Application Process & Timeline for Optometry

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Candidacy Assessment

Your preparation for application to optometry programs should always begin with assessment of your individual candidacy. Use the Pre-Health Pillars Candidacy Assessment as a guide to self-assess and plan to speak with a Pre-Health Advisors about your progress. 


Pre-Health Pillars Candidacy Assessment


OptomCAS: Optometry Centralized Application Service

This application opens each year in July. Although application closing deadlines span from December -- February, you should apply as early as possible due to the application verification process and rolling admission cycle.

Entrance Exam

The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) is available year round in a computerized format. The test includes four content sections including: 

  1. Quantitative Reasoning
  2. Physics
  3. Reading Comprehension
  4. Natural Sciences

Test Preparation Resources

There are many types of test preparation resources that vary in cost and approach. Pre-Health Advisors do not endorse any of the providers below, but are happy to speak with you about how you might identify the style of preparation that best fits your needs.

Source Cost Level

ASCO Resources:

Khan Academy Free
Mometrix Test Prep Free - Low
Coursesaver Low
OAT Destroyer Low
Crack the OAT Low - Mid
Princeton Review Low - High

Kaplan Test Prep

Free - High

Selecting Schools

It is essential to select schools that are not only a good fit for you academically, but also a good fit for your values, skills, interest, and that will help you become the professional you want to be. Take time to research programs prior to the application process. Here are some factors you should consider:

  • Admission requirements: coursework and clinical experiences
  • Intstitution's mission, goals, curriculum, grading system
  • Size of cohort/class
  • Location. Where do you want to live? Where will you have a support network in place? What is the cost of tuition and cost of living?
  • Where will you complete your clinical rotations? What type of patient population will you serve (i.e. urban, rural)? Will this provide the experiences you hope to gain?
  • Does the school's mission and training focus align with your professional interests (i.e. research, personalized medicine)

Recommended Length of School List: 5-7


Guidelines to Making a School List
OptomCAS Directory of Schools and Colleges of Optometry 

Letters of Recommendation (LORs)

You may submit up to 4 individual letters to OptomCAS. Letters should be sent electronically through the OptomCAS online portal. Paper copies are not accepted. 

You should determine any specific LOR requirements from programs of choice. However, it is typically required or recommended that letters come from the following people: 

  • Optometrist
  • Science Faculty
  • Non-Science Faculty
  • Faculty Advisor
  • Employer
  • Other Healthcare Professional


Guidelines for Letters of Recommendation 

Personal Statement

Your personal statement is a distinctive aspect of your application. It begins with reflection. Consider the following questions to begin: 

  • Why do you want to become an optometrist? Why is this the profession you have chosen instead of another?
  • Think back to your experiences volunteering, shadowing, researching, studying abroad. Can you provide a specific story that deeply impacted you and your decision to become an optometrist? 
  • What do you want the committee to know about you as a person or future colleague? What makes you a good fit for the profession? 
  • How might you demonstrate your aptitude and motivation for the field of optometry?
  • What are your future career goals?

The OptomCAS personal statement section includes a 4,500 character limit (including spaces). See OptomCAS for a formal prompt topic. You should tailor your essay on on the given prompt for each individual school to which you plan to apply. After you save your essay(s), you may upload them to be sent to the appropriate designated schools.



Request official transcripts from all institutions attended. Make sure to carefully follow OptomCAS instruction manual guidelines for specific details on transcript submission to the application service. 


UVA Registrar's Office

Interview Preparation

Pre-health mock interviewing is available to students and alumni preparing for or currently in the health professions application cycle. Interviews are one hour and include a feedback session aimed at increasing your readiness and confidence before an actual admissions interview. To schedule a mock interview complete the following steps.

  1. Schedule Your Mock Interview With an Advisor: Contact the UVA Career Center at 434-924-8900 and indicate you are requesting a Pre-Health Mock Interview or schedule online through your Handshake account.

  2. Come to the Career Center to be Interviewed: Please dress as if this were a real interview. By doing so, you can become comfortable with an interview situation dressed in professional attire. The Pre-Health Advisor will provide feedback as to appropriate interview attire. If you do not have interview attire at this time, please dress in the most appropriate outfit you have available.


Interviewing for Health Profession Admissions

Application Timeline

The entire application process lasts approximately 12-14 months, which spans a full academic year. Whether you plan to apply immediately after your 3rd year, 4th year, or after graduation, this timeline begins with preparation in the fall prior to your application submission in late July.


  • Meet with a Pre-Health Advisor to discuss your plan and involvements
  • Consult OptomCAS for each school's prerequisites 
  • Attend all relevant application process meetings and workshops in preparation for July submission of your application
  • Begin to request LORs from faculty and optometrists
  • Continue revising your Personal Statement Draft
  • Submit Interview Stream for Mock Interview Appointment
  • Begin studying for OAT
  • Research programs and schools
  • Participate in Mock Interview Program with a Pre-Health Advisor
  • Finalize your Personal Statement
  • Consider Mock Interviewing if not previously completed 
  • Participate in Mock Interview if not previously completed
  • Confirm preparation of all LORs for July submission to OptomCAS
May & June
  • Take OAT by early May
  • Review OptomCAS application instruction manual
  • Primary application (OptomCAS) opens in early July
  • Submit primary application, transcripts and all LORs to OptomCAS by end of July

August -


  • Complete secondary applications
  • Utilize Interview Stream and Mock Interviewing
  • Complete secondary applications
  • Interviews begin 
  • Notify fall semester professors of the potential need to travel during the semester for Optometry School Interviews
  • Interviews continue
  • Make final choice of school based on OptomCAS traffic rules
  • Optometry school begins

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