PT Board Specialty Exam Prep Guide – Sports (SCS) – Orthopaedic (OCS)
Figuring out which resources to use to prepare for the PT board specialty exam can be a daunting process. But with the right study plan and a few key resources, you can ace the test! If you are looking for a real-life description of a study process, check out Suzanne Leach's Exam Prep Study Plan and Materials article.
There is one thing that you need to know about preparing: You have to use multiple sources in order to be prepared for the board specialty exam. For example, if you completed a residency program that used much of the material from Evidence in Motion, then I recommend using the Medbridge Specialty Exam Prep Course (they have SCS, OCS, GCS, NCS, PCS). But if your residency is like ours, we use a lot of the prep material from Medbridge, so you can certainly use the Medbridge Study Guides and practice exams, but I would recommend using another program as well (e.g. Evidence in Motion (they have OCS, SCS, and GCS) or The SPTS Sports Certified Specialist Examination Preparatory Course (2020)
If you didn’t do a residency program, I would recommend doing both (e.g. Medbridge and Evidence in Motion). Those two resources will really give you a comprehensive way to be certain to learn the material.
If you are looking for additional ways to study and additional practice exams (although MedBridge has 4 practice exams), below is list of resources to aid your studying for the Board Certified Specialist Examination:
My favorite part of the Medbridge SCS prep is the study guides. These guides are amazing and are incredibly comprehensive. They were developed by Jenna Gourlay, and I have had multiple exam takers tell me using these guides helped them tremendously. Here is how I recommend using them:
- Complete a section of the blank study guide without using resources. This will give you a good indication of your current knowledge level on the topic area
- Go back to your resources to complete the areas you left blank
- Make flash cards and take notes on the areas that you don’t feel as confident in. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to HANDWRITE notes. The learning research on this is unequivocal.
Also, there are over 500 SCS and OCS practice questions. That is such a helpful way to gauge your knowledge as well as study in a different way. One thing to note with any practice test, I wouldn’t use your score to be predictive of what your performance will be on the exam. They are intended to identify areas of weakness and provide practice, not perfectly replicate the board specialty exam.
Evidence in Motion SCS Test Prep Course
While I haven’t used this course personally, I know many people who have that found it extremely valuable. Like I said, I recommend this course to our residency graduates as it gives them a different perspective.
From the Evidence in Motion Website:
- Interact with other “SCS-preppers” in an exclusive online forum.
- Weekly summaries of the most “need to know” info for the SCS Exam with quizzes.
- Pre-course exam, quizzes and post-course exam with over 350 SCS-style review questions.
- Citations and full text are provided for all quiz and pre-course exam questions.
I just reviewed these for the first time and I really like them! It is great to have access to that many questions. Each question has an explanation of why the answer is correct and links to the citing course (a great way to dive into areas that you feel less confident).
“Edited by Robert Manske, PT,DPT, MEd, SCS, ATC, CSCS and John DeWitt, PT, DPT, SCS, AT, this home study course has been developed by the leaders in sports physical therapy to help physical therapists confidently sit for the SCS examination.”
This is a brand new preparation course from the Sports Section. Looking forward to getting feedback on it!
American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) SCS Candidate Guide.
Current Concepts of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy 4th Ed
This is a must read for those taking the SCS. The other specialty guides can be found here.
Knowing the CPGs is essential for the OCS. Here is a listing of all the published CPGs by the Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy.
Medbridge OCS Prep has over 500 OCS practice questions and a specific plan for studying. This plan allows you to
- Identify Strengths
Analyze your strengths & weaknesses with scores for practice areas.
- Personalize Your Plan
Customize the program to meet your needs. Study in groups or on your own.
- Test your knowledge along the way
Periodic re-tests allow you to focus on areas that you need to work on.
- There is also a Facebook group that you can ask questions and connect with others
The $3 per month "Supporter" Level includes "Access to Patreon supporters-only content, including OCS test-taking secrets, quick reference study guides, and recorded study sessions. These study sessions will respond to questions received from the Specialist tier of supporters and will be focused on helping you prepare for the OCS exam (but we may throw some more general PT Q&A sessions too)."
The $6 per month "Specialist" Level includes everything in the Supporter Level PLUS
- Exclusive Content (OCS Test Taking Secrets, Quick Reference Study Guides)
- Live Study Sessions
- Exclusive Q&A Priority
- Bonus Lectures
The $15 per month "Sherpa" Level is a level of support designed to "Cover the cost of our website hosting fees, and we will list your name as a supporter on our website, PhysioFieldGuide.com." So it doesn't appear to increase content but gives you a shout-out. But, I know people who just donated because they found the material and community so useful.
This course contains:
- online lectures covering each body region
- Practice examination with 200+ questions
- Examination will be graded and participants will receive specific feedback on areas of improvement
- Weekly newsletters with pertinent tips and advice
- Research breakdowns of top journal articles
- Online question and answer sessions with OCS clinicians
- Access to 100+ OCS study sheets and infographics
This has been recommended by people who have passed the OCS. From the Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy website:
“The authors of each monograph in this 5th edition have provided a comprehensive, contemporary evidence-based review. The first monograph describes the multifaceted process of clinical reasoning and utilization of evidence in physical therapy practice. Each of the 11 remaining monographs covers a major joint/region of the body, from the cervical spine to the foot and ankle. Each monograph starts with a review of clinically relevant anatomy and biomechanics followed by a presentation of the most evidence-based historical and physical examination procedures helpful in formulating a diagnosis, prognosis, and plan of care. This is followed by a discussion of common musculoskeletal conditions and their related optimal intervention strategies, again based on available evidence, supplemented by clinical expertise when evidence is lacking. Finally, at the end of each monograph, case scenarios are presented to invite clinical reasoning and the integration of the presented material. This collection of monographs, written by well-established expert clinicians, represents a unique and valuable source of information for physical therapists working with patients with musculoskeletal conditions.”
Course Format: Online with an option to purchase the print version
Contact Hours: 96 contact hours
I have not used this course or have colleagues who have, but the authors submitted this information about it:
OCS Overhaul is a test preparation business started by two Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist Physical Therapists, passionate about elevating the practice of Orthopedic Physical Therapy. They created this business with the drive to provide support for busy clinicians trying to study in the most efficient way possible, while gleaning the important skills and knowledge needed to practice at an advanced level in orthopedic physical therapy settings.
The founders (Leda McDaniel, PT, DPT, OCS and Nick Davis, PT, DPT, OCS, CMPT, CSCS) are serious about giving back to the profession and currently offer some free study resources as well as paid resources that include group study sessions and one on one tutoring.
Email them at [email protected] to receive:
- FREE Knee Study Sheet, FREE OCS 8-Week Study Plan, and FREE OCS Study Smarter Tips Sheet
- Paid product information guide with pricing and scheduling information
Here is a graphic of the packages they offer.
Physical Therapy OCS Exam Review
While I haven’t used this guide, it does offer 25 free practice questions which is worth doing even if you don’t purchase the guide. These practice questions are pretty robust, and if indicative of the entire product, it should be a great resource.
“This book is a 100-item practice test designed to prepare you for acing the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties Orthopedic Certified Specialist (OCS) examination. Test items were written to feel similar to the actual test regarding their difficulty, as well as question breakdown by body region and content areas. The test taker will read and answer questions in 10-item question blocks followed by a detailed explanation on the correct answer with reference(s) to support the correct choice.”
OCS Orthopedic Certification Specialist Exam Prep LIVE and VIRTUAL Course
From Motivations CEU website:
“Dr. Eric Wilson has taught this Preparatory Course for the Orthopedic Certification Specialist exam with an 88% success rate since 2003. This 16 hour self study version includes complete video taping of his 16 lecture divided into individual movies on separate parts of the body. This course includes a complete review of the body by region, with sections on disease processes, modalities and research. This preparation includes more than 150 OCS exam style questions and test-taking strategies. As a former item writer, the instructor brings to light the mechanics for testing and logic for study. While the questions are not actual questions from the OCS exam, they do reflect both the content and style of the questions on the OCS exam.
The live and virtual course packet is now the most comprehensive selection of materials on the marketing including both live and virtual training:
VIRTUAL SELF STUDY:
+ 15 Video Lectures Online
+ Powerpoint Lecture Notes Online
+ 10 Journal Article PDF’s
+ Exam Practice 150 questions covering each lecture Section
+ Final Practice scored 30 question exam you can take multiple times”
From Angie Nottingham Henning “The acute care section/CVP section has a drop box with files, study guide, suggested courses, and suggested textbooks for study for the CCS.”
Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Candidate Guide (.pdf)
Helpful links (Application Instructions and Testing Deadlines):
If there any resources that I missed (or if you have more insight/feedback on the resources), please email me or comment below so we can make this page as robust as possible for future exam takers. I would even love to add more in-depth information in the other specialty areas.
For the best deal or cheapest price on Medbridge CEUs (Over 45% off or $175 discount) use the promo code PLISKY. For PTs, if you use promotional code PLISKY you get your MedBridge CEUs for $200 (a $175 discount). This is 47% off the normal price. For students, receive 76% off using promo code PLISKYstudent at checkout — $275 Off
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