facebook Study Tips NBCOT® Exam, OTA | Pass The OT

Excellent Test Taking Tips

Most of the time, students have a difficult time breaking down the question to understand what the question is really asking. They often have difficulty choosing the correct answer after eliminating all but two choices.

When taking the test, make sure to read the question carefully and pay attention to key words, such as “most important, next, and initial.” Also, remember safety first, client centered, and occupation based. For the most part, you can easily eliminate two choices and decide between the other two answer choices, keeping in mind the tips above. Don’t get caught up in the details.

Below are 8 unique tips that could be quite useful to you.

  • Do not read content into the question; simply apply what you know, in order to answer it
  • Read each question carefully. Ask yourself, “What is this question really about?”
  • What stage in the occupational therapy process are you in? (i.e., screening, evaluation, intervention, or discharge).
  • What is the practice setting? (i.e., acute, in-patient, outpatient, or home health).
  • What is the condition? (i.e., distal radius fracture, Parkinson’s, autism).
  • Identify the key words in the question stem (i.e., BEST response, INITIAL action, NEXT step).
  • Decide whether each option is correct or incorrect. Remember, for multiple choice, each response will be plausible, but only one choice will be correct.

DIAGNOSIS – diagnosis/diagnoses
Ask yourself: What can I expect based on the diagnosis/diagnoses?
E.g. TBI – you can expect both physical and cognitive difficulties (personality changes, loss of inhibition, depression, visual perceptual difficulties, mobility issues, difficulty with ADLs)
If there is more than one diagnosis/deficit, your answer should address all diagnoses/deficits.

AGE – age of the patient (baby vs. senior)
Ask yourself: What stage of life is the patient in?
This will help you decide on which approach you should use for this patient.
E.g. A child with CP has the possibility of making progress due to plasticity of the brain. Whereas, an adult with Alzheimer’s disease is not able to make progress in their functional and cognitive abilities.

SETTING – inpatient, outpatient, cardiac rehab unit, psych ward, schools etc…
Ask yourself: Where am I assessing/ treating the patient?
E.g. A patient in an inpatient unit would typically need acute intervention whereas, a patient in an outpatient setting would need long term rehabilitation.

HOW – what are your goals
Ask yourself: How can I help this patient?
E.g. Splinting to reduce spasticity, energy conservation techniques for a patient undergoing cardiac rehab …

BEST CLINICAL JUDGEMENT using your clinical judgement will help you decide on the best type of intervention
Ask yourself: What is the best intervention for the patient in order to achieve your and their goals?

OT PROCESSConsultation, screening, evaluation, goal setting, intervention, or discharge
Ask yourself: At what stage is this scenario taking place?
E.g. A screening is not an in depth evaluation, therefore using a standardized assessment is not indicated.

ACTIVE PARTICIPATIONintervention should always be client based.
Ask yourself: What meaningful intervention can I select to ensure that the patient actively participates in the therapy process.
E.g. If it has been identified that the patient enjoys a particular type of activity, then choosing the same type of activity as part of your intervention is likely to entice the patient to be actively involved in their treatment.

READ CAREFULLY – read question and all answer choices
Before answering a question, read through the question carefully – make sure you understand what is being described and what is being asked of you. Read each answer choice to understand what your choices are.

If you are asked for a recommendation then you need to only give a recommendation.

DESCRIPTIVE WORDS take note of words such as best, most, next
This is crucial in determining your answer.
E.g. if you are asked for the best, this usually indicates that more than one answer is correct and you need to select the BEST answer.

For all questions: Remember all interventions should be client centered and occupation based, and the patient should be kept safe at all times.

If you are a visual and kinesthic learner, you can mark your white board with several A, B,C,D’s in a vertical line. If you know that an answer choice is not correct, you can simply cross off that letter. You can also use this technique with your fingers. For example, A is your pointer finger, B is your middle finger, C is your ring finger, and D is your pinky. When you know that an answer choice is not the correct answer, flex the finger into your palm. This will eliminate wasted time and help you focus on the best two answer choices.

  • A-audience- Who is it for (i.e., patient)
  • B-behavior- What are the goals and objectives
  • C-condition details
  • D-degree- time frame to have goals met

After reading the question and highlighting the important information, try formulating an answer before looking at the options. If your answer is not in the options, try looking for an option that is most similar.  For example: If the question is about a patient in Acute Cardio Rehab and the question is asking what to do first and you come up with “check vital signs” but the closest answer choice says, “check orthostatic hypotension tolerance” then that is probably the answer.

The majority of the time the 1st answer choice that you think is correct, is correct.
Only change your answer if you are 90% sure that you chose the wrong one by accident

It is better to focus on a particular question, than flagging it and coming back to review, toward the end of the exam. This can waste precious time.

Write down on your white board any topics that you have memorized that you do not want to forget. You may want to list  Rancho Scales, Allen’s Cognitive Levels, pediatric development, etc.

Think you’re ready for the NBCOT® Exam?

See where you stand instantly by taking our 5 minute practice test