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BCBA Exam: What to expect on exam day

Preparing for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam is a significant milestone in the career of anyone starting out in the field of behavior analysis. This comprehensive examination is designed to assess your knowledge and skills in applying behavior analysis principles and strategies, and whether or not you know enough to become a licensed BCBA®. Let's talk about the the structure of the BCBA exam, as well as the content and when you'll find out your results.

Understanding the BCBA Exam Structure

The BCBA exam is a rigorous test that requires thorough preparation and understanding of applied behavior analysis. Here are the key details regarding the exam structure:


  • The exam consists of 160 multiple-choice questions, each with four possible answers. Out of these, 150 questions are scored, and 10 are ungraded pilot questions used to develop future examinations.


    • THE BACB® is so nice to us test -takers by telling us exactly what will be in the BCBA® exam! The questions cover a wide range of topics outlined in the BCBA Task List, a comprehensive guide that details the knowledge and skills expected of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. This includes understanding basic behavior analytic skills, client-centered responsibilities, and specific content areas such as measurement, assessment, intervention, and ethics.


    • Candidates are given four hours to complete the exam. This time frame requires effective time management skills to ensure you have adequate time to address each question. Extended time periods are available for those who need accommodations.

Key Strategies for Success on the BCBA Exam

  • Study the Task List: The BCBA Task List is your roadmap to understanding the exam's content. Make sure you're familiar with each section and the specific skills and knowledge it entails. The Total Learning System has a total breakdown of each task list item. You can also download ABA Wizard's BCBA study app for a cheaper option, that still has quizzes for each section.

  • Use Practice Questions: Engaging with practice questions can help familiarize you with the format of the exam and the types of questions you'll encounter. It's also a great way to assess your strengths and areas for improvement. Consider taking a mock exam to test your mettle!

  • Develop a Study Schedule: Given the breadth of knowledge covered by the BCBA exam, creating and sticking to a study schedule is crucial. Break down the Task List into manageable sections and allocate specific times to study each area. Studying a little bit each day is the best way to study, NOT cramming the night before!

  • Take Care of Yourself: Maybe just saying "practice self-care" is a no-brainer, and a repetitive tip that seems unimportant, but it can be easy to forget about your well-being when you are busy with studying and working and other responsibilities. Preparing for the exam can be stressful! You should get the Remember to take care of your physical and mental health by getting enough sleep, eating well, and taking breaks when needed.

When Will You Know If You Passed the BCBA Exam?

Test results used to take a couple months to be received by test takers! Yikes!

Thankfully, that has changed and preliminary results are available immediately upon completion of the exam at the testing center. Keep in mind that these preliminary results will be emailed to you, usually within 24 hours for confirmation of your pass/fail results by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB).

coffee cup, laptop, headphones, and iphone laying on desk

Preparing for the BCBA exam is a challenging but rewarding process. To be a licensed behavior analyst, you'll definitely need to pass the exam first. Understanding the structure of the exam, the types of questions asked, and having a solid study plan are key to success. Remember, passing the BCBA exam is a significant achievement that opens up numerous professional opportunities in the field of behavior analysis. Utilize resources like the ABA Wizard's Total Learning System to guide your study and approach the exam with confidence. With the right preparation, you can achieve your goal of becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. We wish you luck!

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