is because every testing center offers limited seats on any given day.

Categories OAT
John Reed
The chief editor of I am an alumni of the university of Pennsylvania and my goal with the website is to help future graduates with their tests.

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