Do I need to write the exam?

This answer requires you to consider a few elements such as where did you graduate from, where do you want to practice. The National Occupational Therapy Certification Examination (NOTCE) can serve as eligibility criteria for CAOT membership as well as registration for a provincial regulatory organization.

Occupational therapists are regulated health professionals in all Canadian provinces. Each province has a provincial regulatory organization responsible for regulating the practice of occupational therapy. When you apply to become registered to work as an occupational therapist in a specific province, it is important to note that each provincial regulatory organization has its own set of regulatory requirements.Please contact the provincial regulatory organization for the province in which you wish to work to obtain its specific requirements ( eligibility requirements ).

If you do not pass the NOTCE, it is the provincial regulatory organization that will determine the conditions under which you may be employed as an occupational therapist. It may specify how many times you may attempt the examination for registration purposes.

There is no reciprocity amongst countries with regard to certification exams i.e. a successful outcome of the NOTCE will not allow you to practice in the US or elsewhere without meeting their requirements, including their certification exam.

Can I write the exam on a date other than those listed?

No. The NOTCE is only offered twice a year, in July and November. Non-Saturday sittings are offered for religious reasons only (complete Special Accommodation application). If you have to postpone or withdraw from the exam, you must wait until the next scheduled exam sitting.

Who creates the NOTCE?

The exam is developed by the CAOT Certification Examination Committee (CEC). The CEC consists of CAOT members from regions accross Canada and an expert in test and measurement in education. At least two of the committee members must be bilingual (French/English). Committee members represent occupational therapy practice in the areas of clinical, academia, management and consultation. The tasks of the CEC are as follows:

  • Generate the exam
  • Review and update documentation
  • Ensure reliability and validity of exam
  • Initiate relevant research
  • Provide semi-annual reports to the CAOT Board of Directors

Are there any resources to help me prepare for the NOTCE?

Yes, the following are resources currently available:

NOTCE Resource Manual (over 100 practice questions)

Profile of Practice of Occupational Therapists in Canada

The NOTCE Study Guide and Practice Exam are resources made up of sample questions reflective of the NOTCE. The NOTCE Practice Exam does not offer answers, only results are given to you at the end of the practice exam.

The NOTCE "Ready for Work" Bundle. Includes the NOTCE Study Guide, NOTCE Practice Exam, first year CAOT membership* with professional liability insurance. 
- BONUS- you will also be given access to the original NOTCE Study Guide and Practice Exam (TOTEM/TOTE), which provides you with 200 extra exam questions!
- BONUS: With the purchase of the Bundle, you are eligible to receive free professional liability insurance for the month of September. Please contact for details.

The NOTCE Online Prep Class  assists candidates to prepare for the NOTCE through online group discussion of practice questions.

Booklist of frequently used textbooks in Canada. The list is a resource and should not be construed as the definitive source for the NOTCE.

Can I practise as an occupational therapist before writing the exam?

Provincial regulatory organizations may have a category of provisional registration where you can practise occupational therapy under supervision while you wait to write the examination. Please contact the appropriate regulatory organization where you wish to practise to find out about any provisional registration that they may offer. The provincial regulatory organization may require that you submit proof of your eligibility to write the CAOT exam as part of the requirements for provisional registration.

How do I submit proof of eligibility to write the NOTCE to my provincial regulatory organization?

Canadian graduates

The statement of candidacy letter is sent by e-mail upon your request, however, first your school must confirm directly with CAOT that you have completed all of the degree requirements. Canadian occupational therapy programs send the confirmations automatically to the CAOT National Office each spring and fall. If the provincial regulatory organization needs a copy of your statement of candidacy, you will need to fill out a request form for CAOT to issue your letter. Please see application forms.

Internationally educated candidates

When you pass the SEAS assessment from ACOTRO , please have your provincial regulator send a confirmation to

How many times can I attempt the CAOT exam?

As of October 1st, 2014 exam candidates will have a total of three opportunities to successfully pass the NOTCE. Candidates who have already attempted the NOTCE prior to October 1st, 2014 will have three more opportunities to write the exam. If a candidate does not succeed in passing the NOTCE after three attempts, the candidate will no longer be eligible to write the NOTCE.

Research supports the rationale behind this policy and demonstrates the fact that three attempts allow candidates a fair opportunity to pass the NOTCE, while limiting the number of false positives that are likely to occur after three attempts.

Please note, provincial regulators will have limitations on the number of times you can write the exam based on having a restricted/provisional licence. Please contact your provincial regulator for more details.

How do I withdraw from the exam?

All requests for withdrawal from the exam must be made in writing at least two (2) weeks prior to the exam date. The deadline for any withdrawal is two (2) weeks prior to the exam date. You can make any of the following requests for withdrawal.


You can withdraw from the exam completely and receive a 50% refund of the exam fees you paid.


You can only postpone the exam twice. You must write the next scheduled exam or the subsequent one.

Extenuating circumstances

All requests for withdrawal due to extenuating circumstances must be in writing with supporting documentation. Refunds or postponement may be provided at the discretion of the Executive Director. Circumstances that fall into the category of extenuating circumstances include illness and a death in the family.

What is the refund policy for withdrawal from the exam?

You will be refunded 50% of the examination fee paid if CAOT receives written notification of such withdrawal a minimum of two (2) weeks before the exam date. If you are unable to write the examination due to other extenuating circumstances, not including travel to the exam site, you may apply for a refund. You must submit written evidence of the circumstances to CAOT. The amount of any such refund will be at the discretion of the CAOT.

When do I get my exam results?

You will be notified of your examination results by mail approximately six (6) to eight (8) weeks after the exam date. Two weeks before the exam results are ready, CAOT will confirm your mailing address by e-mail. Results will NOT be provided by telephone, fax or email for reasons of confidentiality.

Can I appeal my exam results?

During the scoring process, all unsuccessful exams are hand-scored a second time to ensure accuracy. If you think that there were issues that affected your exam performance, you must appeal within fourteen (14) days after the exam day.

Appeals on the basis of extenuating circumstances

If you experience ill health during the exam and continue to write the exam, or believe that there were administrative issues on the examination day that significantly impaired your performance, you can appeal on the basis of extenuating circumstances. Appeals consist of a letter, supporting documentation and an administrative fee of $50.00.

Appeals on the grounds of ill health MUST be received in the CAOT office no later than 14 days after the exam day. Appeals on the grounds of administrative issues MUST be received in the CAOT office no later than 14 days after the exam day. Such appeals are NOT considered once the exam results have been mailed to the candidates.

In the event that a comprehensive case review indicates that the procedures or ill health likely would have significantly affected the candidate’s results, the candidate will be permitted to repeat the certification examination without the reviewed examination being counted as a failure. The outcome of the investigation of an appeal on the basis of extenuating circumstances will not include overturning a fail to a pass score.

In the event of a successful appeal for administrative reasons, the appeal fee will be refunded and the fee for next sitting of the examination may be waived.

View Policy

How is the passing score of the exam determined?

All items are equally weighted. Correct responses are worth one (1) mark; incorrect responses are worth zero marks. The passing score for the CAOT exam is a scaled score of 290. Candidates who correctly answer more items than are required to pass the examination will obtain scaled scores that are between 290 and 450. Candidates who did not correctly answer enough items to pass will obtain scaled scores between 100 and 289. The passing score for the examination is determined through a systematic process of rating item difficulty conducted by subject matter experts. The number of correct items needed to pass varies slightly for each exam sitting. In order to achieve a passing score of 290, the pass mark (near 70%) is based on criterion referencing. The results are not bell curved.

This document will provide you with information about what to expect on exam day.  

Ce document vous fournira des informations sur ce qui vous attend le jour de l'examen.

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