RBT competency assessment: Guide on what to expect

April 30, 2022

Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) operate in the field of behavior analysis as paraprofessionals or entry-level practitioners – the RBT competency assessment is an exam necessary to earn professional registration.

RBTs are a group of people that are dedicated to the child and family's overall success. It is a growing behavioral health career that is in high demand with job growth expected to range from 12% to 17% annually.

Competency assessment content

The most important thing to remember about the RBT competency assessment is that it is a measure of a prospective therapist’s understanding of basic behavior-analytic concepts. The test covers four major content areas:

  1. Measurement
  2. Assessment
  3. Skill acquisition and behavior reduction
  4. Professionalism and requirements

The test contains questions from each of these content areas to be completed via interview, role-play, or with a client proctored by a BCBA.

One or more sessions might be used to conduct the initial competency evaluation. Additionally, to participate in the evaluation, the candidate must complete several requirements, including completing the 40-hour training. The test consists of twenty questions, so passing requires an 80% score on the exam. This means the test-taker must not miss more than four questions. 

The target objectives have been grouped into sections, with the following headings:

Tasks 1-3: Measurement 

  • Continuous measurement
  • Discontinuous measurement 
  • Data and graphs

Tasks 4-5: Assessment

  • ABC data
  • Preference assessments

Tasks 6–15: Developing skills and modifying behavior

  • Discrete Trial Training
  • Naturalistic teaching 
  • Chaining
  • Shaping
  • Discrimination training 
  • Transfer of stimulus control
  • Prompting
  • Crisis/emergency
  • Token systems
  • Crisis/emergency procedures
  • Antecedent interventions, differential reinforcement, and extinction

Tasks 16-20: Professionalism and qualifications

  • Session notes
  • Client dignity
  • Professional boundaries
  • Requirements for supervision
  • Clinical direction

Candidates must demonstrate competency in the above areas in order to pass the assessment. Whether they pass or fail, each applicant will receive performance comments at the end of the evaluation. On a positive note, the test can always be retaken at a later date.

The best way to prepare for the RBT competency assessment is to study the content areas thoroughly. Review basic behavior-analytic concepts and make sure they are understood inside and out. In addition, practice quizzes and exams will help you get a feel for the types of questions featured in the examination.

The 40-hour training program

The competency exam assesses content that behavior technicians learn throughout their 40-hour training program, evaluating their ability to carry out specified duties. However, it is not the only criterion for becoming an RBT. The assessment is only complete once an assessor evaluates the technician’s competency with each task. The potential RBT can then register with the BACB to take the RBT examination.

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board specifies that prospective technicians must demonstrate mastery of the terminology, implementation, and evaluation of various behavior mechanisms. The 40-hour training course must be completed before enrolling for the assessment and it must be completed within 90 days before filing an RBT certification application.

Who is in charge of administering the assessment?

The assessment can only be administered by BACB-certified personnel (BCaBA, BCBA, or BCBA-D) who have completed the minimum 8-hour supervision training. In addition to carrying out the assessment itself, the assessor must ensure the BACB's testing is proctored to required specifications, keep all assessment records, confirm that the assessment satisfies quality standards, and certify the Initial Competency Assessment. The evaluation may also be conducted by an assistant assessor. Since the assistant does not need to be BACB certified, they must always be present with the accountable (primary) assessor.

What role does an RBT Competency Assessment play?

Before becoming certified registered behavior technicians, candidates must pass an initial RBT competency evaluation. Every year, when credentialing is scheduled to expire, RBTs must undergo a competency renewal.  

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, similar jobs such as psychiatric technicians and aides are expected to expand by 12% by 2029. Similarly, social and human service assistants, who, like RBTs, require a high school diploma, have a projected job growth rate of 17%. The rate of job growth for supportive occupations like RBTs is expected to be substantially greater than the national average.

What to expect during the competency assessment?

Upon successfully completing the evaluation, candidates are expected to participate in one of three evaluation methods depending on the exact set of tasks:

  • With a child: The assessor will observe completion of specified tasks with a child and provide feedback.
  • Role-play: The assessor will watch and assess interactions with some other individual acting as a child. 
  • Interview: During a live interview, whether in a physical or virtual model, the assessor will hold a discussion of the relevant idea in detail and provide examples where appropriate.

If you do not show competence (proficiency) in a task, the assessor may give you corrective comments, and the assessment will be re-administered at a future stage to see if competency has been proven.

Commonly asked questions about RBT Competency Assessment

  • Who administers the RBT assessment test?

The RBT competency assessment is administered by a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).

  • What's on the RBT assessment test?

The RBT competency assessment covers four major content areas: Measurement, Assessment, Skill Acquisition and Behavior Reduction, Professionalism and Requirements

  • How many questions are on the RBT assessment test?

There are a total of 20 questions on the RBT competency assessment.

  • What is the passing score for the RBT assessment test?

To pass the RBT competency assessment, you must score at least an 80% on the exam. That means you can miss no more than four questions.

Conclusion

After passing the RBT competency assessment, official application for the RBT examination takes place via the BACB. After creating an account with the BACB, upload the essential documents and pay the application fees. The BACB will verify all provided information, and if all criteria have been met and successfully recorded, the BACB will authorize registration for the RBT examination. Successful completion of the examination provides RBT BACB-certification.

Songbird Therapy is a technology-enabled provider setting a higher standard for children’s autism care. With a deeply passionate team and innovative technology, we’re building a world where every child can access world-class care at home, uniquely tailored to them. If you are interested in joining the team as a RBT, please reach out to us to apply.

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