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How You Can Improve Your Study Habits

Posted on May 18, 2021 Card image cap

A goal-based approach focuses on where you’re going, while a systems-based approach focuses on how you’re going to get there.
Your goal of passing the NBCOT® exam will take care of itself with a good system in place.

Goals vs. Systems
• Goals are important, they help you set your target, but systems are even more important because they are what helps you get to the target.
• Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results.
• The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game.
• Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.
• The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game.

Use goals to set your course, then develop a system to navigate the seas of success. Both winners and losers set the same goals. The secret is that the “winners” break down their goals into simple, small, repeatable steps. They create a system of continuous small improvements that eventually culminate in a big difference.

Based on studies, you’re more likely to accomplish your study goals and create good habits if you prepare a plan for where, when, and how you will study. Make it specific with the time and location for you to study. Think of yourself as someone who will pass the test rather than set a goal to try to pass the test.

Habits are the building blocks of the systems that create long-term change and carry us to our goals. All habits proceed through four stages in the same order: cue, craving, response, and reward.

This four-step pattern is the backbone of every habit, and your brain runs through these steps in the same order each time:

i. Cues trigger your brain to initiate a behavior.

ii. Cravings are the second step of the habit loop, and they are the motivational force behind every habit. Without some level of motivation or desire, without craving a change, we have no reason to act. What you crave is not the habit itself but the change in state it delivers.

iii. The response is the actual habit you perform, which can take the form of a thought or an action. Whether a response occurs depends on how motivated you are and how much friction is associated with the behavior. If a particular action requires more physical or mental effort than you are willing to expend, then you won’t do it. Your response also depends on your ability.

iv. Rewards are the end goal of every habit. The cue is about noticing the reward. The craving is about wanting the reward. The response is about obtaining the reward. We chase rewards because they serve two purposes: 
The first purpose of rewards is to satisfy your craving. Secondly, rewards teach us which actions are worth remembering in the future. Your brain is a reward detector. As you go about your life, your sensory nervous system is continuously monitoring which actions satisfy your desires and deliver pleasure. Rewards close the feedback loop and complete the habit cycle.



1. Make It Obvious
• Write down your current habits to become aware of them.
• Use implementation intentions: “I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION].”
• Use habit stacking: “After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].”
• Design your environment. Make the cues of good habits obvious and visible.

Putting flashcards by your nightstand.


2. Make It Attractive
• Use temptation bundling. Pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do.
• Create a motivation ritual. Do something you enjoy immediately before a difficult habit.

After you study the Rancho Los Amigos levels, you allocate time to check out your Facebook.


3. Make It Easy
• Reduce friction. Decrease the number of steps between you and your good habits.
• Prime the environment. Prepare your environment to make future actions easier.
• Master the decisive moment. Optimize the small choices that deliver outsized impact.
• Automate your habits. Invest in technology and onetime purchases that lock in future behavior.

– Stop multitasking. Focus on one little step at a time.
– Have a short-cut to passtheot.com on your computer.
– Keep your study notes in the middle of the table rather than in the drawer.
– Place water bottles in common locations if you want to drink more water while you study.
– Place a book on your desk rather than tucked in a corner, if you want to read it more often.
– Unplug the television after watching if you don’t want to watch as much television.
– Delete games and distracting apps on your phone so you are not tempted to play them.
– Unsubscribe from spam email or emails that aren’t useful, so you don’t waste time reading them


4. Make It Satisfying
• Use reinforcement. Give yourself an immediate reward when you complete your habit.
• Use a habit tracker. Keep track of your habit streak and “don’t break the chain.”
• Never miss twice. When you forget to do a habit, make sure you get back on track immediately.

Using a sheet of paper, you simply write your habit and the days of the week. Then, when you carry out the habit that day, you put an X on the tracker. The accumulating X’s provide evidence of progress on your habit, and progress is extremely rewarding and motivating.


Exam Preparation: What You Need to Know When Studying for the NBCOT® Exam

Posted on April 16, 2021 Card image cap
If you’re on the path to becoming a certified Occupational Therapist (OTR®) or Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA®), then you are most likely getting ready to take the NBCOT® exam which is administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.

Feeling Overwhelmed with your Studying?

Posted on October 20, 2020 Card image cap

Sometimes you may feel like there are just too many resources or too much to study. Just too much you need to do. Feeling overwhelmed may make it seem impossible to know where to begin. Difficult situations are however, opportunities to be our best selves, hone our skills and rise to the occasion.

Students Learn Differently in 2020

Posted on October 17, 2020 Card image cap

The alarming acceleration of the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide has forced providers of education – whether they are schools, colleges, universities or other organizations – to rethink how they deliver courses. In the wake of this pandemic, OT schools have faced growing challenges as they have been forced to teach a very “wired”—and more and more “wireless”—generation of students, using technology that is evolving every day.

How to Study in the Moment

Posted on October 6, 2020 Card image cap

What if there was a scientifically proven stress reducer that was free, didn’t take a lot of time, and could help you become more focused when you read exam questions?

Multitasking Affects Productivity

Posted on August 5, 2020 Card image cap

We all think we can multitask; indeed, the ability to multitask  is considered a skill!  You can multitask when one of the tasks doesn’t require thinking – like folding laundry while watching TV.  However when you’re shifting between two activities that both require you to think, (more…)

Why OT and OTA Program Directors are partnering with Pass the OT to assist their students with passing The NBCOT® Exam

Posted on July 30, 2020 Card image cap

A letter written by: Victoria Guggenbiller  
As a former faculty member I had a lot of difficulty preparing my students for the NBCOT® exam.  Therefore, I decided to reach out to many program directors at a variety of  colleges and universities to better understand the challenges they face when helping students prepare for the NBCOT® exam.  

Can Studying for the NBCOT® Exam be any Fun?

Posted on July 30, 2020 Card image cap

If you’re about to begin preparing for the NBCOT® Exam, chances are, you’re dreading the experience. We totally understand…we’ve been there.

Can studying for this exam ever be fun? Not in the true sense of the word “fun”, but at least it can be more enjoyable than you think it could be.

With Gratitude

Posted on July 14, 2020 Card image cap

Hello Friends!

As we enter summer 2020, I wanted to take this opportunity to reach out and send you all a note of love and my most sincere gratitude.

My PTOT team has stood by my side, happily working during this crazy time, to ensure that we continue to give you the best support to help you pass the exam! During these ever changing and uncertain times, your faith in PTOT and my unwavering commitment to make sure you are prepared to take the exam is being honored in every way.

7 Best Tips for Students to Stay Motivated when Studying

Posted on June 24, 2020 Card image cap

Whether you are studying for the OT exam which is in 8 weeks’ or 4 weeks’ time, students tend to start with great enthusiasm and dedication. However, this positive attitude tends to be short lived, and most students find themselves struggling to stay motivated and maintain consistency throughout their studying. Even many hardworking and motivated students sometimes become unmotivated to study on certain days.

Scientifically Proven Ways to Study Better This Year

Posted on April 28, 2020 Card image cap

1. Listen to music: While some experts argue that the ability to concentrate during silence or while listening to music, is left up to personal preference, many agree that playing certain types of music, such as “obscure 18th century composers,” can help students engage those parts of their brain that help them pay attention. In addition, listening to music may also improve your mood and change your whole outlook about studying in general.

2. Exercise first: The benefits of exercise on the brain have been well established in the fields of health, fitness, and psychology. Studies show our brainpower gets a boost following even a short workout, as our bodies are pumping oxygen and nutrients to the brain. According to Dr. Douglas B. McKeag, breaking a sweat shortly before “cracking the books” can significantly improve your performance during your post-workout study session. Exercise automatically makes you more alert, open and able to learn new information.

Things to do before you study

Posted on April 19, 2020 Card image cap

Many students think about how to best spend their time while studying. However, what comes before your study session can be just as important, especially if you want to improve your memory for what you are about to learn.

In today’s Education Tips, we will explore different ways of how you can boost your memory and improve your learning experience. We will explore some useful, no-cost and effective ways of what you can do before you sit down to study.

COVID-19 and Studying

Posted on March 18, 2020 Card image cap

COVID-19 has been described as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Characterizing COVID-19 as a pandemic is not an indication that the virus has become deadlier. Rather, it’s an acknowledgement of the disease’s geographical spread. The uncertainty about this new virus can lead to stress and anxiety, and a sense of helplessness.

How to Study for an Exam

Posted on March 9, 2020 Card image cap

Many Occupational Therapy students are about to take the OT exam.
Here are some helpful tips to help you fully prepare, have success, and be a bit less stressed out.  


You may be trying to avoid studying for the OT exam for as long as possible but if you can give yourself 6 to 8 weeks, you will set yourself up for success. It is best to set aside 4-8 hours a day of study time, if possible.


Quiet your mind while studying

Posted on February 4, 2020 Card image cap

We’ve all been there. You’ve just set up your books and laptop, perhaps you have a nice cup of tea or a glass of cold water next to you. You feel ready to conquer the next couple of hours of work ahead. The NBCOT® Exam is yours! You have this and you’re going to do great!

Then, “WHAM!”, without a warning, a tornado of thoughts hits your brain.You start thinking about your plans for later; what you’ll eat for dinner tonight, tomorrow, next week? Who said you’ll even be home for dinner next week? What about what you’ll feed the cat? Do you even have a cat? If you did, what’s its name? Charlie? Gideon? Bob? What are you doing this weekend? Why didn’t “so and so” text you back? Did they forget about you because you’ve been studying so much?

Accountability and the Effectiveness of working with others

Posted on February 1, 2020 Card image cap

Achieving goals on your own is a huge accomplishment. However, sometimes it requires motivation from others in order to succeed. Sharing your progress and being held accountable has shown to be an effective strategy towards accomplishing goals. This is especially true when it comes to passing a test. In order to pass a test, it is clear you must prepare by dedicating time to study. The NBCOT® exam is comprehensive. It requires the ability to apply your knowledge and clinical decision making across several practice areas. This exam requires weeks or even months of preparation in order to pass, and to be eligible to become a licensed and registered occupational therapist.
Due to the complexity of the NBCOT® exam, many graduates seek out other individuals to help them understand the material more clearly. Studying with a partner or in a group has many benefits. A partner can help you stay accountable for studying and prevent procrastination. Studying for the NBCOT® exam involves extended time, commitment and concentration. With an accountability partner, you can work together to set daily or weekly goals and check up on one another. If one of you begins to lose motivation, the other can help push you to stay committed. One of the keys to passing this exam is to maintain focus. Therefore, using accountability as a study strategy creates motivation and helps you to stay on track. (more…)

Why Online prep for NBCOT ® exam can be so effective

Posted on December 23, 2019 Card image cap

While preparing for the NBCOT® exam, you may find there are infinite resources to choose from. However, not all test prep is created equal or reliable. Purchasing test prep materials can also be expensive. Therefore, it is important to decide which test prep will best accommodate your learning style in the most cost-effective way. While some learners may prefer paperback books to highlight key concepts and mark pages, online test prep has shown to help candidates pass the certification exam at a higher rate. There are many reasons why online prep is the right choice for preparing for the NBCOT® exam.

I failed the NBCOT® exam, now what?

Posted on December 23, 2019 Card image cap

Finding out you failed the NBCOT® exam can be disheartening. All your hard work and money you contributed towards preparing and taking this exam seems to be meaningless at this point. You may first feel shocked followed by anger or sadness. You may be feeling discouraged at this point. However, it is important to take a deep breath and take action towards your next steps. Failing the NBCOT® exam will not define you as an occupational therapist. Remember, at this point you have successfully completed all coursework, research projects and fieldwork, thus earning your Master’s degree in occupational therapy. (more…)

Best Ways to Prepare for the NBCOT® Exam

Posted on December 23, 2019 Card image cap

Congratulations! You have completed your graduate course work and fieldwork and are now eligible to take the National Board Certification of Occupational Therapy (NBCOT®) Exam. Before you begin studying, there are a few steps you need to take first in preparing for this exam. The first step is applying for the NBCOT® exam. You can either apply online or via mail. Applicants are required to submit an official transcript stating that all academic requirements have been fulfilled. You may also be required to submit fieldwork verification by your academic fieldwork coordination. Upon approval of eligibility to take the exam, you will then receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) Letter by e-mail or mail within 10-15 business days after all documentation is submitted and received. The ATT letter will include contact information for Prometric and instructions to schedule your exam at various test locations.
If you have a disability and require special testing accommodations, there are specific steps you need to take prior to scheduling your exam. Review NBCOT® testing accommodation page at
http://www.nbcot.org/testing-accommodations for specific details on how to receive these accommodations. Here you can find the TA handbook which outlines the necessary documents you need, how to schedule your exam through a TA advocate, and any additional information you may need to know.
Setting the date to take your exam is especially important in preparing for the NBCOT® exam. It is recommended that you schedule your exam soon after you receive your approval letter. Your ATT letter is valid for only three months. Test locations may fill up fast depending on your location, so you do not want to wait until the last minute. The exam may take up to four hours to complete. Therefore you may want to factor this in while scheduling, in order to determine what time of day is best for you. (more…)

Why Schools Should Care About Students Passing The NBCOT® Exam

Posted on September 18, 2019 Card image cap
Learn why occupational therapy schools should care about their students passing the NBCOT® exam. Get expert advice from PassTheOT.com, a leader in online OT examination prep. (more…)