All students who want to apply for optometry schools in the US, Canada, and Puerto
Rico must use their centralized application service, called OptomCAS. Some schools
also require supplemental applications and additional fees. Though some optometry
schools do not require a bachelor’s degree, we strongly recommend students complete their degree program.
OAT & GPA
Take the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) when you have finished the necessary coursework. The OAT is administered year around at Prometric Test Centers (at the U, the Testing Center is located in SSB 490, ph. 801-581-7310). Taking the exam by spring will enable you to apply at the beginning of the application cycle.
The OAT is divided into four sections:
- Survey of the Natural Sciences (Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry)
- Reading Comprehension
- Quantitative Reasoning
It takes about 4.5 hours, including one break. The cost of the test includes score reports for to up to 5 schools (you have to pay an additional fee per school). The average OAT score in 2008 for entering students to Optometry schools was 333 (in the range from 200-400). The score must be sent directly to your designated schools. The exam can be taken unlimited times, but you must wait for at least 90 days between testing dates. Optometry schools will consider the four most recent scores and total number of exams you have attempted. The best strategy is to prepare thoroughly and take the OAT once.
Optometry schools look at GPA in 2 different ways: individual course grades (mainly prerequisite courses) and overall.
In 2012, the average overall GPA for entering class was 3.43. Statistics by school
(GPA, OAT score) can be found here.
The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) sponsors a centralized application service called Optometry Centralized Application Service (OptomCAS) to standardize your application information. You must apply to the schools of your choice using OptomCAS (www.optomcas.org). Application requirements include: official transcripts, personal background information, recommendation letters, extracurricular experiences, personal statement, and fees. OptomCAS will open for each annual cycle in mid July and end in mid May of the following year. Because many schools use a “rolling” admission process (they begin reviewing applications and admitting before their published deadlines), it will enhance your chances if you submit your application early, regardless of when you take OAT. Even if you do not have your OAT score by the time you submit your application, OptomCAS will process your application, pending the score.
To help future students, PPA would appreciate if you would release your information
to the Health Professions Advisor when you apply. This information will always be
kept confidential, but it helps us provide benchmarks for students.
Western Interstate Commission of Higher Education (WICHE)
The WICHE agreement enables Utah residents to enroll in out-of-state professional programs at a reduced tuition rate. For more information about the WICHE program in general, please visit http://wiche.edu/state-highlights/utah. In order to qualify for WICHE funding, you must have been a resident of Utah for at least 5 years when you apply to optometry schools. In the summer when you apply to optometry schools, you should also apply to be WICHE certified. Read more at the Utah State Board of Regents or contact Michele Vincent at 801-366-7104 or email@example.com. The application deadline is October 15.
Letters of Recommendation (LOR)
OptomCAS recommend students use their Electronic Letter of Recommendation service which allows letter writers to submit their letters online. You will provide up to 4 names and e-mail addresses of letter writers. OptomCAS suggests letters from 1) an optometrist you have worked with or shadowed significantly, 2) an academic professor, and 3) an employer (not simply the supervisor who supervised you) or an extracurricular activity advisor. However, it is always a good idea to check with what your designated schools require. The more recent the letters, the better for your application.
GET TO KNOW YOUR PROFESSORS BETTER!
Let professors know at the beginning of the term that you would like them to keep an eye on your performance in class. It will give them a longer “observational window.” Visit their offices regularly and ask them for a letter at the end of the semester if you do well and they are agreeable.
A key to a good letter is the establishment of a relationship between the student and professor based on shared academic interests.
Ask thoughtful questions
Delve deeper into concepts presented in lectures
Share your academic and career goals
Ask for recommendations for additional reading
- Inquire about their areas of interest and research
After you have gotten to know professors, ask about further opportunities, e.g. teaching assistantships, individual research projects, etc.
WHEN YOU REQUEST THE LETTER
- Ask if the professor feels capable of writing a supportive letter. If not, you should probably try someone else.
- Remind the professor of topics, e.g. a project, a presentation, or paper done for the class; a particular interest demonstrated in the class; or, interaction you had with fellow students in the class.
- Ask if the professor would welcome written background material. You could include a brief biographical sketch, your interests and activities, career goals, and motivation toward your intended profession. You could also include a snapshot, copy of a paper written from that class, or transcripts.
- Always give the professor ample time to write the letter - two to three weeks minimum. Follow up to make sure that your letters have been sent. Send thank you notes.