Occupational therapy is a hands on profession; however, many of the skills one needs are hard to test on paper. My school has chosen to test these skills through lab practicals. Typically, students are paired up and told to perform different skills on each other. Ideally clients would be brought in, but that is rarely practical and sometimes unethical.
There are many benefits to lab practicals (especially compared to paper testing), but there are drawbacks. One is they are time consuming to perform. Often it leaves students hanging around the building, sometimes for hours. Another issue is the student being the client knows what the student practitioner is looking for and typically makes it easy. In one of my practicals my "client" always knew what position to get into, and sometimes naturally got into that position without me asking. That is not going to happen in real life. Finally, these situations are very controlled. Even when the "client" is instructed to act up they are still usually on the practitioner's side. Even if in the clinic, one is lucky enough to have the perfect client there are still the issue of distractions from other staff and clients as well as missing materials. Don't get me wrong I appreciate my school giving me the time and encouragement, but I wish there was a more realistic way to test. I guess we are slowly building our way to fieldwork. It would probably be too overwhelming otherwise.