Study Tips and Tricks

Results from February were released recently! If you did not pass – it’s okay! Passing the exam the first time has nothing to do with your success as a BCBA. Some of the best BCBAs I know have taken the test more than once (or even twice!). No one study method is going to work the same for everyone, but I wanted to share a little about what helped me pass the exam:

BDS Modules: Now hear me out because I know there are a lot of varying opinions on this tool. I did not complete the BDS modules to 100%. Yes, this was my initial goal and yes, this is the only way you can get your money back if you fail the test but its SO time consuming. After I realized this wasn’t going to work for me, I focused on obtaining at least 80% in as many skill acquisition areas as I could. I did not focus on fluency unless I was very insecure about that specific area. BUT if you are a slow test taker, it wouldn’t hurt making this your area of focus.

Practice Exams: I’m all about these but they are not all created equal. If you are looking to not spend too much money on exams, do your research and know you get what you pay for. Some practice exams were cheaper, but I feel like they did not correspond to the difficulty of the test. Also, some give you an overall score for each section of the task list, but they do not go over individual questions with you. I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all here. Just make sure you know what you are looking for and what you are purchasing.

Study Buddy: Find a study buddy to review things that you are unsure about with another BCBA. Whenever I was unsure of a topic (uhhh hi, experimental design). I called up my trustee friend K to go over my questions with. It was no judgement free zone and I felt like I could ask all the questions that I needed to without being embarrassed.

Find support online: There are great Facebook pages (I’m looking at you, ABA Study Group) that have a million resources for RBTs, future BCBAs and current BCBAs. Take advantage of the practice questions that pop up daily, the study guides, and the support. You never know, you may even find a study buddy that lives nearby (See tip number 3).

ABA All Day: Apply what you know to everyday life. Behavior is all around us, environments are ALL around us – take what you know and connect it with the behavior of your pets, your significant other, society. Are you nervous? How could you modify the environment around you to make you feel less so? ABA is EVERYWHERE.

Study in places that make you want to study: As “basic” as it is, I love coffee shops. I could tolerate studying knowing I had my vanilla latte, a little bit of cafe noise, and a break from all my other responsibilities at home.

You’ve got this. Whether you’re a first time test taker or a twentieth, find a way to study that works for you. Maybe it’s sticky notes of terms around the house or maybe its reading straight from the “white bible” … either way, there are multiple ways to attain the same information.  Share what worked for you and what didn’t in the comments below, we want to hear it!



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