Frequently Asked Questions

Please find below a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). If you still have questions after reviewing, please use the Contact Us page.

Applying to OptomCAS

When do I need to apply?

You may initiate your application on June 28. Applicants are encouraged to apply early. It is not necessary to wait on your fall transcript.

Where do I send my OptomCAS application materials?

All official transcripts and foreign transcript evaluations should be sent to:

OptomCAS
PO Box 9119
Watertown, MA 02471

What documents do I need to send to OptomCAS?

OptomCAS will accept the following documents ONLY:

  1. All US and English-language Canadian Official Transcripts
  2. Complete Letters of Evaluation (completed electronically ONLY)
  3. Foreign Evaluations (Foreign Applicants Only)
  4. Payment (credit card payments made online ONLY)

Can I add grades from my Summer or Fall courses if I’ve already submitted my application to OptomCAS?

Yes. OptomCAS will allow you to submit an Academic Update. An  Academic Update is a window of time that allows you to update grades on any coursework completed since you originally e-submitted your application. For more information about the Academic Update, please see the OptomCAS Frequently Asked Questions page located here.

Reapplying to OptomCAS

I applied to OptomCAS last year and would like to reapply. Can I carry over my information?

Please check the instructions on the OptomCAS application for 2017-2018 if you are a reapplicant.

U.S. and Canadian Official Transcripts

What is an official transcript?

An official transcript is one that is issued from the office of the registrar, contains an official seal or signature of the registrar and a watermark, and is sent to OptomCAS directly from the registrar in a sealed envelope. Transcripts issued directly to students are not acceptable. Also, any transcripts that are sent directly from the applicant to OptomCAS are not accepted.

To make sure your official transcript is handled properly by OptomCAS, you should print the OptomCAS Official Transcript Request Form by clicking the button in your Colleges Attended page (you must enter your institution information before you will be able to print a transcript matching form). You must give this document to your registrar’s office to include with your transcript when it is mailed to OptomCAS. At the same time, you should request an unofficial student copy for yourself to help you complete the online application.

Foreign Transcripts/Coursework

Do I list my foreign coursework in the Coursework section?

Applicants are not required to list coursework from institutions outside of the U.S. and Canada. However, they are required to submit a Foreign Evaluation to OptomCAS.

Do I list foreign institutions in the Colleges Attended section of my application?

Yes. You may select your institution from a drop-down list.  If your institution is not found after typing the full name in the text box, please select “Can’t find your school?” and select “Foreign Institution”.

Do I list my Canadian coursework in the Coursework section?

Yes. If the transcript from the Canadian university you attended is in English, then the transcript is required; the grades and credits should be entered in the coursework section. If the transcript key does not show a grade and/or credit conversion or it is not in English, you will need to have the transcripts evaluated for U.S. equivalency. You will need to list the college as a Foreign Institution and you cannot enter your courses in Transcript Entry.  See the FAQ for sending foreign transcripts for more information.

Where do I send my foreign transcripts?

OptomCAS does not accept original foreign transcripts – only foreign transcript evaluations.  All official foreign transcript evaluations should be sent directly to OptomCAS at the following address:

OptomCAS Transcript Verification Department
PO Box 9119
Watertown, MA 02471

You MUST read each school’s instructions for submitting documentation of foreign coursework because individual program policies will vary. Some schools prefer to review your transcript directly. In these instances, the official transcript should be sent directly to the school that is requesting it.

Many schools require applicants to submit official foreign transcripts to an approved foreign transcript evaluation service for a course-by-course U.S. equivalency report. In this case, the official evaluation should be sent to OptomCAS and these will be forwarded to your designated schools.

Should you be required to have your transcripts evaluated by a foreign evaluation service, we highly recommend that you contact the foreign transcript evaluation service as early as possible. The services may take several weeks to process your foreign transcript once it is received. Below is a list of some of the commonly used evaluation services, but please make sure that you are using an evaluation service that is accepted by your designated schools.

World Education Services, Inc
http://www.wes.org

Josef Silny & Associates, Inc
http://www.jsilny.com/

Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc
http://www.ece.org

American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO)
http://www.aacrao.org

Evaluations (Letters of Recommendation)

How many evaluators can I enter?

The applicant will provide the names, addresses and email addresses of a maximum of four (4) sources providing evaluations.

What constitutes an evaluation?

The evaluation requires both a rating of attributes and a letter.

How and where do I send my evaluations?

Applicants should not send evaluations directly to OptomCAS; all evaluations should come directly from the evaluator to OptomCAS via the online portal. OptomCAS will not accept paper copies of references.

Enter up to four (4) evaluator names on your OptomCAS application. OptomCAS will not determine if you have met the evaluation requirements for a particular optometry program. Therefore, please review programs’ individual websites or the Letters of Evaluation section of this website to determine the number and type(s) of evaluators required by each institution for which you wish to be considered for admission. The applicant will provide the names, email addresses, and phone number for a maximum of four (4) people providing evaluations. OptomCAS will send an email evaluation request to each evaluator with a link to the online evaluation portal.

Who should write my evaluations?

Suggested sources for evaluations include:

  • Strongly encouraged, an optometrist who can state through documented experience that you know what the profession of optometry entails.
  • A professor with whom you have done personal work (such as assisted on a specific project or served as a TA or reader), or with whom you took a course.
  • An employer or extracurricular activity advisor who can comment about your maturity, diligence and conscientiousness.
  • Do not send evaluations from coworkers, someone you have supervised, relatives, or personal and family friends. These are inappropriate and can be detrimental to the review of your application.

Can I have different evaluations sent to individual programs?

No. Each evaluation will be sent to all programs for which you are applying.

What does it mean to waive my right to access the evaluation?

You relinquish your access to the provided letter. If you do not waive that right, the evaluator will know that you have access to read it.

Can I change my waiver to view my recommendation?

No. Once an evaluation has been received by OptomCAS, the waiver cannot be changed.

Can I send a Committee Letter of Evaluation?

Yes. Please note some schools and colleges of optometry will not accept a Committee Letter, yet others may require it. If you are submitting a Committee Letter, be sure to check the requirements of each individual program for the types of letters they will accept.

Some pre-health advising offices compile academic/personal information and will also coordinate the collection of evaluations in order to provide a “Committee Letter” for pre-optometry students. If the Committee Letter of Evaluation is a compilation from several individuals and contains one letter, it will be considered as one evaluation. The individual writing the evaluation completes the ratings of attributes in the online portal. OptomCAS will accept the name of a college pre-health profession advisor in lieu of the evaluator(s) on the evaluation form.

Can I send evaluations from a Letter Service?

Yes, college and university letter services may submit evaluations to OptomCAS, but it must be done through the online evaluation portal.

If you are submitting evaluations through a letter service, you are strongly encouraged to have the original author(s) of the evaluations complete the rating of attributes.

Please note that while OptomCAS will accept the rating of attributes from a college official who is a designee for the college or university’s letter service office, applicants should also check with the individual programs for which they plan to apply to confirm that evaluations completed by a third-party will be accepted.

Can evaluations be sent using Virtual Evals?

Only evaluations completed through the OptomCAS online portal can be submitted electronically; therefore, OptomCAS will not be able to accept an electronic Virtual Eval.

Can evaluations be co-signed by a Teaching Assistant and a Faculty member?

Yes, an evaluation from a Teaching Assistant must be co-signed or include the name and contact information of a Faculty member within the letter.

Must I wait for my evaluations to be complete before submitting my application?

It is not necessary, nor is it suggested, to wait until your evaluators have responded to submit your application.

What types of letters will each Optometry school or college accept?

Please visit the Letters of Evaluation section on the OptomCAS home page for more information about what letters will or will not be accepted by each optometry school or college.

Deadlines

Who determines deadlines?

Deadlines are determined by the individual programs, NOT BY OptomCAS. Each program determines what is required by their deadline date. It is the applicant’s responsibility to research each program’s deadline requirements before submitting their application.

Grade Point Averages (GPAs)

How are the OptomCAS GPAs calculated?

OptomCAS will calculate numerous GPAs. The GPAs and hours will be summarized by academic year within undergraduate (freshman through senior year), post baccalaureate, and graduate work as well as summarized by area of study. There will also be a running total GPA for each academic year that will add all coursework together for an overall total GPA. The GPAs that will be calculated are:

  • Overall
  • By Term
  • Freshman
  • Sophomore
  • Junior
  • Senior
  • Post Baccalaureate
  • Graduate
  • GPAs by course subject

Area of Study:

  • Biology/Life Science
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Physics
  • BCP Totals
  • Other Sciences
  • Math
  • English
  • Psychology
  • Other General

Why is my OptomCAS GPA different from what my transcripts provide for a GPA?

OptomCAS standardizes GPAs. If the institution you attended has a different grading scale than OptomCAS, your GPAs will be different. In addition, OptomCAS combines all coursework from undergraduate, post-baccalaureate and graduate years for the Overall GPA. This GPA will be different than the individual transcripts if you attended multiple institutions.

How do I convert the numeric grades on my transcript to an OptomCAS letter grade?

Please use the OptomCAS conversion scale below.

Grade on Transcript (No alpha grade key on transcript)

“OptomCAS Grade” and Value

100-90 A (4.0)
89-90 B (3.0)
79-70 C (2.0)
69-60 D (1.0)
>60 F (3.0)

 


 

Grade Conversion Scale 2

Grade on Transcript (No alpha grade key on transcript)

“OptomCAS Grade” and Value

4.00-3.80 A (4.0)
3.79-3.60 A- (3.7)
3.59-3.40 AB (3.5)
3.39-3.10 B+ (3.3)
3.09-2.80 B (3.0)
2.79-2.60 B- (2.7)
2.59-2.40 BC (2.5)
2.39-2.10 C+ (2.3)
2.09-1.80 C (2.0)
1.79-1.60 C- (1.7)
1.59-1.40 CD (1.5)
1.39-1.10 D+ (1.3)
1.09-0.80 D (1.0)
0.79-0.60 D- (0.7)
0.59-0.40 DF (0.5)
Less than or equal to 0.39 F (0.0)
Non-graded designations NONE

 

How do I enter my coursework and grades if my transcript is a narrative (non-graded) transcript?

If narrative evaluations are used in your system in lieu of grades, list Pass if pass credit was awarded. Copies of narrative evaluations will be forwarded to your designated schools.

When will my GPAs be available?

After all application materials are processed and transcripts have been verified (approximately 4 weeks), OptomCAS calculates the GPAs.

What types of courses are included in my GPAs?

All undergraduate, post-baccalaureate and graduate coursework is included in the GPAs. All courses in which a letter or numeric grade was received will be included.

What types of courses ARE NOT included in my GPAs?

Foreign coursework will not be included in the GPAs. In addition, any course in which a grade of withdrawal, pass/no-pass, audit, incomplete, exempted or not yet enrolled is specifically indicated on your official transcript, will not be included in the GPAs.

What do I do if I disagree with the OptomCAS GPA calculations?

OptomCAS GPAs are likely to be different from those calculated by the colleges and universities you attended due to the grade standardization process. Your OptomCAS GPAs will be calculated within 4 weeks after OptomCAS receives your completed application, ALL transcripts, and the correct fee payment. Please contact OptomCAS by email if you have difficulty accessing your account.

Application Fees

What is the charge for the OptomCAS application?

Applicants will pay $170.00 for the first program and $70.00 for each additional program.

How can I pay for my application fee?

OptomCAS only accepts payments via credit card or debit card bearing the logo of a major credit card.

Is there a refund for the OptomCAS application?

No. Once you e-submit your application, no refunds can be made for any reason.

Is there a fee waiver for the OptomCAS application?

No fee waivers are available for the OptomCAS application at this time.

Standardized Tests

How do I send my OAT scores to OptomCAS?

All US optometry schools require official OAT scores for each applicant. When you select at least one US optometry school to receive your official OAT scores, you grant the American Dental Association (ADA) Department of Testing Services permission to release your official scores to all optometry schools to which you have applied through OptomCAS, even if you did not originally select those schools to receive your scores. If your OAT application has no optometry schools selected, then you have not granted permission to the ADA Department of Testing Services to release your official scores and your official scores will not be forwarded to OptomCAS. Only the schools you apply to through OptomCAS will receive your OAT scores once your OptomCAS application is complete.

If you took the OAT exam prior to June 19, 2017 and want your scores submitted to OptomCAS, you will need to submit a request for an additional score report available at www.ada.org/en/oat. Additional fees will apply.

Supplemental Applications

Are there supplemental applications and what are the fees?

In addition to your OptomCAS application, some schools may require you to submit a supplemental application and fee directly to the institution. You will need to research the requirements of the schools directly to determine if they require a supplemental application and if there will be any additional application fees.

Are the supplemental application deadlines and the OptomCAS deadlines the same date?

The supplemental application deadlines may be the same as the OptomCAS deadlines, or later. You will need to check your designated school(s) web pages or contact the school directly for more information.

Customer Support

What kind of help could I expect from the OptomCAS customer support staff?

Please read all OptomCAS instructions and the entire FAQs list before you contact the OptomCAS office. Many of your questions are addressed on the website. OptomCAS strongly recommends that you email your questions to optomcasinfo@optomcas.org if you do not find the answers or other information on the website. Please allow up to 3 business days to receive a reply to your inquiry. If you are still unable to find answers or other information, then you may contact OptomCAS via telephone at 617–612–2888 between the hours of 9 am to 5 pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. OptomCAS will provide you general and technical assistance to help you properly complete the application process. When contacting via email, please provide your full name, OptomCAS ID number and your detailed question.

What types of questions is Customer Support unable to answer?

OptomCAS is pleased to assist you with any questions you have about the application process. However, OptomCAS customer support may be unable to answer some questions that you may have such as:

  • specific admission requirements and policies
  • specific deadlines
  • specific admission decisions
  • specific minimum course requirements
  • specific interviews, or review criteria

For instance, if you would like to know if the late submission of transcripts would affect your eligibility for admission, you will need to check with the schools directly. OptomCAS cannot tell you whether you have met the minimum course requirements for your designated program(s). In addition, OptomCAS cannot respond to questions about a particular program’s admission policies for supplemental applications, interviews, review criteria, admission decisions, etc.

If you have questions about school requirements, email or call the school directly.

What is the phone number, email address and hours of operation for customer support?

Please use the following information to contact OptomCAS Customer Support:

Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday (9 am to 5 pm Eastern Time)
Phone Number: 617–612–2888
Email: optomcasinfo@optomcas.org. When contacting via email, please include your full name, OptomCAS ID number and detailed question.

Mail:

OptomCAS
P.O. Box 9119
Watertown, MA 02471