What Are the Different Types of Optometry Prerequisites?

M.C. Huguelet

As admission to optometry school tends to be highly competitive, it is important for those considering applying to these schools to understand the different types of optometry prerequisites. First of all, applicants to optometry school usually must have completed an admissions test as well as at least three years of undergraduate study. Further, during this period of undergraduate study, applicants must have successfully completed certain classes, most of which are science-based. While not necessarily optometry prerequisites, applicants may also find that gaining some experience in an optometry environment and participating in extracurricular activities can improve their chances of acceptance.

A person having an eye exam.
A person having an eye exam.

Exact optometry prerequisites can vary from one school to another, and applicants should contact a prospective school’s admissions office to find out about its requirements well in advance of its application deadline. In general, however, most schools consider applications only from those who have performed well on a standardized admissions exam designed to test such factors as understanding of scientific and mathematic concepts. Further, applicants usually must have completed at least three years of undergraduate study. Certain optometry schools accept applications only from those who have fully completed an undergraduate degree.

Some optometry programs require the applicant has done volunteer work in the community.
Some optometry programs require the applicant has done volunteer work in the community.

While there is no specific undergraduate major required for admission to optometry school, applicants usually must have completed a number of classes which help prepare them for an optometry curriculum. Required classes typically include biology, physics, chemistry, math, and English. Students with a strong overall grade point average (GPA) will likely have a better chance of getting into optometry school than those who performed poorly in their undergraduate classes.

Certain factors, while technically not considered optometry prerequisites, may strengthen one’s chances of being accepted to optometry school. For instance, those who wish to apply to optometry school might consider spending some time working at an optometrist’s office. This type of experience may help convince an application review committee that an individual is genuinely committed to the field of optometry. Further, it can give the individual a good sense of what the field is like, allowing him to verify that it is the right choice for him before he commits to an optometry program.

Finally, a history of participation in extracurricular activities may set one’s optometry school application apart from those of other applicants. Working as an optometrist requires a willingness to help others. Thus, service-based extracurricular activities, such as volunteering at a soup kitchen or a free health clinic, may be a good choice for those who intend to apply to optometry school.

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