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Full Circle: Exam Success to CHT Prep

Written by:

Heather Dailey, MOT, OTR/L, CHT

VHSF CHT Exam Prep



I started formally studying for the CHT exam about 6 months prior to my exam date in May of 2018, however I began mentally preparing for the process about a year prior. During the six months leading up to studying, I spent time gathering study resources, familiarizing myself with the HTCC Blueprint, and formulating a plan. I also completed the HTCC Self-Assessment during this time to further identify my study needs.

It became apparent that I was confident with diagnoses and treatment techniques that I routinely saw in the clinic, but not those that were rarely referred to me, such as shoulder pathology and brachial plexus injuries. Given this, I knew that I needed to take time to strategically prepare a schedule for studying, emphasizing more time on domains that I was less comfortable with. I created a six-month study schedule based on the HTCC Blueprint, my study resources, the results from the HTCC Self-Assessment, and of course my personal schedule. Planning ahead was a large reason why the study process was not overwhelming for me.


The technique I utilized most during studying was outlining. I read through the texts that I was studying from and outlined each chapter. During this time, I was not attempting to memorize or learn the information. It was purely organizational and structural for me. I wanted to clearly be able to see what I knew, what I didn’t, and what I would need to focus on. This process took about two months of 20 hours a week. I know what you are thinking…that is a lot of time! And it is. But as someone who is very systematic and can get overwhelmed, I felt this was the best process, and it definitely worked for me.

Once I had the content outlined, the studying began. I used my outlines (which were much more approachable than re-reading whole chapters of a text at a time because they only contained the material that that I was needing to focus on) reading them, re-writing them for repetition, and adding to them as needed. I continued studying off these guides for three months. The final month leading up to the exam, I felt it was best to not introduce new content, but instead focus on those topics that were most challenging to me. From my outlines I made flashcards to take with me on the go, and I used them during these final weeks. I also took two practice tests. I took one test four weeks prior to the exam which helped me further identify content I needed to revisit, and one test two weeks prior to the exam. Outlining first also helped a lot when I was doing practice tests. Instead of going back to the readings and texts, I was often easily able to find answers in my more concise outlines. Also, as I was studying this last month, it was clear to me that there were some concepts that were just “hard to get”. Those were the things that I identified should go on my “cheat sheet”. Luckily, when taking the exam, you are given scratch paper and pencil, which is very useful to jot down a few useful things that might make a difficult question easier. I knew that I wanted to draw the brachial plexus, write the pattern of innervation of the peripheral nerves, and jot down a few unique mnemonics that I made up for hard to remember content.


Studying for the CHT exam is mentally fatiguing, especially if you are also working full time and have a busy life. It is important to listen to yourself and to not get overwhelmed. I was working full time as well, but dedicating time daily to studying. I would at least spend two hours a day reading or studying. I tried to use Monday through Friday after work to review, and dedicate the weekends for more blocked studying practice and introduce content that was new or challenging. On average, I again dedicated 20 hours a week to studying. I found it useful to take a vacation day from work to recharge every few weeks. If I felt that I didn’t need to recharge, then it was a great way to get ahead on studying for the week.

VHSF Exam Prep

When creating the VHSF CHT Prep, we aimed to provide enrollees with tools to help structure their studying. Approaching studying with a schedule of readings can be one of the most useful things, as it helps to organize and structure content in a hierarchical way to promote retention. The 6-month CHT Prep does just this and provides enrollees with a suggested reading schedule to pace themselves. I was not fortunate to have a study partner or a mentor to help me with studying. However, with the VHSF CHT Prep, weekly live lectures overview the content and supplement your study. While there is a significant amount of content that requires rote memory, success also relies on putting the information into practice. By facilitating weekly interactive live case studies, enrollees have an opportunity to apply knowledge to practical applications. A message board is also available to discuss useful study aides or direct questions with other test takers. Finally, practice makes perfect, and participating in weekly quizzes and the four included practice exams gets you ready for pacing and critical thinking. I encourage all future test takers to not pursue studying alone, and instead enroll in a program like the VHSF CHT Prep to promote success and passing on the first try!



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