As you may have read, I recently passed the NBCOT OTR certification test. I got the request from one of my readers to post about the books and strategies I used for studying for this test. I thought it was a great idea, but before I tell you, I want to clarify that everyone is different, so what worked for me will not necessarily work for everyone. We also come from different OT programs, and maybe some of us have more deficits in some areas than others. That being said, here it goes:
I used two study books:
The "National Occupational Therapy Certification Exam, Review and Study Guide" by Rita Fleming-Castaldy published by Therapy Ed and the official NBCOT Study Guide.
In the Therapy Ed webpage I got the Rita Flemming book for around $90 and in the NBCOT webpage I got the official study guide for around $60. If you are on a budget and just want to buy one, I recommend you buy the Rita Flemming book. This one has sixteen chapters that review all topics related to OT, sometimes with more detail than is really needed, which can be overwhelming, but better more than less. I found this book really helpful because I think is more efficient to review all in one book than start looking in all the books that the NBCOT recommends you review. This book's chapters are done using the same books that the NBCOT recommends for taking the test, so I think it saves the time you would have spent organizing all your books and the chapters to study. It also has 3 computerized full practice tests (170 items + 3 clinical simulations) and the rationales for the correct answers, including the clinical simulations which is really helpful.
In the other hand, the NBCOT official study guide doesn't include the rationales for the correct answers of the clinical simulations, and the rationales for the rest of the items are less specific than in Rita's book. It was really disappointing, because what good it is to know which answers are correct if you don't have idea why. This book has no review chapters, it only has a 100 item multiple choice paper practice test, and 8 scenario samples with 5 items each. If you have the extra money, I'd recommend you get it because the questions in this book a little bit more similar to the ones in the real test. Rita's book questions, however, are generally more specific than in the real test.
I got a 74% in the NBCOT official study guide practice test and in the three practice tests of Rita's book I got 58%, 58% and 64% respectively. So getting that 74% helped me go into the test with a little more confidence.
I started studying the first week of March, and in five weeks I had finished reviewing all the chapters. I studied Monday through Friday from approximately 9:00am-4:00pm (of course with lots and lots of breaks). After that, I took the first practice test. Then on spring break, I went on vacation for two weeks to Mexico to visit my boyfriend (who studies medicine there). After I came back the last week of April, I just finished reviewing the rationales for that test, did the NBCOT official study guide tests, reviewed the rationales, then studied again just the topics of my deficits areas based on the tests I took. Then I took the second test from Rita's book, reviewed the rationales, took the third test, reviewed the rationales and then reviewed again the rationales of the test from the NBCOT study guide. I took the real test on June 2, 2014.
I wanted to let you know that before I started studying (on November, 2013) our School forced us to take the $45 NBCOT practice test, which has 100 items, no clinical simulations, no rationales. It help me get an idea of what I needed to focus on for the real test. If you have the extra money, take it, if not, don't worry. I don't think it is so much help without rationales or even knowing which ones you got wrong. NBCOT's practice tests and study guide, in my opinion, are overpriced for what they are offering.
When studying from Rita's book, don't get overwhelmed trying to memorize all the information. Just finish early reviewing it, so you have plenty of time to do the practice tests. After the practice tests, you can decide what information you will need to memorize (which is not a lot). The most helpful thing is to read the rationales for every question, even the ones you got right, so don't skip that.
For the clinical simulations, my recommendation is less is more. You will get better results by just clicking the ones that you are sure of, than by selecting a bunch of answers that you are not sure of (the latter could get you into a negative point situation).
Most of the questions require the clinical thinking skills that you already have gotten in all this years instead of a bunch of facts. So, go into the test with the confidence of the great OT you will become!
If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comment section!