Preparing for the NBCOT Exam
Sorry for the delay in this post.
The NBCOT exam consists of 200 questions and you get 4 full hours to complete the test. Of those 200, 30 are not counted, as they are “experimental questions,” questions that may or may not be put into future tests.
I took the exam a little over a month ago, and it took me only 3 hours to complete, and that was with me taking my time. Thankfully, I passed. This post will be about what materials I used to study and how I studied.
I utilized the following four books:
- OT Exam Review Manual (4th ed.), by Karen Sladyk
- Occupational Therapy Examination Review Guide (3rd ed.), by Caryn Johnson
- OTR Study Guide and Study Guide Supplement, by NBCOT (pdf order form)
- National Occupational Therapy Certification Exam Review and Study Guide, by Rita Cottrell
I’ll say right away that I do NOT recommend getting the first book in the list, the one by Sladyk. The study questions in that book were not representative of the questions on the actual exam and were in fact much harder than the questions on the exam.
The second book in the list, the one by Johnson, was by far the best book (besides the official NBCOT study guide) in terms of questions that are representative of the NBCOT exam. There are multiple tests, and it comes with a CD-ROM that allows you to customize the questions that are presented to you, in case you need more guidance in one particular area. Additionally, if you take an entire 200-question exam on the computer, it will break down exactly what areas you need to work on. I HIGHLY recommend this book.
The third book on the list is the official NBCOT study guide. It only comes with one shortened test, but it gives you a pretty good picture of what the questions on the exam will look like. While I do recommend getting this book, it is probably not necessary for passing the exam.
Finally, the last book is another must have. Whereas all the other books just have study guides (sleep well the night before, arrive early, etc.) and practice questions/exams, this book has all the information that will appear on the test. It has all the information about all the diagnoses, from hands to kids to neuro, how we treat them, what to look for, and more. It is meant to be a primary study source, meaning that you can use this book without looking back at your notes. While ultimately I did look back at my notes and other textbooks while studying, I mainly used this book. The book also comes with a CD-ROM for you to take practice tests, but I found the study questions to be very difficult and not having enough information within the questions to answer the questions appropriately. While not as difficult as the Sladyk book, I still would not recommend taking these test questions.
Now that I’ve covered which textbooks I used, I’ll just say a little bit about the actual studying. First, do not study alone! Initially, I was going to study alone, but I got myself a study partner, and believe me, it helped! I would not have passed without her. With a study partner, you can set goals, test each other, cover material out loud, and review things that you may have problems with.
I recommend taking LOTS of practice quizzes. The Johnson book is great for this, as it has many questions, and if you use the CD, you can have about 800 study questions! You don’t have to do 200 questions in a row for the practice quizzes. I found it helpful to do about 50 at a time, so that I can review all the answers and see what areas I needed help in studying. The quizzes helped me realize what style all the actual test questions would be in, and really narrowed down the areas I needed to work on most.