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.
Who 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 who 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 need to 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 name and pertinent information of each of your evaluators into their OptomCAS application, the OptomCAS “Messenger” will send that evaluator an email to the email address provided by you giving a link into your application and a password. Keep in mind that OptomCAS application 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 there is an intention to go directly from undergraduate graduation to professional school. Caution should be given to adequate preparation for the test, especially through completing college coursework in the topics to be tested.
Though the best preparation for the OAT is to have completed college coursework in the topics/content of the test, this is not enough. Additional study and review is necessary to achieve a competitive score. Study should be followed by practice testing 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. (Many commercially available materials have computer based testing, comprehensive score solutions, and diagnostic score reports.)
The OAT is given through the Prometric Centers. Prior to registration for the OAT, you must register for an OATPIN. The OATPIN is a unique personal identifier that helps ensure confidential, secure reporting, transmission, and tracking of test scores and academic data.
After you have received your OATPIN, you must submit an application through the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). Before you apply to take the test make sure to read the OAT Guide. The OAT Guide is the official guide to policies for the Optometry Admission Test Program. It provides information about application and testing procedures, examination content and scoring produced by the same group that produces the DAT. Therefore, there may be many similarities. Pay particular attention to the Scope of the Test section. A new guide will be published near the beginning of each new year. A new application must be submitted each time you wish to take the OAT.
One you receive your test eligibiltiy email from ASCO, the next step is to schedule the test at a Prometric Testing Center. The ASCO offers information on scheduling the test through Prometic on their website. You should schedule 60 to 90 days before your desired test date. Please remember, you may schedule your testing appointment with Prometric only upon receipt of your eligibility letter.
Once you visit the Prometric website, choose the option Schedule My Test. You will see a search bar and a list of all the tests offered by Prometric. In the search bar type OAT or choose the N-Q tab and scroll down until you find OAT - Optometry Admission Test. Here you will view the OAT Checklist and the option to register for the test.
You are encouraged to review the OAT Tutorial before taking the OAT. The tutorial provides sample items and information about navigating through the test.
Take a Test Drive through Prometric. 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 minimize pre-test mistakes such as getting lost on the wat to the center of failing to arrive with the correct I.D. and paperwork. Being better prepared for the test experience will allow you to perform better the day of the test. The full Test Drive experience, which costs $30 U.S., includes check-in, ID confirmation, documentation checking, image capture, seating, tutorial, a generic sample test, a survey of the experience, an end-of-test report and check-out.
Students may self-study or take a commercial preparation course or any combination of the two. Testing material and resources may be found at www.ada.org/en/oat.
Want to know how you compare to other students? To see average OAT scores nationwide, go to the 2017 Profile of the Optometry Entering Class.
Fee Assistance Program
A limited number of partial fee waivers per calendar year are available to OAT™ examinees, in cases of severe financial hardship. For more information, see page 13 of the OAT Guide.
Have questions about the OAT?
Take a look at frequently asked questions from other students about the OAT.