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.
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.
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.
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 were:
- 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:
Foundations of the NBCOT Examination
Information on test development and construction, the exam format, exam scoring and test metrics.
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.
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.
Testing beginning 2019 onward:
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.