Feeling nervous? Because the NBCOT® exam is high-stakes, many students suffer from test anxiety leading up to the exam and while taking it. This can make performing well much more challenging. Anxiety is a natural occurrence in stressful, high-pressure situations like a professional exam. It can be manifested either somatically, which is how you feel, or cognitively, which is what you’re thinking.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize these symptoms and make overcoming NBCOT® exam anxiety much easier. Here, we’ll discuss tactics for overcoming NBCOT® exam anxiety, including feeling confident in preparation, arriving to the testing site prepared and early, engaging in breathing exercises, and more.
Be confident in your test preparation
If you don’t feel comfortable and confident with the amount of preparation you’ve done leading up to the NBCOT® exam, you’re more likely to feel anxiety the day of. Knowing the material is the best way to be confident. As you prepare for the exam, equip yourself with comprehensive study materials. Then, study those materials in gradual, pre-planned increments over time, not in frantic all-night study sessions.
Also, take practice exams in atmospheres similar to the one you’ll experience on exam day. This will make the exam setting feel more familiar when you arrive, and therefore, will help you overcome NBCOT® exam anxiety.
Arrive to the test site well-rested, prepared, and early
The night before your NBCOT® exam, prepare what you plan to eat in the morning and what you’ll wear while taking your exam. Additionally, plan your commute in advance and ensure you have enough time to get there well before the exam starts. Go to bed earlier than you usually might, get a good night’s sleep, and set your alarm to get up early enough to take your time during your morning routine.
When you leave for the exam, take any materials you may need, like your ID and registration confirmation, and even earplugs if they will help you feel more comfortable in your surroundings. To further ensure you won’t feel rushed in the morning, the night before the exam, put these items in a bag that you can easily grab before you head out the door.
Pay attention to the time on the exam
The NBCOT® exam is four hours long and includes three clinical simulation test (CST) items and 170 multiple choice questions. It is recommended you spend 30-36 minutes total completing the CST items, or approximately 10-12 minutes each. This will leave you 3.5 hours to complete the 170 multiple choice questions at about 1 minute and 14 seconds each.
Don’t stare at the clock, but be mindful of the time you’re taking on each question. Keep moving and come back to a question later if you can. Leave some time to double check your answers once you’ve answered them all and remember, you don’t have to answer every single question to pass.
Try breathing exercises and relaxation techniques for overcoming NBCOT® exam anxiety
If you find yourself feeling overcome with test anxiety when you arrive at the test site or anytime during the exam, calm yourself down by placing your feet flat on the floor, your hands in your lap, sitting up straight in your chair and taking deep breaths and slowly exhaling. This is a quick, natural way of overcoming NBCOT® exam anxiety and relieving exam-related stress.
Trust your process. If you follow your study schedule and equip yourself with the tools and techniques you need for overcoming NBCOT® exam anxiety, you should feel comfortable in your abilities on exam day. A comprehensive resource like TherapyEd’s National Occupational Therapy Certification Exam Review & Study Guide by Fleming-Castaldy or TherapyEd’s OT Exam Prep Course can help you prepare to succeed with confidence.