Here we are again, that time of year during which all new PT grads are cramming, studying and anxiously awaiting the upcoming National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE). Whether you’ve chosen to spend the time between graduation and the big test at work (and finally getting a paycheck) or taking a well-deserved break following three years of enigmatic and exhaustive education, the time has come to buckle down and get over one last hurdle. While it may seem at times an impossible task, know that there have been many before you that have gone through the trouble of learning what to do and what not to do in order to ensure success on the upcoming NPTE.
Below are six tips aimed to reduce anxiety and improve efficiency in studying to help you land that long awaited license:
If you fail to plan you plan to fail. Understand the breakdown of the test and allocate time appropriately. If you see that you have areas of weakness in the practice tests, increase study time as needed and detract from areas you have more confidence in. There’s only a limited amount of time to study, so make sure to spend it as efficiently and disciplined as possible.
Gone are the days of study groups and lecture halls. Unless you’re lucky enough to now be living near some of your old classmates, you’ll likely have said your goodbyes at graduation. Take some time to find a place without distractions to hit the books and embrace the solo study lifestyle. You’ll likely take the test at a quiet desk with three walls and computer. If you’re not used to that environment before sitting for the test, then you risk extra distractions you otherwise would not have had to deal with.
Find the time you’re most efficient and maximize your potential during that time. If you know you can only concentrate for 2-3 hours a time before you start to get distracted, then stop studying. Take a break and come back to things when you’re fresh. Not all hours of studying are equal – if you’re dedicating time to studying, make sure you spend the time studying.
Not all body systems or domains of practice are represented equally. Know the breakdown of the test and plan accordingly in your studies. For example, the musculoskeletal system aims to make up between 51-60 questions on the test while cardio pulmonary and lymphatic systems combined aim to make up only 23-28 questions on the test. While question content will vary from test to test, the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) publishes a breakdown of the acceptable ranges for each body system that was last updated in January of 2018.1 Know the breakdown and plan your hours where they will have the most impact.
You’re about to be a licensed physical therapist so you know the benefits of a moving body! When studying, get up every hour, on the hour, and get your blood pumping.
You’ve invested egregious amounts of money and time to nationally accredited institutions and individuals for three years in preparation for this one test. They knew it was coming just as well as you and have literally made it their life’s work to prepare you. Trust in all of the hard work that has been put into getting you this far.
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1. “NPTE-PT Test Content Outline, Effective January 2018.” Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy, 2018, www.fsbpt.org/Portals/0/documents/free-resources/ContentOutline_2018PTT_20170126.pdf?ver=2017-01-26-183932-413.