According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the career outlook for behavioral analysts is favorable and job growth is expected to increase over the next 10 years. In order to practice in every state, graduates must take and pass the Board Certified Behavior Analyst Exam (BCBA), which is administered by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. If you’re passionate about helping others and want the recognition and salary that comes with becoming a board certified behavior analyst, it’s important to understand the qualifications necessary to take the exam. If you’re nervous about this strenuous test, here are a few study tips to help you prepare.
In order to take the BCBA exam, a student must first complete a master’s degree in a related field, such as sociology, psychology or behavioral analysis. In addition, a minimum of 225 hours of graduate coursework must center on subjects germane to behavioral analysis, such as the ethics and principles of psychology. Individuals possessing a doctorate degree in the fields of psychology, sociology or behavioral analysis with at least 10 years of related work experience are also eligible. In addition to the educational requirements, individuals must also complete 1,500 hours of practical work in the field of behavioral analysis. For instance, working at a clinic under the supervision of a board certified behavior analyst would qualify as relevant experience. Once all requirements are met, the next step is completing an exam application. After a brief investigation, an eligibility approval letter is sent, which is the signal it’s time to begin hitting the books.
The BCBA test consists of 150 questions broken up into various sections, including “Ethical Considerations,” “Experimental Evaluation of Interventions” and “Definition & Characteristics, Principles, Processes & Concepts.” It’s prudent to begin studying once you receive the eligibility approval letter, or even before. Here are a few tips to make the most of your precious study time:
- Enroll in a prep course.Many universities and private consultants offer BCBA test prep courses. The course prices vary, and in many instances working with an established professional is beneficial. However, before spending hundreds of dollars, research the class and ask around at work for a referral.
- Find a Study Partner. Chances are there is at least one other person at your job or an old friend from college who is also prepping for the BCBA exam. Keep one another motivated by forming a study group. Ideally, choose an individual that is adept with concepts you find difficult. Aside from studying, use one another as a sounding board and source of strength if the stress becomes too overwhelming.
- Create Flashcards. Channel your elementary school experiences by creating flashcards dealing with relevant terms and topics. Pull out the cards at random times during the day and quiz yourself. Once you’ve mastered a particular concept, remove the cards from the deck and concentrate on areas you find more challenging.
- Concentrate on One Topic At-a-Time. Flashcards are a great way to quiz yourself quickly. However, when you’re ready to sit down and truly hit the books, it’s best to concentrate on a single subject. Begin with the more challenging topics and work your way through the concepts and ideas you mastered in college. Eventually, you’ll have every idea mastered and will have trouble identifying your weak areas.
- Take Breaks. Marathon study sessions are exhausting, which is why it’s important to take a break every 30 minutes to one hour. Step away from the table, splash some cold water on your face or walk around outside for a few minutes. Avoid performing any tasks that could distract you from studying, including watching your favorite television show or starting the laundry.
- Get a Good Night’s Sleep. The night before the test, put the books away and get a good night’s rest. In the morning, don’t hesitate to go through your flashcards once again before heading out to take and pass the BCBA exam.
Whether you’re studying for your pa teaching certification or the BCBA exam, it’s important to take a little time for yourself each day. Relax with your friends, phone your parents or simply enjoy a relaxing evening watching a film. Whatever you do, just remember that studying while stressed is rarely ever productive.
About the Author: Simon Horace is a blogger and recent graduate. Simon is currently studying for his BCBA exam and one day hopes to start his own private practice.
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