Strategies to Excel in the COT Skills Test

images  The COT Certification testing process includes two key evaluations; a written test and a skills evaluation. The written test is multiple choice computerized exam. The skills test is a simulated virtual environment in which the candidate must perform 7 key skills. The COT candidate must successfully pass the written portion before being eligible to take the skills test.  The candidate has one year following the written exam to successfully complete the skills portion of the test. The  Skills Test includes:

  • Retinoscopy (plus or minus cyl)
  • Refraction (plus or minus cyl)
  • Manual lensometry (plus or minus cyl)
  • Ophthalmometry (Keratometry)
  • EOM evaluation including cover tests
  • Goldmann Applantion Tonometry
  • Humphrey Visual Field

How to Prepare

After you pass the written portion of the exam, JCAHPO will send you a list of the skills you must perform and a list of steps you must perform for each skill and the order in which you must perform the steps.  MEMORIZE THE STEPS ON THIS LIST.  They will also send you a pdf with screen shots of the computer interface. This will teach you how to interact with the computer interface, how to open and close drawers, turn on room lights, instruct the patient, grab equipment, submit your skill and more.  GO THROUGH THIS PDF MULTIPLE TIMES.

Also, consider purchasing JCAHPO Learning Systems modules that you need for each skill.  You only need to buy the modules with which you feel you need help. These modules are very similar to the computer interface you will use for the actual exam so they will not only prepare you for the skill, but also help you become more comfortable with the computer interface.  These modules aren't expensive and include CE credit, which you need anyway.

How It's Scored

JCAHPO will score you on two key components of each skill: Accuracy and Technique.  For example, when performing GAT, you will be scored on how accurate your TA is and also how you performed the skill. For instance, don't go on and off and on and off the cornea multiple times as you align your tonometer prism because you will be counted down in technique for that.  You want to approach the cornea in the approximate alignment you need and then make small adjustments to position to tonometer correctly.

You will have one hour to perform all of the skills.  You can decide which skills you perform first. If you are in the middle of a skill and forgot a step or feel like you made a mistake, you can restart the skill and the computer will 'forget' everything you've done on that skill. Once you 'submit' the skill and move on to the next skill you will NOT be able to make any changes to any previous skills.

Learning Your Results

JCAHPO will notify you within a few weeks via email about your results.  If you have successfully passed each skill (technique and accuracy), you are a new COT! Congratulations!  If you successfully complete some but not all of the skills, you will have a conditional pass and another opportunity to pass the skills you didn't successfully perform the first time.

A last tip: your new credential will be posted on your JCAHPO account before you receive the written notification, so if you just can't wait for the mailman, log onto your JCAHPO acct about 7-10 days after your exam and take a peek. Good luck!