Letters of Recommendation
The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (OptomCAS) allows for up to four letters of evaluation to be electronically submitted. You should familiarize yourself with the types of letters of evaluation each optometry school requires well before you head into the application cycle. If there are strong preferences of types of letters, it will be indicated. If the school does not give any guidance about the letters they expect, the "model" typically followed by our successful applicants is two hard science professors, one optometrist and another “professional” reference.
As of January 2016, the Pre-Health Advising Office will no longer serve as a repository/submission service for letters of evaluation to optometry school. The absence of a "committee" or "pre-opt" letter will not adversely affect your application.
Whom should I ask for a letter?
Individual optometry schools are quite specific in the types of letters of evaluation they expect from applicants. Therefore, it is important for you to be selective in whom you ask to submit letters on your behalf.
You will submit a maximum of four letters of evaluation. Two should come from faculty members that you have taken hard science courses with and one should come from an optometrist with whom you have shadowed or volunteered. The Pre-Health Advising Office also recommends that for the fourth letter, to choose someone you may have worked closely with (for instance, as part of your double major, minor, or certificate program), research mentor, other optometrists or healthcare professionals you have shadowed under, or supervisors from any jobs you have held while an undergraduate.
How should I ask for a letter?
When asking for a letter of evaluation, it is important to do so in person. Emailing
or calling to set up a meeting or appointment is acceptable but the request should
be face to face. Further, you should schedule an appointment with each of your evaluators
by early Spring (no later than May) of the year you wish to apply to optometry school.
Due to the size of UGA, it can be difficult to generate 2-3 strong letters from college faculty who know you very well and can offer significant insight into your character traits and capacity for entering the profession of optometry. Therefore, it is important to provide your evaluators with as much information as possible:
- Recent copy of your resume (with picture)
- Detailed instructions for how the letter should be submitted (OptomCAS)
- Brief statement of your educational goals
- Rough draft of your OptomCAS personal statement
- Guidelines for how to write a letter of evaluation
Note: Always waive your right to view your letters of evaluation.
How do I submit my letters of evaluation?
You will send your letter requests through the OptomCAS application service so that your evaluators will be able to directly upload their letters into the application system. When you submit the information of your evaluators into your OptomCAS application, the OptomCAS “Messenger” will send that evaluator an email giving a link into your application and a password. Keep in mind that the OptomCAS does not open until early July and will not keep your letters for the next application cycle.
Writing your personal statement for the OptomCAS application can be daunting. Although most students focus mainly on GPA and OAT scores, the personal statement is a very important component of your application and should be carefully written. This is your opportunity to highlight things about you that are not mentioned in other sections of your application and to distinguish yourself from other applicants.
The OptomCAS essay is limited to 1 page, 4500 characters. The current essay asks students to "Describe what inspires your decision for becoming an optometrist, including your preparation for training in this profession, your aptitude and motivation, the basis for your interest in optometry, and your future career goals."
Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) Overview
UGA students typically take the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) in the same timeframe as other students take the MCAT or DAT, approximately 15 months before intended professional matriculation. Therefore, the OAT is best taken in late spring or early summer of the junior year if you intend to go to professional school directly after graduation.
Before taking the OAT, you should complete all college coursework in the topics/content of the test. A list of UGA courses advised and recommended by the Pre-Professional Advisement Office may be found in the handout, Pre-Optometry Quick Facts.
However, taking these courses is typically not enough to produce a competitive score. You should also spend time reviewing the material tested on the OAT. A complete overview of the OAT, including how to prepare and schedule a test is found in the annually updated OAT Guide. Pay particular attention to the Scope of the Examination section of the OAT Guide.
Study should be followed by practice in the same format (computer based) and circumstance (timing) of the actual test. Upon completion of a practice test you must determine what you still need to study. Testing material and resources may be found at www.ada.org/en/oat. Many commercially available materials have computer-based testing, comprehensive score solutions, and diagnostic score reports.
The OAT is given through the Prometric Centers. You must obatain an OATPINbefore registering for the OAT. The OATPIN is a unique personal identifier that helps ensure confidential, secure reporting, transmission, and tracking of test scores and academic data.
After obtaining your OATPIN, you must submit an application through the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). You will receive an email that contains instructions for scheduling your testing appointment after your application has been processed. You should schedule 60 to 90 days before your desired test date.
We recommend you take a Test Drive through Prometric prior to testing. Taking a test drive will allow you to familiarize yourself with the look and feel of the computer-based testing environment in advance of your exam. This will also minimize pre-test mistakes such as getting lost on the way to the center or failing to arrive with the correct I.D. and paperwork. Preparing for the test experience will help you perform better on test day.
Want to know how you compare to other students? To see average OAT scores of students entering each school and other data, review the latest Profile of Applicants compiled by ASCO.
Partial Fee Waiver
A limited number of partial fee waivers per calendar year are available to OAT examinees, in cases of severe financial hardship. More information is found in the OAT Guide.