In order to become a certified occupational therapy assistant, you’ll have to sit for the COTA exam administered by the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). The exam is for anyone who has recently graduated with an associate degree in occupational therapy and focuses on 3 areas: assisting the Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) to acquire information about patients that could affect the treatment plan, implement the intervention plan under the supervision of the OTR and advocate high professional standards through patient care.
Here you’ll find some free COTA exam prep tips and practice questions that will help turn your online OTA degree into a license.
Logistics of the COTA Exam
There are a few things you should know about the NBCOT COTA exam before taking it.
- You have four hours to take the COTA exam. You can take breaks, although your time doesn’t stop.
- There are 200 multiple choice questions. If you leave a question unanswered, it will not count towards your overall score.
- You can go back and answer questions as long as you are within your time limit. So don’t worry if the answer doesn’t come to you right away. You can skip the question and come back to it.
- It’s $40 cheaper to apply for the exam online instead of mailing in a paper application. You can apply online through the NBCOT.
- You need a score of 450 or higher (out of a total of 600) in order to pass. But if for some reason you don’t, you can sit for the exam again in 45 days. There is no limit on the number times you can take the exam.
COTA Exam Prep Advice
Two hundred questions in four hours can be a daunting task. The key is to prepare yourself mentally to sit for the exam. Don’t overthink and work yourself up about it. At the same time, it isn’t a good idea to blow the COTA exam off like it’s no big deal. Here’s a few tips to prepare yourself mentally to sit for the COTA exam.
- Don’t wait until the week before to study. You should be studying four to six weeks in advance for at least two to three hours per day.
- Plan out your study strategy. Start by taking a self-assessment test to see where your focal points should be, then tailor your strategy to systematically hit those. Write out your study strategy as a basic outline to keep yourself on track, leaving most of the practice questions for closer to your exam date. The NBCOT offers several guides and blueprints for the COTA exam. Take advantage of these free COTA exam prep materials.
- Eat a protein rich breakfast the morning of your exam. This means eggs, yogurt or cottage cheese would be a good choice.
- Arrive at your test center early. Being late is stressful. That’s the last thing you want before taking the COTA exam. You’ll also likely have to fill out some administrative paperwork before you can begin, so getting there early will ensure you don’t eat into your exam time.
- Lastly, eat a light lunch or use the restroom before you enter the test taking area. Reduce the likelihood that you’ll need a break, because the clock doesn’t stop if you do.
Free COTA Exam Prep and Practice
There are several practice exams, free flash cards and free COTA exam prep materials out there for you to use. So take advantage of these.
- The NBCOT offers free COTA exam prep as in the form of self-assessment tools. This will help you identify areas and topics to focus on as you develop your study strategy.
- Quizlet offers you free flashcards to help you study. They provide you with the answers and an explanation of the right and wrong choices.
- This resource offers your free questions taken directly from the COTA Examination Review Guide, second edition. They provide you with the answers and an explanation.
- AOTA, through the NBCOT, offers you free practice COTA exam questions in both an exam mode (timed) and practice mode (not timed).
- This resource offers over 40 free flashcards with multiple choice questions, complete with answers and an explanation behind the right and wrong answers.
- Sometimes, the NBCOT Facebook page will post practice COTA exam prep questions. You can join in the conversation and/or use these to make flashcards of your own.
- COTAprep.com offers a free sample practice test that is similar in look and feel to the real thing. It will ask you to answer 10 questions in 20 minutes and is great resource to use when getting closer to your test date. They also offer paid practice exams, so if the free version isn’t enough for you, you have other options.
What Passing the COTA Means for Your Career
You can take the COTA exam right after you graduate or up to three years in the profession. Becoming a certified occupational therapy assistant means being an officially licensed OTA. It will help you find a professionally legitimize your skills, personally give you confidence in your abilities and OTA education and, in some cases, help you find a job.