How to,  Study

Creating a Study Plan

The August exam window is fast approaching, which might stress you out. Having the right study plan, you’ll pass the exam with flying colors.

With a few months to really dig in, now is the time to really immerse yourself in ABA. Try these steps to help you prepare.

Measure your progress

Take a mock exam before you start studying. Record your baseline results and compare to the mock exam you take after studying.

Use the task list to assess your skills of each item. Write on the columns to rate your knowledge on each item. Use a rating scale like:

0 cannot identify item
1 can verbally define and give examples
2can display skill with clients

Periodically assess your skills using the task list and watch yourself improve!

Master the skills

Use these methods to master your deficits from the Task List:

  • Topic-specific quizzes
  • Flashcards
  • Study groups
  • Read Cooper
  • Cooper Quizzes
  • Mock exam

Topic-specific quizzes

It can be easy to study in blocks when you’re focusing on the Task List. Try to randomize your topics when studying. This will help you during the exam. For example, one quiz question is on the 7 dimensions of ABA, while the next is on experimental designs.


Say All Fast, Minute Each Day, Shuffled

Created by Ogden Lindsley, SAFMEDS are a type of flashcard that facilitate accuracy and fluency. Use this link on more information about using SAFMEDS and graphing your results.

For creating the cards, you can create your own or use a list found on Quizlet, like this one.

Study groups

Join some study groups (in-person or virtual). There are some Facebook groups out there, but make sure you are getting accurate information. Anyone can post on Facebook and it isn’t always accurate. That being said, this is one to check out.

Cooper, Heron, & Heward

Cooper, Heron, & Heward (a.k.a., The Big White Book)

Reading Cooper, Heron, & Heward (once or twice) is a go-to way to cover most important topics on the exam. You can find it on Amazon. In addition to reading Cooper, make sure you read up about ethics, including practice scenarios. The BACB includes 20 ethics questions in the exam.

If you own your Cooper book, highlight it up.

Cooper quizzes

The Cooper book has quizzes for each chapter. Use this link for the quizzes.  

Final Mock Exam

A 2-4 weeks before the exam, take a full-length mock exam. During the exam, you’ll be given 4 hours to finish. Practice taking the exam in this time frame to help master fluency.

Use the mock exam’s results to compare to your baseline exam. How did you do? Notice the areas of deficit and study those more using various methods.

Review the task list again. Polish off any last areas using the methods above.

Other tips

Use different modalities

Read. Write. Say. Type.

Research shows that writing items out helps improve retention.

Don’t cram

Try to space out your studying. Refraining from cramming increases knowledge retention. It also makes you feel more prepared and less like you’ve had a brain overload.

Self care

  • Get good sleep
  • Eat well
  • Exercise
  • Have a social life (or try to)
  • Take breaks in your studying.
  • Program reinforcers for making progress in studying

Reach out to us with any questions or help with studying for the big exam!

Relax and keep plugging away.

Good luck!

About the Author: Becca Duncan, M.A., BCBA, is a supervisor with the Behavior Analyst Mentorship Network. She has worked in the field since 2012 in residential programs, day programs, schools, in home, and in clinic settings with ages ranging from 2-95-years-old. Becca’s expertise includes ABA therapy, supervision, skill acquisition, children with autism, and adults with complex needs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.