How to Get Into Optometry School

An Optometry Admissions Guide

Updated August 2023


You’ve decided to pursue a career in optometry—congratulations! This guide has been written for students who are working towards gaining acceptance into an optometry program in North America. The advice will likely be most relevant to those in their undergraduate career in the United States, but it can also be used for those who are not yet working on their bachelor’s degree as a guide on how to map out a plan to reach your goals. The contents can be equally useful to post-bachelors who are also working on their application. It’s never too late or too early to choose optometry, and this guide is designed to help you know what schools are looking for in their future students.

Read on for a compilation of advice from admissions committee members and administration from various optometry schools acquired by a current first-year optometry student throughout both her undergraduate career and application process. Experiences from a few dozen optometry students attending various schools have also been used to increase the accuracy of information.

The guide is created to help students be competitive applicants at top optometry schools, but if your application looks very different from what is outlined here, optometry school is not necessarily out of the question for you. If you are unsure about your application, it is highly recommended that you contact the admissions department at the schools you are interested in. Most, if not all, schools will have admissions directors who would be happy to look at your transcripts, test scores, and experiences to help gauge where you stand as an applicant. Do not hesitate to reach out; schools love to see your interest and willingness to improve.

Optometry Pre-Application


It is essential to know what optometry schools are looking for well before starting your application. By keeping in mind what admissions committees want in their student body, you can work to build your experiences and meet the criteria that are being sought after each application cycle. The application process is holistic, meaning a combination of all of your experiences will be considered when accessing your application.


Grade Point Average (GPA)

When considering your application, one of the main components schools will look at is your GPA. Across all the optometry schools under the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, the average undergraduate GPA of the entering class of 2022 was a 3.40. This can be a bit daunting, mainly because it can feel impossible to bounce back after a tough quarter or semester, but you must remember that since the application process is holistic—admissions committees will take into consideration other factors that may have affected your performance in various aspects of your application. Conversely, a high GPA may help offset a lower OAT score.

Admissions committees want to ensure that their incoming class can handle the rigors of optometry school. First-year optometry students must take over 20 credit hours of core science courses. Although optometry schools do not have a preference for the major that applicants choose to pursue at their undergraduate institution, course rigor is definitely considered. GPA is qualitatively important, but it is also essential to show you can take more than one challenging course at a time. Admissions committees will consider what courses were taken concurrently when assessing GPA, not only the final grades. This can work in your favor, or against you if you have strategically spread out all prerequisite courses over your undergraduate career. This does not mean if you only took one prerequisite course at a time, you will not be accepted into optometry school, but admissions committees will be looking for higher grades from you than from someone who took three prerequisite courses at once.

In addition, keep in mind schools will also calculate a “science” or “prerequisite” GPA. Sometimes known as sGPAs, these scores are usually a bit lower than your overall or cumulative GPA. Lower sGPAs are normal, but to have the best application possible, you want to strive to keep your science/prerequisite GPA as high as your overall GPA. Calculating a science GPA shows admissions committees how much the additional courses beyond the prerequisites increase the applicant’s GPA. The science/prerequisite GPA allows schools to gauge how well the student performs in the courses relevant to the student in optometry school.

Admissions committees will be looking at grade trends as well. An upward GPA trend can help your application, especially if you take more upper-level classes. The increase shows admissions committees that although you may have had a rough transition to undergraduate courses, you have adapted better study strategies and found ways to succeed.

Remember that many schools will have a minimum prerequisite course letter grade of a C or higher. This means if you were to earn a C- or lower in a course, regardless of your overall GPA, schools will ask you to retake the course to ensure you have a good foundation for optometry school. Generally, optometry schools do not have a strict minimum GPA, but make sure to look further into the requirements at the schools you are most interested in.

Don’t throw away your goals because of a course or two. Although you want to do well in all of your prerequisite courses the first time you take them, schools will allow you to retake a course for a better grade if there is a course you really struggled with. It may not be the ideal situation, but a better grade the second time taking a course shows you did, in fact, learn the content. Similarly, if you don’t perform as well as you hoped in a class, work diligently to score high in that section on the OAT to show schools you mastered the material. A poor grade in a prerequisite course and a below-average score in that section on the OAT could lead to concern that you are not prepared for optometry school.

Prerequisite Courses

Every school has slightly different prerequisite course requirements. They can be found on each school’s website, along with any minimum letter grade or GPA requirements. The exact requirements will also be listed on your OptomCAS application, but it is best to look at the schools you are most interested in before starting your application to ensure you can complete all the courses before starting optometry school. Generally, the courses required are: 

  • A full year of general chemistry with lab 
  • A full year of general biology with lab 
  • A full year of physics with lab 
  • A full year of organic chemistry with lab 
  • A full year of English 
  • A semester/quarter of psychology 
  • A semester/quarter of statistics 

In addition to the required classes, there are also a handful of recommended classes as well. They include: 

  • Microbiology 
  • Biochemistry 
  • Anatomy 
  • Physiology 
  • Social sciences 
  • Humanities 

Regardless of your major, it is imperative to make sure to do well in all of the prerequisites and take as many of the recommended courses as possible. The additional recommended courses will only help build your foundation for optometry school. 

In summary, it is hard to gauge what GPA you may need. Different undergraduate universities have different course rigors, and schools may take this into consideration. A good rule of thumb is to look at the average incoming class GPA for the schools you’re most interested in and shoot for a GPA higher than the highest average.

Extracurricular Activities

The admissions committee is often composed of optometrists. When your application is being considered, they are not only looking to see how well you performed in your classes, but they also want to choose well-rounded individuals who will be able to push the profession of optometry in the right direction.

In your undergraduate career, you should participate in clubs, organizations, and athletics that interest you. These activities will help you meet more people like yourself, whether that be professionally or socially. Although there is no requirement on the number of extracurriculars you should be involved with, or how many hours you commit a week, two to three organizations is a good goal. More competitive schools will look for even more commitment. It is vital to be an active member of the organizations you are a part of, not just be on their roster. Being involved will help you with your personal statement, supplementary writing portions of your application, and your interview. It may also be helpful to have one of your extracurriculars have an academic or volunteering component if your school has these organizations available to you. Some examples include pre-optometry clubs, pre-health organizations, and tutoring organizations. If you attend a school that does not have the types of organizations you are interested in being a member of, consider starting a club. If you are not a full-time student and this is not possible for you, look into how you can get involved in your community.

Activity Finder

Find common extracurricular activities, including clinical jobs, volunteering, and research positions.

Showing leadership within the organizations you are a part of, whether that is starting a club or obtaining a leadership position, will help build skills needed for optometry school and your career, while also strengthening your application tremendously. Do not be scared to take on extra commitments in an organization because of the time it will take away from your course load. Succeeding in your classes is very important, but admissions committees will consider involvements outside of the classroom when considering your application. Significant extracurricular involvement and/or leadership can help offset a lower GPA. On your OptomCAS application, you will be asked the time you spend weekly in each organization, so don’t fear that all the time spent will go unnoticed.


Shadowing is one of the most important parts of your application. Most schools do not have a minimum requirement of shadowing hours, but you should check the individual optometry school websites. The admissions committee is looking for hardworking students, but they also want to know that you know optometry is the right career for you. Regardless of how well you can perform in your classes if you don’t want to be an optometrist, chances are you will not make it through the program. Not only do you want to shadow optometrists to show the admissions committee that you did your research, but shadowing is extremely beneficial to you! It allows you to feel confident that you have made the right choice. The more you shadow, the more you can learn what your future will look like.

There are many different modalities (private practice, corporate, academia, hospital setting, etc.) and many specialties (ocular disease, low vision, vision therapy, contact lenses, etc.) of optometry. Schools want to see that you have diversified your experiences to see a least a few different types of modalities and/or specialties. The quantity of hours is not as important as the quality of what you learned. A student may shadow for 10 hours and experience what one student experienced in four. The amount you choose to shadow is up to you; the objective is to feel confident in your decision to pursue optometry and to learn about all the different ways you can practice in the profession. The more you learn through these experiences, the more you will have to write about in your application and discuss in your interview. Consider setting a goal to see a new modality or specialty of optometry during every break between semesters or quarters. The hours will add up before you know it!

Work Experience

Work experience is an excellent addition to your application. The ability to balance different commitments will strengthen your application. If you can work in an optometric setting, that is a solid experience to have on your application. It is a great way to learn more about the field and what goes into patient care inside and outside of the exam room. That knowledge will show through in your personal statement and interview. Schools know these opportunities can be challenging to find, especially in certain areas, so it will not hinder you if you cannot work in an optometric setting. If you do not have these opportunities consider shadowing more to ensure you have enough exposure to the field to stay competitive.


Research can be a great experience to add to an application, although not required. Most optometry schools are more focused on the clinical aspect of optometry with varying degrees of involvement with research. If you have a research interest, whether optometric-related or otherwise, it will only strengthen your application. Participating in research is also an excellent way to get to know a professor on a personal level, which may be a helpful relationship to have when it comes to asking for letters of recommendation (discussed in a later section of this guide). Do not feel as if you have to take part in research solely to write it on your application. If you have an interest in an opportunity near you, it would be a great addition to an application—especially if it is related to optometry—but again will not hinder your application as long as you have other involvements. 


Optometry is a profession all about giving back. Although volunteering is not specified as a requirement, all schools will ask about your volunteering experiences along with a quantitative number of how many hours you volunteered on average per week. For this reason, it is crucial to make sure to have some regular volunteering in your schedule. A great way to do this is to join a volunteer organization. These organizations will often put together volunteering events, eliminating the work of looking for opportunities on your own. If you attend such events regularly, making friends who may connect you to even more volunteer opportunities in your area is easy.

Another great way to volunteer is to be a tutor for a class you did well in. Many schools have tutoring opportunities. If your school does not, consider starting a tutoring organization by speaking to an academic advisor about the need you see in your community. 

The Optometry Admissions Test

A big part of your optometry school application is taking the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT). This can be the most nerve-wracking aspect of the application process for many, but staying informed about all aspects of the test is a great way to stay calm and excel. The more you know about the test, the less likely you will be caught off guard by anything on the exam day. This guide—in addition to online forums, other students, and advisors—is an excellent place to start.

Signing up for the test can be confusing, so set aside at least a couple of hours to sign up. At the end of the registration process, you will be asked to choose your testing center, date, and time according to what is available. Students should register for their testing date two to three months in advance, as testing spots can fill up, especially during peak test-taking times. Having a known test date also helps keep many students motivated over the course of a few months of studying. It also provides time to research your testing center at to avoid any unexpected surprises with parking or room temperature.

When signing up, you will be asked if you want to send your scores to any particular schools. The first time a student takes the exam, they are able to send their test scores to as many schools as they would like free of charge. It is in your best interest to send your scores to all schools—but please check to ensure this is still the case when you are signing up for the exam! There is no way to hide a poor first exam score from a school, because—for example—if a student takes the OAT once and scores poorly, when they take it a second time and send their scores out, each school will get a copy of both their first and second exam scores.

Do not treat your first exam as practice. Schools do not like to see this. If you are unprepared for your test day, change your exam date. Taking the OAT twice will not break your application by any means, but the admissions committee will ask why you did not perform as well as you had hoped the first time. Additionally, a lower score on the second attempt would require a very good explanation. 

Content of the Test

The OAT is made up of the following four sections. All sections have a time limit and consist of only multiple-choice questions. 

Survey of Natural Sciences 

This section comprises 100 questions; test takers are given 90 minutes to complete it. The first 40 questions are biology, the subsequent 30 are general chemistry, and the final 30 are organic chemistry. Students will be given separate Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry scores from this section. These three scores will also be averaged with the physics section score to create a Total Science score as well. This score is important as schools look at this quite heavily. 

Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension has three (3) passages and 13-14 questions after each passage, totaling 40 questions. The time limit for these questions is 50 minutes. 


There are 40 questions in the physics section, which lasts a duration of 50 minutes. 

Quantitative Reasoning

This section is 45 minutes long and has 40 multiple-choice questions. 

Test Preparation Resources

There are multiple options for OAT study material and classes test takers can take. It can be hard to sift through all the options and choose the best for you. Use this guide, threads on Student Doctor Network Forums, and your peers to help you choose the best resources for your study plan. Below are some of the popular resources students use, but know this is not an exhaustive list. 

*The following is not meant to be a list of all available resources or an endorsement of any particular resource but does provide a general overview of some frequently used options.

Instructor-Led Courses 

Kaplan OAT Prep Course: Kaplan offers a course that some students opt to take. The course is said to be helpful for those who struggle to make a study plan and stick to it. Kaplan provides resources and helps students stick to the structured study plan they have set in place for the class. This class will need to be paired with self-studying after it is completed. Aside from Kaplan, there may be courses offered locally, along with private tutors, which likely have the same utility. 


Many students chose to only self-study. The benefit of self-study is that the plan is completely catered towards each individual and can be changed at any time to add or decrease focus on any particular subject. 

Kaplan OAT book: Students often choose to use this as their primary resource and add supplemental materials for different sections. The Kaplan book covers every test section, and most students say it is an excellent starting point. By going through the whole book, students will have decent exposure to all the exam contents and can distinguish which subjects they need the most work on. This book also comes with two online exams. Online exams are quite helpful as they help replicate the conditions during testing day. The interface of the online Kaplan exams is quite similar to those of the actual OAT, which students find comforting. Each year Kaplan comes out with a new edition of the book. Luckily since the test has not been changed recently, buying an older version is equally as helpful (and usually less expensive!) However, students would most benefit from buying a new book, as used ones usually do not allow for access to the online exams since the access code can only be used once. This may be the best stand-alone resource for students who do not have much time to study, although it is not generally recommended to use only one book. 

CliffNotes’s AP Biology Book: This book is handy for the biology portion of the OAT. Concepts are covered to an adequate depth and organized very well. Used copies can usually be found online or in a used bookstore. 

Crash Course Youtube Videos: Crash Course Youtube videos are a great way to study a specific topic, especially anatomy and physiology. The depth in the anatomy and physiology videos seems to be very similar to the depth of knowledge needed for the OAT. The other videos may also be very beneficial to those who are auditory or visual learners. As an added bonus, these are all free videos— feel free to try them out for any subject at no cost! Beware, they are not made for the OAT or any similar test, so it would be worthwhile to compare the content with other resources you have to ensure the material needed for the OAT is what is being covered. 

Chad’s Videos: These videos are known to be highly beneficial, especially for those who learn best by listening, rather than reading. They are most well-known for the helpful organic chemistry material, but there are videos on other subjects as well. Some of the content is free, while other content requires a subscription. 

OAT Destroyer: The Destroyer book series has been known to be highly effective and help students attain high scores. Test takers can purchase a set of books for all subjects, or select individual books depending on their needs. These books do not cover subject matter the way Kaplan or Cliff’s AP Biology books do but instead, give hundreds and hundreds of practice questions to help students prepare. The questions represent the most challenging problems seen on the OAT; they do not represent what the questions will be like overall. These books are designed to help students score a 400 on the OAT and have shown excellent results if used correctly. 

Practice Exams 

Part of the battle of taking the exam is having the stamina to stay focused for the duration of the exam. The best way to prepare for this is to take as many complete practice exams as possible. 

Kaplan Practice Exam: Kaplan offers a free practice exam every few months. Test takers must sign up online in advance and log on at the specified time. This test is very similar to the ones that come with the Kaplan book. They are thought to be similar to the true OAT, but usually, students find if they have been practicing by taking full-length Kaplan tests, they score a bit higher on testing day. 

OAT Achiever: This is a package test takers can buy and download directly to a laptop or desktop computer. There are packages of three, five, or seven exams. This is a good tool for students who are struggling with staying focused for the entire test and would like to take many practice exams. There is also a free trial for students to try before buying a package. OAT Achiever is considered more difficult than the OAT, and some say even more than Kaplan practice exams. However, as the tests are likely changed over the years, please refer to SDN Forums to see how students compare the exams. 

ADA DAT Practice Exams: The Dental Admissions Test (DAT) is made by the makers of the OAT and is very similar in difficulty to the true OAT. Unfortunately, it is not in a similar format to how the OAT is presented on test day, but it is still a great way to gauge the difficulty of exam questions. The ADA offers a DAT tutorial for free, and a practice DAT for purchase. Note that the DAT includes a spatial reasoning section called Perceptual Ability that is not on the OAT, so buying individual modules of the practice test may be more cost-effective.

Timeline and Study Schedule

Making a schedule is difficult, as knowing how to tackle so much information is challenging. 

You should give yourself six to eight weeks to study for this exam. It is a good idea to take it early in the summer, the year before you would like to start optometry school. For example, if you would like to begin optometry school in the Fall of 2025, the application cycle would begin in June/July 2024, and around that same time is a great time to take the OAT. Taking the OAT in June would be ideal if you aim to apply early. As this does not give many students the full six to eight weeks, July is still a great time to register, or you can opt to begin reviewing during winter break, making study guides for yourself to review in the summer. 

If you take the test later in the application cycle, you can send your application with your upcoming test date rather than your test results. You will not be extended an interview until you have taken the OAT, but this allows for your application to be processed while waiting for the scores. Remember that if you need to retake the test, test takers must wait 90 days from their original testing date. 

Many work while studying for the OAT. However, if you can take time off, having the OAT be a sole priority for a time, and studying eight to 10 hours a day is beneficial. If it is not possible for you to take off for such long periods of time, I would recommend at least spending the last two weeks studying full-time. 

There are three components of studying for the OAT: 

  1. Reviewing the material 
  2. Finding weak spots and spending time relearning those concepts 
  3. Practice, practice practice 

I planned to spend about four and a half to five weeks reviewing the material, primarily using the Kaplan book. I also used Cliff’s book for biology, and anatomy and physiology Crash Course videos. I gave myself a week each for biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics. The last week in this plan was half for quantitative reasoning, and the other half as additional time, knowing that one of the four core subjects would likely need more time than I had allotted.

I found the Reading Comprehension section challenging to prepare for. I studied for it by doing as many practice sections as I could. Throughout the five weeks, I completed a practice reading section any time I was bored with the subject I was currently studying, as a way to give myself a change of pace for an hour or so. I also tried to incorporate step two and relearn concepts in my weaker subjects during this time. 

I started with the subjects I was most confident in; I wanted to try to be ahead of schedule, knowing that the subjects I struggled with would likely take a bit longer than planned. I also wanted the more difficult subjects to be fresh in my mind. There is no right or wrong order in tackling the subjects, as many students choose to do the opposite, wanting to get the problematic subjects out of the way early on. 

After reviewing the content, taking a practice exam to see what you have retained and what weak areas you need to work on is helpful. From here, you can gauge if your target score is attainable depending on how much time you have until your testing date. This is an excellent time to push back your test if need be. It is essential to be realistic with yourself, but also know you can improve your score much more than expected with a couple of weeks of practice. 

The following 10-14 days were spent working on weak subjects. This was primarily done with materials other than the Kaplan book. I would recommend using other resources to learn content that you still feel you are struggling with. Chad’s videos are pretty helpful in seeing the material in a different way. The OAT Destroyer books are a great way to start drilling material while studying these more demanding subjects. Making or using flashcards is great for memorizing mechanisms for organic chemistry. 

The last seven to 10 days should be saved for additional practice and practice tests. Taking a practice exam every two to three days allows you to study material you struggled with before taking another test. This is also a great time to practice using the OAT Destroyer books. If you find yourself confused about a concept, make sure to go back to reviewing/learning the material. 

Before your test day, read the reviews of your testing center on This will help prepare you for any logistical challenges, like parking, finding the entrance to the center, and the room temperature. 


Each section is scored by taking the amount of questions test takers got correct and converting that to a score between 200 and 400, increasing in increments of 10. Each subject—biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, quantitative reasoning, and reading— will have an individual score. Additionally, there will be a Total Science score and an academic average. Total Science considers biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics performance, while the academic average looks at the test as a whole. 

An academic average of 300 equals about the 50th percentile, but this seems to vary slightly on each test. The score sheet printout lists a percentile next to each sub-score and the overall score. A score of 350 would make a test taker a competitive applicant at all schools, assuming the individual has at least the average GPA and has been shadowing and participating in extracurricular activities. Many students who have taken full-length practice exams through Kaplan or OAT Achiever have reported their scores on the testing day as a bit higher than their scores during practice, but you should not count on that, as a testing day can add different stressors. 

Practice test scores can be very inaccurate if they are not taken in one sitting, as taking long breaks can help elevate your score. The test is not simply a measure of how much information you know but rather how well you can stay calm, think critically, and continue applying yourself over the course of the test. Being familiar with what is to come and the content helps ease additional tension and will allow you to perform your best on exam day. 

Scores are given as soon as the test is complete on exam day. It will appear on the computer screen, and test takers will be given a paper copy when they check out the testing center.

Where To Apply

Optometry is relatively small compared to many other graduate healthcare programs. As a result, there are not as many schools to choose from compared to other health professions. An excellent way to figure out which school is best for you is to schedule a visit with the admissions department. Most schools have open houses where schools will host lectures teaching prospective students about the school and lead tours in small groups. This is a great way to meet students you may attend school with in a year or two and learn about the school’s culture. If the school has no open house event information on their website or you are traveling and have particular availability, most schools have admissions advisors willing to meet, answer any questions, and give you a tour. 

Before evaluating schools, make a list of the factors that are most important to you. Some examples are location, tuition, cost of living, reputation, and culture. Although it may be difficult, it is constructive to be able to rank your first few choices, since the application process is rolling. A good strategy is to only apply to two to three schools you can see yourself attending, making sure at least one to two are realistic options. From there, you can apply to more if needed. This strategy may not work well if you apply later in the cycle. Regardless of when you are applying, remember that the optometry school application is a bit more straightforward than applying to other health professional schools, such as medical or dental school. Applicants often fall into the trap of applying to close to 10 schools, some more, because they see their peers applying to graduate schools doing such. If applying early with solid credentials, pre-optometry students do not need to apply and interview at more than five schools. 

US Optometry Programs

Compare different optometry programs, including the GPA and OAT scores for accepted applicants and unique criteria for each school.

Questions to Ask

Optometry schools have many components that are pretty standard among all of them. When evaluating schools, you want to examine what makes them different. Here are some questions you can ask when visiting the school when speaking to someone in the admissions department, or during interview day to help you compare them to other schools. It is imperative to have good questions ready for the admissions committee on interview day. 

How early are students exposed to the clinic, and what will students be able to do in the clinic? 

There are many classes students have to take in the first couple of years, resulting in many long days and nights in the library. Schools have found that getting students into the clinic, even just for a couple of hours a week, helps students remember their love for the profession. It is also helpful for students to gain exposure to how the clinic at their school operates so that when it’s their turn to see patients, they find the clinic a bit more comfortable. Many schools have noticed this effect and begun incorporating shadowing as early as the first year, but it is good to ask how often you will get to go to the clinic early on in your optometry school career and compare between schools. Also, learning if you will be shadowing or having a more hands-on role in the clinic could be helpful information. 

What are the faculty-to-student ratios during clinic practice time and in the clinic? 

Schools often post similar ratios online with the overall faculty-to-student ratio. This is helpful to know, but even more so, it is helpful to know the ratio during practice time, labs, and in the clinic. These are the times when you will most benefit from individualized attention. Some schools have labs taught by teaching assistants, who are students that have previously completed and done well in the course. This can be beneficial, as sometimes students who just learned a clinical skill may be better teachers than someone who has been practicing for 20 years. On the other hand, the experience and expertise of the faculty are valuable as well. Both have positives and negatives, but knowing what to expect beforehand can be helpful. 

What specialties are seen in the clinic? What specialties do students get the least exposure to? Is this supplemented with externships? 

Optometry school graduates are often terrified when they first get out and practice in the real world. Even if they were the best student, this is the first time they will practice without a team of optometrists right down the hall to ask if they are unsure about something. There is often the fear a patient will walk into your office with a condition you have never seen before. The best way to prevent this is to look for a school that will give you the most exposure to as many different specialties as possible. This can be accomplished by getting a variety of patients into the clinic or by placing students in externship sites during the fourth year with high exposure to particular specialties not seen in the primary clinic. Many schools are located in or near urban settings, making it easier to find patients with various needs. If you have shadowed a specific specialty that you found interesting, for example, contact lenses, you can compare schools by asking how much students get to work with specialty contact lens patients. 

What resources are in place to help students prepare for the National Boards? 

The National Boards are a three-part test that every student needs to pass before they are certified to practice in the United States. The Association of Schools and College of Optometry posts the pass rates for each school on their website at the end of each calendar year. These scores may be helpful to take a look at because they can be a gauge of how well a school prepares their students, but keep in mind they do not always tell the whole story and are not the single most important factor in rating how great of an education the school provides. In combination with researching the board pass rates, compare how schools help prepare students for the exam. Do they plan student schedules to be a bit lighter the semester/quarter leading up to boards? Are there any specialized practice room lanes reserved for students to practice for Part 3 of the boards? Does the school guide study for students in any way? 

What technology is a part of our clinical education? 

It’s no secret technology is significantly changing optometry as we know it. Moving forward in the profession, optometrists need to embrace new technology and evolve with the times. For that reason, it is important that schools have the new technology available and that it is being taught in the curriculum, as that may be what their future office is equipped with. On the flip side, you may graduate and work for a practice that does not have any new technology at all, as many practicing optometrists prefer to complete certain parts of the exam manually. The diversity of different equipment brands and a mixture of manual and automated is very beneficial to your learning experience. Ask about these things from school to school and compare what they have to say. 

Are there any joint degree programs? 

Many schools have joint degree programs where students can get an additional degree or certification along with their OD while they are in optometry school. This is either through the school itself, the university they are a part of, or another college/university the school is partnered with. This is becoming increasingly popular and might be something to inquire about if you want to combine a potential OD with another degree. Some examples of programs offered at various schools are a Master of Science in Visual Science, a Doctor of Philosophy in Vision Science, Masters of Education in Visual Function in Learning, a Master of Business Administration, and/or a Master in Public Health. Applicants usually do not need to decide if they want to take on more until their first year of school or later. These additional programs sometimes have an additional cost, but some may not. This is another thing that can be inquired about. 

The OptomCAS Application

The optometry school application process is centralized through the OptomCAS website. Once the applicant creates an account, they can choose which of the 23 schools and colleges of optometry in the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) they would like to apply to. If you add a school to your application, you do not necessarily have to follow through and submit an application. You can also add more schools to your application at any time. 

The application cycle begins the summer of the year before your chosen matriculation date and runs through the following spring. For example, if an applicant wanted to begin optometry school in the fall of 2025, the application would become available on OptomCAS in late June/early July of 2024, and end in the spring of 2025. All optometry schools have a rolling application cycle. This means that they will assess applications, offer interviews, and fill seats on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the cycle. It is in the applicant’s best interest to complete all portions of their application and submit it as early in the process as possible. Each school only has a limited amount of seats available for their entering class, and unfortunately, in the winter and spring months, schools may only have a handful of seats left. Each application cycle is different, but there are years when schools fill all the seats before the cycle is completed, meaning only waiting list spots remain. Since it is hard to predict what each application cycle will look like, applying as soon as possible is recommended to increase the chances of acceptance. Interviews typically start in August; completing all application portions at the beginning of August would be ideal. Applicants are still very successful throughout the fall months, and even into the winter, but since submitting an application in August maximizes chances to receive scholarship money, that timeline will be used as an example throughout this section. 

The application has many components—knowing what is expected of you and planning ahead can help applicants stay on track. Remember that once the application is submitted, it takes a few weeks for your application to be verified, and the admissions department will usually not look at an application until the verification process has been completed. This means it is customary not to hear any news from a school for four to six weeks, although applicants who apply in the summer often report hearing back from schools a bit sooner than those who submit their application later in the cycle. 

Unfortunately, OptomCAS does not offer fee waivers for low-income students like other health professions programs.

Parts of the Application

There are four sections of the application, each with some subsections. They have been outlined below to help you begin thinking ahead. 

Personal Information 

This section is very straightforward and can be quickly filled out. It consists primarily of biographic information. 

Academic History 

Colleges Attended 

This section requires applicants to report all colleges they have attended after high school and when they attended that school. All schools must be reported, even if no prerequisite courses were taken there. 

Transcript Entry 

This section of the application requires the applicant to manually report every course they have taken after high school, along with any prerequisites that were taken in high school for AP credit. Reporting can be complex as each course and grade needs to be categorized, and the category options on OptomCAS often vary from how they were organized at the institution where the course was taken. If you have questions, refer to the transcript entry instructions on OptomCAS or call via phone. 

Official transcripts from every college or university you have taken a course at must be sent to OptomCAS. Once the official transcripts have been received, they will be used to verify the manual entries that have been made. If there are any discrepancies, the applications can be put on hold. The verification process usually takes two to three weeks, so completing this portion of the application promptly as the application process begins can be quite beneficial. 

Standardized Tests 

This is where applicants will report their OAT scores. The date the test has been taken and the scores received in each section will be requested. The official scores must also be sent to each school you apply to for verification purposes. You can begin your application before you have taken the OAT. If all other portions of your application are complete, you can even submit your application without having taken the OAT as long as the upcoming OAT date is written in this section. Admissions committees will not invite you to interview until at least one OAT score has been received, but they may begin looking at your application in the meantime. If you are an applicant in this situation, it is not a bad idea to contact the admissions committees to explain your situation and when they should expect to receive your scores. 

Supporting Information 

Evaluations/Letters of Recommendation 

Letters of recommendation can be tough to acquire, especially if the applicant has attended a large undergraduate university or has been out of school for some time. It is imperative to start thinking about letters of recommendation early. The steps to get a successful letter of recommendation include building strong relationships with professionals around you, planning how many letters of recommendation you need from each category, asking/ inviting evaluators, and following up. 

Schools most commonly ask for two to three evaluations, one from a science professor, one from an optometrist, and a third from someone of the applicant’s choice. Remember that these requirements can vary from school to school, and an applicant can submit a maximum of four letters. Applicants must ensure that these four letters will fulfill the application requirements of all the schools they are applying to. Plan out how many evaluators will be needed from each category to meet the requirements of all the schools. 

Once you have planned out how many evaluators you need from each category, start thinking about whether you have a strong relationship with anyone who would be able and willing to write an evaluation that would add color to your application. A professor from a challenging class where you earned an A, but did not know personally, would not be a good evaluator since they could not say anything more than “Jane Doe was a hardworking student as she earned an A in my course.” This is something the admissions committee can see and infer from the transcript portion of the application. Make an effort to attend office hours for courses and build personal relationships with the optometrists you shadow or work under. The optometrist should be able to attest to your interest and passion for optometry. 

The best way to ask your professor for a recommendation letter would be to set up a meeting through e-mail or in person. Here is an example e-mail:

Good afternoon Dr. X, 

It’s Jane Doe (student number) from your chemistry course. I was hoping to meet with you next week to discuss my future plans. Would you be on campus between Tuesday and Friday? And what time would work best for you? 

Thank you, 

– Jane Doe 

Those writing your letters need to be professional acquaintances. Family members will not be accepted. Additionally, do not submit a letter from your personal optometrist unless you have made a professional relationship with them through shadowing or work experiences. 

Through OptomCAS, you can send each evaluator an invite via email. The invite allows them to quickly make an account where they can upload their evaluation to OptomCAS. Before sending an electronic invite, it is crucial to have a conversation with the evaluator, asking them if they would be comfortable writing a positive letter of recommendation. There are horror stories of evaluators submitting a negative evaluation, and this is an excellent way to mitigate that risk. Work with the evaluator on a reasonable timeline for them. It often takes longer than expected to get a recommendation letter. The desired timeline varies from person to person, but giving evaluators at least three to four weeks to prepare an evaluation is courteous. Asking professors at the end of the spring semester before the application cycle begins is a good idea. This will give them over four weeks before the application to get a head start on writing. Remember, this is a time when many professional school application cycles begin, and professors especially may have many letters to write. Some evaluators will request a resume or even your personal statement as a guide to help them write your letter. Speaking to evaluators early allows you a couple of weeks to update your resume or write a rough draft of a personal statement to help the evaluator. 

If you are still a year or two away from starting your application, get to know potential evaluators as soon as possible. If you have gotten to know a professor a couple of years in advance, reach out to them, share your future goals, and ask them if they would be comfortable writing a letter of recommendation for you. Many professors will write letters years in advance and keep them saved until you send them an invitation to upload them to OptomCAS. This is a great way to ensure you are fresh in their mind when writing your recommendation and allows you to work ahead. 

When sending the invite to the evaluator, you must set a deadline for them. Adding a bit of cushion in case the evaluator is running behind schedule is not a bad idea. For example, if you plan to complete your application by August 1, you can tell your evaluators in May that you will send them an invite in late June or early July, and that, ideally, you would like the evaluation by July 20. A couple of days before the deadline, if you see on OptomCAS that the evaluator has not submitted their letter, you can contact them and offer them additional time. This may help prevent a generic and hastily written evaluation. Ensure to check in after you have sent the invitation and offer help if needed. It is imperative to remember that the evaluators are doing you a favor and to always be courteous and helpful. 

It is not uncommon for evaluators, especially professors, to forget about the letter and become hard to get a hold of in the summer months. It is helpful to have backup options you can turn to if this occurs. 


This section is an opportunity to showcase how well-rounded you are by reporting community involvement, leadership, shadowing, and/or work. A description of the activity, approximate time spent on each experience, and contact information of someone who worked above you will be requested. It is not uncommon for schools to call to verify reportings on the application, so make sure to be as accurate as possible in your reporting. Applicants who have been working at the same practice for years can use their tax forms to help them get an accurate number of hours they have worked there. 

Work experience is not required to apply to optometry school, but it is essential to show that you have exposure to the field by shadowing. If, when completing this section, you realize you do not have much shadowing experience or do not have a variety of exposure, reach out to a local practice. It’s not too late to add and/or diversify your shadowing experiences. 


This section is paired with experiences. It is recommended applicants report all professional or academic achievements. A date for its issuance and a short description will be required. 

Program Materials 

The Program Materials section contains all the school-specific requirements. This primarily consists of your personal statement and any additional supplemental materials the school would like. It is not uncommon for schools to have supplemental essay questions in addition to the main personal statement. 

The personal statement is where you will get a chance to explain your passion for the field of optometry. Be sure to pay close attention to the essay word/character limits. Many applicants waste time because they did not give the limit much thought and are then forced to spend time revising the essays to be shorter. The personal statement has historically been limited to 4500 characters, which is about one and a quarter pages long. Keep this in mind while writing your first draft. Supplemental essays have varying limits but are usually shorter than the personal statement. OptomCAS will not allow you to submit an essay that exceeds the limit. 

It is extremely helpful to have a few people look over your essay and make revisions based on their feedback. Applying the input of others to your writing ensures that the message you are trying to convey is getting across effectively. Many revisions are normal, and your first draft will often differ greatly from your final draft. Do not be too hard on yourself. That said, knowing when to stop revising and submit your application is crucial. 

Submitting Your Application

This is a significant factor in the application process. Although OptomCAS is a centralized service, you do not need to submit your application for all the schools simultaneously. If some schools have additional essays beyond the personal statement, you can go ahead and submit the applications that only require the personal statement while you work on others. You will be asked to pay the application fee when you submit it. Usually, you will get a confirmation email from the school saying they have received your application. Some schools require a secondary application. Secondary applications are sometimes sent to you within a few days of your original submission through OptomCAS, while other schools will wait until they have reviewed your application and then send you a secondary application if they find you are a competitive applicant at that time in their application cycle. Some secondary applications will only include quick demographic questions, while others will have an essay question. Secondary applications commonly have a secondary fee associated with submission. It is in your best interest to look into which schools have a secondary application, and remember that your application is not complete until you receive and submit it.


Booking Your Interview

Once you have submitted your application, it will take some time for everything to be verified and processed by each school. If, within a couple of weeks, you have not heard from the school confirming that they have received your application, you are encouraged to reach out to the admissions department to ensure nothing has gone wrong in the process or see if any further steps are needed from you. 

After your application has been processed, the school will review it to determine if you are a competitive enough applicant to be offered an interview. If so, you will get an email asking if you want to schedule an interview. Different schools have different ways of setting up interviews. Some may offer you a handful of dates via email, others have an online portal to schedule an interview, but many ask that you call a specific admissions department member to schedule an interview over the phone. Interviews can fill up quickly, and since the application is rolling, it is in each applicant’s best interest to set up the interview as soon as possible. 

Instead of being invited for an interview, schools can also put your application on hold and request more information. Sometimes schools will request applicants retake their OAT. This dialogue is unique to each applicant. Schools may also not be ready to extend an invite upon initial review of your application and may not reach out until months after your application has been processed or not reach out at all. Other schools will communicate that your application has been closed. If your application is closed at a school that you plan to reapply to in the next cycle, reach out and ask what you can do better in the next year to strengthen your application. 

Keep in mind the timeline of the application process when scheduling interviews. After an interview, schools typically notify applicants within a couple of weeks and then give applicants a short amount of time to either accept or decline the offer. This time period is typically less than a month, although some schools will give you a bit longer earlier in the application cycle. If you are applying to a handful of schools, it would be best if you could schedule interviews close together so you know where you stand with all or most of the schools when you make your decisions. Some schools will understand if you need a couple more days to decide; reach out to them, but make sure your extension request is reasonable and respectful. 

Types of Interviews

There are a handful of different types of interviews, and you must know which you will encounter to prepare accordingly. Typically, you will be given some details about the type of interview you should expect before the day of the interview. If not, use this guide to help prepare for all that you may encounter. 

An interview can be: 

  • Open file: In an open file interview, the interviewer can access your whole file, including transcripts. 
  • Closed file: In this type of interview, the interviewer has not seen your file. The interviewer has no background on you, so it may be helpful to mention the basics, such as where you are from, what you studied in undergraduate school, and so forth, during your interview. 
  • Semi-closed file: This means the interviewer has seen some parts of your file, usually including your personal statement and letters of recommendation, but not your transcripts or test scores. 

Interviewers will sometimes start the interview by telling you whether they have seen your file. If you were not given this information at any point, it is best to act if it is a closed-file interview. 

In addition to the above, interviews also fall into the following categories: 

  • Traditional: There will be one interviewer and one applicant in this setting. 
  • Panel Interview: In a panel interview, there will be more than one interviewer in the room. Usually, the interviewers will take turns asking questions. 
  • Group Interview: In this setting, there will be multiple applicants and one or more interviewers. This is a less common form of interviewing, but it has been seen at some schools. It is often in a less formal interviewing environment but can also be formal. 
  • Multiple-Mini-Interview (MMI): In a multiple-mini interview, there are usually five to eight different stations that applicants rotate through. Applicants will only be in the room or at each station for a short amount of time (five-10 minutes). At each station, applicants are typically asked to read a scenario and then discuss it with the interviewer. There are many resources online to help applicants prepare for such interviews, and applicants should spend a bit more time preparing for these interviews. Scenarios are often ethical. 

Components of Interview Day

Interview day typically starts in the morning and runs until the early afternoon. Some schools also have afternoon interviews, where the day starts in the late morning and runs until early evening. The interview itself is typically about 30-40 minutes long. There will be other students interviewing on the same day as you, so there may be some downtime while you wait for the other applicants to finish their interviews. The flow of the day is different at each school, but typically the day consists of similar portions. There will be a financial aid presentation where the financial aid advisor will go over tuition, living expenses, loans, scholarships, and the logistics of the whole process. There are often other short presentations from administration members or even students, such as presentations on student life or career development. There will be a student-led tour of the school and the clinic at some point throughout the day, along with a lunch break. Lunch is usually provided, and a student typically sits with applicants creating an excellent opportunity for applicants to learn what life at the school is like directly from current students. 

What to Wear

On interview day, you will be expected to wear professional clothing. Applicants should be on the conservative side when it comes to colors, patterns, shoes, and jewelry. For men, a suit and tie is appropriate with dress shoes. For women, a suit is also appropriate. If wearing a skirt or dress, ensure it is business professional and knee length. A jacket is customary. Heels or flats are appropriate, but if you are not comfortable walking in heels all day, opt for flats, as there is often a lot of walking on the campus tours. 

Common Questions Asked During Interviews

Tell me a little about yourself. 

Whether an interview is an open or closed file, this is typically the first question that will be asked of you. With this question, you have an opportunity to give some background on yourself. You can start by quickly stating a sentence or two about the first part of your life, such as where you were born and raised, and a few words about your upbringing. If this is when you were first exposed to optometry, this is a great time to weave that into your response. Then you can speak about your undergraduate career, what you majored in, why you chose the major you did, and a handful of experiences you have had. This is primarily a verbal summary of your application, but you want to make sure to highlight your journey in choosing optometry along with your other involvements to show you are a well-rounded applicant who can juggle multiple activities. 

Are you applying to other schools, and if so, which ones? 

This seems to be a common question either in the interview or with an academic advisor at some point throughout the interview day. Although not confirmed, schools seem to already have this information from OptomCAS but would like to hear about the application process from the prospective student. It is best to be honest about other school applications. Some schools go as far as to ask where they stack up compared to other schools you have applied to. You want to make sure the school knows you are interested in them. Preparing a professional response to this question before interview day is advised. Students usually respond a bit vaguely with something like, “I am considering this school strongly. The more I am here, the more I can see myself being a student on this campus.” 

What are your grade trends? What class did you most struggle with? 

Schools are typically looking to see applicants with upward grade trends. If you struggled with chemistry, they want to see that your grades improved or stayed consistent as the courses became more difficult as you progressed through the chemistry sequence. You can balance out lower grades in a specific subject with a great score on that portion of the OAT. When answering this question, use an upward grade trend or great OAT as a positive spin on your lower grades in the subject. Additionally, make sure to describe what you learned from those experiences. It is okay to have a course you struggled with, but schools want to see that you learned from those challenges and are now prepared for the immense rigor of the optometry curriculum. 

Why optometry? Why not medicine? 

This will more than likely be asked during your interview. Although it seems to be an easy question, especially if you are very passionate about the field, it can often be hard to formulate that passion into words. Interviewers do not want to hear the simple and generic answer of “I love eyes.” Additionally, be mindful to try to avoid the topic of salary, as you do not want to appear to be pursuing the field just for the money. You want to show your passion is strong and will carry you through the tough four years that are to come. Examples of some powerful answers include: you like the doctor/patient interaction that optometry allows, you love that you can see the positive impact of your work quickly, especially if the patient’s problem was purely refractive, or discuss how you are excited by all the opportunities an OD will allow in terms of career options. If you have any specialties you are considering pursuing, speak about that interest and where your passion for the specialty comes from. Make sure to be honest in your responses, as interviewers can often discern a rehearsed response from a truthful one. 

How were your shadowing and/or work experiences? 

During your interview, you will likely be asked about your optometric experiences. Interviewers will typically ask about a specific experience. Share what you did, along with what you learned during this experience. You also want to touch on how the experience helped you solidify that optometry was your right career path. Feel free to also express aspects of your experience that you did not like. For example, if you shadowed or worked at both a private practice and a corporate setting, it is acceptable to say that from the two experiences, you learned that a private practice setting aligns with life goals more than a corporate setting, or vice versa, and explain why. You want to show how your experiences showed you more about your future. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

This question is typically asked to gauge how much thought you have given to being an optometrist, and how you have integrated the career into your life plan. Incorporate some career goals with life goals in your response. 

Do you have any questions for me? 

It is imperative to have questions ready for the interviewers. This shows your interest in the school and that you have proactively gathered information about your future. Before your interview, go to the school’s website, read their information, and write some notes along with some questions. You can take these notes along with your questions into the interview room. When it is time for you to ask questions, feel free to say something like “I have written down a few things I was curious about,” while opening up your notes. 

When preparing questions, it is good to have around 10 open-ended questions prepared, as many of your questions may be answered during the interview or earlier in the interview day. If a question was answered earlier in the day, it is best not to ask it again; interviewers typically know which presentations you had that day and what would likely have already been answered. Additionally, do not ask questions that can be answered from information on the school’s website, showing that you haven’t put any effort into research on your own. Substantial questions show you are thinking about your education in the long term. Some good topics that can be formulated into solid questions are: 

  • The school’s research opportunities — What are the research opportunities? How difficult is it to get involved? What is the process of getting involved? 
  • Preparing students for boards — You should look up board pass rates before going to the interview to get a general idea of what it is. Interviewers will know what it is and assume you do as well. Some good questions are: Are there any additional resources outside of class given to students to help them prepare for boards? 

Examples of some other questions you may be asked: 

  • What is something unique you can bring to this school/your class? 
  • Why do you want to come to this school? 
  • How would you explain the difference between optometry and ophthalmology to an 11-year-old? 
  • How do you anticipate the transition from undergraduate to optometry school to go? 
  • How are your time management skills? 
  • How did you study for the OAT? 
  • Who do you admire and why? 
  • What are some issues in the field of optometry today? 
  • Read this prompt about an ethical dilemma and explain how you would respond. 

How to Prepare

Students find comfort in reading Student Doctor Network forums to learn more about the interview day in the weeks before the interview. In the days leading up to the interview, you should research the school and take notes on some key points you notice. An excellent place to start is by reading the school’s website. Make note of board pass rates, research opportunities, activities on campus, tuition costs, and anything else that catches your attention. From there, write up some questions you want to ask during the interview, financial aid presentation, and current students. 

Laws on how optometrists can practice are different from state to state. It’s a good idea to read about how optometry is practiced in the state where the school is located, especially if it differs from the state you are from. This can provide an excellent question to ask during your interview. Do not ask what the laws are, as you should know this. Instead, ask about the impact they have on education or students. 

A great strategy to prepare for the questions you will be asked in the interview is to make flashcards. On one side, write out all the questions you see in this guide and others you may find on Student Doctor Network or elsewhere. Then write bullet points for how you will answer the question on the other. Spend time looking at the question and practicing how you would respond. Then turn the card over and see if you hit all the main points you intended to. You do not want to memorize a script. Most interviews will be conversational, but it is important to weave in positive points about yourself, and for many people, that requires a bit of practice. 

The night before your interview, make sure to get a good night of sleep. Most interviews are very early, and you want to allow yourself ample time to get ready and get to your interview. Early is on time, and on time is late. Typically applicants come at least 15 minutes early. Planning what you will wear and ironing it in advance is a great idea. Plan out what you will eat for breakfast, as it will be a long day. You should also set out a folder, paper, and a pen you plan to take. If you have a padfolio, that would be even better. Ensure to include the list of questions you wrote out when researching the school. 

Interview Day

It is safe to assume that your behavior is being watched throughout the entirety of the day. Make sure to be on your best behavior, and be friendly, polite, and courteous to everyone you encounter. The day is long and exhausting, but keeping up your energy and enthusiasm is crucial. Remember, they are not just interviewing you; you are also interviewing the school to see if it is the right fit for you. Ask questions and make sure to write down the responses so you can compare the schools where you are interviewing. Ensure your questions are polite and do not make faculty or students uncomfortable. It is acceptable to mention you applied to other schools when speaking to current students, but know they cannot speak negatively of other schools. You should also follow this guide and keep conversations positive and professional. 

Following Up

You should always follow up with your interviewers and thank them for interviewing you. Your thank you email should also include a statement of what you liked about the school and the program. I know some schools attach your thank you note to your file, so consider it. I sent an email, but some people send a written thank you note; both are fine. 

At the end of your interview, the interviewer(s) will let you know when you should expect to hear back from them. Adrenaline and nerves are often running high in the interview room; try to write this information down so you know when you can expect to hear from each school. Admissions committees typically have a decision for you in about two weeks. This varies depending on how often the admission committee meets. The timeline of when you will hear back about admission and potential scholarships will be outlined by the end of the day. If it is not, make sure to ask. 

Applications can be accepted, rejected, waitlisted, or put on hold. If your application is put on hold, it means the admissions committee is not sure about your application at that time. This decision is often made because the school wants final grades or an improved OAT score. If the school requests more from you, they will relay this to you in the letter with their decision. Ask the school what the weak spots in your application were and if there is anything you can do to increase your competitiveness to potentially be accepted. Factor their request in with your timeline of interviews with other schools. In many situations, the school simply needs to wait until they have interviewed more applicants before making a decision. Applications can be left on hold for months. It is in your best interest to take steps to improve any weak areas in your application, updating the school on the steps you intend to take and when you have completed them. At the same time, continue exploring options at other schools if you are set on being admitted during that application cycle. If you don’t have any other applications pending, it may be time to begin planning to spend the next year strengthening your application to apply more competitively in the following cycle. If it is still relatively early in the cycle, applying to other schools may not be a bad idea. 

Some students are put on the waitlist. This happens when students are qualified to be admitted but applied at a point in the application cycle when limited seats remain. Some schools will also use a waitlist to put applications on hold. In this situation, asking for feedback on strengthening your application to gain acceptance for either the current cycle or the following is also appropriate. Again, you want to express your interest in the program and dedication to strengthening your application. You should also continue to explore options at other schools and/or prepare to apply again the following cycle. 

If your application has been rejected, again, ask for feedback! Many students are scared to ask for constructive criticism, but this shows the admissions committee your interest in the field and your drive to improve. Make sure to be respectful and appreciative of their time. Don’t be discouraged, as taking a year off to retake the OAT or take more classes will only better prepare you for the courses in optometry school. 

If your application has been accepted, an admissions committee member will call you. Make sure to answer these calls, as they will likely not leave your decision in a voicemail. During the call, the school representative will explain upcoming steps to you. An email and physical letter will also be sent to your permanent address. 

You will have a relatively short period of time to respond with your decision once you are accepted. The earlier in the cycle you apply, the longer time you typically will have to respond, although applicants usually will not have more than a month. Strategically planning interviews so you hear back from all of them in a couple of weeks can help in the decision-making process. This helps applicants avoid a situation where they must accept and deposit at their second-choice school while waiting to hear from their top choice. Remember that this situation could be a reality for you, as it is difficult to schedule all the interviews ideally. Most deposits are not refundable. Depending on the cycle time, some schools may give applicants an extension. As always, be sure to be reasonable, respectful, and appreciative when requesting more time to make your decision. Have a concrete amount of time you need to make the decision. 

Always make sure to reach out to any schools you will not be attending and let them know you have chosen to go to another school. This can be done via email. Schools will often send a survey via email to ask for feedback about their application process. Make sure to fill out these surveys and be respectful while giving feedback. Optometry is a very small profession; you never know when your paths will cross again with many people you meet. 


The sources I used/referenced for the entire guide were ASCO, school profiles on SDN, OptomCAS, and the following school websites: 

The rest of the information I had was from my own personal experiences, information given to me by word of mouth by advisors or other students who had visited the school. 

Thank You Note

Special Thanks

The Health Professional Student Association acknowledges the generous support of Booster Prep, which made this guide possible.

2023 Update Team