An update post by Lavarre Green. If you haven’t already, please check out his previous post, a reflection of incredible courage and inspiration. A truly moving story.
The continuation from my previous 3rd attempt begins with my mental preparation for my 4th and FINAL attempt. For this 4th attempt, I had to fight. I had to fight and force myself to do things that my mind kept telling me to do, but I was oten too exhausted to do them. So I prayed before each study session for direction and to absorb the important information that would potentially be on the exam.
Even with all the preparation, this was probably one of the hardest exams in my life out of all of my attempts, but I ended up passing. Thank you Jesus.
Improve Focus and Productivity
This time around, I worked on improving my focus and productivity. I started using an app called the Productivity Challenge Timer and I set it for an hour of studying with 15 min study breaks. During that hour of ONLY studying, I turned my cell phone off and put it my bookbag. I zipped up my bag and threw it out of arms reach, so I couldn’t even access my phone even if I wanted to. My phone was a big distraction for me, especially being on social media watching NBA highlights and following random memes. I know everyone has a different situation, but with the time that you DO have to study, make use of that time no matter what. After you study for an hour, check your phone or take a walk around the house or outside. I continued this pattern everyday until I studied for 4 hrs daily, slowly progressing to 6 hrs consistently.
Delve Deep with the Textbook
The material that I used to study during my 4th attempt include the Pedretti textbook, Therapy Ed questions & rationales, Pass the OT, the NBCOT prep book with the 100 questions, and of course OT Miri videos. I read the related topics in the Pedretti textbook to really get into the mindset of an Occupational Therapist. I didn’t get around to reading all the chapters, but if I had the time, I definitely would have. Instead, I just did the Therapy Ed questions and used the Pedretti book as a reference for both my wrong answers and for those that I answered correctly, but slightly guessed on.
If you have weak areas like Work Rehab, SCI, Frames of References, etc READ THOSE CHAPTERS. I read the work rehab chapter in the Pedretti’s textbook and it made everything more clear with job demand analysis, worksite assessments, etc. It helped a lot with areas that gave me headaches – Peds, Medicare/Insurance Work Rehab, Research, OT settings and what each one entails, Alzheimer’s stages/interventions, Rancho Levels and the OT process. It’s very important to start with your weak areas first then progress to what you enjoy studying.
Studying the OTPF Domain & Process
I focused mainly on content and the OTPF Domain and Process. I figured if I studied all of the separate components that make up a test question, then I would feel comfortable answering ANY question. The OTPF is a MAJOR component of an NBCOT exam along with other things like practice setting, OT process, diagnosis, age, etc.
For the clinical simulations I put myself in the situation and I was the OT in the question looking at the patient face to face as if they were talking to me: “Mr/Ms. OT, with this diagnosis I can’t do such and such again, please help me become independent again” ( I’ve always envisioned my patients crying for some reason and I had to console them (lol). So I did. I chose the answers that I thought would benefit them – choices that were safe, ethical, client-centered & occupation-based. With choices that I was iify on, I chose “No” and hoped for the best. But I chose “Yes” for one answer that I knew was probably a “No,” and I got it wrong soooo please go with what you feel is right!
Multiple Choice Questions
For the multiple choice questions, I just used the information presented in the question and highlighted the same way I highlighted when I was doing practice questions in therapy ed and the NBCOT prep book. I selected the answer that made the most sense to me after reading the entire question. I did this up until question 90 once I realized that I had an hour left to get to question 170. At that moment I had flashbacks from my previous attempt and I told myself “I’d be damned if that happens to me again.” I didn’t have time to re-read questions or answers so I did my best to read the questions quickly 2-3 times while trying not to panic AND using the highlight tool smh (lol). I had to rush to question 170 while talking to God under my breath and choosing the answers that sounded like they were correct. I barely read question 170 but I selected the best answer that could go along with that the question was asking for.
You have to dig deep and FIGHT for what you want, I can’t say that enough. TD Jakes preached a sermon about that and I encourage you to watch it. Another thing that that really helped and motivated me was the movie “The Pursuit of HappyNess.” After every failed attempt, before I even started studying, I would watch that specific movie. Will Smith (Chris Gardner) had everything falling apart around him, but he still kept his goal right in front of him and chased it no matter what the circumstances were. In the midst of marital problems, evictions, homelessness, financial struggles, and supporting his son, he still made a way and created a path for himself to achieve what he really wanted. Personally, I couldn’t relate to what he was going through, but I had my own personal struggles around me, as you can see in the photo here. But like the character in the movie, I just kept my eyes fixated on what I wanted for myself, despite my world slowly falling apart.
Surround Yourself with People who Inspire You
My preparation this time around led to me developing new friendships. I studied in the student library with future doctors, nurses, optometrists, future dentists, future OTs. This really benefited me because they ALWAYS motivated me to study and they always had something to study for. It’s like when you go to the gym and hear other people grunting, and you want to grunt too or you see other people working out and you become inspired to add that extra rep. Same logic- Surround yourself with people in life that are relentlessly working towards something and y’all will motivate/inspire each other. I’ve made some real friends and i’ve personally met the angels that God sent for me in my time of need.
I was never really a guy that needed words of encouragement but MAN, this 4th attempt I needed a boost from every direction, from smiles, laughter, sunshine, nice Starbucks workers, free food bowls, etc – I needed it. All of the positivity came from me sharing my struggles with people and from those people truly believing and investing in me. My strength came from prayer, trying my best to put God at the first part of my day, and driving to work listening to Joel Osteen/TD Jakes sermons on YouTube. It’s getting late and I have work in the morning so I’ll get straight to the actual NBCOT exam and test day.
After the Exam
When the test ended, I didn’t even want to do the NBCOT survey. Usually I’m courteous, but I wanted to throw the computer instead. I made sure to print my NBCOT paper though even though I threw it away before returning to my truck. I didn’t plan on crying in my car, and I honestly felt like that guy from Friday when Deebo took his chain (lol). But man I cried hard. I think it was the first time that my friend Chris heard me cry before, I couldn’t even get my words out. My head was spinning, my mind was twisted and rung out like a washcloth, and I just sat in the parking lot when I got back to my apartment in silence talking to God. I talked to God like “Man you probably knew that was going to happen huh? I didn’t see it happening like this, why do I have to endure these kinds of struggles all of the time?” Little did I know, but He wanted to confirm to me that I should place my trust in Him and not worry about what I can’t control. I returned to work the next day with the expected questions “How was your test?” “It didn’t go as planned, my time management was off.” It’s crazy because I was already planning in my head to retake the exam. I told myself alright next time, I’m going to read the entire Pedretti, Case-Smith book, Psychosocial book, etc. I was planning my failure even though I didn’t know the result of my exam.
Score release day came and I didn’t bother to check my email I just got dressed for work as normal and started my day like a regular day. I forgot to put my phone on airplane mode because I told myself I wasn’t going to check my score and I started receiving texts of “Omg I passed.” It’s funny because this time around checking for my score is the EXACT same feeling that I had when I checked my mailbox for my potential 7th rejection letter applying to OT school. I decided to check like “It’s whatever man I don’t even care anymore.” I logged in and didn’t see anything. Yeah, at this point I’m pretty sure I failed yet again. But wait… What’s this OT certification number mean? Active? What’s active? Hmm I don’t know- let me click on my student dashboard link and see what this is…
*screenshots and sends pic to mom*
I rushed over to my OT supervisor and threw my phone down on her desk in front of her with tears in my eyes: “I passed man and I improved by 45 points. I thought I failed again… I thought I failed man.” Then my mom called and screamed in my ear all excited. God used this situation to teach me a lesson: “Don’t worry about anything, but pray and trust Him for everything.” Don’t stress about anything, just do your part as best as you can and let God do his part. I apologize if this post is all over the place, I just wanted to share my experiences. You will pass this test no matter what attempt you’re on. Keep moving forward.