A PT's View of Taking the ATP Exam

Lauren Rosen is this month's mentor.

Last month, a rehab technology supplier - Phil Wegman, ATP, CRTS - shared his experiences with the ATP exam.

This month, our mentor is Lauren Rosen, MPT, ATP, the Motion Analysis Center Program Coordinator at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital of Tampa. Like Phil, Lauren shares how she studied for the exam, what material was familiar and what wasn't familiar, this time from a clinician perspective.

Which Exam Topics Were Old Hat, Which Ones Were New

Lauren found the wheelchair-related material the most familiar, while the least-familiar material included topics such as low vision, hearing impairments and public policy.

"I definitely looked at every area when I was studying," she says. "However, I spent the most time on the technology for people with visual and hearing difficulties. I don't work with those populations, unless I happen to be doing a wheelchair for them, so I was not aware of all of the technology.

"I also had to look at the public policy section. I had never learned any of the specifics of that in school. I was fairly familiar with the aug comm stuff, but since I'm never the one who actually decides on the devices, I spent some time with that section."

Lauren reviewed the wheelchair materials last. "I figured I knew it well," she explains. "When I looked at the Fundamentals (of Assistive Technology) book and saw that section was written by David Kreutz, I figured I didn't need to study it much, as he taught the seating component for my PT school. But it turned out to be very important because when I took the test, I wanted to use all of my clinical experience. So I did not like the answers."

Don't Overthink the Questions

That brings us back to advice we've heard before about not letting your complex professional experiences get in the way of answering correctly on the test.

"It is so important to put the practical knowledge out of your head and concentrate on the book stuff," Lauren advises. "We all come up with our own way of doing things in our clinics, so that may or may not match up to the test material. When I thought back to what the books said, the answers were much more straightforward. When all else fails, always bow to the book."

Ironically, my lack of clinic experience might actually give me an edge here, as I have less "personal knowledge" to interfere with what I'm learning in my textbooks and likely to see on the exam. With her PT background, Lauren said that for most test questions, she wanted to answer, "'None of the above - this is what I would do.' I wanted to make it more of what I would do in my daily life, as opposed to what my textbook said. Anytime you take standardized tests, you can't give the exact answers you want.... The more practical knowledge you have on any standardized test, the harder the test is."

Lauren's advice: "There's nothing tricky about this test. (The questions) mean what you think they mean." Read too much into the questions, she says, and "that's where you get yourself into trouble. That's how standardized tests are: Every time I take one, I have to remind myself that this is not meant for deep thought. Give them the answer they are asking for."

A Review Course Can Focus Your Efforts

Review courses weren't a good option when she was studying for the exam, Lauren says, because she would have had to take the course on site at a conference just a day before the exam itself.

"I thought that if I didn't know it by then, I wasn't going to learn it in those two days," she says. "But I like the (online) class that (University of Pittsburgh) teaches because it really does teach you what you need to know. You can focus in on the things you need to focus in on. If I'd had something like that, I think I would have stressed less in certain areas than I needed to." Lauren estimates she studied in "bits and pieces" for three months before the test. "I spent way too much time studying things that were not important," she says. "Had I taken one of those (review courses), it would have helped me narrow down what I really needed to be studying."

This article originally appeared in the Consumer Edition April 2009 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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