Hopebridge’s Newly Certified Behavior Analysts Share Tips on How to Pass the BCBA Exam
You’ve been studying and gathering hands-on knowledge in your graduate program, but working toward your master’s degree in behavior analysis is not when the effort ends, especially as you prepare for the BCBA® Exam to receive your certification.
There are hundreds of BCBA® Exam resources out there, so where should you start? It can be tough to know which study materials to review and the added cost can make the decisions all the more challenging.
At Hopebridge, one thing is for sure: you don’t have to go at it alone. With hundreds of Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) on staff and dozens more in your shoes working toward their BACB certification, our team members have each other’s backs…and now they have yours too! We consulted with a few of our newly certified BCBAs for their guidance on how to pass the BCBA® Exam on the first shot.
BCBA Exam Study Tips from Hopebridge:
We often hear, “is the BCBA® Exam difficult?” The short answer is that you will need study tools because yes, the exam can be tough. That being said, with the proper resources … you got this!
According to our Hopebridge heroes, there are a few things to keep in mind when studying up on ABA therapy for the BCBA® Exam.
Most importantly, you do not need to reference every material suggested to you. Which materials and how many of them to review, as well as how long to study is entirely dependent on your needs. Some people believe one route is enough for them, whereas others have a good experience combining a few materials in order to come at it from different directions.
There are hundreds of BCBA® Exam resources out there, so where should you start?
Consider which study methods have worked for you in the past and start there. Are you a visual learner? Do you learn better by writing notes or actively responding to questions? Do you prefer to study alone or via group discussion? Whether you begin one year in advance or choose to “cram” it all within two months, review for four hours at a time or in pieces while you’re on the go, you have to decide which strategies work for you.
In addition to listing out some of their favorite testing materials, it seems like in-person or virtual study groups and “study buddies” are a win across the board. It often helps applicants to discuss why they chose certain answers on mock exams or talk about concepts they may not entirely understand. Other BCBAs suggest supplementing your chosen study route with YouTube videos if you do not have a study teammate to consult.
Top 9 Study Resources for the BCBA Exam, as shared by Hopebridge BCBAs:
- BDS Modules
Behavior Development Solutions’ (BDS) “CBA Learning Module Series” is considered a premier exam prep tool to supplement the curriculum. Some BCBAs believe it was beneficial to use it to focus on a general education of the concepts, whereas others hammered it home with the modules. “I personally found these modules incredibly helpful and completed them to 100 percent criterion,” Hopebridge BCBA Taylor Kelley told us.
- BOOST 5th Edition BETA Mock Exam
The ABA Tech mock exams should be a go-to on every aspiring BCBA’s list. While it is beneficial to read a book or study an online module that covers ABA content, it is a whole other ballgame to review the test format and types of questions that will be asked. This resource provides feedback on the areas in which students perform well and guides their studying to the areas in which they may require more practice. “This mock exam shows students what they can expect the exam to look like. The textbook and the Board’s task list are amazing, but can be overwhelming. This BACB mock exam helps students focus on the areas in which they may need more study prep,” said Hopebridge Director of ABA Clinical Quality Assurance Melissa Chevalier.
- Applied Behavior Analysis textbook, A.K.A., “the Cooper Book”
Known by many as simply, “the Cooper book,” the Applied Behavior Analysis, by John O. Cooper, Timothy E. Heron and William L. Heward is an obvious – but still beneficial – place to start. There are several editions, so depending on whether you are buying new or borrowing from another BCBA, the second or third edition should be on your list. In addition to the textbook itself, there are supplemental complementary materials that are worth reviewing. “I used the textbook to make flashcards, but I also used the online chapter quizzes associated with it. I think it helps to first use these as a baseline to determine what you need to focus on while studying,” said Hopebridge BCBA Rachel McCabe. Rachel suggests using this companion site to review the various chapters and quizzes.
- PASStheBIGABAEXAM (PTBABA)
“Pass the Big ABA Exam” is on nearly every newly certified BCBA’s list in some form or another. From mock exams to workshops, PTBABA there seems to be something for everyone, but if you have to choose just one piece, the PTBABA Study Manual may be the way to go. It outlines the Cooper book, which some BCBAs say saves time. It also breaks down the BCBA task list while providing great explanations and examples.
Another big hit with BCBAs, “Study Notes ABA” puts a fun and funny (and sometimes maybe a bit “off-color”) twist on learning. With everything from a study collective and mini mocks to a podcast and social media tips – plus the best-looking notes you’ve ever seen – this exam prep service has it all. “This series of video lectures and live virtual classes break down the foundational knowledge that I found essential to passing the exam,” said Hopebridge BCBA Sean Crye.
- “ABA Study Group” on Facebook
This private study group seems to have it all. There are experienced BCBAs to converse with now and as you continue your journey working in ABA therapy, plus some of the most talked-about mock exams available. “I used some of the trivia questions and mock exams during my studying to determine where I was struggling and what material I needed to focus on most. I was also able to find a document that outlined which Cooper chapters best correlated with specific task list sections,” said Taylor. And the best part about this Facebook group? It’s a great stop for free BCBA Exam study materials.
- BAS task list study guide
The Behavior Analysis Supervisor (BAS) task list is at the top of some of our BCBAs’ lists (but at the bottom of the page we linked!). The comprehensive study guide covers key concepts, examples and takeaways to help you prefer for the “real test.” Rachel tells us, “This was my primary study material and I truly believe this is what helped me pass the test. It breaks down the BCBA task list into every single section and provides examples. It was a life-saver for me.
- ABA Wizard app
We’re in the 2020s now, so of course we have a mobile app on the list! The ABA Wizard app is great for on-the-go studying when you may not have the time or means to do a full-fledged cram session. There are short quizzes that cover more than 1,400 practice BCBA exam questions and provide immediate feedback. The app is intended to keep your mind moving and master the content on the BCBA exam.
- Hopebridge Fellowship Program
Many BCBAs tell us that nothing beats applying knowledge in a clinical setting. Hopebridge can help you with this. We offer a Fellowship Program for behavior analysis, which helps students with practical application, rather than solely focusing on academics. Plus, Hopebridge’s programs also include some of the other study materials on this list, like the BDS Modules … free of cost to our fellows! “The time I spent as a fellow gave me the experience to feel much more confident walking into this new role as a BCBA. I had the opportunity to learn so much in a fairly short amount of time,” said Sean, who was part of our program before joining us as a BCBA.
Are you an RBT currently working toward your BCBA? We have programs to support you through the process and see you succeed. If Hopebridge’s Fellowship Program sounds like a fit for you, contact us to apply for a role in one of our centers.
Future BCBAs are supported with training and education while preparing to sit for the certification.
As you prepare to pass the BCBA exam, you may also want to take a break to plan your post-test career. We are looking for more superheroes to add to our team, so if working with kids in a center-based ABA therapy environment, collaborating with other BCBAs and professionals across multiple disciplines sounds interesting to you, visit our Hopebridge job board to review open positions in your area.