Early Writing Opportunity for OD Students

Optometry students may now challenge the OEBC Written Exam in the Spring before their final year.

The Optometry Examining Board of Canada (OEBC) is thrilled to introduce a new opportunity for students enrolled in a Doctor of Optometry (OD) program accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE). Now, in the Spring before their final year, these students can challenge the written component of the Canadian Board Exam. This early writing opportunity not only allows for a head start in preparing for the exam but also provides a chance to enhance their knowledge and skills before entering their clinical practice in their final year.

The OEBC exam, a competency-based entry-to-practice exam, is a crucial milestone in the journey to becoming an optometrist. It rigorously assesses your knowledge and skills, ensuring candidates are fully equipped to provide the best care to their future patients.

The Blueprint outlines the competencies required to practice as an optometrist. The exam questions drawn from the item bank assess the knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviours related to the entry-to-practice level competencies for providing safe and effective patient health care in Canada.

  • Written Exam: This online case-based assessment consists of multiple-choice questions based on different case scenarios. It uses remote proctoring.
  • OSCE:  This objective structured clinical evaluation presents realistic scenarios in a clinical setting where a candidate constructs the appropriate response.

Candidates must pass both components within a specific timeframe (outlined below) and four attempts to be eligible for registration/licensure as optometrists in Canada.

Why the Change

“As our Canadian Board exam is competency-based, our candidates should be able to attempt a component when they think they are ready,” says Dr. Nasir Khan, Vice-Chair, OEBC and the Past President of the Alberta College of Optometrists. The written part tests theoretical knowledge in several important areas related to optometry practice: clinical skills—evaluation, diagnosis and planning, and patient care, as well as collaboration, patient-focused care, professionalism, scholarship, and practice management.

Most of this knowledge is acquired before the student concentrates on the clinical parts of their training in their last year.

Some of the advantages that a student can get from this early writing opportunity are:

  • Attempting the exam immediately after mastering the relevant theory
  • Focusing on Written Exam before clinical rotations start
  • Devoting their final year to clinical practice


An optometrist must have an excellent understanding of the clinical and theoretical components of safe practice. OEBC requires that graduates pass both components within 15 months of each other. However, as students are in “learning mode” until graduation, a pass on a component challenged as a student is valid for 15 months after graduation.

Final Year Students

Final-year students can challenge either component anytime during their final year. The pass rates for the written exam have been higher at the Fall administration (93%) vs. Spring (89%), while the OSCE has been the reverse – Spring (86%) vs. Fall (76%).


The Optometry Examining Board of Canada (OEBC) is a national not-for-profit corporation that establishes and administers psychometrically valid and defensible assessments of competence in optometry in Canada on behalf of its members, the ten provincial optometry regulators.