How Do You Pass The BCBA Exam On Your First Try & What Are The Pass Rates?

Are you planning to take the BCBA exam? If so, you're probably feeling a bit anxious, but don't worry - you're not alone! The BCBA exam is tough.  According to 2021 stats from the BACB, 60% of first time test-takers pass and only 28% of retest-takers pass. However, it's definitely possible to pass this exam the first time if you prepare properly. In this blog post, we will discuss what content areas you should focus your studying on as well as provide tips and a study plan that will get you exam ready.

One of the most important things you can do to prepare for the BCBA exam is to become familiar with the content areas that will be tested. The BACB website provides a list of the knowledge and skills that are assessed on the exam. Make sure you understand what each of these content areas covers and spend some time studying them. In addition to content knowledge, the BCBA exam tests your ability to apply behavioral principles to real-world scenarios. To prepare for this, make sure you can identify and explain the key concepts from each of the core behavior analysis textbooks. AATBS now offers flashcards covering all the key concepts from the content areas to make identifying them in real-world scenarios a breeze.

It is important to note that the BCBA Task List 5 used for the current exam will change to the new Test Content Outline 6 as of January 1, 2025.  You can read more about that update here. 

This content area breakdown pictured above is taken straight from the BACB handbook.

Another important tip is to get on a study plan and stick to it. The BCBA exam is not something you can cram for the night before and expect to do well. AATBS has created a study plan that sets you up for success on your first attempt. This will help you stay on track and ensure that you are covering all the material you need to know, prioritizing the most important sections along the way.

BCBA 6-Month Study Plan

Getting Started:

1.  Submit your application materials to the BACB 

2.  Schedule your test date

3.  Gather and organize your study materials

Recommended Study Materials

o   Flashcards

o   Assessment Exam

o   Mock Exam

o   Self-Paced Workshops - Content Area Specific

o   Practice Questions/Study Package with Practice Questions and Practice Exam

o   BACB Task List 5

o   BACB Code of Ethics

o   Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2019). Applied Behavior Analysis (3rd Edition). Hoboken, NJ: Pearson Education.

o   Bailey, J., & Burch, M. (2016). Ethics for behavior analysts, 3rd edition (3rd ed.). Routledge.

Recommended Study Plan

Finally, don’t forget to take Mock Exams. These can be a great way to identify any areas you may need to focus on before taking the actual exam, it also reduces test anxiety as you become more familiar with the testing process. AATBS offers mock exams created by BCBAs for BCBAs.  Check them out here.

By following these tips, you can increase your chances of passing the BCBA exam the first time. Good luck!

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