BCBA® and BCaBA® Updates
So, by now, we’re sure that you’ve heard that BIG changes are coming from the BACB in 2022. We wanted to write a blog on what to expect as you pursue your BCBA certification with the upcoming changes. This blog will reference all of the many changes that are to come in our near future. Take a deep breath! Here we go!
New 5th edition task list:
The first big change coming in 2022 is that the content on the exam covers the 5th edition task list! Students applying for the exam prior to December 31st, 2021 will be applying under the fourth edition requirements. The next thing that is important to know is, students applying after the December 31st, 2021 deadline will be required to meet the 5th edition requirements. Our ReadySetABA 5th edition ebook is coming soon in 2021!
Beginning in 2022, there are a few educational paths that you can take to obtain a degree that will qualify you to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). You can obtain a degree from a ABAI-Accredited program or a qualifying institution. All coursework must be verified by ABAI. Per the BACB, “a qualifying institution is an “institution within the U.S. that are listed in the Council for Higher Education Accreditation data OR institutions outside of the U.S. whose degrees meet certain standards.”
Supervision of BCBA candidates must be completed by a qualified supervisor. A BCBA candidates fieldwork can be thought of similarly to how we think of Dr. Grey, Dr. Yang’s, Dr. Karev’s residences. Per the BACB, “the purpose of supervision is to improve and maintain the behavior-analytic, professional, and ethical repertoires of the trainee and facilitate the delivery of high-quality services to the trainee’s clients.” The BACB does not answer questions about what specifically may or may not qualify for supervisory experience, but does list some examples of what effective behavior-analytic supervision can include here. Candidates, also known as trainees, cannot begin accumulating their fieldwork hours until they have begun their educational experience listed above and obtained a qualified supervisor, and the duration of a trainee’s fieldwork cannot exceed 5 continuous years.
Next, the fieldwork criteria will change in 2022. The supervised fieldwork hour requirement is 2000 hours, requires a minimum of 4 supervisor-trainee contacts per month, and the trainee must be supervised for 5% of their monthly hours. The concentrated fieldwork hour requirement is 1500 hours. A minimum of 6 supervisor-trainee contacts are required per month, and the trainee must be supervised for 10% of their monthly hours. In both fieldwork settings, there is a minimum requirement to accrue 20 hours per month and the cap per month of accrued hours is 130 hours. One observation by the qualified supervisor of the trainee with a client is required per month and must be for at least 15 minutes. For both the supervised fieldwork and the concentrated supervised fieldwork, at least 50% of the supervised hours must be individual- in other words, group supervision cannot exceed 50% Lastly, for both the supervised fieldwork and the concentrated supervised fieldwork, at least 60% of supervised field MUST be spent engaged in unrestricted activities. Please see the BACB for an example of how fieldwork types can be combined.
Another way of qualifying to sit for the BCBA board exam is to engage in faculty teaching. For this option, trainees must have a graduate degree from a qualifying institution and hold a full-time faculty position in behavior analysis for at least 3 years at a qualifying institution. that includes researching and teaching. This avenue also requires the supervised fieldwork listed above.
Lastly, if you have a doctoral degree from a qualifying institution that was conferred within the last 10 years, and at least 10 years of postdoctoral practical behavior analytical experience, have at least 10 years of full-time practice, and 500 hours of fieldwork experience, you too can qualify to apply for the BCBA certification.
When you are ready to begin your study preparation, check out our study options (hint: we believe in studying throughout your fieldwork experience vs. cramming for the exam at the very end!). When you are ready to apply for the big exam, check out our task analysis to make your application process easy sailing!
Hi ReadySetABA community! Applying for the exam can be confusing and even daunting at times, but look no further! We’ve created a task analysis that hopefully will make this easier. Assuming that you have finished your educational program, and your supervision hours (woohoo!), follow the steps below to sign up for the big exam!
Task Analysis: How to Apply for the BCBA® and BCaBA® Exams
- Go to The BACB website
- Click on “My Account” in the top right corner of the screen.
- Enter in your email address and password.
- Click “log in”.
- Click on the “Certification Applications” tab.
- Enter in your contact information and click “continue”.
- Read over the “Information Release” and choose your option. Click continue.
- Enter in your “Personal Information”. Click continue.
- Enter in any “Other Professional Credentials” that you may have, or click “none”. Click continue. Complete this step for “Membership in Professional Organizations” as well.
- Enter in your “Degree Information”. Click continue.
- Enter in your “Training Type”, then click continue.
- If you selected coursework in step 11, enter in your coursework information. Click continue.
- Next you will add your experience hours on the “Experience Summary” page. You will be prompted to enter in “Experience Details”, including the starting month and year and your supervisor’s information. Click continue.
- Read over the “Exam Disability Accommodations”. Select “yes” or “no”, then click “continue”.
- Read each “Eligibility Affidavit” question and select “yes” or “no” accordingly. Click “continue”.
- Read each of the “Certification Processing Agreement” statements and select “yes” or “no”. Click “continue”.
- Review your application in its entirety from the “Application Summary” page.
- Click “checkout”.
- Enter in your payment information, click “Pay”.
Next, you will wait for the BACB to email you saying that you were approved. If you need any additional documentation, you will be notified. From there, you will receive a link from Pearson Vue testing center with a registration link.
Pat yourselves on the back, you made it this far!
Pairing… We talk about it often in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). We always advise you to pair before placing demands, to pair yourself with things that your scholar likes, and to pair yourself with the families and caregivers that you may be in contact with.
So, what is pairing?
The pairing process consists of repeatedly presenting a neutral stimulus with a conditioned or unconditioned stimulus. After repeated presentations, or pairings, the neutral stimulus will “take on” the properties of the stimulus in which it has been repeatedly paired with. So what does this mean for us as students and practitioners? This means that if our scholar LOVES playdoh, we better repeatedly present ourselves with that playdoh so that we may take on the reinforcing properties of that playdoh for that learner.
Breakups, Perfume, and Playdoh, oh my!
This seems pretty straight forward while we have on our practitioner hats right? First, pair with the scholar, then begin placing demands and then continue to pair yourself with all the reinforcement.
What does pairing look like in our lives outside of work?
It looks like never going to that restaurant again because you’ve paired it with a bad breakup. It looks like spraying your pillow with your significant other’s scent when you miss them. Without us realizing it, we pair ourselves and other people and things with stimuli around us ALL THE TIME!
The key with pairing that we all must be mindful of, both in our work settings and lives outside of work, is that we can pair ourselves with stimuli that others don’t like. Remember that restaurant I mentioned with the breakup history? Or even think about that playdoh. What if your scholar hated playdoh and every time you saw them, you brought them playdoh to play with? We can all think of that one person that we just love to see go away! That is because they have been paired with something that may be aversive or at the very least displeasing to us.
Take a moment and think to yourself about what you may be paired with for each of the people that you come in contact with each day. Think of your scholars/clients, your spouse, your supervisor. Now think of one thing that you would like to be paired with. Go ahead and target that this upcoming week. Good luck! Tell us how you did below!
What is BCBA®/BCaBA® Supervision Like with Us
At ReadySetABA, you will receive individualized supervision that includes monthly goals, assignments for unrestricted activities, performance monitoring and feedback, study preparation, and real-life experiences. We strive to provide supervision based on the following guidelines:
- Establish clear communication
- Create individual monthly goals
- Deliver positive reinforcement and feedback
- Provide examples of templates, assignments, and other documentation
- Prepare supervisee for exam
Establish Clear Communication
We refer to the Supervision Training Outline from the BACB website to structure our supervision.
Individual Monthly Goals
Just how we individualize goals for our clients, we individualize goals for our supervisees. We allow for our students to collaborate with us as supervisors to help set personal goals each month to reach the terminal goal of learning about each of the items of the task list and of course, being a competent behavior analyst.
Deliver Positive Reinforcement and Feedback
Similar to how we individualize monthly goals, we individualize our feedback to our students. We believe that preference assessments are good for everyone, not just our clients. We strive to provide our students with actual reinforcement for their hard work. We want the future frequency of their responses of completing their supervision hours with us to increase in the future. We provide positive reinforcement for our students and encourage them to take control of their supervision time with us.
Provide Real-Life Examples
Here at ReadySetABA, we believe in pairing what we are teaching and supervising to real-life examples that we all experience every day. We believe in making our supervision as hands-on as possible. We want our students to get a real understanding of the “why” behind the analytical decisions that they are making, and in order to do that, we believe that we must help them generalize the science from their fieldwork setting to their worlds.
Prepare for Exam
Instead of cramming for the exam after completing supervision hours, we encourage our students to study for their exams as they move through supervision. We provide students with slides, flashcards, a study plan, and practice questions along the way so they can feel well prepared by the time the test rolls around.
Templates for ABA Library
We provide our students with a number of templates that you can practice using and save for future usage. These include but are not limited to BIP, toilet training, evaluation reports, assessment forms, FBA forms, graphs, and more.
Here at ReadySetABA, we KNOW that the best part about supervision is YOU! Please feel free to contact us with any questions and to sign up today! We look forward to supervising you!
What is a BCBA® Anyways?
A BCBA® is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Behavior analysts are behavioral scientists who specialize in manipulating the environment to create the appropriate behavior change that we want to see for our clients using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis.
What Can I Do as a BCBA®?
Simply put, anything! Anything involving behavior that is. Most often, BCBAs are known to work with people with special needs, in particular, individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), but the possibilities are endless for behavior analysts. Human Resources, animal training, sports training, school consulting, health coaches and wellness training, life coaching… the list goes on! Many of these jobs that I just noted have their own special subsect of ABA, such as Organizational Behavior Management (OBM).
What are some examples of jobs as a BCBA®?
As a BCBA, you may find yourself in a clinic working as a program manager, supervisor, or clinical director. In the school system, you could be overseeing a number of students who have been referred to ABA services. Check out our blog post on “A Day in the Life of a School Based BCBA” for more information. Additionally, you may find yourself working in the hospital setting, in a residential environment with children and adults, or maybe even working for yourself consulting across various clients and settings.
How do I find these jobs as a BCBA®?
I have found that the key to working outside of the scope of autism is knowing how to search for what you want. Oftentimes, searching for “BCBA® jobs” or even “ABA” will only yield jobs working with children with autism. Instead, try searching, “behavior management”, or even find a company that you want to work for, and ask them if you can lend your services to them. Explain your level of expertise and market yourself accordingly. Remember, behavior analysts, are ethically bound to seek guidance when operating outside of their expertise. That being said, it is important to find quality supervision that matches your interests as you are becoming a BCBA®. See post on finding quality supervision here for reference.
If there is something that you want to learn how to do, like applying the principles of ABA in an HR kind of situation, seek guidance for someone who has that experience in OBM.
The BACB has a list of jobs that behavior analysts can do on their website as a reference as well. Check it out!
Cammie Morgan, MSC, BCBA, LBA (Hawaii), IBA
First Caffeine, Then Analysis!
As a school-based BCBA, my days begin similarly to a clinic-based Analyst; I wake up, brush my teeth, workout (occasionally), get dressed, load up on caffeine, and head to work. In my office, you’ll find my work computer locked in my desk with my scholar’s files. Inside the scholar, files are documents like their Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and the referral information that I have received in order for me to begin services. In a school setting, there are a few steps that take place prior to obtaining a scholar on your caseload.
My experience thus far has been completing a few observations of the scholar prior to what is called a Student Focus Team (SFT) meeting. SFT meetings take place with the scholar’s IEP team. In this meeting, the team discusses the need for a Functional Behavior Assessment and me as the Analyst gives the go-ahead to conduct the assessment. After agreeing to conduct a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) in the SFT meeting, I have a set amount of time (a total of 45 days in my state) to complete the assessment and report its findings.
Where to Complete the FBA and What’s Next?
I complete each of my FBAs by observing the scholars across various times, settings, and teachers, all within the school setting. Some of my observation locations include the classroom, recess, lunchtime, and in other staff rooms during sessions like speech therapy. I, or my RBT, observes and takes narrative and structured Antecedent Behavior Consequence (ABC) data consistently for at least 5 days. I conduct a FAST interview with the teacher(s) and the parent(s). I then analyze the data by graphing the frequency of each antecedent, consequence, and targeted behavior.
After analyzing the data and studying the graphs, I write my report which includes my graphed data of each antecedent and consequence, a description of the hypothesized function(s) of the behaviors, some examples of environmental changes that I suggest, and a detailed description of my analysis of each of the targeted behaviors. I wrap up my report by recommending suggestions for the family and teacher(s) of the scholar. If the data provides evidence that the scholar could benefit from having a one on one RBT without impeding their learning, I suggest that. I also provide behavioral goal suggestions in my FBA. After the parents and teachers accept the recommendations in my FBA, I write the scholar a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP).
Another meeting then will be scheduled where I present my BIP. Until the BIP is agreed upon by the IEP team, it is a working document, meaning that the IEP team in the meeting has the ability to ask me about changing and tweaking the BIP until it is agreed upon by the entire team. Once the BIP is agreed upon, I begin writing the scholar’s program goals.
How Can I Be an RBT in a School Setting?
In supervising my RBTs, I stress to them the art of using least to most prompting with assisting the scholar with attending to the teacher and educational assistant and their instructions. This is one of the main differences that I have found from the clinical setting. In theory, my goal for the RBT during group instruction would be for the RBT to silently prompt the scholar, and provide the teacher with the reinforcer to give to the scholar immediately upon appropriately responding, all a while pairing with the scholar, and gaining instructional control during one on one time periods. Oftentimes I have found that teachers simply do not have the luxury of waiting out behaviors as we may in a clinical setting. They have more students to tend to and a school schedule to adhere to, so I also supervise the RBT on how to follow the BIP and intervene for behavior management when necessary.
Behavior Goes Where the Reinforcement Flows
As a school-based BCBA, I consult with each of my teachers for a set amount of time per week as outlined in the scholar’s IEP. I love teacher consultations because this helps me to pair with the teacher, provide the teacher some insight on ABA and the specific methods that I am using with each scholar, and it gives me the ability to understand the teacher’s methods as well. Staff buy-in is everything in a school setting, and PAIRING IS KEY! It is very important to not come across as a know-it-all, arrogant, or as though you are telling the school staff what they are doing wrong. In order to have the most success with suggestions and intervention implementation, the school staff must feel supported by you.
One of my favorite things about being a school-based BCBA is having the ability to collaborate on a daily basis with the teachers and other school staff. We all may come from different disciplines, but with the primary focus being on the scholar, we all come together, kumbaya, and work to crush each goal one day at a time! The way I like to think of it is like this, the teacher states what the academic goal is, and as the Behavior Analyst, I can program for “how” the goal can be taught. Although the school setting is less controlled than the clinical setting, implementing the principles of ABA in this environment has given me the opportunity to apply my skill set to both my scholars and my professional peers, and that is the part that I wouldn’t change for the world. Come on over to the school side y’all!
Like a behavioral cusp, it opens us up to a whole new world!
Cammie Morgan, MSC, BCBA, LBA (Hawaii), IBA
FREE BCBA®/BCaBA® Study Calendar:
We hope to provide some relief by offering free resources during this pandemic for those studying for BCBA®/BCaBA®. Stay inside and healthy everyone.
Check back for more resources soon.
How to Find the Supervisor that is Right for You:
Finding a supervisor that is the right fit for you can be challenging. You may have questions such as, “How will supervision be structured? Does my job offer supervision? How long will it take? Will this supervision prepare me for the test and the ABA world?”
There are a few questions to ask yourself when searching for the right supervisor.
Does my current job offer supervision?
- If you are working in an ABA clinic, your job might include supervision as a part of your benefits. If they do, make sure you ask the right questions about supervision to ensure you are getting quality supervision.
- If you are working for the school system, you may not have access to a supervisor. In this case, you may need to search for a local or remote supervisor.
Remote or in person-supervision?
- Remote supervision is a convenient way to obtain supervision hours while working in your current job.
- Remote supervision includes videos, weekly video calls, and sharing documents.
- In-person supervision can be great if you can find a local supervision near you. Here is where to search for local supervision: BACB Supervision Search
- Check out this link if you are interested in remote supervision to see if I have openings and to see if we are a good match: Remote Supervision
How will supervision be structured?
- The supervision structure is determined by your supervisor. Ultimately, they can choose how to set up meetings and work through concepts. I recommend establishing goals each month to stay on track and ensure you are getting the most out of your supervision.
- Here is a sample of goals you and your supervisor could write together:
||ABA overview; 7 dimensions; 6 attitudes of science; ABC data
Assignments: ABC data collection, pairing protocol, preference assessment
|The Student will understand the foundational knowledge of ABA to begin to apply these concepts to the clinic/school setting.
||Functions of behavior: Assignments: FBA, ABC data continued, QAFB, measurement, data recording, what problem behaviors to consider?
|The student will identify the functions of behavior based on ABC data collection and determine which plans would be appropriate to track in a behavior intervention plan.
Now, let’s talk about quality supervision
Here are a few things that define quality supervision:
- Quality supervision should incorporate applied experiences, task list examples, and ethical considerations that prepare you to pass the test and prepare for the field.
- This supervision should include goals, expectations, and clear guidelines
- You should have the opportunity to practice behavior analytic procedures
- Your supervisor should provide you with unrestricted tasks that fill your unrestricted hour requirement. These include podcasts, assignments, research articles, etc.
- I highly recommend study prep included in your supervision so you don’t have to cram!
- Here are some topics that are not limited to but should absolutely be included in supervision:
- BIP writing
- VBMAPP assessment
- Writing evaluations
- FBA practice (ABC data collection, QAFB, FAST etc.)
- Parent training information
- Writing reauthorization reports
- Protocols (potty training, token economy system etc)
- Intake process
- Test prep!!!
I wrote this blog to help others find the applied experience they need in order to be successful BCBA/BCaBA’s in the future and pass the test in order to get there! I wish someone would have guided me through the process. Email me with questions!
Katherine Kellogg, M.Ed., BCBA
While studying for the BCBA exam, I found it extremely helpful to write my own flashcards. I thought to myself, “if only I had pre-made cards that had the term I needed to know, I could still get the practice of reading and writing my own definitions.” So, here you go! I want to go over how to get the most out of these flashcards by considering fluency and terminology grouping.
As you know, the BCBA exam is timed, so the faster you are able to identify the ABA terminology, the more likely you are to get the question correct. Moving quickly through the flashcards, and increasing your response time will increase your pace. After you write all of the terms and feel confident in their definitions, you should mix them up. Running through the cards mixed will give you a shorter latency, and build fluency!
One benefit to these flashcards is that all of the terms are categorized by related concepts, specifically by Cooper chapters. Studying the terms grouped by chapter will allow your brain to make the connection between concepts. Also, writing down the definitions in this order (rather than alphabetical) will keep you organized as you continue on your studying journey.
I found it extremely helpful to conceptually group the terms I was studying. After you finish writing all of the cards, then you can mix them up for a bigger challenge. Remember, the test is not categorized by terminology or chapter. The test will randomize all concepts, so to get the most out of these flashcards make sure you mix up all concepts so your brain gets used to switching around!
One study tip I like to share: Instead of focusing on how the terms are different from one another, try to discover their relationship. I realized ABA terms are all related in a giant web. Yes, some terms are different from one another, but conceptually they have more relations. Once I realized this the second time studying, concepts began to stick and I was able to apply the terms fluently.
How to use
- Print out the flashcards.
- Use a paper cutter (or scissors) to cut the flashcards. Keep them grouped by page! I recommend cutting them out as you go to help stay organized.
- Start at the beginning, which will start you on Cooper chapter 1.
- After you complete the flashcards, run through them in order several times.
- Once you feel comfortable with all of the concepts, mix and shuffle them to build fluency.
- Carry the flashcards with you and run through the flashcards any chance you get!
I hope you find this free tool useful in your studies! I recommend pairing these flashcards with Cooper readings when finding the definitions. I also recommend utilizing these flashcards with our course and 30 or 60-day study plan. In this study plan, you are given the Cooper page numbers that are associated with each task list and a clear study guide to follow.
All of the terms you need to study for the exam are downloadable here.
Reach out if you have any questions!
What’s the difference between unrestricted and restricted experience hours for BCBA and BCaBA supervision?
Before beginning supervision, it is important to understand the nature of supervision including the difference between unrestricted, and restricted experience hours. It can be tricky to understand until you relate it to your applied setting. This post will give you an overview of experience hours and provide examples of unrestricted and restricted activities. I wish I had this type of breakdown when I began! I hope this helps.
What are unrestricted activities?
Unrestricted activities are those that resemble what a BCBA does on a day to day basis. These unrestricted activities include a variety of tasks such as observation and data collection, training staff and caregivers on behavior-analytic programs or content, conducting assessments such as the VB-MAPP, FA, preference assessments, meeting with clients and families about behavior-analytic progress, graphing, and researching the literature relevant to a current client’s programming. See the BACB 2022 Eligibility Requirements for the most current guidelines.
You cannot count school assignments, conferences, university courses, meetings, or any other workshops unrelated to ABA.
What are restricted activities?
Restricted hours are the delivery of direct therapy and instruction procedures with clients. Basically, anytime you are with your client directly and are not participating in unrestricted activities like analyzing data or researching literature.
How much of each do I need?
If you are applying to test under the 4th edition task list (Before December 31st, 2021), at least 50% of total supervision experience hours must be unrestricted activities. If you are applying for the exam under the 5th edition task list (After January 1st, 2022) you must acquire at least 60% unrestricted hours of your total supervision. There is no limit to unrestricted activities, technically, you could have all more if you wanted to but typically students find it easier to work in an ABA agency to balance both restricted and unrestricted. There are no minimum restricted hours, however, no more than 50% (4th) and 40% (5th) can be restricted or direct therapy hours.
Click here for our quick guide to supervision.
What are the acceptable activities for experience standards?
For the 4th edition exam, at least 50% of total experience hours must be composed of the following unrestricted activities. For the 5th edition exam, at least 60% of your hours must be unrestricted. There is no limit to unrestricted activities.
- Conducting assessments related to ABA (preference, FA)
- Design, implement, systematically monitor skill-acquisition and behavior reduction programs
- Writing behavior treatment plans, progress summaries, clinical notes, transition summaries
- Oversee the implementation of behavior-analytic programs by others
- Training others
- Communicating with caregivers and other professionals
- Attending planning meetings, researching literature that is relevant to current client’s programs
No more than 50% (4th) 40% (5th) of total experience hours can be restricted
- Direct therapy/working directly with clients
How does this apply to my current setting?
In the school setting, there are many opportunities to gain unrestricted hours under the direction of your BCBA supervisor. Here are a few ideas for gaining unrestricted hours in the classroom setting:
- Observation and data collection on problem behavior
- Composing a behavior intervention plan with ABA principles for a specific student
- Conduct a preference assessment for a student and take data, graph and analyze
- Graph behavior data and analyze
- Research literature for problem behaviors you are seeing from students in your classroom
- Train paraprofessionals on ABA strategies, treatment plans, and oversee these programs being implemented
- Write transition summaries related to ABA
- Meet with parents and train on specific ABA topics
If you work in an in-home setting as an ABA therapist, here is a list of unrestricted activities that you could participate in to gain the indirect hours all under the direction of your BCBA supervisor.
- Train parents and caregivers on specific ABA intervention
- Conduct FBA or parent and caregiver interviews to evaluate the function
- Observe the caregiver implementing a strategy and record data, graph and analyze
- Write clinical notes, treatment plans, or progress summaries
- Research literature related to home-based services specific to your client’s behaviors
- Graph behavior data, and analyze trends
- Compose and/or edit behavior intervention plans with your BCBA
There are numerous ways to gain unrestricted hours if you work in a clinic setting. From my experience, the clinical setting provided me with the most options for unrestricted activities. Here is a list of unrestricted activities to do in the clinical setting:
- Create task analyses, preference assessments, behavior tracking sheets, or other data collection sheets for acquisition targets
- Conduct a preference assessment
- Assist in the implementation of the VB-MAPP
- Conduct an FBA with caregivers, other therapists, and analyze the hypothesized function
- Train new hires on ABA principles
- Research literature related to specific clients
- Meet with parents, caregivers, and teachers and train on behavior-analytic programs
- Assist with progress reports, reauthorization reports, and treatment plans
- Observe other staff members implementing specific ABA interventions and provide feedback
How do I track supervision?
The BACB provides an excel experience tracking form that you will utilize to help track unrestricted/restricted activities. I would also recommend watching the 30-minute video on how to track supervision before beginning.
Here is another resource from the board answering frequently asked questions on the monthly tracking system.
Feel free to reach out with any questions!