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8 November, 2023

When to Reschedule Your OAT

After months of preparing for the OAT, it can be difficult to tell whether you are ready. In this article, we will discuss factors to consider when deciding when to reschedule your OAT.
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The OAT is a 5-hour long exam required by most optometry schools for admission. It requires knowledge and adequate preparation in multiple fields of science, as well as reading comprehension and quantitative reasoning. Studying for the OAT can be a lengthy and grueling process; it often takes students months to prepare before taking the exam. The OAT itself is quite long as well, requiring endurance and a calm mindset.

Although optometry schools consider other factors such as GPA, reference letters, personal statements and supplementary essays for admission decisions, the OAT is generally weighed quite significantly amongst other factors. Therefore, the exam plays an important role in admission decisions made by optometry schools and adequate preparation should be made to increase your chances of being accepted.

As you prepare for the OAT, it is a good idea to follow a study schedule and take practice tests along the way to track your progress and identify any information deficits. However, things do not always go as planned and you may find yourself feeling anxious and unprepared as the test date nears. After studying for months, it can be hard to decide if you are nervous but ready or if you are truly unprepared and would benefit from rescheduling the exam. In this article, we will discuss 6 factors to consider to decide whether or not you should reschedule your OAT.

πŸ“š Study Habits

How have you been studying? If you made a study schedule to follow, think about how well you have stuck to it and how much progress you have made. Aside from sticking to the schedule, your study habits are important as well. Regardless of what study style you use, make sure that the information is being retained and that your study strategies are working for you. If you are on schedule and the scheduled test date is still a while away, you should be good to go on your actual test day. However, you may need to consider delaying the OAT if you have fallen off track from your schedule, feeling distracted or unmotivated, and your test date is coming up soon. If you are leaning towards delaying your exam, make sure that you will be able to maintain your work ethic and motivation to stay on track and figure out where you are messing up to use the extra time effectively.

In addition, an easy way to track your progress is by taking practice tests every few weeks. This will give you a good idea of how effective your study strategies are, whether your scores are improving, and how far away you are from achieving the score you want.

πŸ“ Practice Test Scores

How have you been testing? If you have been taking practice tests or completing practice questions every few weeks while studying, looking at your progress and how you have been scoring is a good place to start. If you are feeling nervous about the exam but have not taken a practice test yet, we recommend that you take one now to gauge where you are and how much work still needs to be done. You can find a list of free OAT practice tests by clicking here.

If you have noticed an uphill trend in your practice test scores since the start of studying and you still have time before the exam, this is a good indication that your study strategies have been effective and you should be good to go. However, if you have not been achieving your desired scores, we recommend that you review your exams and figure out where and why you are losing those marks. Poor scores could be due to variety of reasons, such as silly mistakes, ineffective study strategies, inability to retain and apply information, not reading questions carefully, or deficiencies in knowledge. This will help you determine the best plan to move forward – whether this means adjusting your study techniques, adjusting your study plan, or rescheduling the OAT for extra time to supplement your knowledge and improve your ability to interpret and answer the questions.

πŸ“Š Optometry School Standards

How competitive are you? Although the ideal mean standard score for the OAT is 300, different optometry schools hold varying admission standards for their applicants. If you have certain schools in mind, it would be a good idea to look into the entering class profiles to see how your practice test scores compare. If your practice scores have been close to the target you are aiming for, you are likely competitive enough and will be able to complete the OAT on your scheduled test date. However, delaying your exam would be worth considering if you have not been performing well compared to the entering class profiles that you are interested in and the test is coming up soon. To get an idea of the average admitted OAT scores across optometry schools in North America in 2020, feel free to read our article on optometry school statistics.

πŸ“ˆ Overall Timeline

How would rescheduling affect your overall timeline? This factor is largely dependent on the individual. Some students have already submitted their applications into the current application cycle and the optometry schools are just waiting for the student’s OAT score to be sent. However, other students may be taking the OAT in advance to have their scores ready when the next application cycle begins. Therefore, your decision to reschedule the OAT will depend on your individual circumstances.

Note that if you take the OAT and you are not satisfied with your score, you must wait 90 days before retaking it. Optometry schools only receive your highest OAT score so you would not need to worry about performing worse on subsequent tests. However, it is best to study and put in the work once to perform optimally instead of taking the exam when you know you are not fully prepared and repeating the process later on. Having to retake the exam means more time spent studying and can potentially cause more stress when submitting your optometry school applications. Also, there is no guarantee that your score will be significantly better because you might feel more burnt out. Therefore, think carefully about whether or not you would truly benefit from the extra study time by delaying the OAT. In the event that you have to retake the OAT, we highly recommend reviewing our article on Retaking the OAT.

❀️ Your Well-Being

How are you feeling overall? Studying for the OAT can take months and students are often overwhelmed or burnt out as they near their test date. Students are typically studying for the exam while balancing schoolwork and other extracurriculars, which can take a physical toll on you and increase your chances of getting sick. A physical illness will affect your overall performance and rescheduling would be worth considering. This would depend on how severe your symptoms are, as well as how much it would affect the rest of your studying and ultimately your score on the exam.

Mentally, preparation for such a big exam can also lead to feelings of burnout and anxiety. If you are feeling unprepared and considering delaying the exam, think about whether you would benefit from the extra study time and use the time effectively to improve your score or if it would lead to even more burnout and a worse outcome. At the same time, your practice test scores should be accounted for. If you are feeling nervous but have been scoring consistently in your target range, delaying the OAT is likely not necessary because you will perform just as well on the real exam. However, if you have not been scoring in the required range to be competitive, it may be a good idea to reschedule your exam and figure out where you need to supplement your knowledge.

In addition, it is important to consider that the OAT is a long, all-encompassing exam and you may never feel ready. If you delay once, it can be easy to feel unprepared and reschedule the exam again later down the road. You know yourself best, so this factor is up to your own judgment.

πŸ’°Cost of Rescheduling

Would you want to pay extra fees to reschedule? Note that if you are thinking about delaying your exam, it is best to do it as early as you can. It will cost you $140 to reschedule your exam if you do so 1-4 days before the scheduled test date, and $70 for rescheduling more than 5 days before the scheduled date. With the above factors in mind, consider whether you truly need to delay your exam, or if you can save on the extra expense. If you have been on track with your study schedule, scoring consistently in your target range, and feeling fine overall, there is no need to pay extra to delay the OAT.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, deciding whether or not to reschedule the OAT depends on many factors and individual circumstances. This includes your study habits, your practice test progress, optometry school standards, your overall timeline, your well-being, and the cost of rescheduling the OAT. Although optometry school admissions factor in multiple metrics, the OAT is weighed heavily and adequate preparation is required to excel on the exam.

Keep in mind that regardless of what decision you make, the OAT will still be completed and you will be well on track to optometry school! You know yourself best, so the decision is ultimately up to you. With the discussed factors in mind, we hope this article is helpful in your decision-making process – good luck!