I just want to take a moment to share my experience for those of you who are taking your exam for the first time or who have taken it before. I took my exam on Nov 8th 2017. I studied for 2 months but was also juggling working, applying for jobs, getting ready to move and stressing about passing the test. I will tell you that I have never been a good test taker. I have always had test anxiety and I do a great job of psyching myself out on things. On top of all of those I am what you would call the chronic answer changer. Due to all of this, I failed my test on first attempt by 1 point. That day was one of the worst days of my life.
Everything in Life for Me Has Always Been Failure Before Success.
And the true burn was that I was soooo close, still I failed. When I attempted to get into the OTA program at my school it took me three tries. My driving test-three tries. So you can imagine when I found out I failed by one measly point, I felt so defeated. So, I spent a few days allowing myself to breathe and did what we always advocate to our patients- allowing myself proper self care and reaching out to friends and family for support. During those days I allowed myself to reflect, ” what could I have done differently? What can I do next time to ensure that I will earn that title and get what I want. I also was very honest with myself of how I studied and what I can do differently. The first time I used Pass The OT, Therapy Ed questions and book. One of the best resources for me was OT Miri because of how relatable she is and how well she simplifies the content. I am an auditory, visual and hands on learner. During most of OT Miri’s videos I would go along with whatever she was doing, “PNF makeup tutorial, drawing the ROM numbers on my body, doing the movements, writing out the pediatrics steps.
THE PASSING MINDSET
During my second time studying, I still used her videos, but I mostly utilized the positive mindset to help drive my studying. One video that hit me hard was The Passing Mindset, where OT Miri really went into how we treat the situation can very much dictate how well we do or don’t do. I realized during my first time how negative of a mindset I had, and that I felt I just didn’t study enough or didn’t study the right materials. I also had a huge fear of, “what if I fail? What if I’m not smart enough?”
What I learned through the second time studying using the purple book and AOTA PDFS and questions is that it’s not just about knowing what the material means, but how you are getting to the right answer and why. When using the purple book I would answer 10 questions and then go back and see why they were right or wrong and reread the rationales. The WHY is what makes what we do so important and meaningful. The why is what our patients want to know. This also relates to OT Miri’s videos because she constantly is reiterating why we chose which intervention plan or splint or frame of reference. During this process, I also learned that I simply rushed through the test because of my nerves, I didn’t utilize my breaks well and that I got in my head too much and over thought some of the answers. I really had to focus on WHAT is the question REALLY asking, and how did I get to that answer? Also, two days before I sat down and did a mass review of what I was missing. On the day of, I gave myself two hours to review anything else and then cut myself off from studying. Then, I spent the rest of the day relaxing, got a massage, got my things ready for the next day (I brought water, gum, a smoothie and crackers. You can chew gum during the test – I didn’t know that the first time). And then I really allowed myself to get into that passing mindset. The morning of the test I woke up, drank my smoothie and sang in my car on the way there and told myself I can do this.
I recommend to every person to write down on the paper they get their name and COTA/L or OTR/L, whichever you are taking. Even though the process may not be easy, and the test is a big hurdle, YOU CAN DO IT. If you allow yourself to have a positive mindset, trust the process and focus on the why, You will reach your goal of becoming a COTA or OTR in no time!
“And will you succeed? Yes you will indeed! 99 and 3/4 percent guaranteed!” –Dr. Suess