Don't have one yet? It's easy! Create a Profile now. Forget your password?
Verify an OTR® or COTA®
Don't have one yet? It's easy! Create a Profile now. Forget your password?

Exam Outline

For an overview of the content on the certification exams, take a look at the OTR or COTA Exam Outline. Each outline defines the domain areas the exam covers, the set of associated task and knowledge statements, and the percentage of items devoted to each area. All exam items are classified according to these statements.

2012 OTR Exam Content Outline for exams currently being administered

2012 COTA Exam Content Outline for exams currently being administered

In 2017 NBCOT completed a revalidation of the OTR and COTA exam content outlines. The revalidation resulted in minor structural modifications and text edits to reduce duplication, provide clarity, and reflect practice currency. There is no change to the knowledge being tested on the exams.

  • The OTR exam task statements have been reorganized, resulting in an overall reduction of knowledge statements from 60 in the 2012 outline to 55 in the 2017 outline.
  • The COTA exam task statements have been reorganized, resulting in an overall reduction of knowledge statements from 57 in the 2012 outline to 52 in the 2017 outline.

Beginning January 2, 2019, all OTR and COTA certification exams will reflect the content outlines resulting from these latest practice analysis studies.

2017 OTR Exam Content Outline

2017 COTA Exam Content Outline


Practice Analysis Studies - Executive Summaries

Consistent with certification industry standards, NBCOT periodically conducts OTR and COTA practice analysis studies to determine the domains, tasks, and knowledge needed to effectively practice occupational therapy. The goal is to ensure that the certification exam content reflects current practice. The results of the studies are used to create the exam outlines and to guide construction of the exams.

OTR Practice Analysis Study for exams currently being administered

COTA Practice Analysis Study for exams currently being administered

NBCOT conducted a revalidation of the practice analysis studies in 2016-2017 for the OTR and COTA national certification exams. External accreditation standards require that certification organizations, like NBCOT, conduct these every five years to confirm the exam relevancy to current entry-level practice.

The overall content areas (knowledge statements) derived from this revalidation are consistent with the outcomes from the previous practice analysis conducted in 2012. Of primary importance from the revalidation was:

  • Streamlining and reducing redundancy across the exam outlines; and
  • Confirming that the task and knowledge statements are clear for candidates to understand.

Testing beginning 2019 onward:

OTR Practice Analysis Study

COTA Practice Analysis Study


Foundations of the NBCOT Examination

Information on test development and construction, the exam format, exam scoring and test metrics. 

Foundations of the NBCOT Examination


Matrix Studies - OTR & COTA

NBCOT conducted matrix studies comparing exam content outlines for the OTR and COTA exams to the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE®) Standards. The cross-tabulation process found that all knowledge statements in the 2013 NBCOT anchor document are reflected in the current ACOTE Standards.

2013 OTR Matrix Study for exams currently being administered

2013 COTA Matrix Study for exams currently being administered

The studies were repeated with the revalidation of the practice analysis, and results showed that all knowledge statements in the NBCOT exam content outlines are reflected in the draft ACOTE Standards.

2018 OTR Matrix Study

2018 COTA Matrix Study


Curriculum Textbook and Peer-Reviewed Journal Reports: OTR & COTA

NBCOT recently completed surveys to identify the textbooks and peer-reviewed journals that are most commonly used in occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant educational programs. The results help NBCOT update a reference list of publications that item writers and the Occupational Therapy Certification Examination Committees (OTCE) will use to reference, verify, and validate certification exam items.

2018 OTR Curriculum Textbook and Peer-Reviewed Journal Report: Entry-Level Post-Baccalaureate Occupational Therapy Programs

2018 COTA Curriculum Textbook and Peer-Reviewed Journal Report: Occupational Therapy Assistant Programs


Certification Process

The following pages of our website will provide you with information regarding the certification process for your students.

Eligibility Requirements 

Character Review

Early Determination 

Applying for the Exam 

Testing Accommodations 

Taking the Exam

After the Exam 

Maintaining Certification 

Please wait...

Title