Did you know? Australia will need 1,100 more optometrists by 2042.
According to the annual report of 2022-23 by OCANZ, only 50 candidates applied for the Competency in Optometry Examination (COE).
What does this data tell us?
It indicates a high chance of demand for optometrists in Australia. If this piqued your interest, learn more about this exam. Before taking the exam, one must know the exam pattern and the syllabus. This way, your path becomes more manageable.
This blog covers everything about the Competency in Optometry Examination (COE) syllabus and exam pattern. Read on to know more.
The OCANZ Competency in Optometry Examination is divided into three sections:
The written examination consists of two parts:
Let's see the exam pattern and syllabus through which candidates are assessed for part 1.
The Clinical Science Examination is a 3-hour paper with 144 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) assessing the candidate's knowledge in biomedical, vision, optical, and clinical science. The exam evaluates the candidate's ability to apply this knowledge in clinical situations.
Of the 144 MCQs, 120 are scored to determine the overall result. The remaining 24 questions are non-scored and used to calibrate new questions for future exams. However, these non-scored questions do not contribute to the candidate's final score. Candidates won't be informed which questions are non-scored.
Each MCQ presents four options (a, b, c, and d), and the candidate must choose the BEST correct answer. Marks are awarded only for correct answers, with no deductions for incorrect responses.
The candidates are assessed based on the following factors:
Let's see the exam pattern and syllabus through which candidates are assessed for part 2.
The Diagnosis and Management paper is a 3-hour examination. It consists of 18 short answer questions (SAQs), with many questions having multiple components related to case histories.
These questions often involve the analysis of clinical scenarios accompanied by photographs depicting various conditions. This format challenges candidates to apply their knowledge to practical situations, making diagnoses and suggesting appropriate management strategies based on the information presented in the cases.
OCANZ is committed to promoting equitable access and outcomes in eye care services for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, and Māori communities, free from stigma, racism, or fear.
As part of the Competency in Optometry Examination process, OCANZ mandates the Cultural Safety Training for Optometrists online program for all internationally qualified optometrists.
The curriculum is delivered through six tutorials comprising 28 short lessons, with an approximate time commitment of 5 hours excluding assessment tasks. The program, designed for self-pacing, accommodates candidates' schedules, allowing them to log in at their convenience.
The assessment process includes interactive quizzes, short answer questions based on clinical scenarios, and a final multiple-choice exam. Achieving a minimum score of 80% on the six post-tutorial assessments and the exam is required for successful completion.
Completion of the Cultural Safety Training for Optometrists online program is a prerequisite for candidates proceeding to the clinical component of the COE (Competency in Optometry Examination).
The Clinical Examination consists of two parts:
In the Skills Station examination, candidates are required to showcase proficiency in 12 optometric skills across six stations. Successful completion of all 12 skills is necessary to pass the examination.
The examination involves six stations, with candidates rotating between them. Each station requires the demonstration of two different skills. The candidate has 30 minutes at each station, and the allocation of time between the two skills is at the candidate's discretion.
Failing any essential criterion leads to the failure of the entire skill. Failing three or more desirable criteria results in the failure of that specific skill.
Candidates falling short in up to three of the 12 skills may have the opportunity to re-sit the failed skills the next day as part of a supplementary examination. However, failing four or more skills on the initial attempt or any skill/s during the second attempt constitutes an overall failure of the Skills Station examination.
In the event of a supplementary examination, each skill being re-examined must be completed within 20 minutes.
In this, the candidate is assessed on
To pass the examination, the candidate must complete a minimum of three out of four patient exams within 70 minutes. Each patient exam requires the candidate to achieve an average mark of 1 in each of the six sections of the marking rubric.
Failure in any one section results in an overall failure for that patient. Following the examination, additional time is allocated for discussing the case with the assessor, whose comments and overall marks contribute to the final result determination.
Candidates receive only the patient's name, gender, and date of birth without access to prior clinical records. The examination should be approached as the patient's initial visit.
In the journey towards passing the OCANZ COE, the syllabus and exam pattern serve as the roadmap and compass, guiding candidates to demonstrate not just knowledge but the practical skills and cultural competence required for success.
As Benjamin Franklin said, 'By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.' Understanding and mastering the prescribed syllabus and exam structure is an essential component of the COE exam preparation to pass the exam with flying colours.
The journey towards excellence requires preparation, preparation with the best. Academically has designed a course specifically for the COE Exam, where you will get all the guidance to clear the exam on the first attempt.
For more information about this course, please contact us.
Ans: Throughout the study period, which comprises 12 administrations of the written examination since 2014, 193 candidates participated. Among them, 133 individuals successfully passed the written exam, representing a pass rate of 68.9%. These successful candidates advanced to the practical component of the examination.
Ans: No, a B optometrist is not a doctor. Optometrists with a Bachelor's degree (B.Optom) are not classified as medical doctors; instead, they are trained professionals specialising in eye care and vision correction.
Ans: Key qualities important to an optometrist include strong communication skills, attention to detail, empathy, critical thinking, and a thorough understanding of optics and eye health. Optometrists should also have good problem-solving abilities and the capability to work well with diverse patient populations.
Dr. Indu K is a dentist with one year of clinical experience. She seamlessly transitioned into content writing three years ago. Her passion lies in making complex medical information accessible to everyone. She uses her unique blend of medical knowledge and exceptional writing skills to bridge the gap between healthcare and the general audience.