BCBA Study Tips XXII

posted in: BCBA, How-To | 4

Study Tips from Jamaica


Bob Marley live in concert in Zurich, Switzerl...
Bob Marley live in concert in Zurich, Switzerland, on May 30, 1980 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Kimberly Woolery, an active member of our study group… poured her heart out and gave us her road map to becoming a BCBA:


Create a Study Schedule:
I know it seems a bit extreme, but getting yourself organized and creating a schedule e.g. Knowing when you are going to cover a specific content area can keep you on track. Even if you fall off your schedule, you can always wiggle it around but for me it was a constant reminder that I needed to keep up. Of course leave room for breaks!! Personally, I broke the schedule over June – August and tried to cover a Content Area in 1 week or 2 weeks depending on how large it was, but that is what worked for me because I have test anxiety


Study According to the Task List:
I studied the way the questions were going to be grouped on the test, E.g. I studied CA1, CA2 & CA3, then CA4 & 8, then CA5, CA6 & CA7, CA10 and CA9 – I saved this for last since it’s the largest content area.


Break up your Studying time into smaller units/increments:
Why I say this, it’s much easier to tackle a goal of studying 2-3 hours per day, if you break them down into three sessions E.g. If you want to study 3 hours a day, studying for 30 minutes at a time and giving yourself a break is much easier than trying to sit down and study everything in one sitting. The material can get overwhelming. It doesn’t matter when you do the 30 minutes each day or 20 minutes each day, but as long as you complete your goal of 1 hour, 2 hours or 3 hours per day that’s all that matters. Most importantly
USE A TIMER, for me I knew I only had 30 minutes to read something, it was a visual reinforcer for me to stay on track and not wander off, and when it goes off you close the book and take a break. Make sure you have a decent break between each session.


Use Multiple Textbooks and Resources:
I know Cooper is the golden/standard textbook for studying, but for me Cooper was really dense and hard to get through. I was always falling asleep whenever I read Cooper. I think it’s good to branch out and use other materials, it gives you a new perspective on the material from a different author and it may just cover some information that you may be tested on. I recommend:


  • Ethics for Behaviour Analysts by Bailey & Burch
  • Behaviour Analysis for Lasting Change by Sulzer-Azaroff, Mayer & Wallace
    (This book in particular I found it much easier to read than Cooper, so what I would do is read certain chapters on topics I didn’t feel confident in and then go back to Cooper and re-read to see if I understood the material)
  • Strategies and Tactics of Behavioural Research by Johnston & Pennypacker
    (This book is an excellent resource for those tough Content Areas: 5, 6 & 7. It really helped me understand Experimental Design and it may teach you more than you need to know but again I found it easier to digest than Cooper – maybe I just find Cooper as an aversive stimulus)


I’m a huge fan of Dr. Bobby Newman’s books – they are inexpensive and easy to understand and it doesn’t take long to read them. The three I really recommend are:




BDS Modules:


If you are using the BDS modules, try and complete your weakest content areas to 100%. I know they are repetitive and frustrating but what I found helpful was writing my own notes from the modules, especially the hints because they give you pages from where they got their information and sometimes give you more information than you need to know for the test. I don’t think this is a bad thing, but try and take notes.





Do SAFMEDs, create flashcards and do them for fluency. They don’t take up much time in your day and it really helps to build fluency with the terms. You can print these off or use them directly on Quizlet. Just make sure that whoever’s flashcards you are using are from someone who knows what they are doing – you don’t want to memorize the wrong information.



FIT Guided Review or Mock Exams:


I can’t say enough about FIT’s staff, lecturers and tutors (I didn’t go there and no I don’t work for them either ). Maximizing the Exam Prep resources that FIT REALLY helped. I did the Guided Review with Dr. Pritchard who is the best exam prep person I know. I’m not sure if he is doing any more Guided Reviews, but regardless any lecturer you get will know what they are doing and will help you learn how to weed out the wrong answers. For me, doing the pre-mock, the two long days of lectures, reviewing the recordings and doing the post-mock was extremely helpful. If you do anything with FIT and want the best bang for your buck – take the guided review. You can also do Guided Group Tutoring where you can go over a CA each week on Saturdays and go through mock exam type questions and you can see where you went wrong. If you really feel you need extra help, do the 1:1 Tutoring, Ryan is an amazing tutor!



Pass the Big ABA Exam:


Pass the Big ABA Exam’s Exam Prep Manual is extremely handy and it really puts everything you need to know for the exam. I’m not saying to rely on this only to study but it is really helpful with their tips, I found it extremely resourceful and useful especially when my brain was overloaded from reading other textbooks. Everything is laid out nicely and I know they put a lot into that prep manual, it’s expensive but it’s worth it if you can afford it.




Again these are ONLY suggestions, I am definitely not telling you to do everything above and I know there is no perfect recipe to study for the exam and not everyone has the same amount of time to devote to studying. Everyone’s minds works different and I thought I would just share as many tips and resources as possible JUST in case you weren’t aware of what’s available.




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