If you are here, you are probably wondering how to pass the Board Certificate Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam. The good news is that it’s easy to pass the exam if you study the right way.
While there is a lot of dread, the horror stories of the low BCBA passing rate, and people having to retake the exam multiple times, you can ACE the exam on the first attempt. This article will walk you through the steps to study for the BCBA exam.
Understanding the BCBA Exam
The BCBA exam is a graduate-level certification in behavioral analysis. Individuals that take this exam can become independent practitioners providing behavior-analytic services. With this certificate, you can supervise the work of Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs), Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBAs), and other professionals who implement behavior-analytic interventions.
But before you can take the exam, you must meet the eligibility requirements. First, you must have a degree from an accredited Applied Behavior Analysis Institution (ABAI). You must have completed relevant behavior analytic coursework. Also, you must have faculty teaching and research or supervision experience of at least 750 hours. And finally, a postdoctoral experience.
With these prerequisites, you can apply for the exam, take and pass it to become a certified behavioral analyst, then ensure you maintain the certificate. But first, you must pass the exam, which you can easily ACE when you have a clearer understanding of what the exam entails. Below we look into the type of BCBA exam questions and format to expect, the topics covered, and the length of the exam.
Types of Questions and Format of the BCBA Exam
How many questions are on the BCBA exam, what type of questions to expect, and what format the BCBA exam will be the most common question students have? The questions are based on the BCBA’s Task List, which includes two major sections: Foundations, which includes underlying principles and basic skills, and Applications, which includes more practice-oriented skills.
Overall, these two sections have a total of 104 total tasks. So, you must familiarize yourself with these tasks. For the exam, you will be asked a total of 175 multi-choice questions and ten unmarked pilot questions that are given to you in a randomized manner rather than in ordered sections. So, comfortably shifting from topic to topic across different content areas is essential.
Topics Covered on the BCBA Exam
While the structure of the BCBA exam is organized into Foundations and Applications, these two sections cover a total of 9 topics. Each topic is assigned a specified number of questions. For example, you will be asked eight questions from the Behaviorism and Philosophical Foundation course. In contrast, you get 24 questions for the Concepts and Principles course. All nine different domains of the exam have a set number of questions. And in terms of scoring, the BCBA scaled score starts from 0 and ends at 500. You must get at least 400 to pass the exam.
Length of the BCBA Exam
As a multi-choice exam with four possible answers to choose from, for each question, you are given 4 hours to complete it. As such, one trick to passing the BCBA exam questions is to be prudent with your timing and spend only a little bit of time on each question.
How to Prepare for the BCBA Exam Content?
If you are wondering how to start studying for the BCBA exam, you’ve come to the right place. Below we share some valuable strategies to help you prepare for the BCBA exam.
Establish your baseline measures
The first thing you need when preparing for the BCBA exam is to establish your baseline score. As such, you need to take a mock exam. The mock exam will help you familiarize yourself with the type of questions to expect and identify areas you need to concentrate more on when studying. There are a handful of resources online that offer practice exams. After completing the exam, you need to take note of your overall score, fluency score, and score per task list section.
Most examinations, including the BCBA, ask conceptual and application questions. So, don’t take the mock in hopes of its questions being repeated, but understand the concept and application of the question. Approaching mocks with this mindset horns your question-answering skill such that anyway the examiners may twist or plot questions, you can answer them correctly.
Review the BCBA handbook
Another thing you need is the BCBA exam study guide or the BCBA’s Task List latest edition. In this task list, you will find a wealth of information regarding the exam content, what to expect on the exam day, and more. When studying the handbook, we recommend you start with your weakest points based on the baseline you established earlier. Spend considerable time studying areas you need to become more familiar with.
When you get to areas you are familiar with, skim through them. Your primary focus should be on the content areas you need help with the most. Based on the mock you took, study to understand the concept of questions so that even if they were asked in different formats, you could answer them correctly. Have quizzes with your friends to ensure you have got the hang of it. If not, go through the handbook again until you gain mastery and fluency.
Take a post-test
When you are done with the handbook a few times, you should take a post-test before the BCBA exam. It would help if you waited a few days before sitting for the real BCBA exam to take the post-test. This post-test will help you know if your score will improve from the baseline you established earlier. If there is a slight improvement from where it was, you need to refresh your memory by reviewing your reading materials again.
Also, you must assess your timing when taking the post-test. On the real BCBA exam, you have 4 hours to answer all the questions, and anyone who does not answer is automatically considered wrong. So, spend only a little time on one question, so you leave yourself enough time to answer every question.
How to Study for the BCBA Exam: 5 Tips
Are you looking for some BCBA exam study tips from an expert to help you read and remember easily? Below are some study tips for implementing as you prepare for your exam.
Create a study schedule
Have you ever thought about how long it takes to study for the BCBA exam? We recommend setting aside one to six months to prepare for the BCBA exam. And most importantly, you should create a study schedule. In the schedule, break down your plans on how you intend to approach the study handbook, ensuring you cover every task list in it, not once, but several times during the duration of your study. Thinking you can cram your way to pass the BCBA exam is not the way to go. Understandably, you might have a busy schedule already, but creating time helps you be more planned. Also, after creating the study plan, don’t procrastinate about using it.
Practice until fluent
Another BCBA exam study that will help you during the exam is to keep studying until you’re fluent in it. The exam is timed, so having good fluency and accuracy are features you want to gun for when studying. When answering the questions, you want to understand each concept and answer it correctly. So, while studying, always test yourself with how fast you can answer questions because knowing the answers alone is not enough; you need to be fast about answering the questions always. Using flashcards to study is an excellent way to build fluency.
Apply concepts in the real world
Preparing for the BCBA exam doesn’t have to be boring, as you can apply the concept in the real world. Applying behavioral analytic concepts to real-world situations is a fantastic tool that helps you better retain what you studied. It enables you to generalize concepts that deepen your understanding of how to apply them. So, it will be more than manageable when you need to answer a question about it in an exam. This trick will help you further down the line in your career as a behavioral analyst.
Graph your study progress
Also, you should keep track of your progress by making a graph. Doing this helps you know how far you have done in your reading progress and how much effort is required. Note that this graph can be anything from the number of flashcards you answered correctly or the number of questions you got correctly from the mock exam. So, anything you are feeling under the weather, you can always look at the graph to lift your spirit. Think of it as a personal cheerleader who will help you keep moving when you feel unmotivated.
Analyze and refine your study habits
Finally, it would help if you always were on the lookout for how well you are performing. Measure your success and failures as you study and constantly refine them, so you get the best result from your effort. You can use self-management strategies to analyze your effort or apply reinforcement procedures to increase your focus on studying, depending on what is most relevant to you.
Wrapping Things Up: How to Study for the BCBA Exam?
If you are preparing to take the BCBA exam, studying with the right material is key. While the exam is pretty straightforward, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you don’t study well. So, give yourself enough time to study and get acquainted with the topics covered in the exam. And using the suggestions in this guide will help you have an edge to ACE the BCBA exam with ease.