Your consistent work and determination have put you in position to take and pass the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) exam.
As you prepare for your test day, we’ve developed this resource for you. You’ll find details about registering for the test, the cost for the exam, items to bring with you on the day of your test, along with the types of questions you can expect to see on the exam itself.
Exam Purpose and Background
The COTA exam is developed and sponsored by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).
The test is in place to serve as another way to ensure a consistent standard for those entering the occupational therapy profession. In turn, this uniform assessment process serves to uphold the highest level of patient care across different geographical areas.
There are four primary requirements you must meet before you can sit for the COTA exam.
First, you must have graduated with an accredited entry-level occupational therapy degree. Second, there are specific fieldwork thresholds to meet. Third, you need to submit your school transcript showing your graduation date and degree. Fourth you must agree to align with the NBCOT Practice Standards and Code of Conduct.
You can register for the COTA exam online at www.nbcot.org.
The testing exam for the COTA test is $500. You can pay this fee with a credit or debit card that is VISA, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express.
Locations and Times
You’ll see available testing center locations and time options when you complete your online registration process.
When to Arrive
You are required to arrive at your scheduled testing center at least 30 minutes before your scheduled exam time.
The overall elapsed time for your testing session will run approximately five hours and 15 minutes, though the actual amount of testing time is four hours.
What to Bring:
- Be sure to bring two forms of ID with you. You can either bring two primary forms of ID, or one primary and one secondary form.
- Examples of primary government-issued IDs include a driver’s license, a passport, a state-issued ID, a permanent resident/green card, or a military ID. Your primary ID must show your legal name, your photograph and your signature.
- Secondary IDs can include a debit card, a current major credit card, a voter registration card, your employee ID card, or a student ID card.
- NOTE: Social Security cards are NOT an acceptable form of ID.
- NOTE: There must be an exact match in the way your full name appears between your registration materials and your forms of ID that you bring with you on testing day.
What Not to Bring:
- Any kind of electronic device, including phones, PDAs, cameras, etc.
- Jewelry other than engagement rings or wedding rings
- Any kind of paper notes or books
- Jackets or coats
- Head coverings (except for medical or religious reasons)
What to Expect During Your Exam
Format/Number of Questions
This is a computer-based test, consisting of 200 multiple-choice questions and six multi-select questions.
The COTA exam consists of three primary content domains. Here’s an overview of each of them and the relative percentage each domain represents as part of the overall exam.
Domain 1: Influencing Factors (32% of questions)
This section of the exam covers your knowledge in ways of assisting the OTR in gathering details about the factors that have an effect on occupational performance through the occupational therapy process.
Domain 2: Occupational Therapy Implementation (60% of questions)
This portion of the test is about assessing your understanding of therapy implementation. You can expect the majority of the questions on the exam to be in this area. In general, this section covers implementing interventions using standard intervention plan standards—and doing so with the guidance of the OTR through the occupational therapy process.
Domain 3: Professional Standards (8% of questions)
This area of the exam asks questions about maintaining the highest standards of professional conduct to deliver consistent, quality care.
Calculating Your Passing Score
Scores for the COTA exam can range from 300 to 600. A score of 450 or better is needed to achieve a passing score.You can expect to learn your score within four to six weeks after your testing date. You’ll receive an email once your test results are available for you to look at online.
How Can I Prepare for the COTA Exam?
That’s a great question. We’ve broken down the answer into three parts.
- Do yourself a favor and study. Do not walk in unprepared. We have recommended prep materials below, but that only helps if you actually try. Plus, studying is actually proven to be the best antidote to test anxiety.
- Take care of yourself. Make sure you’re eating well, exercising, and sleeping. All of these things are scientifically linked to brain performance. If you take care of your body, you’ll be helping your grades.
- Get a study guide or set of flashcards. Some people study better a certain way. Find your study strengths and make the most of them. We’ve tried to make it easy for you by tracking down the best study guide and flashcard set for your exam. Below you’ll see links to both!