From Exampedia
Jump to: navigation, search



The Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) exam is developed and administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) as a means of certifying the character and competency of entry-level occupational therapists in order to protect the public interest and the integrity of the profession.[1] NBCOT is a non-profit agency that has certified over 214,000 occupational therapy health care professionals in the United States through its fully accredited credentialing programs.[2] NBCOT conducts periodic job task analyses to determine which tasks are more often performed by entry-level occupational therapy assistants, and which tasks are most critical to their job function. The results of these analyses are then used to update the COTA exam to reflect current practice in the field. The most recent of these analyses was conducted in 2008.[3]

Function of the Test

NBCOT-COTA Study Guide

Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants are health care professionals that provide therapeutic intervention to improve the lives of individuals who face challenges in function in their daily roles and activities. COTAs work directly under the supervision of registered occupational therapists (OTRs).[4] The COTA exam provides the public and potential employers with the assurance that those engaged in the practice of occupational therapy have achieved a standard level of knowledge, skills, and professional behavior.[5] Certification is required for licensure and employment as an occupational therapy assistant in all 50 states as well as in the District of Columbia.[6] According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, COTAs are experiencing above-average job growth in hospitals, nursing facilities, and within private practices. In 2012, the median salary of a COTA was $48,940 per year.[7] Candidates must have a minimum of an associate’s degree in occupational therapy (OT) in order to take the COTA certification exam. Students who are candidates for graduation from an OT degree program may apply for and take the exam, but their results will not be released until they submit proof of graduation.[8] Candidates must be of sound moral and ethical character to be certified by NBCOT. Any candidate whose background includes professional or collegiate disciplinary action or suspension, who has been convicted of a felony, or who has been recently on parole or probation relative to a criminal conviction must provide additional documentation to be considered for the exam.[9]

Test Administration

NBCOT-COTA Flashcards

Exams are held throughout the year at Prometric testing centers, available in multiple locations in every state.[10] Applications may be submitted online and paid for by credit card via the MyNBCOT online portal, or by completing a paper application. Academic credentials must be verified by having official transcripts (or an “Academic Credential Verification Form” for current students) sent to NBCOT from the applicant’s college or university.[11] The paper application fee is $540. Candidates whose state licensing boards require confirmation of eligibility to take the exam must pay an additional $40. If the state requires an official score report for licensing, the applicant must pay an additional $40 for this service.[12] OT students or potential students who are concerned about possible issues related to their background may apply to NBCOT for early determination of eligibility before investing in their certification career path.[13] The cost to apply for early determination is $225.[14] Special accommodations are available for individuals with documented disabilities. Candidates requiring such accommodations must request them at the time of application and submit a “Testing Accommodations Provider Recommendation Form” completed by an appropriate health care provider to NBCOT, along with supporting documentation.[15] A candidate who does not pass the exam may reapply after a 30-day waiting period.[16]

Test Format

Sections of the NBCOT COTA Test
NBCOT COTA Test Subject Areas Percent
Assist the OTR to acquire information regarding factors that

influence occupational performance throughout the occupational therapy process

Implement interventions in accordance with the intervention plan and under the

supervision of the OTR to support client participation in areas of occupation

througout the occupational therapy process

Uphold professional standards and responsibilities to promote quality in practice 8%
Total 100%

Test Structure

The NBCOT COTA exam consists of three main domains: Assist the OTR to acquire information regarding factors that influence occupational performance throughout the occupational therapy process; implement interventions in accordance with the intervention plan and under the supervision of the OTR to support client participation in areas of occupation throughout the occupational therapy process; and uphold professional standards and responsibilities to promote quality in practice. Questions regarding these topics come in the form of 200 multiple choice questions. [17]

Test Environment

Testing for NBCOT exams take place at Prometric Testing Centers. There, candidates are expected to arrive at least thirty minutes early, present a government issued identification that contains a photo and signature. A secondary identification is also required, such as a debit or credit card, or voter registration card. The NBCOT COTA test is delivered in a computer format. Four hours are allotted to complete the entire 200 question exam. A ten minute tutorial will be available before the exam begins, and will not count against the allotted four hours. [18]

Sample Questions

More free NBCOT-COTA practice test questions.


Previous week exam scores are posted online every Thursday.[19] The COTA exam uses a multiple-choice format in which each question has only one correct answer. Because only correct answers are counted when computing the score, there is no penalty for guessing when a candidate is not sure of the correct answer to a given question.[20] To score the exam, raw scores are converted based on a scale that adjusts for differences in difficulty among multiple forms of the exam. The resulting scaled score may be between 300 and 600. A scaled score of 450 or above is required to pass the exam. This score is consistent across all versions of the exam.[21] Exams are scored on a rolling basis with results for the week posted each Thursday for candidates to view via their MyNBCOT portal page accessible through the NBCOT Web site. Within 4-6 weeks, candidates who pass the exam will receive their COTA certificate and scaled score results via postal mail. Candidates who do not pass the exam receive their scaled scores with a report showing their performance in each subject area on the exam to assist them in studying to retake the exam successfully, along with instructions for reapplying with NBCOT.[22]


  1. ^ About The Exam July 13, 2015
  2. ^ About NBCOT July 13, 2015
  3. ^ Foundations of the NBCOT Certification Examinations August 1, 2015
  4. ^ About Occupational Therapy July 13, 2015
  5. ^ About The Exam July 13, 2015
  6. ^ About NBCOT July 13, 2015
  7. ^ Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides July 13, 2015
  8. ^ Certification Eligibility Requirements July 13, 2015
  9. ^ Character Review July 13, 2015
  10. ^ About The Exam July 13, 2015
  11. ^ Apply for the Exam July 13, 2015
  12. ^ cert-exam-app.pdf July 13, 2015
  13. ^ Early Determination July 13, 2015
  14. ^ Early Determination Review Payment Form July 13, 2015
  15. ^ [1] July 13, 2015
  16. ^ Repeat Candidates August 1, 2015
  17. ^ NBCOT blueprints 11 August 2015
  18. ^ NBCOT Exam Information 11 August 2015
  19. ^ [2] July 13, 2015
  20. ^ Foundations of the NBCOT Certification Examinations August 1, 2015
  21. ^ Foundations of the NBCOT Certification Examinations August 1, 2015
  22. ^ After the Exam August 1, 2015