How to Study for the OCS Exam

Prior to studying for the OCS exam, every applicant should read the Orthopaedic Specialists Certification Candidate Guide.

Recommended readings:

  • Clinical Practice Guidelines published by the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT)
  • APTA Orthopedic section Current Concepts of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy
  • Case Reports from JOSPT, JMMT IJSPT, and PTJ.
    • Although case reports are the lowest level of evidence, they are great study tools  as they often highlight the anatomy, recommended practice guidelines, clinical reasoning, learning moments from the authors and unique cases.
    • In particular, case reports that focus on upper and lower extremity nerve issues.

Study Tips:

  • Complete recommended readings.
  • Focus on your weaknesses not your strengths.
  • The majority of the test has questions that pertain to the spine, so prioritize this content.
  • Review multiple-choice test taking strategies.
  • Create a study plan ahead of time.
  • Start studying as early as November or by January at the latest.
  • Create weekly study goals.

How to use Ortho PT Questions: Pass The Test Without Breaking the Bank:

  • The book is divided into 3 sections: Cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine.
  • The reader should answer the question on one page, and then view the correct answer choice and explanation on the following page.
  • In addition to an explanation of the correct answer choice, there is a citation that supports the correct answer choice.
  • It is recommended that you download the articles associated with any questions that you have missed.
  • Book can be dowloaded on Kindle or in-print.

Below is a break down of the exam content for the OCS exam.  Almost 50% of the exam is spine related.  The test if heavily weighted on the test takers ability to differentiate between spine and peripheral joint pathologies.

Body Region % of Exam Questions
Head/Maxillofacial/Craniomandibular 3
Cervical Spine 13
Thoracic Spine/Ribs 6
Lumbar Spine 20
Pelvis/Sacroiliac/Coccyx/Abdomen 7
Shoulder/Shoulder Girdle 15
Arm/Elbow 4
Wrist/Hand 4
Hip 7
Thigh/Knee 12
Leg/Ankle/Foot 9
Total 100

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