Biggest Pitfalls Program Directors & Faculty Face Preparing Students for the NBCOT® Exam

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.  Here are some of their major complaints.

Lack of Accountability.  Time and time again both OT and OTA program directors complain that students are not held accountable for their study habits and practice scores. A book or a two-day course doesn’t give program directors the ability to make sure their students are really getting through the material and comprehending the material better afterward the course is over.  Furthermore, program directors consistently complain that it is difficult to identify students who are in jeopardy of not passing the exam before it is too late.
Lack of Structure.  Many program directors, after seeing their students fail the NBCOT® exam, find that often these students were overwhelmed with tons of study materials due to the lack of organization. This caused the students chances for passing the exam to suffer. 

Studying the Wrong Material. A lot of the study prep courses have been for around for a long time, reusing materials for years on end, which ends up not being similar to what is currently on the NBCOT® exam. Students use their valuable time focusing on outdated and unnecessary topics. Students also end up wasting time studying material they already know and feel comfortable with instead of focusing on the material they struggle with.  This usually leads to considerably lower scores than the student expected. 

Special circumstances.  Program directors often find that students with accommodations, learning disabilities, or who speak English as a second language have difficulty passing the NBCOT® exam on their first try.

Cramming too much into a short period of time.  Our college and university partners find that using two to three-day in-person courses doesn’t give their students enough time to learn the material and doesn’t allow for follow-up when students have questions afterwards.  This approach also doesn’t help reduce test anxiety.  

How addresses these issues

Knowing these concerns, I joined the team at Pass the OT because their program is different than the rest of the study preparation programs for the NBCOT® exam.   Here is what sets them apart.  

Pitfalls Program Directors and Faculty Face Preparing Students for the NBCOT Exam

Pass the OT is an expert at the NBCOT®  exam: They know this test backwards and forwards and have spent many years developing a program that accommodates all learning styles and abilities. Because their program is web based, they can add information right away without waiting for editing or printing. This also allows them to be on top of material and add information once it is completed. They are always striving to make their program the most effective and efficient program for OT and OTA students.

Pitfalls Program Directors and Faculty Face Preparing Students for the NBCOT ExamTheir course is structured, comprehensive, up-to-date,  easy to use, and simulates the actual exam:   Pass the OT focuses on providing students with a study plan to eliminate guesswork of what to study and simplify complex material through audio recordings, charts, videos, and online timed/untimed tests and accommodation tests.  They also give students the proper tools to assess their strengths and weaknesses so that they can focus their study efforts.  With other test preparation services, that provide books and pdf’s, the material simply gives too much information, only a definition without providing a clinical application example, or has test questions on all topics. Competitor programs don’t provide enough focus on interventions and this is tremendously important since 50% of the test is intervention based. Pass the OT’s web course is quite different. They believe in making test preparation as easy as possible for the student by providing visual, auditory, verbal, and kinesthetic reinforcement of the information.  


Biggest Pitfalls Program Directors and Faculty Face Preparing Students for the NBCOT Exam

They offer one-on-one tutoring.  Unlike a competitor program that offers a 2-day course, Pass the OT has tutors available to assist students throughout their entire study process and assist students as questions arise. This enables them to hold students accountable, act as a coach and motivate, reduce test anxiety, test critical thinking, simplify material, and discuss the real-life application of material while they are studying it.  Pass the OT tutors provide students with easy ways to learn the material and how to decipher information that is important or irrelevant. Their tutors eliminate frustration and help with creating a customized study plan so the student does not have to take the exam multiple times.

They provide faculty with tools to hold students accountable. Pass the OT provides program directors and faculty with tools, such as student activity logs, student score tracking for practice quizzes, initial assessment tests, and accommodation tests.  They also break down their practice tests into 25 key categories which allow the students and faculty to know which areas the student has weaknesses in and requires additional focus.

Biggest Pitfalls Program Directors and Faculty Face Preparing Students for the NBCOT Exam

They can quickly identify students that are having difficulty, and provide them with proper support before they take the exam:  Too many times students that are having difficulties slip through the cracks and are not given the proper assistance they need before they take the exam.  Students have a tendency to focus on topics that they know, are good at, or had fieldwork in. Pass the OT believes that students should not continue to go over these areas, but to focus on areas that are more challenging and difficult.  With their sophisticated score tracking, they can quickly identify these type of students and reach out to them to make sure that they receive the proper guidance and tutoring before taking the actual exam, possibly advising them to postpone until they know the student is ready.  This saves students from failing the exam, which costs them another registration fee and likely a couple months potential salary as a certified OTR® or COTA®.  This approach helps Pass the OT increase their university partners’ passing rates.

Pass the OT communicates with students in real time from the moment they sign up until the day they pass:  Through their sophisticated chat platform, they can interact with students in real time.  This allows them to troubleshoot issues, explain things further, or handle any other concerns that students might have.

The NBCOT®  exam is one of the most intimidating challenges that students face. Colleges and Universities focus on teaching students everything they need to become capable occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants.  Pass the OT’s school partners let Pass the OT focus on preparing the students for the exam, while the school prepares them for everything life as an OTR® and COTA® may throw at them.

About the author:

Victoria Guggenbiller, OTR/L earned a Master’s of Occupational Therapy degree from Cleveland State University and is a registered licensed therapist in Ohio. In addition, she holds a bachelor of arts degree with a major in psychology and minor in biology. As adjunct faculty in the division of Health and Wellness Sciences at Lorain County Community College she advocates for student success and holistic learning. She is proud to team up with Pass the OT in writing and shared experiences in the field of OT.