As you get closer to your exam date, it is important to do an overall review. This is when you may want to look at flashcards, overall study guides, and take cumulative tests. This is the time to focus on material that you are less interest in or are consistently week in (i.e., nerves in the hand, feeding and swallowing, ACL, IEP). It might be helpful to make a 1 page review of the main concepts and concentrate on that during the final days before the test. Also try to get some good sleep, eat a healthy diet that keeps the blood sugar from spiking and decreasing if possible. It is also a great idea to work with a PasstheOT tutor one or two days before your test to go over any remaining questions or topics.
At the end of your studying period, there is only so much more information your brain cells can take in. Since this is more of a critical thinking test than a memorization/regurgitation test, cramming is not going to help. Make sure you have all your documents that the testing center requires such as your Authorization to Test (ATT) letter and IDs, in one place and you are ready to go for the morning. Do something relaxing the night before the test (i.e., yin yoga class, massage, or a warm bath) and get a good night’s sleep.
Eat a good breakfast with high protein such as eggs, oatmeal, cheese, nuts, honey sticks or 100% juice for natural energy. It is recommended to avoid sugary cereal, pancakes, or waffles with syrup so you don’t get a sugar crash as you are in the middle of the test. The testing center may be variable in regards to temperature so it would be helpful to wear layers and shoes that are comfortable. Try to maintain your focus and mental clarity through deep breaths or meditation, stretches, exercise, and intention statements (i.e., I can pass this test!, or name +OTR/L or name +COTA).
You will need to arrive 30 minutes prior to your scheduled testing time with two forms of identification, and your name and signature must match what’s on your ATT letter. Getting to the test site early will give you time in case you get lost, find parking, check in, eat a snack, and go to the bathroom. It will also give you time to go over your study guides, flash cards or notes on things you are weak on again. It may take some time to show your forms of Identification, fill out admission paperwork, and put your belongings in a locker. First of all, find a way to relax before the test. Be prepared for the majority of questions to NOT be anything you studied for. Some of the test questions might be judgment questions and strange situations that require quick thinking and clinical reasoning skills. If you are having test anxiety, you might want to do some deep breathing exercises and stretches to remain calm and focused.
As you take this 200 question exam in 4 hours go through each question while focusing on every word. Resist the urge to second guess your answers, simply use your good critical thinking skills. Sometimes you just need to pick the least offensive answer if you really don’t know the answer. Mark the ones you are unsure of and if there is time at the end, go back when you go through all 200. If you don’t know the question, don’t panic as some of the questions are “test questions”.
Don’t forget to check the time, as you will see time will fly as you are taking the test and if you don’t watch the clock you might have 40 questions to go with less than a half hour of time left. Once you are back to the questions you marked, go over them again, reread the question and try and focus on the main points of the question to see if it triggers something from your study. Try and rationalize each answer. Don’t doubt yourself as your first choice might be the right answer. Don’t be afraid to take breaks, however the best time to take a break is during the test taking tutorials because each tutorial is 10 minutes long and it does not count against your time. Do not be afraid to walk away from the computer during the test either. Taking a break might motivate you to continue going on and remain focused. An example might be if you take 3 ten minute breaks or after 50 questions. No matter if you take breaks or not, make sure to manage your time wisely because you do not want to run out of time!
Timing is important when taking the NBCOT because you want to make sure you answer all 170 questions in the 4 hour time span. Practice taking timed tests so that you know how to answer questions quickly. It should take you on average 1.5 minutes to answer each question.
You will most likely be really exhausted and you might be second guessing your answers. Instead of torturing yourself afterwards try to “breath, trust, and let go!” When you walk out and the test is over, realize that there is nothing that can be done at this point. The NBCOT now scores the test every week so there is less of a waiting period. Check out this link for when the NBCOT scores the test. Examination Scoring Calendar
No matter what the results may be, realize that you worked very hard and you will be a great OT!