What study materials should you use to prepare for the BCBA exam?

I recently had the following email exchange with someone who passed the BCBA exam and is highly recommending Dr. Weinberg’s study materials.   The emailer has asked that I share this information with you.  Also while the emailer did not benefit from the BDS modules I feel very differently and really loved the BDS modules.  At the end of this post please let me know how you feel about the  study materials you used.

Emailer:  I had been reading your website while I was preparing to take the BCBA exam to get whatever information that I could to help me focus in the right direction for studying.  I was fortunate enough to pass the first time taking it but it was an ordeal that I am glad that I will never have to do again.  I just got my results last week and am exhaling right now.

I would like to post on your webpage titled:  “Did you fail the BCBA exam?” with my opinion on how well different study materials prepared me for the exam, so it may hopefully help others.

In a nutshell, the BDS modules were awful and weren’t even close to covering what I encountered on the exam.  Additionally, I completed the BDS modules with only 55%-75% accuracy before taking the BCBA exam and I managed to pass the BCBA exam on the first time around.  Therefore there seems to be a disconnect between their modules and the actual exam.  I completed the modules within the month of the exam and finished the last module (their final test) just days before the exam.  I was in tears and wondering why I was even attempting the exam.  I’m glad I didn’t base my decision on the BDS modules.  I’m also sad that I wasted so much time and money on them.  Even though the thing that did help me, wasn’t the entirety of what helped me, I honestly think I would not have passed if it weren’t for the following study materials.  I strongly feel that I got at least 20-30 questions correct, which I probably wouldn’t have gotten correct otherwise, because of the study materials from Dr. Weinberg with Orlando Behavior Health Services.  He does private tutoring but he also has prep classes.  He teaches enough things that can help make or break figuring out the correct answer.  His methods are based upon already knowing the information because he teaches people how to quickly figure out what to look for in finding a correct answer and how the test may trick people into choosing the wrong answer.  I really don’t think I would have passed the exam if it weren’t for his study materials.  I used his study materials approximately the 3 days prior to taking the exam and I passed it the first time around.

I feel for anyone who has to take this exam, especially multiple times.  The exam was extremely tricky.  So hopefully my comments may help someone else pass the test.  If you want to post these comments for me, please do not use my last name.  Otherwise if you can tell me how I can post something on your webpage, I will gladly post this information in case it can help someone else.

Lisa:  Congratulations on passing the exam!  It is definitely not easy I’m glad I don’t have to sit through the exam again as well.  If you are willing to wait a few days I can find a good place to put your email (without your name). I’m wondering if WordPress can only handle so many comments and that is why you can’t post it.  I’ve tried fixing the problem but for what ever reason I can’t fix it.

Given the study materials you have used you would recommend Dr. Weinberg’s materials.  Are there any other study material you recommend?  It is hard for many people to know which materials to use especially since they are not all created equally.

Emailer: I do recommend Dr. Weinberg’s study materials.  I had the added bonus of taking a 3 day class with him but day 3 was just taking a practice exam and reviewing it.  Someone could probably get away with a couple of hours of tutoring with him or taking one of his online classes.  The study materials alone are helpful but it’s even better if it’s with a class or some type of 1:1 tutoring with Dr. Weinberg.  He didn’t overcomplicate things and he made it really easy to keep certain things straight.  Out of all the study materials that I used, I feel that his were the only study materials that helped.

I also found a few others who were studying and we would bounce questions off of each other if we needed clarification on a topic and that was very helpful. I liked having the questions thrown my way because it gave me a chance to look into it deeper to make sure I understood it.  Many times the questions would invoke a deep conversation between my study partners which would then get us to the level that we needed to understand it.  Also each of my study partners also passed the first time around.  All 3 of us used Dr. Weinberg’s study materials.  Only 2 of us took his 3 day course.  Dr. Weinberg does sell his study materials separately.  Some of his study materials were confusing because he provides so much but when I just used his powerpoint presentations for each content area, that helped me greatly.  Out of all the materials that he provides, I realized that the ones that were most helpful were the powerpoint presentations for each content module and the practice tests that he provides.  The powerpoint presentations were very helpful at things to focus on.  If I got to a slide that I needed more info on, it helped me focus what to look up.

I had purchased other books and used different flashcards that I found on quizlet.com.  I can’t really recommend another book besides the Cooper bible.  I did find vocabulary on the quizlet website to be helpful.  There were a few definitions of terms that I recalled seeing on quizlet.

Not only knowing vocabulary was crucial but knowing the definition of each word used in the definitions of the vocabulary was crucial.  It seemed that instead of using a straightforward definition, they would take a straightforward definition and then replace the keywords with definitions of those words.  So many terms were not straightforward.

I think I’m ok talking in generalities about the exam.  If I am disclosing more than I should, please edit the information (and let me know).  I don’t want to get in trouble for giving information about the test.

I hope this helps.  I know how much this test meant to me so I can’t even imagine how it is for those who are struggling to pass it.  The questions were just so random and out there.  I swear it’s a miracle that I passed.  It was frustrating while waiting for the results because I do feel that I know ABA and the content areas inside and out, but the test found such random ways to ask questions that I had no idea whether I passed the test or not.  And I do feel confident that I know the material.  Knowing the material well does not guarantee doing well on the exam.  It’s trying to figure out what they are looking for with their question or scenario.

About Lisa Hendry Dillon

I'm a behavior analyst. I study behavior.

One Response to “What study materials should you use to prepare for the BCBA exam?”

  1. Pat December 6, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    Hi Lisa. I’m a physician, mother of two children with ASD, autism advocate and preparing to start the BCBA coursework. Would you, kindly, ask the emailer if s/he took the Brandman online coursework with Dr. Weinberg. I’m considering it and would love to get some feedback. Thank you.

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