How to Pass the NBCOT® Exam On Your First Try

The NBCOT Exam is the thing that stands between you and becoming licensed and officially an occupational therapy practitioner. It was one of the most stressful, but also the most rewarding board exam I have ever studied for – the other being my EMT board exam.

This quick guide will provide you with the tools you need to study for the NBCOT exam used by many students with a high success rate.

Set a Testing Date

According to the NBCOT, most students pass by studying for about a month to two months. So do this if possible, otherwise, you risk getting distracted and/or forgetting information.

Getting in the Mindset

  1. Eliminate unnecessary distractions, e.g., stay off social media or use screen timers
  2. Stay healthy – eat well and exercise. Yeah, this sounds obvious, but who has time to do that when we need to study right?
    1. Meal planning may be helpful so that you won’t have to spend time cooking or going out to get food (which also may also add to your debt with inflation these days and these gas prices).
    2. Consider pre-cooked meal kits that are delivered to your door.
    3. Go for a quick walk around the block for a quick study break.
  3. Manage your stress – you know all those psychosocial techniques you learned in OT school like mindfulness and CBT? Use that for yourself! I’ve done it and it has worked wonders. Even if it means just therapeutic breathing.

Let’s Get Reviewing

  1. Stay organized – make a binder of your study guides with a calendar in the front so that you stay on track.
  2. Make flash cards (or use pre-made ones) using apps like Quizlet. You can opt to use pre-made ones but be careful of mistakes and errors as these are made by strangers on the Internet.
  3. Stick to 1 or 2 study materials like board exam books, e.g., Therapy Ed and AOTA’s Exam Prep PDFs.
  4. Use a studying method. An example is the Pomodoro method where you study for a period, take a break, and repeat using a timer.
  5. Practice exams – when you are ready, begin taking practice exams in a simulated environment and be sure to review the answer rationales later. Take different practice exams (and quizzes, such as my free ones – see below) from different companies and publishers to cover your bases.

Supplement Your Studying

Popular resources (tell them OT Dude sent you!)

  • OT Miri
  • OT Exam Prepper
  • OT Rex

Many students have also written to me and said that they really benefited from different learning methods. Here’s what they had to say:

Maybe you are a visual learner or an auditory learner.

I created a free NBCOT Exam Prep Course that contains different methods of reviewing. It includes videos, podcasts, podcast quizzes, different quiz formats such as video clips, and even CSTs. It is definitely worth checking out as it is FREE and provides different methods of reviewing all in an organized course. This is a very helpful resource to supplement your review for the NBCOT Exam.

Screenshot from the course


Passing the NBCOT is not a matter of if, but when. Most students do pass on their first try. The key is planning, commitment, and practice practice practice. As a mentor in the OT community, I have helped students pass on their first try from all across the country.

Be sure to check out my free course to being reviewing right away. Thousands have already enrolled and are studying from it now. Don’t miss out on this free resource – it’s 100% legit!

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