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An 8 Week (Stress Free) NBCOT Study Schedule

Written by Kyla Salisbury, Published on October 3, 2017

Every new grad OT needs an NBCOT study schedule.

The NBCOT exam is a stressful and overwhelming challenge for everyone. Common pitfalls when studying for high-stakes exams can range from not leaving enough time to study, to having decreased self-confidence, to wasting time by focusing on reviewing material that is already a strength. Making a plan with a NBCOT study schedule can help.

The sheer fact of where to begin studying (also known as analysis paralysis) can even hinder the process. Although there is no one tried and true way of studying for the NBCOT exam, having a solid study plan will help you stay on track and excel. Look below for a clear solution for what to invest in for exam preparation material and for an eight-week NBCOT study schedule.

Download the 16 page Ultimate Guide to the NBCOT ebook for FREE now by filling out the form below! 👇

If you have not yet registered for your test, review crucial information in 5 Things You Must Know About the NBCOT Process.

We will start with a list of potential study materials for your NBCOT study schedule. We have chosen to list several study materials. By no means is it necessary to purchase and study all listed materials.

Read through the quick facts and decide which materials sound the best for your personal learning style and NBCOT study schedule. (For me, I used study materials #1, #2, #3, #4, and #8.)

Study materials

American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA) NBCOT Exam Prep, $149 for members, $209 for non-members

This study material offers clear, concise outlines of major test sections. Additionally, it offers over 1,000 practice questions to help you prepare. In my opinion, AOTA’s test questions are an invaluable resource and with questions being the most similar to actual test items. I also like how you can track average exam scores over time, results by topic, and results by domain.


[box type="shadow" align="" class="" width=""]NBCOT Test Domain Areas include

Domain 1: Acquire information regarding factors that influence occupational performance throughout the occupational therapy process.

Domain 2: Formulate conclusions regarding client needs and priorities to develop and monitor an intervention plan throughout the occupational therapy process.

Domain 3:  Select interventions for managing a client-centered plan throughout the occupational therapy process.

Domain 4: Manage and direct occupational therapy services to promote quality in practice.

Understanding domain areas of strengths and weaknesses can also help strengthen your studying skills. For example, if you score weaker in domain 3, research and review interventions for various diagnoses. Be sure to know what intervention is most appropriate for the specific setting the test questions identifies. Integrating this in to your NBCOT study schedule can be a powerful tool to increase your score.[/box]

TherapyEd’s National Occupational Therapy Certification Exam Review & Study Guide, 8th Edition, $90

This study material offers a comprehensive overview of study material in outline format. The outline format is thorough and can be heavy, dense reading. A CD is included with three practice tests. Rumor has it: test questions from TherapyEd are the most difficult. TherapyEd also offers a NBCOT test prep course. The course is $330 and is offered in several locations throughout the United States. The course focuses on critical reasoning skills, offers learners the ability to self-identify areas of strengths and weaknesses, and to work through test questions in a group format. Check out dates and times here.

Preparing for the Occupational Therapy National Board Exam: 45 Days and Counting: Edition 2, $59.62

Offers a flowing, easy to read and digest text. At the end of each chapter, a review section offers questions in multiple choice, matching, and written response format to help promote comprehension of the reading material and critical thinking skills.

Occupational Therapy Examination Review Guide: Edition 4, $40.86

This review guide offers four, workbook style, practice tests. Importantly, this guide also offers the rationale for both correct and incorrect test answers to help develop your decision-making and understanding of test content.

OT Questions

Pricing is variable because they are always running deals and discounts! OT Questions offers 1,093 multiple choice questions and 10 clinical simulations. The unique part of this resource is that you are given images to facilitate learning and you are able to see what percentage of other students got the same questions right or wrong.

Pass the OT

Packages range from $69 to $365. Even though Pass the OT is a new player in the game, they are a force to be reckoned with. They offer questions, quizzes, and even online tutoring!


That’s right. The creators of the test have their own study material. Yet, and I hate to say it, it’s not that good. The real benefit of purchasing study material from NBCOT is the practice exam. For $45 you take a 100 question test and it is graded on a range from 300-600. Buyer beware. You get a score and it lets you know what domain you did well on, but you won’t be able to see what questions you answered incorrectly.

OT Miri

OT Miri offers great explanations, tips for remembering difficult material, and study support on her You-Tube channel, OT Miri. Follow her on Facebook and YouTube for a great supplement to your study plan. Additionally, she is very receptive and responsive to your personal questions if you reach out to her via messenger, etc. She seems to be always looking for new video ideas and is willing to tackle difficult content areas to help students best prepare for their test.

Now. On to the 8 Week Stress-Free NBCOT Study Schedule...

Study for 4-8 hours per day, 6 days a week using the following format.

Weeks One and Two

At your own pace, read Preparing for the Occupational Therapy Board Exam: 45 Days and Counting (obviously, don’t take the 45 days to read it.) This text is easy to read and a good place to start a review of all the material you learned in school.

Take note of areas of strength and weakness. Do not spend time studying your strengths! You will work hard to address weaknesses in future study materials. To break up the monotony, begin making flashcards of assessments to review. Continue to make and review flashcards of assessments throughout the next study weeks.

Weeks Three through Six

Begin tackling outlines from AOTA’s NBCOT Exam Prep. Study one outline topic per day. Read the correlating section in TherapyEd’s. Meaning, if you read AOTA’s outline for neurological conditions, read up on strokes, Parkinson's, and multiple sclerosis in TherapyEd’s review guide. Then, divide AOTA’s practice questions to test yourself on the section/topic you reviewed shortly after learning the material. This will help reinforce the material you just reviewed. Additionally, take one practice test from the Occupational Therapy Review Guide at the end of each week. Re-read and re-study more difficult material.

For me, I focused studying on burns, hands, pediatrics, and mental health. Make sure to continue to make and review flashcards. Watch OT Miri You-Tube Videos for a change of pace!

Consider studying in a group or with a partner to help you stay on track. Studying in a group setting may help you learn from another’s perspective, fill in learning gaps, and it may break up the monotony of daily studying! 

Week Seven: Take one of TherapyEd’s practice exams at the start of the week. Review results and focus studying on the questions you missed. Take one of TherapyEd’s practice exams at the end of the week.

Week Eight: Review areas of weaknesses. I took this time to review assessments, developmental stages, Allen Cognitive Levels, Glasgow Coma Scale, spinal cord injury levels and treatments, and the metabolic equivalent of task (MET) levels. Take the remaining of Therapy Ed’s practice exams. Get a good night’s rest the night before the exam.

Help yourself process this article’s content by making a visual schedule or calendar. Take time to work out your plan while considering your other personal obligations: work, taking care of pets or children, holidays and time with family. Remember to schedule in rest breaks for yourself. Self-care is also an important aspect to passing this test. Stick to the plan!

Studying for the NBCOT exam can seem like a never-ending challenge. Please feel better now that you have a starting point and 8-week stress-free NBCOT study schedule. Remember. You have made it this far in your preparation for becoming a great occupational therapist. It’s just one more step to get to years of fulfilling, meaningful work helping and healing others. You got this, OTR!

This is key. Say your name and tell yourself you ARE an occupational therapist. When you take the test you will get a whiteboard. Write your name and OTR or COTA down to help give yourself that extra confidence boost!

Topics:Grad SchoolplanstudyLicensureNBCOTnbcot resources

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