Visual & Mnemonic Learning

Are You Ready to Pass the NBCOT?

If you are studying to become an Occupational Therapist (OTR), then the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) is in your future. Being an OT is an important and life-changing allied health profession so getting NBCOT certification exam through school, training, and certification will require intention and focus. And this last part, taking the OTR exam, is the time to finish strong. Let’s make sure you pass the NBCOT.

First things first, apply for the exam

Let’s talk about what the NBCOT is. Because if it’s so important, there must be a good reason you’ve been thinking about it since passing your final exams. There is!

The OTR exam is the certifying exam required for all practicing OTs. The NBCOT exam exists to provide entry-level indicators of competence after completing a master’s or doctoral occupational therapy program. Passing the NBCOT exam and earning the initial certification is required in all 50 states, Washington D.C. and other U.S. territories. In short, if you’re becoming an OT, you will need to pass this exam. Picmonic is here for you and helps OTs everywhere study for and pass the NBCOT every day.

If you are planning to take the NBCOT exam this year, first you need to apply for the exam. The only requirement to apply for the NBCOT is having completed an occupational therapy degree program accredited by ACOTE. Applying for the exam costs $515 if you apply online or $555 if you apply using a paper application. Then, you will need to submit your official transcript. Once your NBCOT exam application is approved by the NBCOT, you’ll receive an official Authorization To Test letter. Then, you’re ready to schedule your exam and start planning your NBCOT exam prep. Visit to set up your account, apply for the NBCOT and schedule your exam.

When should you start studying for the NBCOT exam?

We recommend using whatever time you have. Yes, you’ve heard of someone who just crammed for two weeks and passed. We believe them, too. Except we really believe knowledge is about more than passing an exam; it is about knowing how to help your patients for years to come.

Ideally, you want to give yourself a few months; about eight to ten weeks to adequately study without exhausting yourself. Plan to study anywhere between 20 – 25 hours per week and incorporate allotted time to take a practice test, multiple-choice questions, and any strategies relevant to your strengths and weaknesses. We talk about how important it is to make a plan before starting your OT program, and the same is true about NBCOT exam prep. Make a plan using your exam date as the end and work backward. Then, work on that study plan.

How should I study?

The good news is that all those friends you made in OT school are probably also strategizing their NBCOT exam prep so study groups continue! In all seriousness, studying with peers, sharing study guides, and utilizing practice tests are a great way to do well on your exam. And, here you are at Picmonic, so you are already on your way to having the best partner available. 

We want you to walk into the NBCOT exam fully prepared. From Neuromuscular Systems to Developmental Milestones, study occupational therapy with confidence using Picmonic’s OT library. Our program offers daily quizzes, a library of more than 400 Picmonics for OT, customizable playlists with the OT facts you need, and the ability to create your own Picmonics.

The reason why Picmonic works is because we focus on retention. You’ve invested years and a lot of resources into becoming an OT. We are going to make sure you can recall valuable information for years to come because we believe it’s better to learn something once.

Students who use the Picmonic Learning System improved their long-term memory retention by 331% over traditional lectures and textbooks alone. When it comes to passing exams like the NBCOT, student’s test scores increased 50 percent when using Picmonic for one week.

Leading up to your scheduled NBCOT exam date, you will receive customized recommendations that address your areas of strengths and weaknesses. Follow that plan you made when you scheduled your NBCOT and you’ll be ready.

Taking the NBCOT exam

We like to have clear expectations about things so if you’re like us you will appreciate what’s next: NBCOT test format, length, and other important details.

On NBCOT exam day you will need to arrive 30 minutes early to the Prometric test center, fingerprinting and checking in take some time. Bring two forms of valid identification like a driver’s license or government-issued identification. Prometric test centers also require biometric information – like fingerprinting – for check-in.

You have four hours to complete the computer-delivered test, but NBCOT recommends planning for around five hours and 15 minutes at the testing center. The exam is structured with two distinct components: clinical simulation test (CST) and single- or multiple-choice questions. Breaks are allowed during your test, but the clock keeps ticking on your four hours, so plan your breaks wisely.

To pass the NBCOT, you will need to score a minimum of 450 on a standardized scale ranging from 300 to 600. Passing scores are based on your responses across all components of the exam.

After the NBCOT

The NBCOT is not scored immediately, so you will have to wait for results. Opt to take your NBCOT closer to the next release date. This is for good reasons, though. Numerous quality control measures and administrative processes and procedures are in place to ensure the feedback report NBCOT provides with your results is accurate.

Once you pass the NBCOT exam, you will receive a performance feedback report along with your congratulatory letter. Similarly, if you didn’t pass, you will receive a detailed feedback report with your score and domain-level performance information to allow you to see your strengths and weaknesses.

According to the NBCOT, 77% of people who took the NBCOT in 2022 passed on their first try, down from 81% in 2021 and 84% percent in 2020.

Using Picmonic as your NBCOT exam prep, we feel pretty confident about you passing the NBCOT exam. Are you ready to get started?

Whether you are considering an OT career, are just starting your OT program, have scheduled the NBCOT, or are completing CEUs to recertify soon, you are in the right place. Hundreds of thousands of students around the world have succeeded with Picmonic Learning System by their side, and you can try Picmonic for free today. 


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