BCBA Study Tips LXII

posted in: BCBA, How-To | 1
English: Fountain Hills, Arizona, USA Français...
English: Fountain Hills, Arizona, USA Français : Fountain Hills, Arizona, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Terri Wright of AZ

This is THE kitchen sink version of the BCBA study tips for the February of 2014 group!

Thank you all for sharing your tips and I apologize for being such a late, lousy poster!

Enjoy Terri’s treat!


  • I started studying Safmeds 8 months before my exam date and studied them daily for a couple of months. After that I periodically reviewed them until the text date (maybe 1x monthly). I did not create my own flashcards; rather I used a link provided by my supervisor.


  • I started the BDS modules 6 months before the exam.

  • Initially I just started going through each module to mastery but I quickly realized that I was just memorizing answers which wasn’t going to work, so just prior to each new content area in the modules, I outlined each Cooper chapter related to that particular content area and then took the online Cooper quizzes (tracked the results for each chapter on a data sheet). AFTER taking the quizzes, I completed the related modules to 100% for that content area. Then I moved onto the next content area and repeated. Doing it this way, it took me 3 months to complete the modules. I completed all modules to 100%.

COOPER (again)

  • Once I finished the BDS modules, I re-read/studied all Cooper chapters where I had performed with less than 80% on the online quizzes. Then I took the quizzes again for these chapters. There were a handful of chapters where I was still scoring below 80% and a couple where I was scoring in the 60s. Ugh!


  • Next, I purchased The New BCBA & BcaBA Exam Preparation from Amazon. It is important to know that this is NOT a study guide.It simply has two tests with answers provided in the back. Correct answers are provided, but they are NOT explained anywhere. I took the pretest, checked my answers (with answer key in the back) and did horrible.

  • This is when I started to get very nervous about the test. Prior to this practice exam I thought I knew the content. In fact, I became so nervous that I changed my test administration date to the end of the month from the original scheduled appointment at the beginning of the month. Time to take control & conquer! I divided two, 5-subject notebooks into sections by task list; with the 10 content areas becoming the titles for each “subject” in the notebooks. I went through each question from The New BCBA Exam Prep practice test (whether I got it correct or incorrect) and made sure I knew why the correct answer was indeed the correct answer. (It is important to know that there are some incorrect answers in the key; which I found during this process). If I was not completely clear on a topic or knew that I would want to review it again, I wrote it into my notebook with notes and comments under the corresponding subject heading. Then I took the 2ndtest in the book, did equally poorly, and repeated the review of questions and writing notes in my notebook like I did for the first test.

  • Using this practice test was a critical point as it made me aware that there were a few topics I had not addressed at all in my studies; such as precision teaching and direct instruction. Had I not used this practice test I am CONVINCED I would have missed related questions on the exam.


COOPER (Yes, again!)

  • I went back through my lower-performing Cooper quizzes, studied each question (correct or incorrect) and added notes into my notebook per content area as needed.

  • Then I put the Cooper book away and have not touched it since.


  • For concepts that were still fuzzy, I studied them using this text; again adding notes as needed to my notebooks.


  • I read the entire Bailey & Burch Ethics books. I didn’t study anything specific from the book; just read it from cover to cover.

  • Memorized all IOA formulas and made up tons of data to practice all of these formulas.

  • Studied Standard Celeration Charts using a document that I found online (see attachment) [Jedi note: email me for this]


  1. Develop a study schedule, know that you will not be able to stick to it exactly, and revise frequently.

  2. While working on BDS modules, I studied them almost daily. Once I completed the modules; most of my studying was done on the weekends; with very little studying after work during the week. I was worn out and simply could NOT study after work so I made up for it on the weekends instead.

  1. With all that weekend studying, plan on snoozing some. I often fell asleep while reading the Cooper text, and my husband referred to those days as “sleep studying.” It was a given that it would happen, so I just planned accordingly.

  2. Take the practice quizzes on the Cooper website, but make sure you explore why EACH question was correct; not just the ones you missed.

  3. Join a study group on facebook. I joined “Students of Applied Behavior Analysis

  4. Check out the blog for Behavior Jedi [FB page and website].  LOTS of useful study tips here.
  5. Conduct a VB-Mapp during your supervision if possible. I did this and it clarified verbal behavior on an entirely different level and, as such, I did not have to spend much study time on this area.


This wraps up the February edition of BCBA study tips! I will work on the May edition.

May the desired consequence be with you!