Passing the BCBA Exam? Five Keys to Success. Review Strategies Matter

On every exam cycle large numbers of very capable people - many with a great deal of experience; folks who largely have the content down; folks who've studied and worked very hard...are not successful. Such sustained low pass rates are not only unacceptable but also and absolutely not necessary.

For many of the BCBA test takers with whom I've done prep/review and, especially, of those who've contacted me after scheduling a retake, I've found that non-content issues can overwhelm even the strongest content knowledge. Identifying and strengthening content areas to include experimental design/measurement and behavioral change systems/procedures is very doable.

It is the integration/application of that content combined with key non-content aspects of the BCBA exam which remain the most challenging for many folks.

I bring nearly 40 years of highly diverse clinical experience as a Behavior Analyst. I'm a professional educator/teacher; have written/implemented training, degree programs and coursework; provided BCBA supervision for many years and offer my own original BCBA Test Preparation/Review process along with having almost 10 years as higher education faculty teaching in Departments of Education/Special Education and Psychology.

Whether you are scheduling the BCBA exam for the first time...or if the next time is a retake...I can help you pass.

Here are my five fundamental Keys to unlocking success on the BCBA exam:

  1. Content matters. Automaticity/fluency across the foundational concepts of Behavior Analysis to include fluency with experimental design/measurement - a pivotal test domain in which a great many strong candidates otherwise struggle - are, together, critically important.

  2. Being able to take all the memorization; every one of those hard worked flashcards; the ability to recite technical definitions AND understand how it all comes together...to transform foundational knowledge into practice and application; to recognize ('see') individual and combined behavioral change tactics, procedures and systems in vignettes/real time scenarios in order to respond effectively.

  3. Become more aware and increasingly strong with regards to the non-content aspects of the BCBA exam/multiple choice exams since it is these exact non-content competencies which continues to trip folks up on the BCBA exam. The ability to select the best answer when more than one seems perfectly logical; being able to recognize and separate relevant from irrelevant info in a vignette/question; to guard against misreading questions/not recognizing exactly what is being asked can together become a particular - and sometimes overwhelming - difficulty.

  4. Directly supporting folks with a history of learning/reading disabilities and/or challenges - those who have worked very hard through their academic and professional lives to meet their challenges - but trip over specific BCBA exam content areas and, more specific still, the BCBA exam presentation and non-content competencies. An important point is that learning/reading disabilities are less a 'disability' than a different way of learning/using information and, therefore, is directly benefitted by differentiated ways to study/review. Learners don't 'fail' but, far more often, teachers/instruction fail the learner. As a BCBA - D who is also a long time professional educator and teacher with almost decade as faculty in Departments of Education I will, unlike more routinely available and decontextualized online and other Test Prep/Reviews, get to know you and your strengths; your preferred learning style and needs in order to offer personalized and differentiated support towards your success on the BCBA exam.

  5. Understand and effectively respond to those who - for individual reasons - bring a history of persistent and interfering test anxiety with them into the BCBA exam. I assess for and work to understand the underpinnings of such an interfering test anxiety response in order to help neutralize related triggers and the, sometimes, related 'thinking errors' that can contribute to persistent test anxiety for the purpose of improved self-management and test success.

BCBA Exam Reports typically show the lowest scores in experimental design, measurement and behavioral change. When I asked one person if they'd felt their ABA graduate program had adequately taught these specific topics, the response was that the grad program had simply not adequately prepared her for the exam at all.

Measurement, experimental design and intervention are at the very core of Applied Behavior Analysis. Processes related to measurement, experimental design and intervention are what makes Applied Behavior Analysis - well - Applied Behavior Analysis.

With this, think for a moment about experimental design; Single Subject Research.

Being fluent in experimental design also means a comparable fluency in behavioral intervention systems and change procedures since one shares a fundamental framework with the other. Weak in one means weaker in the other. Stronger in one, however, can lead to increased competence with and more knowledgeable of the other.

For those scheduling a retake...let's figure out why. Just 'opening the book' for further decontextualized review and/or using the same generalized mock exams not only adds cost but may also just repeat, even further cement in, the very reasons a retake is needed. Our sessions will review and blend content with non-content competencies with each individual session helping to guide the next.

There are some good mock exams and study systems available but HOW to best use each one remains the challenge since that which is recommended by a given developer for most may not be most effective for you.

For those taking the BCBA exam for the first time; I do much of the same. I take time to get to know you; where you are. We'll spend a little extra time assessing foundational content knowledge, 'automaticity,' experimental design/measurement and behavioral change tactics/procedures. Content and non-content goals will be prioritized with each session always informed by the one previous.

My BCBA Test Prep/Review uses my original, differentiated mock exam and study/test review process. Instead of a distant mock exam developer who may - or not - generically respond to your questions, I work with each person personally, individually and directly to include remaining available between scheduled sessions for direct email/text interaction.

I will also provide specific and individualized study materials as needed in order to help make your study time more focused and efficient.

Our first session or two will include an assessment phase to help me get to know you and identify how I - and we - can be most effective. I will use that information to better individualize and differentiate your Test Prep/Review to include helping make your study time more efficient. I utilize vignettes and domain questions combined with a more specific and individualized review of key concepts and terminology.

As per best instructional practices across disciplines, BCBA content instruction and test preparation can and must also be differentiated. Whether you are a new supervisee/are taking your first BCBA test or if you've already taken the exam and are now scheduling a retake, assessing and individualizing your Test Prep/Review can make very big difference.

As a long experienced Clinical Behavior Analyst combined with many years' as a teacher/educator and curriculum developer. I know that effective instructional differentiation is of primary importance and I work hard to identify what works best for each student....one at a time.

Whether you want just a few sessions or more ongoing test prep/review contacts, my fee schedule is respectful of and responsive to each person with whom I work. To make my services accessible and affordable, I typically charge a 'block fee;' or a set amount to which we will agree connected to the frequency of sessions; weekly/biweekly...again...depending on what will be most effective and manageable for you.

Contact me to schedule an initial phone or Skype conversation of about 30 minutes....my first contact is always free of charge.

I can help you pass the BCBA exam....

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