So, after months of trading gym visits for SAFMEDS, and happy hours for Cooper, finally the e-mail you've been waiting for from the BACB. Subject: BACB Examination Results. You login to your account - status: FAILED?! How could this happen?
You put so much of your life on hold for the last few months, and it feels like for nothing. This is crazy! You knew this material so well, you studied the entire task list dozens of times, spent money on study groups, and walked out feeling confident. Could there be a bigger issue? Maybe you don't really know this information. Maybe you're not a good fit for this field. Maybe you should give up, maybe you can't do this, maybe....
STOP. Take a deep breath. And read on.
While it's perfectly natural and acceptable to second guess yourself at first - take a step back. Give yourself a few days to be angry, feel down on yourself, and vent. Failing the BCBA or BCaBA exam is heartbreaking, and you absolutely deserve an opportunity to grieve. But after a week - catch yourself, stop, and be done. You ARE in the right field. You DO know this material. You ARE making a difference in people's lives. This is your dream, and you are going to make it happen. You may have lots of colleagues who have passed the exam the first time, with no problem, but you're not them, and THAT IS OKAY. You failed, it was terrible, and you're going to try again.
After you've decided to get back on the study train, it's time to assess your most recent study habits. What modes of studying did you use? What worked? What didn't? What did you like? What would you change? Would you be willing to try something else? Most of us are pretty familiar with the popular study tools (which are definitely fantastic!) - but keep in mind - we all learn differently. What works for some people, might not work for you. Take some time to research and explore some of the other methods of studying that are out there. Don't be afraid to try something different, or incorporate multiple methods into your study plans. Reach out to colleagues and professors that you respect - what did they do? Do they have any suggestions for you? For some people, varying the materials is a necessity!
Once you've committed to a method of studying, map out your plan again, and stick to it, as you did before. Schedule in breaks, gym time, or meet ups with friends - you deserve it! Even when you feel discouraged - Stay focused, confident, and on track. The field needs you. And when you finally get that "Congratulations!" e-mail, it will be a little bit sweeter, knowing how hard you worked to get it.