1. What Was Your Study Plan, Timeline and Strategy?
I studied for about 6 weeks, between 4-10 hours per day, 5 times per week. I have never been big on planning but I created a rough guideline of topics I wanted to cover. After studying for a week, I took a practice exam, picked out the parts that I was weak on and focused more on those topics. As you can see from the materials I used below, I might have gone a little overboard, but I really think taking tons of practice tests helped me with determining what the questions were really asking. I don’t necessarily recommend this, but I took all 3 full Therapy ed practice exams, 3 from the OT Exam review guide (200 questions each), and several 170 question practice exams from AOTA exam prep (I’m sure I went through all 1200 questions). A lot of people think Therapy ed is overkill, which I kind of agree with, but what I found most useful is taking their practice exams and seeing which type of question I struggled with. Specifically, I really struggled with induction type questions. On the first exam I got only 40% of these question types correct. I took tests that had only induction type questions until I was soon getting 70%-90% on these questions (admittedly, maybe in part because I was remembering some of the answers). Also with the NBCOT practice exam, I got a 445 score but did very poorly on interventions (44%). I went back over the AOTA exam prep questions and then focused on only intervention questions until I was consistently scoring above 70% on questions about intervention. Its all about laser focus on your weaknesses and I believe these 3 resources, NBCOT practice exam, Therapy Ed, and AOTA exam prep, really helped me hone in on those weaknesses.
2. What Study Books and Resources Did You Find MOST helpful?
I believe of all the study materials, I found the AOTA exam prep the most helpful. And of course the OT Miri videos! These were extremely helpful to me to get my brain thinking about how to conceptualize topics, because before viewing them, I found myself just memorizing material. AOTA was helpful because you could see where your weakness was by specific topics and by OT domain (i.e- evaluation, intervention, etc). The OT Miri videos were extremely helpful for me in some key areas: Infant reflexes, Allen Cognitive levels, Rancho levels, GM Pediatric Milestones (really any of the Pediatric material). Also, I believe Miri’s positivity and encouragement in each of her videos were helpful in getting me in the right mindset. I was massively frustrated at times, but these were a great source to go, to both let my mind relax and sort of passively cover the material but also go back and review the material in depth later when my brain wasn’t mush.
I also used the following resources:
- Therapy Ed
- OT Examination Review Guide, 4th edition
- NBCOT study guide
- NBCOT practice exam
- Pedretti textbook
- Class notes
3. Strategy to Master the CST Portion
Nothing groundbreaking, I just practiced them on AOTA and Therapy ed repeatedly. If it doesn’t sound realistic, if it sounds like a passive strategy, or at all negative, its probably not something to select. If the answer is client-centered, focused on safety, seems reasonable for the given scenario, then its probably safe to pick it. I generally would look over all the options before selecting any Yes or No responses. I usually picked the Yes responses first unless there were some No responses that were very obvious. A lot of times, I would pick a Yes response that gave me a clue as to the other Yes or No responses, so pay attention to the feedback you get from these too.
4. If There is ONE Piece of Advice You Can Give to Future Test Takers, What Would it Be?
The best advice I can give anyone is, use strategies that worked for you during school. You got this far by using strategies that were successful for you. You may incorporate new strategies here and there, but for the most part I would stick to your game plan. If you have never studied in groups, why change it now? Or same thing if you always have. Trust your studying abilities. It may be more intense and more material to cover, but the same basic approach should work for you. Also, treat this like its your job. Don’t give in to the fear, but a little fear is good and will drive you to study hard.
Hopefully this came across as positive and encouraging, because that is how I meant it to be. I was a nervous wreck during the test. If I can pass it, you can pass it! 🙂
Alan Fonnesbeck, OTR