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Planning your Pre-Optometry Curriculum

In 1997, the American Optometric Association agreed upon the following definition of the profession: “Doctors of Optometry are independent primary health care providers who examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures as well as diagnose relatedsystemic conditions.”

Course Requirements

Each optometry school may have slightly different admissions criteria.  Thus, it is important that applicationscontact all the schools and colleges to which they are interested in applying.

General requirements

Optometry schools require at least one year of the following subject areas:  

  • Biology or Zoology
  • General Chemistry
  • General Physics
  • English
  • Mathematics

Specific requirements

Most schools require at least one semester of the following courses:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Statistics
  • Calculus
  • Psychology
  • an additional Social Science

Recommended elective courses

Many schools also like students to take:

  • Cellular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Computer Science
  • Business
  • Economics
  • Sociology
  • Public Speaking
  • additional Psychology courses

OAT (Optometry Admission Test)

The Optometry Admission Test is required of all applicants. This OAT will assess general reading comprehension, quantitative analysis, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics. Only OAT scores reported within the last two years are acceptable. After October 2005, only a computerized version of the exam will be offered. Information about the OAT is available online at https://optometriceducation.org/ (this website will allow you to register for the test and view the information booklet). You may contact the testing program via mail or phone at:

Optometry Admission Testing Program
211 East Chicago Avenue, 6th Floor
Chicago, IL 60611-2678
(800) 232-2159

The following links may be helpful in preparing for the OAT:

Shadowing an Optometrist

A letter of evaluation from a practicing optometrist is required.  The more time you spend with an optometrist, the more likely he/she will be able to write a knowledgeable and informed letter.