CHT Exam Studying Tips
First of all HAPPY HAND THERAPY AWARENESS WEEK! It is such an important time to publicize what we do to the general public and other professions. In addition, it's a time to help others join us on the hand therapist side. This includes educating OT students as well as OTs in the profession looking to become a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT). Therefore, I thought it was a good week to share some of my CHT exam study tips. I had the honor of presenting on this topic on the HTCC panel at two ASHT conferences (one live and one virtual).
Setting a Test Date:
When I first started working as a hand therapist back in 2014, you needed 5 years of experience to take the CHT exam so studying was kind of on the back burner. Then about 3 years into working it switched to 3 years experience so the pressure was on! I signed up for the upcoming May 2018 exam. I also applied for (and eventually received) the Mary Kasch Scholarship through the HTCC website, which helped with the cost of studying materials and the actual test.
The first step was gathering the study materials. I used an Exploring Hand Therapy Package which included The Purple Book, Online topic specific courses and practice tests. ASHT Review Book, Occupationaltherapy.com for Audio hand lectures. There are programs available now such as Hand Therapy Secrets and Virtual Hand Therapy Fellowship which would provide more structure/support to your studying.
Identify Personal Study Techniques:
Take a moment to think about the strategies that work for you. I used techniques to study that worked for me in school: I am a procrastinator, so setting that test date gave me that immediate push to study. Studying in groups is more distracting than helpful for me, if you are a group person- find yourself a group! Visual/tactile learning- I need to read the information and type outlines as a go to really process it. Mnemonics- my go to for memorization. Highlighting as I review information (save the highlighting for your printouts if you plan to resell your books ;)
CHT Exam Specific Strategies:
I incorporated those techniques in my studying process. I liked to go back and forth between each topic from the ASHT book to The Purple Book. The ASHT is in outline form- more factual vs The Purple Book that is in question format - more engaging but less straightforward. Therefore, I liked the combination. I had Rehab of the Hand “handy” if I needed further clarification. I had a google doc running the whole time divided by topic as I came across topics/information that I needed to go back to review. Towards the beginning of studying, I took my first practice test and then more throughout. I reviewed my incorrect answers thoroughly.
Fitting studying into busy schedule:
I was working full time with a 1+ hour each way commute and had 2 young girls at the time. I had to think of strategies to squeeze into a busy schedule. I utilized every spare moment for studying. Think of commutes, waiting on line in the grocery store, waiting at appointments etc as times to study, not times to scroll through social media (except for HOOK SPLINT pages of course ;) I always had something readily available to study. You’ll be surprised how much studying you can squeeze into the day.
I was fortunate to pass the exam in May 2018. It can be frustrating if you don’t pass in the beginning, but be proud that you put in the effort. In that case, I would recommend booking the next testing date right away so the information is still fresh. You learn so much during the study process. For me, it helped connect the dots and gain a deeper understanding of the field. So it’s really a win-win!