We understand life as an OT student can be hectic. Between clinicals and coursework, social and family obligations and other demands on your time, it can be difficult to find opportunities to buckle down and truly focus on studying for the NBCOT® exam. If you want to improve your chances of success, you need to figure out your personal set of optimal study habits early on. This means thinking about more than just what to study. You also need to decide where to study for the NBCOT® exam to maximize your productivity.
The NBCOT® exam is dense and difficult, and preparing for it requires intense focus and self-discipline. That doesn’t mean, however, a dead silent library is necessarily the best location for every student to study in. All students are different, and you might find that an environment with more creature comforts or background noise actually works better for you.
Here are a few suggestions for study spots you might consider, along with their advantages and disadvantages. Take a look and decide what your optimal study spot looks like so you can make the most out of your upcoming study sessions.
Study Spot #1: At Home
Students who crave comfort and flexibility often find their own homes to be ideal study spots. If this sounds like you, consider setting up your own customized study station at your dining table, your desk, or even on your living room couch.
At home, you can wear the clothes you feel most comfortable in, use a favorite blanket, adjust the temperature to your liking, and perhaps even create a calming effect by lighting a candle or playing your favorite music. You can even take intermittent naps, which can help you refresh your memory, improve information recall, and recharge for additional hours of studying.
Studying at home takes real self-discipline. With a bed, TV, roommates, and countless other potential distractions all around you, it can be hard to resist becoming sidetracked. Getting too comfortable at home can also make it hard for some students to maintain focus for sustained periods of time.
If you feel you lack the self-discipline you need to effectively study at home, or if your home environment is simply too distracting, try one of the other study spots we recommend here instead.
Study Spot #2: The Library
When considering where to study for the NBCOT® exam, many students prefer a spot devoid of visual and auditory distractions. If you’ve found the library to be conducive to productive studying throughout your undergraduate and occupational therapy school years, there’s a good chance it will work well for you as you study for the NBCOT® exam too.
Whether you study at a school library or a public library, you’ll also benefit from surrounding yourself with other people who share a similar goal: to focus and learn. This collective atmosphere of deep concentration can act as positive peer pressure and help you study productively.
If you live near campus, take advantage of your school’s library, where you’ll have full access to research databases, course textbooks, e-journals and other helpful resources.
For some students, too much silence can be its own kind of distraction and encourage the mind to wander.
Additionally, depending on the day of the week or the time of day, the library can also become overcrowded with other students. That can limit the privacy some students crave when studying and make a once productive environment become uncomfortable.
If too much silence makes you uneasy or you value a great deal of control over your personal space when studying, you should instead opt for a more comfortable, familiar environment when choosing where to study for the NBCOT® exam.
Study Spot #3: A Coffee Shop
Several studies have found that ambient noise enhances concentration and performance on creative tasks. The low hum of a coffee shop’s espresso machine, background music, and quiet conversations create the perfect amount of background noise to stimulate thinking, which can help you study more deeply and efficiently.
Coffee shops are also a go-to spot for group study sessions of any size. Those who spend time at coffee shops typically don’t expect a great deal of peace and quiet, so you can rest assured you won’t disrupt others like you might in a library.
The impact of a little caffeine shouldn’t be underestimated either!
While coffee shops are a favorite study spot for many students, they’re not right for everyone. The constant stream of customers coming and going can be distracting for some. Some coffee shops also have inconvenient hours, and you might have to pack up and leave just as you’re hitting your stride because the shop is about to close.
Other Unorthodox Study Spots
If you know traditional study spots like the ones we’ve covered here don’t work well for you, or if you’re hoping to try something new, think about other places you tend to spend your time when you’re not studying. They could be worth trying as you consider where to study for the NBCOT® exam.
Do you enjoy being outside? Try studying at a public park, nearby arboretum, or an outdoor recreational area on campus. Are you constantly on the go? Don’t underestimate what you might gain from reviewing materials on public transportation or in the lobby of a hospital where you’re doing a clinical. You might even consider changing things up by experimenting with a study session at a museum or a favorite restaurant. For some students, variety can be extremely motivating.
Wherever you are, if you’re having trouble concentrating due to unexpected noise, try using your headphones. Research shows music activates both the right and left hemisphere of the brain, leading to increased information retention and concentration.
No Matter Where You Choose to Study, Have the Right Materials on Hand
Knowing where to study for the NBCOT® exam is only part of the formula for succeeding. TherapyEd’s National Occupational Therapy Certification Exam Review & Study Guide and Prep Course should be part of your arsenal as well. Together, they will set you up for exam day success.