Top 6 Tips for Prepping for the NPTE Exam


Physical therapy is a $33 billion industry in the United States. Each year, physical therapists perform over 300 million sessions across the country, helping lower treatment costs by up to 72 percent.

Given the solid demand for physical therapy, it’s no wonder that a career in physical therapy remains one of the most stable today. Professionals in the sector are among the best-paid nationally, earning an annual median wage of $91,010 as of May 2020.

Top 6 Tips for Prepping for the NPTE Exam

If a career in physical therapy is something you’re interested in, then you’ll need to pass the NPTE exam. No physical therapist in the US can obtain a license without obtaining the NPTE passing score.

Thankfully, the national NPTE pass rate has been impressive over the years, but you can never be too careful. Here are six practical ways to ace your NPTE exam the first time around.

1. Create a Study Schedule

A simple way to give yourself the best chance to pass your NPTE exam is to set goals to review content. As you start to study for boards, create a detailed study calendar. There’s a lot of information on how to create such a calendar online, including calendar templates that you can modify to fit your study preferences.

Get familiar with the topics that the NPTE will cover, from Musculoskeletal to Cardiovascular to Neurology, besides other systems. Be sure to include each of these topics in your study calendar. The goal should be to make sure that you’ve covered every area by the time you take the NPTE exam.

If possible, create your study calendar in such a way that you pass the boards in about ten weeks, even if you have twelve, fourteen, or more weeks to prepare for the exam. It helps to have some days blank in case something comes up that you need to tackle as you study for the test.

2. Focus on Key Areas

The NPTE exam has 200 questions, with up to 75 percent of these questions focusing on only three topics:

  • Musculoskeletal
  • Neuromuscular / Nervous System
  • Cardiopulmonary and Lymphatics

The rest of the exam focuses on the remaining five areas. It’s always a smart move to focus more on the Big Three topics, given that the vast majority of the NPTE exam questions will test these areas.

That said, don’t neglect to go through the other topics. The information these topics contain is still beneficial when getting ready for your NPTE and will still prove useful in your practice.

3. Take Online Prep Courses

Any help you can get when preparing for your NPTE is always welcome. Sure, you can study on your own and still perform well in the exam. But enrolling in an online physical therapy board exam course is a sure way to make sure you’re totally ready when exam time arrives.

These courses are incredibly flexible and convenient. They bring you in contact with vastly experienced coaches who help you see what you’re doing wrong and guide you on the path to success. They keep you accountable and provide the support you need to pass your exam in your first attempt.

4. Take Several NPTE Practice Exams

Another effective way to get ready for your NPTE is to take multiple NPTE practice exams before the actual test. If you have a 12-week study plan, you can aim to take as many as ten practice tests during that period. Of course, you may still feel ready after taking three or so practice tests, but taking more practice exams exposes you to a lot more NPTE practice questions, which can help you better identify your weak and strong areas.

Some learners go as far as taking the 2 PEAT exams during preparation for NPTE exams. 2 PEAT exams are basically retired NPTE tests. These practice exams can prove valuable in helping get you ready for your actual exam.

After each practice exam, set aside time to review each question. Find out why you got the question right or wrong, and reread your prep books to take all guesswork out of your answers the next time you encounter a similar question.

5. Be Wise When Using Supplemental Study Materials

There are countless top-notch NPTE study materials available for students, but there’s hardly enough time to go through all of them. If you only have ten weeks to get ready for the NPTE, you need to be careful when selecting what to use as your study material and what to ignore.

An NPTE textbook should always serve as your primary study material. You can then identify two or three other resources that complement the textbook to serve as supplements. The idea is to ensure you have enough material to prepare for the exam without getting overwhelmed.

6. Avoid Distractions While Studying

Designate a distraction-free study environment to get ready for your NPTE exam. A quiet study area is best, whether at home or elsewhere. If you study at home, prepare a conducive space where you can study each day at a given time.

Eliminating distractions can mean deleting social media apps from your phone, so you can focus exclusively on studying as you prepare for the exam. You can also decide to keep all electronics shut unless you’re using them for studying. If you’re constantly bothered by your neighbor’s barking dogs, noisy home renovations, or constant loud music from your roommates, The Quietest has excellent tips on how to soundproof any room so you can study in peace! The point is to do whatever is necessary to ensure you have a distraction-free environment.

Ace Your NPTE Exam by Preparing Well

Excelling in your NPTE exam lays a great foundation for your physical therapy career. The surest way to have an easy time during the NPTE is to make sure that you’ve prepared well before exam day. With the tips we’ve recommended in this guide, you can be sure to pass your NPTE in the first round.

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