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8 November, 2023

What to Do the Day Before the OAT

Are you taking the OAT soon and not sure what to do leading up to it? In this article, we will be discussing 7 things to do on the day before the OAT.
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The optometry admission test (OAT) is a standardized computer-based exam spanning 5 hours, required by most optometry schools for admission. It is weighed heavily in optometry schools’ admission decisions, and it is made up of 6 sections: biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, quantitative reasoning and reading comprehension. Due to the weight of the OAT, adequate preparation is necessary and students usually spend 3-4 months studying for the exam. How you prepare during those few months, including the day right before the OAT, will greatly affect how well you perform. In this article, we will discuss 7 things you should do on the day before the OAT to maximize your chances of success on the big day.


Although it may seem counterintuitive because your exam is right around the corner, take the day off to relax and recharge. You have been focused and working so hard for the past few months, so your brain deserves a little break before it is put to the test on the next day. Also, using this one last day to cram will not do much for your exam performance except add to your nerves. Instead, allow yourself to rest, eat a nice healthy meal, and go to bed early so that you will be ready to go for tomorrow. If you are feeling anxious, try getting outside – go for a run, work out at the gym, or hang out with your friends or family.

Keeping Up Good Habits

Besides the day before the OAT, hopefully, you have been taking care of yourself and practicing good habits. Just because you have been spending so much time studying does not mean you can neglect your physical and mental health – if anything, the endurance and perseverance required for the OAT means that you should be prioritizing your overall well-being. This includes eating healthy balanced meals without excess sugar and caffeine so you do not feel sluggish when studying and consistently getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night to help with knowledge retention. Also, the OAT typically starts in the early morning, so it would be a good idea to start sleeping early and waking up at the same time you would wake up on the actual test day to simulate the big day. Even more, taking breaks when studying is important to help reduce stress and prevent burnout – this can look like hanging out with friends, going to the gym, listening to relaxing music or reading a book. On the day right before the OAT, it is important to stay calm and keep up this routine so your brain stays focused and ready to perform.

Stay Positive

Your mindset about the exam can affect your performance. This is because how you speak to yourself can affect how you perceive your own level of knowledge and how prepared you feel. Try your best to stay positive and believe in yourself! Also, try to stay focussed on yourself – this means not searching up statistics on how others performed and comparing yourself to their OAT scores. This will only fuel your self-doubt and you do not need that, especially not right before the exam. If you are feeling down about yourself and stressed about how you will do, reach out to family and friends to talk it out, or try to journal and get your thoughts out. Hopefully this will leave you with a brighter mindset for the next day.

Trust Yourself

Building on the last point, trust that you have studied enough and that you have done your best for the past few months. This is harder to do because you are your worst critic and it can be easy to start doubting yourself because of how much material there is. However, remind yourself that you have done difficult things before, and you will be able to get through this one as well! You had a limited amount of time to study and you did everything that you could in the time that you had, so try not to stress about getting one more peek at your notes or tackling some more practice questions. Also, keep the big picture in mind. Remember that the OAT is just one step in your pre-optometry journey and there are other factors to optometry school applications. Even if you do not perform as well as you had hoped, there are other things you can do and if time allows, you could even retake the OAT afterward. If you are feeling extra anxious and still want to study, allow yourself a few hours to review formulas or go over summary sheets before putting everything away and taking the rest of the day off.

Prepare for the Big Day

Prepare for the logistics of your test day. Make sure you know where the testing center is and how to get there. To prevent unnecessary stress or confusion, you could use this day to visit the testing center and figure out the details on location, directions, and parking availability. Sometimes, the testing center is located in a large building many floors up, so it would be a good idea to figure out where the actual entrance of the building is, as well as the entrance into the exam center itself. In terms of getting to the exam, make sure your car has enough gas if you are driving there, or double-check that your ride is still available if someone is driving you there. If you are taking public transit, double-check the route to the exam center and plan to leave early in case there are any delays.

Also, double-check what you are allowed to bring and pack the essentials in advance. This includes any required ID, snacks, water, lunch, wallet, keys, and earplugs or eye drops if needed. You can also prepare a screenshot or print out a copy of your exam confirmation email in case you need to confirm any details at the exam center. Have your outfit and shoes ready as well, so you are not scrambling around in the morning. For your outfit, prepare something comfortable because you will be in the exam room for 5 hours, but also dress in layers because the temperature can vary. The exam starts early in the morning and pretty much spans the full day, so make sure to prepare yourself a healthy and hearty breakfast to start your morning on the right foot.

Plan to Party

If you have time, plan for your post-exam celebration. Whether it be having some friends over, spending time out with family, or treating yourself to your favorite restaurant, thinking about how you will celebrate can act as extra motivation to get you through the day and through the exam. You have worked so hard, and you deserve to celebrate yourself getting through the OAT!


The OAT is a challenging exam that requires proper preparation. Although it is weighed significantly by optometry admissions committees, try not to stress out because there is more to optometry and your application than the OAT. At this point, you have done all that you could and you have worked hard. Take a deep breath and trust yourself. Good luck!

For more information on the OAT, feel free to read our other articles on the following topics: How to Study for the OAT, What to Expect on OAT Exam Day, Strategizing Your OAT Test Date, How Is the OAT Scored, What Is a Good OAT Score, When to Reschedule Your OAT, and Retaking the OAT.