OT Exam Readiness Stage 4: Action (study strategies that are evidence-based!)

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Here are some evidence-based strategies that will help you succeed while you are studying-

  1.  Find a study spot that works for you – decide on your study sensory needs and fulfill them while you study.  Maybe you like to work in a group, maybe not.  Maybe you like to have a quiet space, maybe you don’t.  Do you like to make sure that your space is clean before you study?  Does coffee or tea or hard candies keep your focus?  Whatever your needs are, make sure that you understand them and meet them!
  2. Visual imageryat least a few times a week leading up to the exam, you should visualize yourself confidently walking into the testing center, answering questions, and finishing the exam. You should also visualize how you will feel when you check on the exam results and you have succeeded!
  3.  Reward yourself  –  for example, if you meet your study goals this week, you will go to a movie or hang out with friends.  Or, after you sit to study for 30 minutes, you can check your Facebook feed, but only if you do the studying that you have planned!
  4. Re-read your notes from school or an accepted outline, but not too many times.  Retention appears to have limited benefit after the second re-read, so limit your re-reads to two times.  And, make sure you are taking notes while you re-read to help with retention.
  5. Rehearse information that you need to know – ie developmental milestones, Allen Cognitive Levels, Ranchos Los Amigos levels, etc.
  6. Spaced retrieval – you can used a spaced retrieval system to help you with learning  a lot of information (and it is the best evidence-based strategy). Here is a great blog post about spaced retrieval with some specific examples of how it can be done.  (Spaced retrieval is a study system where information you know will be “spaced” for review at increasing time periods and the material that you don’t know so well will be presented more frequently – Anki, Studies, and Cram using “cram mode” are some good examples of apps that do this for you).   Although I know a lot of students use Quizlet, making your own flashcards forces you to review the material and allows you to interpret the information as you write it again.
  7. Create visuals that connect information.  Make flow charts or sequences, mind maps – anything that will help you visualize information – this will help you retain information and apply it.
  8. Self-verbalize and justify your answers.  When studying for the OT exam, make sure that you are looking at sample cases and verbalizing why you would choose to gather certain information about someone, what information an assessment tool gives you, how you will use information to plan intervention – act as if you are talking to your FW supervisor or a client – telling them the how’s and why’s of what you are doing and why you are doing it! You can also justify why you might choose one intervention strategy over another or why you need to discharge a client.
  9. Practice exams.  You should plan to complete at least one practice exam before the real exam.  This will help you feel more confident about the actual exam and give you some feedback about your thought processes.  See my previous post for products that might be helpful to you as you study!


This information was summarized and applied to OT from the following:

Killian, S.  (2015).  The 10 Best Evidence-Based Study Tips.  Retrieved from  http://www.evidencebasedteaching.org.au/the-10-best-evidence-based-study-tips/

Based on the following references:

Beesley, A. D., & Apthorp, H. S. (2010). Classroom Instruction That Works, 2nd Ed.: Research Report. Denver: McRel.

Crespi, T. D., & Bieu, R. P. (2005). Study Skills. In S. W. Lee (Ed.), Encylopedia of School Psychology (pp. 539-543). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K. A., Marsh, E. J., Nathan, M. J., & Willinham, D. T. (2013). Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive & Educational PsychologyPsychological Science In The Public Interest, 14(1), 4-58.

Hattie, J. (2013). Visible Learning: A Synthesis of 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. Routledge.

Purdie, N., & Hattie, J. (1999). The Relationship Between Study Skills & Learning Outcomes. Australian Journal of Education, 43(1), 72-86.

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