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.
New research by Daniela Kaufer, associate professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and post-doctoral fellow Elizabeth Kirby, has uncovered exactly how acute stress – short-lived, not chronic – primes the brain for improved performance. According to Kaufer, “You always think about stress as a really bad thing, but it’s not. Some amounts of stress are good to push you just to the level of optimal alertness, behavioral and cognitive performance.”
So, now that you know stress can be good…… The best place to start is to Take a Deep Breath.
Breathing is the quickest and easiest way to relieve tension in your body and your mind. By taking deliberately deep, slow breaths your body undergoes a relaxation response- your heart rate slows down, your muscles relax, and your blood pressure drops.
There are several ways to relieve study stress and boost your learning potential.
Here are some suggestions:
Keep breathing and stretching as you study
Keep stretching to relieve the physical tension in your body. Take regular breaks to stand up and to stretch.
For peace of mind, as you take in a deep and satisfying breath, remind yourself that there are many reliable and reputable resources available to help you through this studying process. As you exhale, release what you have no control over and know you are doing the best you can. Anytime stress begins to creep up, remember to breathe.
A key source of stress is a perceived lack of control over a situation. To help you feel in control, stay organized. Time management is key. To get the most out of your study time, make it as stress-free as possible by creating a study timetable. First, make a list of everything you need to do, as you would a study schedule. Note what topics or domains you are having the most difficulty understanding. It is tempting to write down the topics that come easily to you but spending time on these topics isn’t really necessary. After taking these quick steps, you will find you have a plan laid out, freeing you from the frenzied thoughts circling in your head. You are now free to focus more fully on your priorities. Keeping yourself on schedule will help you stay on track and you will be the best prepared for the exam.
Look after yourself
A balanced diet, exercise, sleep and time to have fun are all equally important to keep you going and primed for studying.
By paying more attention to yourself and to the world around you, is being “in the moment”. This is known to reduce stress, and helps us to notice the signs of stress earlier.
Support is essential
When you’re feeling stressed and anxious about your studies and exams, the pressure can feel overwhelming. A really great way to cope with this situation is to talk to someone about what you are going through. By voicing your concerns, you will feel so much better and you will have newfound focus and determination.
Remember that a tutor can be a great source of support. Talking to someone who has been in the same situation as you are currently in, can help you feel that you aren’t alone. If you ever need help breaking down questions or increasing your critical thinking, you can reach out to your tutor, who is there to meet your needs and to help you ensure that you succeed.
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.
Pass the OT was fortunately prepared for this unprecedented change, to predominantly online learning. Being an established online learning platform, our students were prepared for this transition from learning offline to online.
Pass the OT is geared toward the Millenial and Generation Z students.
On average, students who are studying for the OT or OTA exam spend 6.5 hours each day saturated in print, digital and broadcast media. They listen to and record music; view, create and publish Internet content; play video games; watch television shows; talk on mobile phones and instant message every day.
Generally, these young people share the following characteristics:
• They like to be in control
Millennials do not want to be bound by traditional schedules, and they do not necessarily want to sit in a classroom to learn or in an office to work. Instead, they prefer to use technology to study at any time of the day or night, telecommute from anywhere in the world and define “balance” in their own individual ways.
• They like choice
In project-based environments, Millennials use technology to complete tasks in new and creative ways. Their need for alternative methods to complete tasks presents challenges when using traditional measurements to define productivity.
• They are group-oriented and social
Relentlessly exposed to the world via the media, Millennials constantly network socially. In person, they travel in packs, shopping and playing together. They expect the internet to support their learning and do what they need it to do.
This is the reason why Pass the OT is such a valuable platform to help students study for their NBCOT® exam. Pass the OT incorporates different multimedia methods of learning through audio recordings, video clips, pictures & diagrams and highlighted text. This webcourse allows students to study when they want or when they can while providing a student oriented platform that is specifically centered towards their needs. The important relationship between student and teacher is also fostered through our one:one tutoring , and the support of peer learning is offered through our group tutoring.
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?
There is: A technique called MINDFULNESS
Before you roll your eyes or worry that you have to commit to an intense program, know that the essence of mindfulness while studying is simple. It’s all about embracing what you are reading or studying and being mindful about what it is that you are learning. Being mindful while studying is about paying attention to what your are currently looking at and not becoming distracted by what’s going on outside. The more focused, mindful, and clear your brain feels, the more present you will be in the actual exam You’ll feel calmer, and you will be more cable of passing the exam.
These 7 simple strategies can be woven into your studying every day and can be used to help train your brain to focus on one question at a time. You’ll feel a sense of confidence and calm, even when you come across a difficult question.
For so many of us, doing more than one thing at a time feels like the only way to get through everything that’s on our plates. Multitasking however, often backfires because our brain doesn’t know where to focus it’s mental energy. Dorsey Standish, Chief Mindfulness Officer of Mastermind, states that if you look at multiple resources while you are studying, you lose valuable energy (switching from doing one thing to another), which means you lose efficiency.
To help yourself focus on one topic at a time, from Pass the OT’s web course, a useful tool is to set an alarm for 60 minutes and challenge yourself to stay focused for that 60 minutes, and not to switch to checking your email or social media. You may be pleasantly surprised and find yourself in a state of flow in which you have become absorbed in what you are studying and you’re having a better and more productive study session.
Count on Nature
After you have taken a Pass the OT quiz or read a Pass the OT worksheet, go outside and take a walk as a stress reliever. You can turn the walk into a practice in relaxation by consciously connecting to your senses. Simply count five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can touch, two things you can smell. This is all about the process of observing and taking notice. After you have cleared your mind, take the opportunity of having the capacity to really listen to a Pass the OT audio, on the topic you are studying.
Focus on the Here and Now
Whether you are a first-time test taker, or you have taken the test multiple times, it is important to try lower your test taking anxiety and to remain calm. If you find yourself obsessing, PAUSE, and take a few deep breaths, tuning in to all your senses. Listen to the Pass the OT mindfulness audio. Pay attention to how your chair feels against your back, how your feet feel on the floor, and the smell of the coffee you are drinking.
Savor the first few questions on a practice test. Taking a full 200 question test definitely has benefits but if you find yourself only paying attention to the first 50 questions, it is a good starting point. You may want to try reading the first few questions out loud so you can really pay attention to what the question is asking you.
What you are good at list
Take a few minutes to jot down what you’re good at. Make a list of the topics that you feel confident that you know or something about your studying you are thankful for, such as a really informative Pass the OT tutoring session you’ve recently had. When you are feeling low or discouraged you can read this list to give you a pick-me-up. The process of writing or typing helps to reinforce this positivity. Emailing the list to yourself also works well.
Practicing deep breathing before you sit down to study, will help you feel calmer overall and give you a default technique to use when you need to cope with a difficult question. Deep belly breathing indirectly stimulates the vagus nerve which responds by lowering your heart rate. Try exhaling longer than each inhale: breathe in for a count of three and out for a count of six.
Turn the entire test into a meditation
Technically, you can be mindful during the entire test. It just means training yourself to focus your full attention and thoughts on every question you are looking at. If you are studying a specific topic such as splints for example, focus on where the patient is in the OT process, what the diagnosis is, and what the question is really asking. Start by taking the 100 and 200 timed and untimed practice tests at Pass the OT to help you prepare for the actual OT exam.
Take a Time Out
Whenever you feel yourself spiraling into panic mode or anxiety, remember the acronym STOP
S: Stop what you are doing
T: Take a few deep breaths
O: Observe what you’re feeling and thinking without judgement
P: Proceed with your studying in a way that supports you.
You may need to take a break to eat, exercise, or work with a Pass the OT tutor.
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, you’re really task-switching and your brain is not designed to do this well. It is estimated that shifting between tasks – even when that shift takes only fractions of a second — can cost as much as 40% of a person’s productivity! “Studying” with distractions – cell phone, social media, TV, for instance – will take you considerably longer than if you worked without distractions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
⟶ START STUDYING EARLY ⟵
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.
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?
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…)
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.
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…)
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…)
Occupational therapy is a tough but rewarding profession, and few people choose this field for the money. Most occupational therapists are passionate about helping people lead better lives, and are intrinsically motivated by their work and their patients. Still, your education was not cheap, and it is only fair for you be to adequately compensated for your skills and hard work. As of 2018, the median salary for occupational therapists is around $83,000, but this can vary widely. Here are some of the variables that go into determining the salary of an occupational therapist.
It was a late September morning. I woke up with a pit in my stomach, searched my apartment for any signs of 13, my lucky number, and logged into the NBCOT® exam portal to see if I had passed the exam on my second try. I clicked the core browser and immediately began crying.
“442,” the score box read.
How could I score lower after just missing a passing score by two points a month ago? Furthermore, I had a job all lined up and now I couldn’t take it. To say I was in shock and totally heartbroken is an understatement. (more…)