Preparing for the Certified Ophthalmic Technician Exam

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According to the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO), an aging population and technological advances in vision care will fuel the demand for Certified Ophthalmic Technicians (COT). A career as a COT provides a more predictable weekday work schedule than many health professions.


Career Paths

To become a COT, you’ll need a COT credential. This credential opens the door to expand your knowledge, enhance your skills, and earn the Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist (COMT) credential. A COT or COMT credential allows you to get even more education and training in specialties such as orthoptics (eye deviations and eye muscle disbalances), as well as subspecialty certifications in ophthalmic surgical assisting, ophthalmic coding and reimbursement, ophthalmic ultrasound, and contact lenses and opticianry. All offer more status and pay, which brings us to breaking down the first barrier and getting your COT credential.


Preparing for the COT Exam

Practice, practice, practice the questions in the COT Exam Review Manual. Each chapter covers the subject areas you’ll need to know in the exam—Optics, Basic Ocular, Visual Fields, Contact Lenses, Intermediate Tonometry, Ocular Pharmacology and Photography. The test places a considerable emphasis on Visual Fields and Contact Lenses, according to JCAHPO. Some chapters have over 200 questions. Approach each chapter as if you’re taking the exam. Don’t look up the answers in the back of the book. Write out each question along with your answer in a notebook. Grade yourself at the end of each chapter. This will give you a good idea where your strengths and weaknesses lie and where you need to focus your studying. 


Read the Ophthalmic Assistant. Really pore over it. Then review the stack of handouts you got when you took the COT review course. You should take this, if you haven’t already. Many local areas offer it. It’s great for studying, for asking questions, and forming study groups with fellow students. You should also work the COT flashcards, which are more challenging than the COT Exam Manual. Besides, some flashcard questions are not in the Exam Manual.


Take the practice exam again. This time go over the questions you answered wrong and read the answers in the back until you fully understood them. The manual explains the concept of each question, the correct answer, and why the others are wrong. This can be very helpful.


Taking the COT Exam

There are 210 questions on the COT Exam. Ten do not count as real points, that leaves about 40 questions that you can get wrong. The computer can be pretty intimidating, so take your time and pace yourself, spending about a minute on each question. Read each question carefully. Don’t rush through it. Write down any tips, diagrams or formulas that you got hung up on. Use the paper provided so you can refer to it. If you have time, take a second pass over the exam and slowly review every answer. Don’t leave any questions blank—answer each one.


Becoming a Certified Ophthalmic Technician won’t be easy. You’ll have to study hard and score well on the COT exam. But the rewards will be worth it: status, a secure job, and a gateway to an ever-expanding career as a medical professional.


Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/


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