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Non-academic requirements

In addition to completing the academic prerequisites, applicants must meet the following non-academic requirements. The applicant is responsible for completing these requirements so the results can be submitted to the School's Admissions Office by the deadlines.

For additional help, please check the remainder of the Doctor of Optometry site. If you still have questions, please contact the appropriate resource on the help page.

Optometry Admissions Test (OAT)

The Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) must be completed by all applicants. The OAT is a standardized test administered independently by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) for all of North America; it is not administered by UWaterloo. This test consists of four parts; a survey of the natural sciences, reading comprehension, quantitative reasoning, and physics.

Details of the OAT, along with sample questions and application procedures & deadlines, are available in the OAT Examinee Guide on the ASCO site or by contacting:

Optometry Admission Testing Program 
211 East Chicago Avenue, 6th floor 
Chicago, Illinois , U.S.A. 60611-2678
(800) 232-2159 or (312) 440-2693

This is a computerized test and can be taken at any time.

For September 2016 admission applications, OAT scores must be taken from August 31st, 2013 to August 31st, 2015. If the OAT is repeated during this time, the best score is used.

Note:  OAT rules state that you have to wait 90 days if you wish to re-write the OAT.  Please take that into consideration when you are booking your OAT test date.

Applicants must ensure that their OAT scores are sent directly to the School of Optometry and Vision Science. The applicant is responsible for allowing enough time to get the OAT results from ASCO to the School. Check the important dates page for the deadline.

OAT fast facts

  • OAT score minimum required: 300
    • If you have a total science or section score below 300, you need to re-take the OAT. You can re-sit the OAT as many times as you want.  Only the highest score is considered.
  • Average OAT score for 2015 Waterloo Optometry applicants: 370

Do I need to study for the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT)?

Yes, you should definitely study for the OAT, as it will affect your chances of being admitted to the program. Although the School has no data on the content or efficacy of any test preparation material, we offer a few starting points:

  • Test preparation materials and a sample test are available from the ASCO website.
  • Study guides are usually available in the UWaterloo bookstore and through book suppliers such as Amazon books (Canada), search for “optometry admission test
  • Kaplan Test Prep now offers sessions for the OAT
  • Do a Google search for “optometry admission test” and also look at the “sponsored links”

A note about confidential information requested by OAT

Legislation in the United States allows certain questions regarding race, religion and socioeconomic status to be asked of applicants for admissions tests. Such questions are found in the OAT Candidate Confidential Information Form (which OAT sends after initial application). These questions need not be answered by residents of Ontario since they are prohibited under the Human Rights Code of Ontario. Outside Ontario, check the code in your respective province. The testing service will still process the application if the applicant does not answer all of the questions. The only information that the School of Optometry receives regarding an applicant is his/her name, social insurance number and OAT scores. The Admission Committee is neither aware of, nor affected by, other personal data contained in the OAT application.

Confidential assessment forms

Two confidential assessment forms (CAF) are required as part of the application.  CAF’s are like a letter of reference, but are specific forms.  Those forms are part of the secondary application and are not available prior to that time.  Neither CAF can be from a relative.

The two required CAF’s are:

  • An optometrist CAF;
  • A character CAF. For example, the character CAF can be from an employer, supervisor, professor, coach, or minister. It should be from someone who knows you well.


You must be a Canadian citizen (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) or legal resident of Canada for a minimum of twelve months prior to the first day of registration of your first term (September) in Optometry. In special situations, a limited number of international students (Waterloo's International Student page) studying on student visas may be considered for admission.

English language requirements

If your first language is not English, and you have not studied in an English language school system for the most recent 5 years immediately before you begin your studies in Optometry, you must provide one of the following tests with minimum scores as listed:

Non-academic application sections

In addition to sections for personal identification and academic records, the Application for Admission to the School of Optometry requires additional non-academic information:

  • Academic awards
  • Non-academic awards
  • Work experience
  • Volunteer experience
  • Job shadowing, volunteering, or working with an optometrist (a minimum of 8 hours is recommended.)

Police check (Criminal Record Check)

During your training to become an optometrist you will work with members of the general public as patients in our clinics, including children and vulnerable adults. It is therefore prudent that one of the conditions of acceptance into the Doctor of Optometry program is that you declare all criminal convictions, cautions and disciplinary proceedings before being admitted to the program and annually while enrolled in the Doctor of Optometry Program.    

More information about what you need to declare can be found here: (PDF of rationale letter)

For students who will start their Doctor of Optometry degree course from September 2016 onwards, a requirement of admission and continued registration will be:

  • A self-declaration on the application itself to the Doctor of Optometry Program, and a Criminal Record Check - Vulnerable Sector (CRC), due January 31, 2016
  • Annual Self-Declaration Form, completed each August for years 2 and 3 and April for year 4 while registered in the Doctor of Optometry program

When you apply:

When you apply to the Doctor of Optometry program and if you are invited to an admissions interview, you will be required to provide a Criminal Record Check - Vulnerable Sector (CRC).  If your CRC or Self-Declaration informs the School’s Admissions Officer of a criminal conviction or disciplinary action, then the School of Optometry and Vision Science Criminal Record Check Consideration Committee (CRCCC) will meet and take into account various factors related to the offence.  You will be informed in writing of the CRCCC’s decision. If you are unsure regarding disclosure you are strongly advised to contact the Admissions Officer for advice prior to submitting your application.

Self-Declaration for all new students (from 2016 entry onwards):

If accepted, in each subsequent year of the Doctor of Optometry program, you will be required to make a Self-Declaration regarding any criminal convictions, professional misconduct, cautions or disciplinary proceedings that have occurred in the previous year and have not yet been reported. This includes minor misdemeanours, but not road traffic offences dealt with by way of a fixed penalty notice.

The self-declaration form can be found here: (PDF of self-declaration form)

Note, that some external clinics may require a separate CRC.

If you declare a criminal conviction while you are enrolled as a student in Optometry, you have the right to make a written submission and you can use the Undergraduate Officer as a resource to discuss it and to gather information.  The Undergraduate Officer can then present this information to the CRCCC. This information is considered in confidence by the CRCCC, which will meet and take into account various factors related to the offence. Failure to disclose any relevant information, which is subsequently revealed, may result in an investigation by the University's Secretariat, and your registration in the Doctor of Optometry program may be revoked.

All information received by the University of Waterloo is treated confidentially, in accordance with applicable privacy legislation.

More information about obtaining a Criminal Record Check - Vulnerable Sector can be obtained from your local police agency.  If you are invited to attend an admissions interview, you will be required to have a CRC sent to the School and be responsible for paying any costs related to having the CRC sent.  


The final non-academic requirement will be an interview. See the interview page.