Kate Grimes, BCBA, MSc SLT
Taking the Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) exam can be a daunting thought. There is a lot of content to cover in the task list. The language used in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is technical and can take some time to fully understand. And then you are expected to know how the concepts apply in everyday life!
With the right preparation and time spent in the right areas, you can be successful at taking the exam the first time around. This list of top 10 tips provides some useful advice that can help you to organize yourself and be successful in tackling the exam!
Use online resources.
There are some great resources online to help students preparing for the RBT exam. With any material used on the Internet it’s important to think about the source and the quality of the content. Where possible, select material from known sources. If you are gathering information from Facebook study pages- look at the number of participants on the group. Is there a moderator who is reviewing the material that is being added? Are other group members responding to questions posed by students in a timely manner? Higher quality websites and Facebook pages generally have more responsive page administrators and members that are more active on the site. They are usually a more reliable source of information!
Read each task on the task list and check your understanding.
Have you read each task outlined on the task list? Do you understand what is meant by each of the tasks?
How can you check your understanding of each concept? One suggestion is to explain it in your own words to a ‘non- ABA person’. Do they understand what you mean?
Have you written up a definition of the key word mentioned in the task list and can you fluently recall the definition?
Can you think of a practical example that applies to each task?
Can you think of real- life example of each of the tasks on the task list? For example, if you are to look at the measurement section and task that relates to partial interval recording A-03 – can you think of a real life scenario of when you would use partial interval recording as a measurement tool? What are the steps you would need to follow for this to be successful?
Have you reviewed all lecture content and ASRs on your course material?
Have you reviewed all the handouts and notes that were given to you in the 40 hour course work material that you completed? Were any videos shared with you on your course? Have you reviewed the video content?
If Active Student Responding (ASRs) was used during your 40 hour coursework, did you understand the answers to each question and answer presented? If you are unsure of any of the answers, can you follow up with another course participant or ask the course coordinator for some extra help?
Have you put a list of definitions together to learn as SAFMEDs?
Have you written down a list of definitions that you will learn before taking the exam? In order to help you to learn each definition it can help to use the ‘Say All Fast Minute Every Day Shuffle’ approach. As the definition implies, this means that you should spend a minute every day reviewing the content with the aim of learning the material off by heart or to fluency.
To make it easier to keep track of your learning split up the definitions you work on using the ‘SAFMED’ approach into three different piles. One pile for the definitions that are already learned, one pile for the definitions that are newly learned and one pile for the definitions that are newly introduced. Practice the cards in each of these piles for a minute every day until you have achieved fluency with them.
Record your definitions- if you are commuting somewhere- do you have time to listen to definitions if you recorded yourself saying them onto your phone? This can also help you build fluency around behavioural definitions.
Read each question carefully.
When completing the exam a scenario is often presented to you in which a concept of ABA has been applied. You will be expected to determine which concept has been most appropriately demonstrated. This is where knowing the definitions of each of the key concepts is a huge help.
Break each definition down into it’s component parts.
If you think that a certain definition applies to the scenario presented, can you write down the definition and match up to the scenario that has been presented to you? Does your definition match up with the scenario that has been presented?
Make a study plan.
How long will you spend covering each section of the task list A through F? Do you have any time allocated to study as part of your typical working day? If not is this something your organization can support you with?
How long will you spend studying content related to each section? The more time you can allocate to each section the better prepared you will feel. When is your exam scheduled? The more time you have to prepare the better. However, if you don’t have as much time as you would like, split the tasks into the time that you have available to you so that you give relatively equal study time to each concept.
Use a calendar or diary to plot out what you will cover in each of the allotted study times you have arranged.
How to prepare yourself for the exam?
You’ve arrived at the exam location and signed in to get started. What should you expect to happen next? The RBT exam is a multiple choice exam. You are given a scenario with a question and four possible responses. Now you must select the most appropriate response based on the scenario that is presented.
To ensure you have enough time to answer each question, make sure you split up the full allocated time to give equal chance to each question. If you have a 90-minute period with 45 questions, that means a limit of 2 minutes for each question.
If you are struggling with a tricky question and it’s going over the two minutes allocated to it, stop yourself from continuing and make a note of the question number. This will remind you to go back to this question when you have tried answering all of the other questions. Generally, you will find that some questions are faster to answer than others. This should give you some extra time to review those questions that you struggled with at the end.
Ask for help.
Is there anyone you can work with as a study partner? Can you present hypothetical questions to one another and help each other answer the questions? If you need some extra help to free you up to study is there anyone you can ask for some extra help from – for example to help look after children and free you up to do some extra study.
Finally it is important that you celebrate your achievements! Regardless of how the exam goes on the day, getting to the point where you have studied the content and prepared yourself to sit an exam is a huge achievement. You should be proud of yourself and it’s important to mark your achievement in some way! This might be a small gift to yourself, a meal out with your partner or friends or some other special way to mark the exam completion!
Do you have any other tips to prepare for the exam? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!
Kate Grimes, BCBA, MSc SLT is owner of Inspire Therapy DMCC a multi-disciplinary clinic that provides ABA, SLT, OT and RBT training in Dubai, UAE.