I failed the OCS Exam, Now What?

I usually respond to this question with……it depends.

However, given that the initial and retake costs of the OCS examination are so significant, I recommend that most people take a review course.

Now, there are a few exceptions to this recommendation for people who scored between 480-499 on the exam, but even then a review course would be beneficial.

While a review course will add to your test taking costs, it’s time to invest in your examination success; because you certainly do not want to fail this exam a second time.

The following review courses are excellent resources with very high success rates.

Evidence In Motion: Orthopaedic Certified Specialist (OCS) Prep Course

Motivations, Inc: Orthopedic Certification Specialist Exam Preparatory Course

For those candidates who failed the OCS exam but scored between a 480-499, you can ask yourself the following questions if you are hesitant about taking a review course.

  • Was my examination preparation plan adequate?
  • Did I devote enough study time in preparation for the exam?
  • Did I review the recommended study materials?
  • Did I review the OCS exam content description to know what was expected of me?
  • Did I read Current Concepts of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy 4th Ed?
  • Did I routinely quiz and test myself in order to strengthen my ability to recall the information?
  • Did I review foundational anatomy, physiology, movement science, manual therapy, pain referral patterns, and statistical methods?
  • Did I perform an orthopaedic special topics review, including pathology of the musculoskeletal system, fractures, and surgeries?
  • Given that 40% of the exam dealt with the spine (Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar), did I prioritize this content during my review?
  • Did I expose myself to as many practice questions as I could find in order to commit the information to memory and have a self-assessment of my progress?

If you answered “No” to any of these questions then we have identified some low hanging fruit that could have impaired your performance. Fixing any one of these problems could certainly improve your scores the second time around.

Also, review your score report from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties. The score report will identify how you performed on the 8 knowledge areas and procedures that make up the OCS exam. A trend will often emerge and you might identify an area which caused you to fail the exam.

For instance if you barely failed the exam, but had a poor performance on procedural interventions. You would then pay extra attention to procedural interventions when you are re-studying for the exam and so on.

Again, I recommend most people take a review course if they failed the OCS exam. You do not want to risk failing the exam a 2nd time, so consider the additional costs an investment in your exam success and career development.

The following review courses are excellent resources with very high success rates.

Evidence In Motion: Orthopaedic Certified Specialist (OCS) Prep Course

Motivations, Inc: Orthopedic Certification Specialist Exam Preparatory Course

Ryan J. Grella, PT, DPT, OCS

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