Pre-Optometry

Pre-Optometry

General
Requirements 
Some Schools
Require 

Biology

  • BI 111/113 Concepts in Biology I & Lab
  • BI 112/114 Concepts in Biology II & Lab 

Biology

  • BI 230 Microbiology
  • BI 311 Cell Biology
  • BI 235 Vertebrate Biology
  • BI 312 Systems Physiology
  • BI 325 Immunology
  • BI 206-209 Anatomy and Physiology

Chemistry

  • CH 151/153 General Chemistry I & Lab
  • CH 152/154 General Chemistry II & Lab
  • CH 221/223 Organic Chemistry I & Lab
  • CH 222/224 Organic Chemistry II & Lab

Chemistry

  • CH 341/343 Biochemistry

Physics

  • PY 111/113 Physics I & Lab
  • PY 112/114 Physics II & Lab
 

Math

  • MA 151 Calculus
  • MA 131 Statistics
 

Social Sciences

  • PS 110 Intro to Psychology
  • 3 Additional Credits
 

English

  • FY 125 Freshman Seminar
  • EN 201 Experiencing Literature
 

Timeline for Application

Pre-Optometry Timeline for Application

Optometry Admissions Test (OAT)

Students who wish to pursue a Doctor of Optometry degree must take the OAT (Optometry Admissions Test) standardized exam which measures the Natural Sciences (Biology, Chemistry and Organic Chemistry), Physics, Reading Comprehension and Quantitative Reasoning. To do well on the exam, you must have completed all of the pre-requisite courses before taking the exam.

The test is administered throughout the country at Prometric testing centers. You must first apply to take the test and you will be asked to create a PIN Personal Identification Number before you can complete the application to register to sit for the OAT exam. Information on the OAT exam and creating your PIN can be found on the ADA's website. here.

There is no magic way that works for all students. Some students choose to enroll in a course like Kaplan or Examkrackers, but this can be costly. Other students chose to buy the preparation books and work on their own. You need to ask yourself what type of learner you are and what approach you are dedicated to.

Information on OAT preparation and obtaining practice exams can be found on the ADA's website.

Test scores are available to you in unofficial form as soon as you finish the test at the Prometric testing center. Official scores are reported three to four weeks after the test. Please be advised that committee letters will not be completed until after you receive your DAT score and meet with your advisor to determine if your score is competitive (see Policies).

Please note that you must wait 90 days before you can re-take the test. Thus, it is advisable to plan for an early OAT in the case that you may need to re-take the exam.

To be accepted into optometry school you need a complete package. You must have the grades and GPA, a good OAT score, good letters of recommendation, clinical/shadowing experiences and a good personal statement. Students must meet with their Pre-Health Advisor after receiving their OAT score to discuss if your score is competitive. Applying to optometry school is very expensive and we may advise holding off to address deficiencies in your application.

Average OAT scores for Optometry schools

Undergraduate Research

Although not a requirement, students are encouraged to undertake undergraduate research with a faculty mentor. In many departments, students can receive course credit for the completion of 3 credits of research. Not only does this give you a valuable experience, but students can present their work at regional and national science conferences and many students have been published authors with their faculty mentor in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Additionally, having a letter of recommendation from your faculty mentor regarding your research, work ethic and skills will be a valuable addition to your committee packet.

At the end of the academic year, we also have internal conferences, which showcase and highlight research across disciplines on campus in the CASCon (College of Arts and Sciences Conference) and the Academic Festival. We encourage you to investigate research being performed and become involved!

Optometry Internships, Shadowing and Clinical Experiences

Optometry schools will require that you have some first-hand knowledge of what it is like to be an eye doctor. These experiences will allow you to truly get a feel for the profession and determine if it is right for you. It falls on the student to be proactive and seek out experiences. Most students contact their family eye doctors for shadowing hours.

Personal Statements

The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) notes that “Each year, a substantial number of applicants express regret that they felt rushed and lost critical time working on their statement; when they realize how much time it involves, it’s often too late.”

Writing a personal statement on why you want to be an eye doctor may sound like a simple task, but in reality to do this and do it well takes time, multiple drafts and revisions in coordination with your Pre-Health advisor. Students often underestimate the time involved or the importance of having a good personal statement. The personal statement is an area of your application that is not black and white, it is not a GPA or a OAT score. It is where you can reflect on your decision to become an eye doctor, what lead you down this path and reflect on your research and clinical experiences.

The ASCO (Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry) Website offers advice and tips on writing an optometry personal statement.

However, because of the importance of the personal statement, we have incorporated writing personal statements into course content in BI191, Advanced Seminar in the Health Professions. We highly recommend students enroll in the course as we cover personal statement mechanics, content, do’s and dont's and perform critiques and draft revisions over several weeks.

Gap Year

Many students fear the gap year or see this as “wasted time” and incorrectly think that taking a gap year would have a negative impact of their application. However, it is quite the opposite and most students take a gap year after college. To check off all the boxes needed for optometry school (good GPA and OAT score, clinical experiences) within three years of college is difficult. If you are hoping to start optometry school right after college, you must have all your pre-requisite courses, have taken the OAT and complete the application before your senior year (most recommended) or during the fall of your senior year (possible). Thus, some students focus on getting good grades and shadowing during college and use the gap year to study for the OAT while doing something meaningful in medicine (working with an optometrist, travel and service, etc). Having a gap year while doing something meaningful makes you a stronger, more competitive candidate. The average age of students matriculating into optometry school is 24 demonstrating a national trend of students applying after graduation. Admissions committees look for more mature candidates with real world experiences. Thus, a gap year is often to your benefit. The ACSO offers advice on gap years.