Discover the essential steps to pursue a fulfilling career in optometry, from understanding prerequisite coursework to preparing for and taking the Optometry Admission Test (OAT), and navigating the application process through OptomCAS. Explore valuable insights into recommended timelines, application cycles, and important considerations for aspiring optometrists.

Students will need to check the admissions requirement for each optometry school to which they plan to apply. The most common prerequisite requirements for admission into optometry school are:

  • General Biology
  • General Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Biochemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Calculus
  • Statistics
  • Psychology
  • English

The OAT exam has four test sections

  • Survey of Natural Sciences
  • Physics
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Quantitative Reasoning

When should I take the OAT?

Students who are planning to start optometry school after they graduate college should take the test in the spring quarter of their junior year. Students should pay to program admission deadlines to decide when to sign up for the test and allow themselves enough time to re-test if they need a higher score. Students will need to check with each program regarding which score will be considered for admission if they re-test.

Create a study plan for the OAT:

Step 1: Gather Information about OAT

Step 2: Take a practice test

Step 3: Gather study materials

Step 4: Make a study calendar

Step 5: Study!

Step 6: Prepare for test day

How many times can I take the OAT?

Ideally, you should only take the OAT one time. If you need to re-test, you must wait at least 90 days from your last attempt before you can re-take the OAT. Candidates who have had three or more OAT attempts must apply for permission to test again. From that point forward, they may retest only once per 12-month period.

Are other exams considered for admission?

Yes, some optometry programs will also accept GRE, MCAT, PCAT, or DAT.

How long are OAT scores valid?

Generally, scores are valid up to 2 years from the dates of testing.

Is the exam expensive?

The cost of the OAT exam is $465.

Application fee waivers are available on a case-by-case basis.

The Optometry Centralized Application Service (OptomCAS) application opens on June 30, 2021 and will close on May 27, 2022.

It is the applicant’s responsibility to check the deadline for each school. Most schools offer rolling admission, so it is best to apply early in June through August. Students who apply after November may have a harder time gaining admission as seats may be filled.

Students should know that OptomCAS calculates their own GPA and factors in all prior grades and attempts. For example, if you took the same General Biology class twice, both grades get calculated into the GPA. Some schools use the OptomCAS GPA when considering admission.

  • You can major in anything! Most students choose a biology or chemistry degree because the required science coursework fits in well within their degree plan. However, students can major in art, psychology, criminal justice, etc. and still apply to optometry school if they meet the admissions requirements.
  • Students should take academically rigorous coursework (independent study, honors, and research opportunities) to demonstrate their ability at being successful in higher level coursework.
  • There are currently only 23 schools and colleges of optometry in the United States.
  • AP credits and dual-enrollment courses will count if the credits are accepted and show on the undergraduate transcript.
  • Coursework earned through a community college is accepted. A student does need to demonstrate excellence in rigorous coursework at the main college, not just at the community college.
  • Students should job shadow in diverse environments to understand the field of optometry.
  • Optometry schools prefer students receive a letter grade instead of a P/F.


  • Sign up on the pre-health listserv.
  • Make sure you are registered for the correct science courses (general biology and general chemistry your first year).
  • Join the Pre-Health Club on campus.
  • Focus on your grades and develop good time management and study skills to help you start successfully.
  • Start researching the admissions requirements for the schools you wish to attend.


  • Continue to focus on grades.
  • Think about what aspect of healthcare interests you and gain experience through part-time employment, job shadowing, research, and/or volunteering. Make the experience meaningful to you, not simply because you think it looks good.
  • Get to know faculty to ask for letters of recommendation when you are ready to apply.
  • Attend admissions fairs, open houses, or events at the schools you are interested in to learn about the different programs and to become familiar with each school’s admissions process.


  • Continue to focus on grades.
  • Make a study plan and begin reviewing for the OAT.
  • Ensure that you have met or are meeting the requirements for admissions to the different programs you are interested in.
  • Attend the Health Professions Evaluation (HPE) information session.
  • Register and take the OAT.
  • Create a profile on the OptomCAS website and begin work on your application. Take your time on the application so you do not make mistakes and delay your application being accepted.
  • Plan an academic schedule that will allow you to make time to interview at different optometry schools in the fall and winter quarters of your senior year.


  • Continue to focus on grades.
  • Submit supplemental applications and fees promptly.
  • Respond to interview requests promptly and professionally.
  • Notify all optometry schools of your decisions as early as possible.
  • Email ; of your final decision.
  • Send thank you cards as a courtesy to everyone who assisted you.
  • Complete the FAFSA for the optometry school you plan to attend.