ABA Technologies Blog https://abatechnologies.com/ Passion for Writing en Tue, 18 Jun 2024 17:00:03 -0400 Tue, 04 Jun 2024 12:48:49 -0400 Test-taking Strategies for the BCBA® Exam - Tackling the Test Series https://abatechnologies.com/blog/test-taking-strategies-for-the-bcbar-exam-tackling-the-test-series Part 6 Part 1: Intro to the SeriesPart 2: Mock Exams for BCBA® Exam PrepPart 3: Self-Management Strategies for BCBA® Exam Prep Corey Robertson Mon, 15 Apr 24 10:41:08 -0400 ABA Technologies Blog Part 6


Part 1: Intro to the Series

Part 2: Mock Exams for BCBA® Exam Prep

Part 3: Self-Management Strategies for BCBA® Exam Prep

Part 4: Study Methods that Work

Part 5: Beyond Rote Memorization

Tests are an important and inevitable part of becoming a behavior analyst. Whether within coursework or, eventually, the certification exam, tests can induce a mix of anticipation, stress, and a slew of private and public events we may describe as “anxiety.”

Having effective test-taking strategies in your arsenal can significantly boost your performance and help mitigate the effects of anxiety. In this blog, we will explore test structure and how to analyze scenario questions, and we will offer some test-taking strategies to help you confidently approach the BCBA® exam.

Understanding the BCBA® Exam

The BCBA exam consists of 185 multiple-choice questions. Ten are unscored, while 175 are scored. One-hundred-seventy-five of these are scored items, and ten of these are unscored. Four answer choices are available for each item, with only one correct answer. Familiarizing yourself with the exam development, format, rules, scoring, and facts about the exam will allow you to enter the test informed and confidently as an informed consumer.


Before the BCBA® Exam

BCBA Exam Prep Planning

The foundation of successful test performance lies in preparation and planning. For behavior analysis students, much of the preparation for the BACB® exams should occur during their coursework and fieldwork experience. But learning does not stop once you leave the classroom. These tips will serve you well as you prepare for the BACB® exams:

  1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses via quality mock exams, and begin studying well in advance. Last-minute cramming can be counterproductive.
  2. Create a self-management exam prep plan, including a study schedule, break down the material into manageable chunks, and allocate sufficient time for each content area. Establish a routine that will ensure that you cover all necessary content.
  3. Use effective study strategies and quality resources.

Using Behavioral Momentum on Exam Day

Multiple-choice questions can sometimes feel tricky, but the aim of the BACB® exam isn’t to mislead you. Rather, the aim is to determine if you have mastered the necessary discriminations. However, multiple-choice items do require careful attention. Time management is crucial during a test. Use your time effectively, take advantage of behavioral momentum, and boost your confidence with little wins. It may help you to take three passes through your exam by following this test-taking strategy:

  1. Pass 1: Answer the “easy” ones first. Starting with the first question, proceed through the exam, answering questions you know. These are the items you can answer quickly and with confidence. If you must think about a question too long or are not confident in your answer, don’t let it bog you down. Keep momentum by flagging the item and moving on.

  2. Pass 2: Go back through your flags. Once you have answered all the easy items, go through your flags. This pass, spend a bit more time with each item. If you really don’t know it, keep it flagged and move on again.

  3. Pass 3: Finish the exam… By the third pass, you should have only a few questions left. Spend most of the remaining time working through the most challenging items.

  4. Review. If time allows, go through the test one more time, reviewing all items to ensure you are confident with your answers. Be careful not to overthink. Some students are prone to changing too many items at this point, and this second-guessing hurts their scores.

This strategy works for many students, but not everyone benefits from this 3-pass process. To see if it is an effective strategy for you, try it out prior to exam day on a high-quality mock exam. This will allow you to practice the strategy and evaluate if it is effective for you.

Seven Steps for Analyzing Exam Items

Responding to a multiple-choice question is a bit like being a detective: the answer is there in front of you, hidden among a variety of distracting information, and it is up to you to find it. This doesn’t mean that items are meant to be tricky; it means that each item will ask you to make a relevant discrimination. You will be asked to use the information in the question to make the discrimination. Taking a step-by-step approach can help solve each case:

  1. Read the question carefully twice. Yes, twice! Missing one word can change the context of the question.  Avoid adding information that isn’t written in black and white, and don’t make assumptions about information that is not present in the questions. Identify what the question is asking and what skill it is testing.
  2. Read the question carefully twice. Yes, we are serious enough to list this twice. Do yourself a favor and do it!
  3. Diagram and label. Diagram the example or write what you know.  The task here is to extract the relevant information. There may be superfluous information in the item. You will need to sift through to find the important vs. irrelevant information. Here’s an example of diagramming:Seven Steps for Analyzing BCBA Exam Items
    • What is the question asking?
    • Who is the behavER? Identify whose behavior we are focused on.
    • What is the behavIOR? What is the target behavior or responses?
    • Identify relevant information given the question type and content.
    • Extract and label information relevant to the question. Remember not to make assumptions or add information that isn’t given.
  4. Return to the question and answer it yourself. Once everything is labeled, return to what the question is asking. You likely have already labeled it. Answer the question for yourself before looking at the answer choices.
  5. Read all the answer choices. Once you know the answer, look at the given choices to identify the one that best matches your answer. Be sure to read every answer choice and select the best answer.
  6. Process of elimination or play the 50/50. Eliminate any obviously incorrect answers to narrow down your choices, increasing your odds of selecting the correct one if you must guess.
  7. Flag and move on. If you're unsure, flag the item and come back to it with fresh eyes. Avoid overthinking or second-guessing. If it is your last pass, make an educated guess rather than leaving it blank.

Extracting Relevant Information

Extracting relevant information from exam questions often involves asking yourself questions about the content. The type of questions you need to ask when analyzing an exam item will differ based on the content of the question itself. For example, if the question is a scenario and you need to identify the specific type of antecedent or consequence exemplified, you may need to ask questions like the following:

  • What are the relevant consequences for the behaver? Classify them as reinforcement or punishment, positive or negative.
  • What are the relevant antecedents, and how do they function in relation to the consequences? Do they “signal” availability (discriminative stimuli), or do they alter the value of a consequence (motivating operations)?

Additional relevant questions for this type of question can be found here.

Graph questions or questions requiring you to make a clinical decision will require you to ask a different set of questions and label items within the question differently. For example, you may first need to identify/label:

  • The type of graph
  • The experimental design
  • If there was a change in behavior (yes/no)
    • Did behavior increase or decrease after the implementation of the intervention?
  • If a change occurred, where/when did it occur?
    • Did a behavior change follow a change in conditions/treatment?
    • Was there a demonstration of experimental control?

Again, knowledge of the content will offer clues to the questions you must ask. Being able to ask yourself these questions while working through exam items and labeling what you know as you go will help you select the correct answer.

Mastering Exam Strategies

Performing well on any test or exam is about knowledge of the subject matter and implementing effective strategies during the exam. The first step is mastering the concepts, principles, and technologies of ABA during coursework and supervised fieldwork. Reviewing materials to strengthen any deficits in comprehension is important in the period between finishing coursework and supervision and sitting for the exam. The night prior and the exam, it is important to achieve a calm, steady state of mind and body to perform your best. Finally, read carefully during the exam and attack each question intentionally. The combination of preparing thoroughly, understanding the test format, staying organized, managing time effectively, and using appropriate techniques will help you to perform your best.

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Beyond Rote Memorization—The Importance of Fluency in BCBA® Exam Prep - Tackling the Test Series https://abatechnologies.com/blog/beyond-rote-memorization-the-importance-of-fluency-in-bcbar-exam-prep-tackling-the-test-series Part 5 Part 1: Intro to the SeriesPart 2: Mock Exams for BCBA® Exam PrepPart 3: Self-Management Strategies for BCBA® Exam Prep Kristin Myers-Kemp Mon, 11 Mar 24 09:29:59 -0400 ABA Technologies Blog Part 5


Part 1: Intro to the Series

Part 2: Mock Exams for BCBA® Exam Prep

Part 3: Self-Management Strategies for BCBA® Exam Prep

Part 4: Study Methods that Work

Part 6: Test Taking Strategies

Students rarely use the term “rote memorization” to describe something positive. In fact, the term is often tinged with negativity.  But can there be a place in education for rote memorization despite its less-than-stellar reputation? 

In this article, we’ll look at rote memorization through the lens of those preparing for the BCBA® exam. We’ll dig into Bloom’s taxonomy and unpack the role of rote memorization in higher-level learning. 

What Is Rote Memorization?

Rote MemorizationRote memorization, also called rote learning, involves learning content through repeated exposure. For example, a child may learn multiplication tables or sight words by repeatedly practicing study flashcards or viewing lists. These practices are commonplace in school. We rarely question the idea of children learning key concepts this way. However, adults studying behavior analysis often balk at the thought of this type of learning.

“I feel like it’s just rote responses.” —Anonymous Student.

Like any learning method, rote memorization comes with its own set of pros and cons. Its most significant benefit lies in its repetitive approach, which significantly aids in information retention and recall. This makes it particularly effective in mastering basic facts and precise definitions in any subject matter, including behavior analysis.

Conversely, rote memorization has been criticized because it does not promote deep thinking. The repetitive nature that makes it useful in facts-based contexts can become tedious and, well, rote.

Graduate behavior- analysis students sometimes feel that this type of learning isn’t important to their overall development because memorizing terms, in their view, does not have clinical applicability. However, memorization of terms and, more importantly, learning terms to fluency is a prerequisite to higher-level skills.

Understanding Bloom’s Taxonomy

To appreciate the value of rote learning, it’s important first to understand the types of hierarchical responses necessary to acquire and demonstrate a complex skill.

Bloom’s taxonomy is one way to understand the relationship between these skill sets. It is a systematic way of developing instruction to promote the best student outcomes. This same taxonomy can be used in test development. Understanding Bloom’s taxonomy can help students preparing for the BCBA®, or any other type of exam, understand expected performance types and how those performances are built.

Bloom’s taxonomy includes six levels within the hierarchy. It begins with the most basic type of learning, what we have been referring to as rote memorization, and extends to the complex use of knowledge.

The Six Major Categories in Bloom’s Taxonomy

  1. Remembering. Involves recalling or recognizing facts, information, and concepts. For behavior- analysis students, this level may be demonstrated by seeing a definition and saying a term or vice versa or listing characteristics of a procedure.
  2. Understanding. Involves interpreting and explaining ideas such as explaining/restating information in their own words. A student of behavior analysis may demonstrate understanding by explaining concepts such as positive reinforcement in words other than those memorized in the remembering phase.
  3. Applying. Involves applying acquired knowledge in practical scenarios. For a student of behavior analysis, applying may be demonstrated by identifying the concept or procedure given an example scenario or identifying examples and non-examples.
  4. Analyzing. Involves identifying patterns, organizing information, and analyzing data. A student of behavior analysis might look at a graph and determine the function of behavior.
  5. Evaluating. Involves critically assessing information to make judgments or decisions. A student of behavior analysis may demonstrate evaluating by making a decision given information, such as what to do next, given assessment data[GS1] .
  6. Creating. Involves the ability to use knowledge to produce something unique. A behavior- analysis student may demonstrate this knowledge level by creating a graph from data or writing a behavior plan.

Fluency for BCBA® Exam Success

SAFMEDSSome students argue that studying flashcards and learning terms is just “rote memorization” and, therefore, not important or a good use of study time. Bloom’s taxonomy helps us see that “remembering” is a prerequisite skill for higher-level learning and responding. It isn’t just about “rote memorization” but about building a foundation of recall knowledge on which further applied skills will rest. In other words, one must learn to talk the talk before one can walk the walk.

To be useful in application, remembering (Bloom’s level) or rote memorization needs to include more than just recall. To serve us well, we need to be fluent in the terminology of our science. Fluency is a combination of accuracy and speed. Fluent performance is characterized by a lack of hesitation, few errors, and automatic-like responses Fluency is what transforms rote memorization into applicable skills.

To picture fluency in real life, imagine someone fluent in their native language and contrast that with someone learning a second language. The language learner may have a solid vocabulary and may be able to communicate in the language. Still, their responses will have errors, they’ll hesitate often, and they might struggle with understanding more nuanced conversations. Someone who is fluent can come up with key terms and definitions seemingly without thought. This type of fluency is a foundation for learning and applying information in other, higher-level ways and under different conditions.

Building Fluency with SAFMEDS

The SAFMEDS technique is a research-based approach developed by Ogden Lindsley and Steve Graf in the 1970s. SAFMEDS is a method of building fluency, the ability to recall quickly and accurately. This is a great way to master the first level of Bloom’s taxonomy.

The SAFMEDS Acronym

Say. The learner sees the front of the card and says the answer (back side of the card) out loud. Saying the information out loud is important because vocalizing the content will likely improve retention.

All. All terms currently being studied are included in the deck every time.

Fast. The student should attempt to go through the cards quickly and increase speed across performances. This fast performance is aimed at fluency.

Minute. Practice intervals should be timed; generally, one minute is recommended. This short timing allows students to fit practice into their busy schedules, and one-minute timings are easily graphed.

Every day. Practice should occur daily. This regular practice supports retention.

Shuffled. The deck of cards is practiced in random order. Shuffling the deck helps prevent memorization of the order of cards or what may be termed true “rote memorization.”

SAFMEDS Card Creation

While both SAFMEDS and traditional study flashcards are educational tools, SAFMEDS is an educational technology designed for fluency-based learning. The process for both SAFMEDS and traditional study flashcards begins the same, with the preparation of the decks. Though creating the cards may seem easy, many purchased, or student-made flashcards lack appropriate design. Poor card design risks inefficient or even ineffective learning. To avoid this, SAFMEDS are created following specific guidelines. These include elements like card size and proper formatting of information on both sides. Learning these guidelines will allow you to create your own SAFMEDS or evaluate SAFMEDS available for purchase. See our SAFMEDS Tips Sheet to learn about SAFMEDS card creation, or purchase our BOOST Exam Prep SAFMEDS.


Using SAFMEDS as an educational tool relies on setting performance goals for accuracy and speed across frequent, timed intervals. Traditional study flashcards are a general educational tool that can be practiced untimed and do not prioritize accuracy and speed. Although traditional study flashcards are a versatile tool for studying, the learn-at-your-own-pace method with no prescribed timings does not promote rapid recall or fluency, which is the necessary foundation for more complex skills. The SAFMEDS technique goes beyond simple memorization to focus on fluent performance. See our Tips Sheet for more on using the SAFMEDS technique to learn terms to fluency.


Whether studying for a course or certification exam, mastering terminology to fluency is a prerequisite to more complex skills such as applying and analyzing information. Rote memorization can be considered fluent when it is quick, accurate, and easily recalled in response to the proper stimulus conditions (i.e., proper stimulus control).

The sheer amount of information required for the BCBA® exam can feel overwhelming. Learning important terms to fluency is an important first step in building a solid foundation. Fortunately, SAFMEDS is an effective and efficient study technique to help students absorb and retain information efficiently.

Get your BOOST SAFMEDS Flashcards now!



Study Methods that Work: 8 Study Strategies for the BCBA® Exam - Tackling the Test Series https://abatechnologies.com/blog/study-methods-that-work-8-study-strategies-for-the-bcbar-exam-tackling-the-test-series Part 4  Part 1: Intro to the SeriesPart 2: Mock Exams for BCBA® Exam PrepPart 3: Self-Management Strategies for BCBA® Exam Prep Kristin Myers-Kemp Tue, 06 Feb 24 10:06:25 -0500 ABA Technologies Blog Part 4 


Part 1: Intro to the Series

Part 2: Mock Exams for BCBA® Exam Prep

Part 3: Self-Management Strategies for BCBA® Exam Prep

Part 5: Beyond Rote Memorization

Part 6: Test Taking Strategies



Success as a student in any discipline requires a mastery of various high-level skills. Among the most crucial are practical and efficient study habits.

Study techniques can be as varied as the students using them. And while it’s important to find the practices that work best for you, some methods have proven to be more effective for learning. In this blog, we will highlight eight proven study techniques to help you prepare for the BCBA® exam, BCaBA exam, or any other academic goal you may have.

1. Spaced Repetition

Also known as distributed practice, spaced repetition suggests spreading studying over time rather than attempting to cram right before the BCBA® exam. Studying across spaced intervals strengthens long-term retention.

TIP! To ensure you have sufficient time to study and practice all the needed content and skills, include spaced repetition in your BCBA® exam prep self-management plan


Ensure Sufficient Study Time

2. The Pomodoro Technique

This strategy has a fancy name, but it’s actually a simple way to promote focused work. To use this self-management technique, set a timer for 25 minutes of intense study, then take a 5-minute break. After completing four cycles, take a longer break of 15-30 minutes. This technique helps to keep you engaged, combats burnout, and improves overall productivity. If you plan to use this technique, write it as a study goal within your exam prep plan to meet your individual goals.


SAFMEDS stands for say aloud fast, minute every day, shuffled. The flashcard system is an effective method for building fluency and quickly recalling key terms. While it’s not a replacement for deep study (keep it to a minute per day), SAFMEDS is a great way to build a strong foundation of behavior analytic terminology.  See our SAFMEDS Tips Sheet for more on using SAFMEDS.


A person using BOOST ABA Exam Prep SAFMEDS

4. Active Recall or Recall and Write

Once you’ve developed fluency with basic terminology, the next step is to identify the concepts, principles, and interventions beyond your flashcard deck. After reading and while studying, test yourself by recalling information from memory without looking at your notes or textbooks. For example, if you read an article that mentions DRI in the abstract, see if you can recall what DRI interventions look like without returning to your notes. Then, continue to read the rest of the article. Or, if you come across a test question that lists different maintenance techniques as answer choices, don’t just look for the correct answer and move on; try to define each technique. Read a section of text, and then, from memory, write down your understanding of what you read. This method is similar to a generalization test—can you recall information under new environmental contingencies?

5. Mnemonics and Examples

To help you remember complex information, create memory aids such as acronyms, rhymes, or visual associations. These are called mnemonic devices, and you’ve likely encountered them in your schooling up to this point as you learned the order of the planets or your multiplication tables. You can find many of these online, but you might be more likely to remember personally relevant examples. Work with a study group to develop mnemonics tailored to your course material. 


“I remember the types of stimulus equivalence because they move from simplest to most complex in alphabetical order—RST. Reflexivity is the simplest to teach, symmetry is a bit harder, and transitivity is the most complex.”  Maddie D.


6. Interleaving

Interleaving is a technique where you alternate between different subjects or problems within the same study session. This keeps your brain active and can enhance comprehension and retention. You can also vary your learning resources, using textbooks, articles, course notes, videos, and more during the same session. This method not only promotes deeper learning but also mirrors how you’ll see questions on the exam. The BCBA® exam won’t lay out questions by content area; instead, you’ll see them in random order. 

7. Teaching Others

To teach a concept, you must understand it well. Explaining concepts to someone else helps reinforce your understanding. Step into the role of teacher and explain a concept to a supervisor or peer who can identify and help redirect anything you miss. If you don’t have access to a supervisor or peer, explaining a concept to a friend or partner can also be great! You’ll have to check for accuracy yourself, but they can help you break down concepts in simple, easy-to-understand ways. When you teach others, you genuinely demonstrate an understanding of a skill.


Teaching Others


8. Build Behavioral Momentum

You don’t need to spend much time on previously mastered content. You can, however, strategically study this content at the beginning of study sessions or before complex concepts to build behavioral momentum and reduce the aversiveness of new or complex concepts. If you dread studying experimental design types, start by labeling parts of a graph. When you can’t bear to look at one more way to conduct a functional assessment, build some behavioral momentum by reviewing preference assessments. It’s okay if getting started is a struggle; the solution is to build momentum before getting to those dreaded topics.


For most, the BCBA® exam is the last great hurdle on their academic/career path. Entering the field as a Certified Behavior Analyst opens opportunities, but getting there can be challenging. Success in your journey to passing the BCBA® exam is achievable with the right BCBA® exam study materials, skills, and tools.

By incorporating spaced repetition, the Pomodoro technique, SAFMEDS, active recall, mnemonics, interleaving, teaching others, and behavioral momentum into your studying, you will be well on your way to mastering the content needed for the certification exam. Whether you are beginning day one of your study routine or are already several weeks or months into studying, we wish you the best in your journey to BCBA® exam success.


Want to learn more about SAFMEDS?




Self-Management Strategies for BCBA® Exam Prep - Tackling the Test Series https://abatechnologies.com/blog/self-management-strategies-for-bcbar-exam-prep-tackling-the-test-series Part 3  Part 1: Intro to the SeriesPart 2: Mock Exams for BCBA® Exam PrepPart 4: Study Methods that Work Kristin Myers-Kemp Tue, 02 Jan 24 09:42:24 -0500 ABA Technologies Blog Part 3 


Part 1: Intro to the Series

Part 2: Mock Exams for BCBA® Exam Prep

Part 4: Study Methods that Work

Part 5: Beyond Rote Memorization

Part 6: Test Taking Strategies

BCBA® Exam Prep Planning

Preparing for the BCBA® exam can be a daunting and anxiety-producing task. However, with the right self-management strategies, test preparation can become more organized, efficient, and less stressful. This blog will explore essential, behavior-based, self-management strategies to help you optimize your exam prep and improve your performance.

Studying—It’s Behavior

You don’t need to be a highly motivated, brilliant, disciplined, and confident person to prepare for the BACB exam. Instead, you need to engage in BEHAVIOR to reach your goals. Remember, behavior is selected by the environment. When studying, build your environment to support the study behavior you want to see!


A man sitting at a laptop using BCBA Exam Prep

Self-management for BCBA Exam Prep

At its core, self-management is using behavior change strategies to change your own behavior. It can be daunting to create a self-management plan because there are many techniques you could use. As you follow the steps outlined below, remember to use your skills to individualize your study plan and create the best possible plan for you.

Assess—Get a Baseline Measure with a Mock Exam

Like when you start a case with a client, your first step in preparing for the exam is assessing your current behavior and skill. When used properly, mock exams are a great way to assess where you are. This is important because it will help you focus your studies and better utilize your exam-prep time. After getting a baseline measure, the next step is to make your study plan. Use our Creating a BCBA Exam Study Plan to help you create your own individualized plan!

Goal Setting for BCBA Exam Prep

Goals. Goal setting is an important self-management technique that helps narrow your focus. Likely, your ultimate outcome is to pass the BCBA® exam. This step involves breaking that ultimate outcome into smaller, measurable goals. You will want to set both study goals and performance goals.

Goals should be clear, measurable, and achievable.


Goals need to be just right. SMART goals are a good way to ensure your goals are clear, measurable, and achievable. Effective goals will change slightly from person to person, but your goals shouldn’t be too easy. Have you ever said, “It’s not that hard, so I’ll just do it later”? That might be fine for putting your dirty dishes in the dishwasher, but it won’t work well when studying for a major exam. Goals also shouldn’t be too hard. We’ve all become discouraged when we can’t meet some criteria, whether in school, sports, music, or a job. If the goal is too hard, your studying behavior will be put on extinction. Adjust your goals until you find the right balance for you.


Setting Study Goals. Your study goals will build the framework for your performance goals. While all goals should be adjusted as necessary, your study goals aren’t going to change much throughout your journey to the exam. An important study goal is going to be the time you spend studying. Look at your schedule and identify when and where you can fit in study sessions. Set a goal to study for a certain amount each day or week. After reviewing your schedule and baseline data, you might determine that the time matters less than the content you review during each study session. You might determine to review at least three content areas or reach a certain criterion before you end your session for the day. Your performance goals would specify how you get to these criteria, but these study goals are a good place to start.


“I will study 50 minutes per day, five days per week.”



What do you do if you’ve previously tried to set goals and can’t seem to get to where you want to be? This is when you need to use your behavior-analytic knowledge to modify your own behavior! Use reinforcement, behavioral momentum, or the Premack principle to get yourself there. Use your knowledge of behavioral principles to create contingencies that will set you up for success!


Setting Performance Goals. Performance goals let you know when you are ready to move on. A good performance goal should describe the ultimate outcome as well as sub-goals to get you there. Performance goals should specify the performance and the conditions under which that performance should occur. Based on your baseline measure, you could set goals to improve in some content areas and maintain mastery in others. Make sure the goals are individualized, based on your baseline measure, and that you are reevaluating them often.


“While studying, my goal was to score above 80% or higher on the mock exams and score 90% or higher in each content area study set.”

-Lindsay F.


Manage your time. Time is a valuable resource during test preparation. Efficient time management allows you to balance your study sessions with other responsibilities, reducing procrastination and last-minute cramming. Use tools like calendars, planners, or study apps to create a daily or weekly schedule, allocating specific time slots for different types of study or content areas. Stick to your schedule diligently and be consistent with your study routine.

A woman sitting at a desk in front of a laptop stacking pens while distracted from BCBA Exam PrepCreate a Study Environment


Engineer your environmentWhat does your study environment look like? We already know that changing behavior requires us to change the environment. When your goal is to change your own behavior, start by making any necessary changes to your environment. Set up the environment to make achieving your goals as easy as possible. Keep your textbooks nearby; make your lecture notes easily accessible. These are small adjustments that can have a big impact.

Eliminate temptations. During study sessions, it can be very easy to lose focus. Do what you can to anticipate and minimize distractions and temptations to engage in other activities. Put your phone in another room, and silence notifications on your computer. Shut the door, put on headphones, or do whatever you can to remove distractions from other people. Do everything you can to eliminate distractions from your study environment, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t create a completely distraction- and temptation-free environment.

Build in Accountability and Reinforcement

Recruit a PartnerAn accountability partner knows your goals and holds you accountable for meeting them. Many people use accountability partners for fitness goals, but they can also help with meeting study goals. Sometimes, an accountability partner will help uphold a contingency you’ve set up. If you aim to finish studying before scrolling social media, your accountability partner might hang onto your phone until you’ve met the goal. Accountability partners can also provide social reinforcement or feedback. You could text your friend daily to report on your goals and receive praise or corrective feedback. Either way, accountability partners can help you take your goals to the next level.


A man sitting at a laptop using with notifications popping up about BCBA Exam Prep

Public PostingPublic posting is a self-management method similar to an accountability partner. A goal is posted in a public place in this form of self-management. This could be a physical location, like a library, or an electronic location, like social media. Junaid et al. (2021) successfully used public posting on social media to improve fitness levels, but similar methods could be used with study goals. Many groups on social media, like BOOST ABA Study and Support Community, are dedicated to exam prep, and these provide a great opportunity for students to post their goals and receive reinforcement or feedback on their progress!


“Section D and I are going to become best friends.”

-Tiffany M.


Utilize technologyNot everyone loves having the social contingencies of an accountability partner, but there is an app for everything. Look to technology if you don’t want to recruit a friend, family member, or social media acquaintance to hold you accountable. Set limits for certain apps or websites, use notifications to remind you to study or find an app that allows you to earn rewards for staying off your phone. Technology can be a powerful temptation or an incredible partner on your study journey.


“I love self-management, but I hate having an “accountability partner,” and I never use this method personally.”

-Shauna C.


Track your progress. Collecting data on your progress is a great way to keep moving forward on your study goals. If you’ve followed our outlined steps, you already have baseline data. What good is baseline data if you don’t continue collecting data? This is a great way to practice your skills. Imagine you’ve been trying to study and feel like you’re not progressing. If you’ve been graphing your fluency, recall, etc., you’ll have the data to make changes. Maybe certain strategies worked when you studied philosophical underpinnings, but they aren’t working for concepts and principles. Time to try something else!


“I love graphing my progress as part of my self-monitoring. It’s so motivating and pretty!”

-Melissa N.


Preparing for the certification exam can be a long process. The other benefit of tracking your progress is seeing how far you’ve come. It’s easy to become discouraged when the exam feels so far off, or you aren’t meeting your goals. The ability to look at a graph and view your progress provides reinforcement on those long, hard days. When you need an extra boost, you can use tracking your progress in addition to an accountability partner, public posting, or another method to create the contingencies to keep moving toward your exam-prep goals.

Build in Additional Reinforcement for Meeting Goals

Along with social reinforcement contacted via public posting or from your accountability partner, increased performance (scores) will also likely reinforce your studying behavior. However, especially in the beginning, you may need to build in reinforcement for meeting studying and performance goals. Do you have a favorite treat? Is scrolling social media your favorite pastime? Maybe you have a favorite book or TV show. Allow access to these preferred stimuli after meeting a study or performance goal. It’s not lazy; it’s providing reinforcement!

Adjust to Real Life

Get a baseline measure. Plan your time. Make a plan. Build supports. Easy, right? Wrong! No matter how you slice it, studying for a high-stakes exam is not a walk in the park. It takes time, dedication, resources, and support. Most students are juggling competing contingencies and responsibilities. We can provide suggestions, but it is up to you to figure out how to best shape your environment to support the behavior that will lead you to your goals. What works for one person may not work for another. The support that student A has won't be the same as the support for student B. Each of you will need to assess your own needs, your own supports, and the specific contingencies in your own environment. Life may get in the way. You may have to revise your goals. That is okay! Needing to adjust your goals does not make you a bad student. This is your path, your story, your goals. Be kind and flexible with yourself while also being accountable to you.

You Managing You

Effective exam prep requires stepping back and viewing yourself as the client. Assess, make a plan, set up the environment to support the behavior you want to see; collect data, incorporate reinforcement, and revise the plan as needed. All of these are steps that we would follow with a client. They are no less important to our self-management for BCBA exam prep. It isn’t always easy, but using self-management techniques can help you make the most of your time and optimize your exam-prep efforts.


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Mock Exams for BCBA® Exam Prep - Tackling the Test Series https://abatechnologies.com/blog/mock-exams-for-bcbar-exam-prep-tackling-the-test-series Part 2  Part 1: Intro to the SeriesPart 3: Self-Management Strategies for BCBA® Exam PrepPart 4: Study Methods that Work Kristin Myers-Kemp Mon, 13 Nov 23 10:49:45 -0500 ABA Technologies Blog Part 2 


Part 1: Intro to the Series

Part 3: Self-Management Strategies for BCBA® Exam Prep

Part 4: Study Methods that Work

Part 5: Beyond Rote Memorization

Part 6: Test Taking Strategies


Students of behavior analysis have a seemingly unquenchable thirst for mock exams. In social media forums, questions about which exist, which are free, and which are best abound. But what is the function of mock exams? How are students using them, and is it helping? This blog will address some of these questions and others to help guide you on your study path.

By definition, true mock exams are exams that mimic the “real thing” in terms of what is asked (content), how it is asked (question types and difficulty), exam structure, and time limits. In this way, mock exams are intended to have a singular-assessment function, allowing students to determine how they may perform on a high-stakes exam without risk. In reality, however, these types of exams often serve multiple functions for students studying for certification exams in behavior analysis

Main Function: An Assessment Tool

First, let’s dive into the intended function of mock exams, that of an assessment tool. As stated previously, a quality mock exam will provide students with an experience as close to the real thing as possible so they can determine their level of performance given the content and conditions.

What score did you get on mock exams before passing the real thing?


Many students do want to know where they stand and use mock exams as an assessment tool to determine their readiness to test, identify strengths and weaknesses, and as a confidence measure. This is an appropriate use of mock exams, assuming the exam is truly a mock exam. If it is a good quality mock exam and is taken under exam-like conditions, the score received should be a good estimate of true exam performance. However, there are many assumptions and ways in which mock exams fail to meet this most basic function.

For a mock exam to serve a true mock-assessment function, the mock test should match the real test by having the same number of questions, the same type of questions, and similar difficulty of questions, and match the exam blueprint for content. These physical features of the mock exam are important, but the similarities should not end there. To be a true mock assessment, the time allotted and the environmental conditions should also be mimicked as closely as possible.


A person taking a simulated Mock Exam

Some Mock Exams Fall Short as an Assessment Tool

Mock Exams go wrong in their main function as an assessment tool when they fail to match the real thing along some dimension. This may be an issue of the actual exam construction or in how the student takes it. Regarding structure, the failure here most often lies in providing the wrong type or difficulty of questions.

Exams should be created based on an exam blueprint that specifies the number and type of questions in each content area. For example, according to published BACB exam information, there are six questions (3.43%) from content area A of the TL or Test Content Outline, 32 questions (18.29%) from content area B of the TL, and so on. True mock exams will aim to match this blueprint and provide the same type of questions as displayed on the actual exam. Now this second point is tricky because exam questions are not released, at least not intentionally, and exam writers/reviewers practically swear a blood oath of secrecy. If anyone tells you they have actual exam questions, they are either lying to you or engaged in illegal and unethical behavior to get them. However, the fields of education and psychometrics, along with the task list, give insight into the type of questions one may encounter on an exam, and mock exams should attempt to mimic these types of questions. Some mock exams do this well. Others focus on quantity over quality and provide students with questions that are generally unhelpful in determining exam readiness.

The problem concerning the effectiveness of a mock exam as an assessment tool may also lie in how the student consumes or uses the exam. Few students sit down to take a mock exam with particular attention to truly simulating the testing conditions. How one can respond to 10 items presented on one’s phone may be significantly different than performance in a test center while trudging through 175 questions across four hours. Thus, the mock-to-actual exam score correspondence will likely be low and thus fail to function as a true mock assessment. Some mock exams aim to control for this by at least encouraging students to take the exam in a single, uninterrupted sitting and on a computer.

Secondary Function: a Learning Tool


What mock exam did you take? I need one that helped you pass the real thing.


In my experience, many, if not most, students of behavior analysis use mock exams as a study tool. They take a mock exam and then review the questions to identify the errors they made. Mock exams can be helpful to help students learn content. However, mock exams can only function effectively as learning tools if they provide immediate, detailed, quality feedback. If this is not true, then the exam can only serve an assessment function, or students are left practicing the same errors again and again. Yikes!

Feedback also must be used appropriately. Students should use mock exam feedback (scores and written, specific-item feedback) to identify the types of errors they are making. Students should not be reviewing incorrect item feedback to understand why a specific question is wrong but rather to identify the type of errors and the content that needs reviewing (e.g., difficulty discriminating EOs from Sds). That information should then be used as a guide for what to study.

Where Mock Exams Fall Short as a Learning Tool

Mock exams fall short as learning tools if feedback is not provided or is not clear and complete. However, the biggest issue is in how the feedback is typically used. Unfortunately, students often review item feedback and stop there. Let me be clear. Mock exams are NOT meant to teach one all they need to know about a topic! After taking a mock exam, you should return to source materials (i.e., course materials, textbooks, SAFMEDS) to learn the content!

A Third Function Building Testing Skills


Any suggestions on how to keep stamina for 175 questions?


Guess how often you will be presented with a multiple-choice test question when performing your duties as a behavior analyst. For most of you, the answer is ZERO. That is not the job. It is not the actual skill used daily by behavior analysts. However, it is a necessary skill as a multiple-choice test is the last gate for entry into the profession.

For this reason, one needs to know how to answer multiple-choice test questions.  Analyzing questions is a skill set. Skills are built. Mock exams can help by allowing practice at this skill. They can also help build testing stamina and reduce reactivity (anxiety) when presented with exam questions.

All Mock Exams Are Not Created Equally


A true mock exam is designed to mimic an actual exam. It should be equated in terms of content (blueprint), question types or structure, and difficulty. These structural characteristics should be met, but for a true “mock” experience, the exam should also allow for approximations to the exam experience, including format (i.e., digital vs. paper-and-pencil), exam time limits, etc. Unfortunately, many mock exams fail to approximate the “real thing.” Though some mock exam experiences may be beneficial, others may, at best, be a waste of time and money. At worst, they may result in students repeatedly practicing errors and even poorer performance.


From Whom are You Learning

From Whom Are You Learning?

I nailed it. I got amazing results on my Nth attempt. If you need to pass, I have what it takes for you to succeed.


As normal as it is to feel comradery with others who have struggled to pass the exam, be careful from whom you are LEARNING. BCBAs who struggled to pass the exam and required three, four, or seven attempts to pass may have some valuable insights about what doesn’t work, but their track record of personal performance should cause you pause when it comes to learning from them. Though they are now certified, remember that this only means they met the minimum competence for certification. It doesn’t mean they are an exam, test prep, or behavior analysis expert. Quite the opposite is likely true.

Similarly, if you take the exam and fail, reflect on what you did to prepare, as you will likely need to do something different before the next attempt. Continuing to do the same things time and again will likely lead to the same result.

Parting Tips for Mock Exams


  • Ask yourself why you are taking a mock exam. Identify the function each time you complete one.

  • Select mock exams that are a good match for the function.

  • Unless taking the exam purely for the assessment function (score), select exams that provide detailed, corrective feedback for every question.

  • If you take multiple mock exams, track your progress using this free tracker.

  • Use feedback appropriately and go back to source materials for real learning.

  • Quality over quantity. Don’t practice on crappy content.

  • Be aware of free and cheap items. Exam writing is hard. Good feedback writing is very hard. If it is cheap or free, be skeptical about the quality.

  • Expertise matters. Take tests written by experts. Learn from those who are good at what they do. Don’t mistake empathy and understanding for knowledge.

There are many ways to prepare for the BCBA® or BCaBA® exam. Mock exams are but one tool and there is much to consider when selecting and using mock exams for exam prep. A good understanding of their purpose, proper use, and an eye on quality will aid you in your study efforts.

To learn more about ABA Tech BOOST test prep products, including mock exams, practice question packages, free resources and more, visit our website or join our BOOST Facebook group.

Disclaimer: BOOST ABA Exam Prep products and services are offered independently of the BACB®. BOOST staff represent ABA Technologies, Inc. and are not affiliated with the BACB®


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Intro to the Series - Tackling the Test https://abatechnologies.com/blog/intro-to-the-series-tackling-the-test Part 1 Part 2: Mock Exams for BCBA® Exam PrepPart 3: Self-Management Strategies for BCBA® Exam PrepPart 4: Study Methods that Work Kristin Myers-Kemp Thu, 28 Sep 23 09:57:02 -0400 ABA Technologies Blog Part 1


Part 2: Mock Exams for BCBA® Exam Prep

Part 3: Self-Management Strategies for BCBA® Exam Prep

Part 4: Study Methods that Work

Part 5: Beyond Rote Memorization

Part 6: Test Taking Strategies


Becoming a BCBA is an increasingly challenging and long road for many applicants. This journey culminates with the BCBA® Exam. The BCBA® Exam assesses the minimum competencies required of an entry-level BCBA. The exam is administered by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), an accredited non-profit organization whose mission is to protect consumers of behavior-analytic services through certification or practitioners. The BCBA exam, though only one step in meeting certification requirements, is a significant milestone on the path to board certification. 

A laptop leaning against a stack of books

Understanding the BCBA Exam

There are many myths about the BCBA exam, so it is best to avoid the rumor mill and stick to the facts. The BCBA exam is a criterion-referenced exam to determine those who are and are not minimally competent in the concepts, principles, procedures, and ethics of behavior analysis practice. 

BCBA Exam Information

The BCBA exam is built based on a publicly available Test Content Outline (TCO) and exam blueprint. Exam questions are written by teams of volunteer Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), and all questions go through rigorous review and pilot testing before becoming "real" exam questions. All exam questions are multiple-choice, with only one correct response. There are 185 items on the BCBA exam, and students are given four hours to complete the exam.

Preparing for the BCBA Exam

Given the weight of the BCBA Exam, it is no wonder that many students find this step in the process incredibly intimidating.  BOOST Exam Prep by ABA Technologies, Inc. seeks to help students determine their exam readiness, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and fill in gaps in their behavioral repertoires that may prevent them from successfully completing the BCBA exam and entering the field of behavior analysis. 

Meeting this goal requires much action and support. One piece of the puzzle that will benefit students is our blog series, Tackling the Test-BCBA Exam Prep. This series will provide important information on many aspects of exam prep, from determining an initial baseline through taking the exam. Blog topics will include the following:A student taking the BCBA Exam

  • Tackling the Test- BOOST BCBA Exam Prep Blog Series
  • Mock Exams for BCBA® Exam Prep
  • Self-Management Strategies for Effective BCBA® Exam Prep
  • Study Methods that Work: 8 Study Strategies for the BCBA® Exam 
  • Beyond Rote Memorization—The Importance of Fluency in BCBA® Exam Prep 
  • Mastering Test-taking—Strategies for the BCBA Exam 
  • Managing BCBA Exam Test Anxiety
  • Tips for BCBA Exam Day Success
  • Why BACB® Program Pass Rates Matter 
  • Finding the Right Fit—BCBA® Exam Prep Products

Look for these blogs, other free content, and exam prep products on the BOOST webpage.

Conquering the BCBA Exam

Becoming a BCBA is a challenging endeavor. The BCBA Exam is a hurdle that everyone must pass for entry into the field, and thus, it often results in much stress and anxiety. However, with an understanding of the test, how to utilize mock exams, self-management, a comprehensive study plan, strategies for testing and managing anxiety, and the right educational resources, you can confidently approach the BCBA exam.  Remember, though the BCBA exam is the entry gate, the skills and knowledge you acquire to pass the test will also help you excel early in your career. Don’t let the exam be a barrier; let it be your springboard.

Disclaimer: BOOST ABA Exam Prep products and services are offered independently of the BACB®. BOOST staff represent ABA Technologies, Inc. and are not affiliated with the BACB®







10 Ways Your Friends and Family Can Help You Study for the BCBA® Exam - Tackling the Test Series https://abatechnologies.com/blog/10-ways-your-friends-and-family-can-help-you-study-for-the-bcbar-exam-tackling-the-test-series Part 8 Part 1: Intro to the SeriesPart 2: Mock Exams for BCBA® Exam PrepPart 3: Self-Management Strategies for BCBA® Exam Prep Maddie Duke Tue, 04 Jun 24 12:48:49 -0400 ABA Technologies Blog Part 8


Part 1: Intro to the Series

Part 2: Mock Exams for BCBA® Exam Prep

Part 3: Self-Management Strategies for BCBA® Exam Prep

Part 4: Study Methods that Work

Part 5: Beyond Rote Memorization

Part 6: Test-taking Strategies for the BCBA® Exam

Part 7: 6 Ways to BOOST Your Study Time

Have you ever heard phrases like “Let me know how I can help”  or “'You seem swamped; can I lend a hand?”' You've probably encountered these if you're prepping for the BCBA® exam. But how do you respond? And more importantly, how can those without a behavior analysis background actually assist you in your studies? Today, I'll outline 10 ways your loved ones can support your exam prep, even if they're not behavior analysts.

1. Task Delegation

Friends and family can pitch in with non-study-related chores. Remember, if they offer, they are willing to help! If someone's a whiz in the kitchen, why not let them cook for you? Or perhaps your pals could help tidy up. If you have children, see if you can arrange some childcare, giving you uninterrupted study time. Remember, there's no shame in asking for help while studying.

2. Collaborative SAFMEDS Sessions

SAFMEDS is a study method that lends itself well to doing with a partner. Make or buy physical SAFMEDS cards, then give them to a partner. Have the other person hold up the card so the term faces you and the definition faces them. Your partner will put the cards in two piles—correct and incorrect— as you go- correct and incorrect. After one minute, review any incorrect terms, then start again!

Students using flashcards to study for the BCBA® Exam

3. Teach Others

Bloom’s taxonomy describes the stages of learning. The higher up the taxonomy you get, the better your understanding should be. SAFMEDS is an essential first step in learning, but you need to go deeper than that to be considered proficient. Teaching others is a great way to move to higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. If your friends and family are willing to sit down with you, try teaching them some concepts you’re trying to learn. Can you explain reinforcement to someone until they can define and identify the concept in action? Using this as a study method involves your support system and improves your chances of passing the BCBA® exam!

4. Roleplay Scenarios

Some items on the Task List require you to implement strategies. After teaching concepts, enlist your loved ones as 'clients' and role-play scenarios. Their participation can be invaluable, whether addressing problem behaviors or practicing interventions.

Roleplaying Scenarios while studying for the BCBA® Exam

5. Optimize Your Study Space

What would a good study environment look like for you? Easy access to textbooks? Quiet? Comfortable? Now, think about how you could make that happen in your home. Whether decluttering a study area or finding a quiet spot, involve your friends and family in setting up your study space.

6. Accountability Partners

One self-management technique is to use an accountability partner. Set study goals, then use your friends and family to help you stick to the goals. If you want to stay off your phone during study sessions, give your phone to someone in your support system. If you’re struggling to track your progress towards your goals, ask a friend if you can send them a graph twice a week. If you spend your study sessions with your children present, let them know you’ll get a dessert or go for a family walk after an uninterrupted study session. No matter the age of your accountability partner, this is a great way to get others involved in your studying!

7. Develop Study Aids

Another way your support system can help you study is through a craft night! Study aids can be valuable ways to study, and they don’t have to be black and white. Get out the markers and create some fun graphics to help you remember the difference between generalization and maintenance or the types of CMOs.

Develop BCBA® Exam Study Aids

8. Integrate Pop Culture

Who said studying has to be boring? Make studying more enjoyable by using TV shows or movies to dissect behavioral contingencies. Why did this character make that choice? What part of someone’s learning history is influencing their current behavior? This is especially good when a movie or TV show has flashbacks—typically, this tells you how the learning history has impacted a character. Analyzing the contingencies helps build your radical behaviorism skills while being a lot of fun!

9.  People Watch

Like analyzing media, people-watching is a great way to practice identifying contingencies. In this case, you may need to fill in some blanks. Why is this family at the mall? Rather than following the family, your friends and family can create some back story. Your job is to take the back story and what you can observe in real time and identify the relevant antecedents and consequences for the person or people you observe.

10.  Gamification

Turn study sessions into game nights by incorporating BCBA® exam topics into board games. Incorporate studying by placing terms on the game board that you must define to advance past that spot. Assign a content area to each color or suit of cards, and you need to give an example from one of the task-list areas each time you play a card. The options here are endless … - and a lot of fun!

In conclusion, our friends and family mean well when they offer to help. The problem comes when we don’t know how to answer. If you’ve wondered how your friends and family can help you study without knowing the content, hopefully, we were able to give you some ideas the next time someone offers support!

Want more tips to help you pass the BCBA® Exam? Check out the BOOST U! Podcast!

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6 Ways to BOOST Your Study Time - Tackling the Test Series https://abatechnologies.com/blog/6-ways-to-boost-your-study-time-tackling-the-test-series Part 7 Part 1: Intro to the SeriesPart 2: Mock Exams for BCBA® Exam PrepPart 3: Self-Management Strategies for BCBA® Exam Prep Carlos A. Zuluaga Mon, 13 May 24 10:45:55 -0400 ABA Technologies Blog Part 7


Part 1: Intro to the Series

Part 2: Mock Exams for BCBA® Exam Prep

Part 3: Self-Management Strategies for BCBA® Exam Prep

Part 4: Study Methods that Work

Part 5: Beyond Rote Memorization

Part 6: Test-taking Strategies for the BCBA® Exam

"To practice is to declare I can be better." —Dan Heath 


There is a popular saying, “You are what you eat.”  

This short sentence conveys that physical health greatly depends on what you put into your body. Similarly, we could say, “You do what you practice.” In other words, deliberately practicing the skills you need to develop when you study can make that time more productive. Practicing key skills in the right context increases your chances of performing those skills under similar conditions.  

But this kind of deliberate practice doesn’t happen by accident. It demands careful selection and sequencing of content, along with effective self-management strategies. Lack of planning or direction will likely result in a decrease in progress, which can be described as “being in a study rut.” Following are six strategies you can use to optimize your study time. 

1. Create the Right Conditions 

Create the Right Condition For Exam PrepOne common misconception about behavior is that it is determined by internal events. That is, you need to wait for motivation to arrive to get out of a study rut—the same way an artist would wait for their muse to inspire them to engage in their craft.  

Fortunately, this is not the case. Motivation is harnessed by creating the right conditions for behavior. If you place exam study materials on a desk in your office and dedicate an hour each morning to study at that desk without distractions, you are more likely to have a productive study session.  Likewise, if you make a highly enjoyable activity dependent on completing a less preferred activity, it can increase motivation and engagement towards the less enjoyable task. This is why discipline and creating good habits are so important.  

To create the right conditions to study, remove all non-study materials from the location where you would like to study. These distractors are likely to compete with study behavior. Turn off your phone and anything else that might divert your attention during scheduled study sessions. Next, gather all study materials relevant to the area you need to practice—books, handouts, study flashcards, notes, paper, and pencils. Don’t forget a timer. It will be important to record your progress over time.  

2. Designate Brief Periods to Study 

If you study for long periods, you are likely to get fatigued and lose focus. To avoid unproductive periods, take breaks every 45 minutes. Remember, quality is more important than quantity when you practice. So, make those 45-minutes count.  

Taking frequent breaks can also be motivating and make studying less daunting. Use breaks to do something you enjoy, like drinking coffee, playing guitar, or playing with your dog. This might seem unproductive in the short term, but it sustains practice over time.  

3. Isolate the Skills 

BOOST Exam Prep Fluency FlashcardsNow, it’s time to identify what you need to study effectively. This shouldn't be too difficult if you are a behavior analyst studying for the certification exam. The BACB® Task List provides the content you should focus on. If you have taken well-designed courses in behavior analysis, you should have a list of learning objectives identifying the skills targeted for instruction. Use these resources to organize your materials. Note the learning objectives that align with the BACB® Task List Or Test Content Outline. In addition, consider the chapters, slides, study flashcards, examples, or exam prep exercises that support each learning objective.  

To find additional resources, list multiple ways you can demonstrate a skill—this is known as “learning channels” in Precision Teaching. Analyze how you might experience an opportunity to demonstrate a skill (“ins”). For example, will you read a question on your computer or hear someone presenting an instruction? Or, perhaps you see another person acting in a certain way, and you will need to respond. Then, take some time to think about how you will need to respond when those opportunities are present (“outs”). For example, will you need to point, click with a mouse, demonstrate an action, draw, mark on a piece of paper, match items, or say or write an answer? For each opportunity, list all possible ways in which you could respond. If you read a scenario, you could practice saying, writing, demonstrating a relevant action, and drawing the answer. Interspersing different repertoires can strengthen learning by integrating skills and keeping you engaged. 

Dr. Joe Layng offers some great advice to students on how to read textbooks: 

  1. Browse through a relevant chapter without reading the content. Notice titles and subtitles defining each section. Pay attention to how the material builds up. 
  2. Correlate sections of the text with groups of assigned problems. If the problems appear at the back of the book, identify which problems are from which section. 
  3. Work through the examples in the text when they are presented. Cover any answers provided so you can work out the answer independently. Uncover the provided answers for feedback on your solutions. Repeat this step, if needed, until you can provide the correct response. 
  4. Work on a correlated group of questions before moving on to the next section in the textbook. Mastering a section will help with the material covered in subsequent sections. Practice with new examples to demonstrate the application of the skill. 

4. Record Your Progress 

Record Your Progress During Exam PrepA critical and often overlooked component in self-management is recording your progress. Self-monitoring consists of measuring desired performance. Dedicate at least one minute daily to count how many correct answers you can provide during that period. Gather your timer and any materials needed to practice (the learning channels’ “ins” and “outs” identified in step 3) and respond as accurately and quickly as possible. Mix skills from different areas in this timed practice. This will give you a measure of fluency, which is essential to mastering any skill.  

Notice any mistakes you make. You should spend additional time reviewing those skills and finding more practice opportunities. This will allow you to focus on those areas where you need to make progress. Make sure you graph your measure of performance for the day. This graph will give you invaluable feedback on your progress and show whether you need adjustments.  

5. Real Life Practice 

Try to recreate the conditions where you will need to perform the skills as much as possible. For example, if you are studying to take an exam, will you be taking the exam while sitting at a desk? Will you be using a computer or writing answers on paper? Or will you need to demonstrate a skill in a specific context? Practicing skills under similar conditions increases the likelihood that you will perform well when it counts.  

If relevant, work with a supervisor, colleague, family member, or friend to practice demonstrating the skill in real-life scenarios or during role play. Go out of the study environment and practice the skill in new contexts.  

6. Celebrate Improvement 

Finally, make sure you share your progress with others and celebrate gradual improvements in performance. Surround yourself with people who share similar goals and support each other. Reward yourself with a favorite treat or activity when you achieve short- and long-term goals.  

We have provided some practical steps you might find helpful when experiencing a study rut. Remember, behavior change is a gradual process that takes time and requires persistence and ways to measure progress. It’s important to set clear goals, establish the right conditions, and recruit a supportive environment.  

"You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way."
—Michael Jordan 

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What to Expect When You Are Expecting an IEP Meeting https://abatechnologies.com/blog/what-to-expect-when-you-are-expecting-an-iep-meeting Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings play a crucial role in the lives of students with disabilities and their families. Understanding the ins and outs of these meetings is essential for providing comprehensive support to your clients. As a private practice BCBA, you may never be invited to an IEP meeting, and that's okay. It isn't like a birthday party, and it doesn't mean everyone hates you—and there is rarely cake.  Understanding the Basics of an IEP Meeting:     Mariah Avery Tue, 02 Apr 24 16:52:00 -0400 ABA Technologies Blog Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings play a crucial role in the lives of students with disabilities and their families. Understanding the ins and outs of these meetings is essential for providing comprehensive support to your clients. As a private practice BCBA, you may never be invited to an IEP meeting, and that's okay. It isn't like a birthday party, and it doesn't mean everyone hates you—and there is rarely cake.  

Understanding the Basics of an IEP Meeting:  


Trivia IEP

An IEP is a legally binding document outlining individualized educational goals, services, and accommodations. Students don't need to have any specific medical diagnoses to qualify for an IEP. It's all about needs within the school setting. An IEP meeting aims to develop, review, and revise the student's educational plan to ensure they receive appropriate support.

Key Participants:

  • Caregivers/ Guardians: Caregivers and legal guardians play a huge part in an IEP meeting. Their input and involvement are crucial for developing a plan that aligns with the student's strengths, challenges, and family priorities. That said, these meetings can be overwhelming. I've been in a few meetings where the two caregivers and I were on one side of the table, and seven school personnel were on the other. The parents were so intimidated!. 
  • School Personnel: This may include special education teachers, general- education teachers, school administrators, school psychologists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, and other relevant professionals involved in the student's education. If a BCBA were to work for the school system, they would also fall into this category. You can see how the room fills up quickly. Everyone is busy with about 100 places to be at once, so this portion of the meeting may feel rushed. It's like playing hot potato with the metaphorical microphone.
  • The Student (When Appropriate): The student may participate in all or part of the IEP meeting. Encouraging student involvement can promote self-advocacy and empower them to actively participate in their education. 
  • Outside Professionals: In some cases, outside professionals (such as you as a private practice BCBA) may be invited by the parent to contribute their expertise to the IEP process. Remember, when invited by a caregiver, you are a guest of the caregiver. I tend to speak when spoken to- and mind my Ps and Qs. 

What to Expect Before the Meeting:

  • Reviewing Documentation: Before the meeting, you may receive copies of the student's current IEP, evaluations, progress reports, and other relevant documentation. Take the time to review these materials thoroughly to gain a comprehensive understanding of the student's needs and progress. You should also review all of your clinical documentation and bring copies (with parent permission).
  • Preparing Recommendations: Based on your data and observations, prepare to respond to direct questions. You may be asked for recommendations on goals, interventions, and accommodations that align with the student's individualized needs and goals. You may also not be asked. I don’t share unless I’m asked.

What to Expect During the Meeting:

  • Discussion of Present Levels of Performance: The meeting typically begins with a review of the student's present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, including strengths, areas of need, and progress toward current goals.
  • Goal Setting and Development: The team will collaborate to develop or revise the student's goals and objectives for the upcoming IEP period.
  • Determining Services and Supports: The team will discuss the specialized instruction, related services, accommodations, and modifications necessary to support the student's access to the general education curriculum and participation in school activities. 
  • Parent Input and Participation: Parents/guardians are encouraged to share their perspectives, concerns, and goals for their child's education. It's important to listen actively, validate their experiences, and involve them in decision-making.
  • Documentation and Signatures: The outcomes of the meeting, including the finalized IEP document, must be documented in writing. All participants, including you, must sign the IEP to indicate their participation.  
IEP dos and donts

Participating in an IEP meeting as a private practice BCBA presents a valuable opportunity to contribute your expertise to the collaborative process of supporting students with disabilities. By understanding the purpose of the meeting, preparing effectively, and actively participating in discussions, you can ensure that the student's individualized needs are met, and their educational goals are achieved. Remember, each IEP meeting is a chance to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the students and families you serve. 



U.S. Department of Education. (n.d-a). Individuals with disabilities act: Topic Areas.

U.S. Department of Education. (n.d.-b). Laws & guidance. Retrieved April 3, 2023, from

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Building a Robust Safety Culture in Healthcare https://abatechnologies.com/blog/building-a-robust-safety-culture-in-healthcare In 2022, U.S. employers reported 2.3 million nonfatal injuries in private industry, up 4.5 percent from 2021, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Sectors that reported the most injuries include healthcare, transportation, and manufacturing.  Guest Blogger Mon, 29 Jan 24 10:07:13 -0500 ABA Technologies Blog In 2022, U.S. employers reported 2.3 million nonfatal injuries in private industry, up 4.5 percent from 2021, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Sectors that reported the most injuries include healthcare, transportation, and manufacturing. 

Even with safety protocols in place, incidents happen, and workplace injuries remain a concern. The solution, though, goes beyond more training, policies, or caution posters. Comprehensive workplace safety requires looking at safety not as something to enforce but as a foundational pillar of your culture. That’s where Behavior-Based Safety comes into play. 

In this article, we’ll explore the fundamental principles behind Behavior-Based Safety (BBS) and how focusing on employee engagement and continuous improvement through feedback and positive reinforcement can build a lasting culture of safety. 

What Is Behavior-Based Safety? 

Behavior-Based Safety (BBS) is an approach to safety management that focuses on workers' behavior as the cause of most work-related injuries and incidents. The core idea behind behavior-based safety training is that by observing, guiding, and improving on-the-job behaviors, workplaces can prevent incidents and promote a safety culture.

“It’s a behavioral and actionable approach to creating safer workplaces and workplace culture,” says Alison Betz, ABA Technologies vice president of clinical product and senior consultant. 

Here’s how it works: 

  • Pinpoint key practices that minimize injury risk.
  • Create checklists for peer observation.
  • Use checklists to have employees focus on which safe behaviors to reinforce.
  • Gather observational data for analysis by the team.
  • Formulate action plans to tackle barriers to safety.
  • Implement strategies for ongoing safety enhancement.
Behavior-Based Safety: A Closer Look

Fundamental Principles of BBS

One of the primary markers of behavior-based safety training is a focus on seeking to understand why unsafe behavior occurs. If a worker makes a mistake, rather than jumping to conclusions or applying a certain consequence, BBS dives into the processes that failed leading up to the mistake. 

This is done through consistent observation, providing positive feedback for safe behavior, and engaging employees at all levels to commit to safety as a shared value.

We asked Betz to offer her insights on what sets BBS apart and how organizations—whether fleet, healthcare, or manufacturing—can use these tools to build a self-sustaining culture of safety within their organizations. 

Pinpointing Behaviors through In-Depth Assessment

One of the fundamental elements that sets BBS apart from other safety programs is the “pinpointing of behaviors and what we’re targeting,” according to Betz. She explains, “You focus on behaviors that are going to be observable and measurable.” 

Behaviors can be identified by reviewing the last two  to five years of incident reports, near-miss reports, and OSHA reports, along with interviews and observations from employees. 

“You identify your targets mostly based on incident reporting and informative [interviews], then you can identify how you’re going to adjust and what interventions you’re going to add to your observation based on the reports.” says Betz. 

Customized Observation That Focuses on Leading Measures

When it comes to observing behaviors, BBS focuses on what Betz calls “leading measures,” or the human behaviors that lead to incidents (lagging measures). In focusing on leading rather than lagging metrics, the goal is to catch and correct risky behavior before it results in an incident or mistake. This is a shift from more reactionary safety metrics that address incidents or mistakes after they’ve already happened. 

“Other approaches lean toward a one-size-fits-all kind of thing,” Betz says. There may be an incident, and the response is to implement blanket training, send out a safety memo, or make a wide-reaching change to a policy rather than address the root cause of the incident. 

Positive Reinforcement to Encourage Real Change

Betz has historically put extra emphasis on positive reinforcement in her BBS work.  

When the default response to any accident, mistake, or incident is a warning or a write-up, “that’s going to have a very negative impact on the culture in general, and safety culture in particular,” Betz says. 

It will also lead to a lack of reporting, which may cause incident numbers to go down but does nothing to increase safety.


Alison Betz, PhD, BCBA-D Quote

Engagement Across All Levels

One key component of a robust behavior-based safety training program is building a safety committee filled with buy-in champions. These are people who are passionate about safety and can influence their peers positively. They are instrumental in identifying safety issues, promoting safe practices, and reinforcing BBS principles and practices long-term—and they aren’t solely executives or managers. 

“We actually recommend that you have people across all different levels and departments be a part of the safety committee,” Betz says. “As an executive or a leader, you aren't the person who's actually loading the truck or transporting the patient, so sometimes you miss things.” 

The Role of Leadership

While engaging workers at all levels is critical, effective leadership from the top down is key to success in BBS. 

“For cultural change, you have to start at the top,” Betz says. “If you don't have the buy-in at the leadership level to support safety as a value, it's going to be difficult.”

Not only do safety leaders need to walk the safety talk, so to speak, but they also need to be able to communicate the company’s values and vision as they relate to safety. Safety should be at the center of every presentation and discussion on values and included as a top agenda item in every meeting.  

How BBS Works to Improve Safety

Studies have found that behavior-based safety training typically results in 20 percent to 50 percent improvement in safety.

Beyond the numbers, the true power of BBS lies in its ability to build a better safety culture by transforming the way humans behave. By focusing on human behavior, encouraging open communication, and involving everyone from frontline workers to top management, BBS creates a sustainable safety culture that builds on itself and generates measurable rewards in the form of a safer workplace.  

How BBS Works Across Industries

BBS is customizable and highly adaptable to the unique needs of various industries. These are just a few examples of how Behavior-Based Safety training can help make workers safer.

How BBS Works Across Industries

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