NPTE Study Plan

PT Blog   •   June, 2018

May the countdown to the NPTE begin! For most of you, graduation has passed and another immense hurdle is behind you; congratulations!!! However, one of the greatest hurdles is still ahead for most of you, the NPTE. As this is another factor for you becoming a licensed physical therapist, it’s time to race to the finish line and keep your eyes on the prize. I remember when I was there. I was worn out from taking our school’s mock exam, graduation, then trying to find a job at the same time felt so overwhelming. One of the worst things you can do is focus on what you haven’t done, and instead focus on what you can do.

We are here to help.  Outlined below is a general study outline I created for myself 4 years ago. However, realize that as an individual you may be great at different subjects, so take that into account when utilizing this tool.  We are here to help you succeed, so please take advantage of our NPTE Qbank study questions as well. You can create a mock random examination from these Qbanks as well as focus on specific areas that you are not as strong in. See here and here for how much each subject will be weighted in the NPTE.

NPTE Study Plan

  • Week 1: July 1
    • 7/1: Take PEAT (or other practice exam – we recommend our PT Qbank Mock exam or O’Sullivan) like you would at the testing site. No cellphone, headphones on, two breaks, etc… No distractions. Also, remember to pace yourself (this is a timed exam) and that the clock will continue to run for bathroom breaks.
    • 7/2: Review the rationales for questions missed, and write down a list of your weak areas. Try to be concise with the information and trim down only the necessary information and write it down.
    • 7/3-7: Focus on 2-3 areas of weakness discovered after taking the exam. Read, then quiz yourself with qbank questions to reinforce the information.
  • Week 2: July 8
    • 7/8: Take second practice exam (another PEAT, O’Sullivan, or mock question quiz)
      • Another tip, try to take these exam at the same time you will start the NPTE. Simulating the same time/environment will make you more comfortable and less stressed on test day.
    • 7/9-7/14: Review 2-3 areas of weakness, even if that includes reviewing items from last week. This is imperative if these are systems with a high percentage of test questions on the NTPE.
  • Week 3: July 15
    • 7/15: Third practice exam! You know the drill by now.
    • 7/16-7/17: Review, review, review.
    • 7/18: Fourth practice exam – this is best to take 5 days prior to the exam, so for some of you this may be 7/17). Make sure this exam includes all areas of weakness found from exams 1-3. You can make your own via our Qbank or other test questions, just ensure this consists of 200 questions.
    • 7/19-7/21: Review areas of weakness. If you are not taking the NPTE, until 7/25 then you can review one extra day until 7/23.
  • Week 4: July 22
    • 7/22: Memorize, memorize, memorize. Lab values, nerve roots, myotomes, drugs. I will focus on this in another post, so make sure to check back!
    • 7/23 or 7/24 (the day before your NPTE test date): relax! Watch a movie, play outside, exercise, rest.  You have prepared for this moment for the past 3 years, at this point you either know it or you don’t. Allow your brain a rest day so you can wake up tomorrow ready to conquer the NPTE!

We are here to help, so feel free to reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter with any questions pertaining to the NPTE, PT Qbank, or general physical therapy examination questions. For those of you who like more specific study tactics I have two more upcoming posts in regard to specific areas of focus and memorization items to review. Best of luck!!

Photo Credit: Curtis MacNewton on Unsplash

Review Question

What 2 systems make up the greatest percentage of NPTE test questions?


Musculoskeletal system (approximately 51-60 questions) followed by Neuromuscular system (approximately 44-50 questions).


About the Author:

Ashley Theobald, D.P.T. – Ashley was born and raised in a small town in Alabama. She attended the University of South Alabama and was an advanced undergraduate student completing her Bachelor of Science degree in pre-professional health sciences in 2012. She then graduated with her doctorate in physical therapy in 2014. During her first year of PT school she met and married her husband, Ben. They moved to Nashville, TN where she worked for 3 years in an outpatient clinic full time and at Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital PRN. She is now working for ATI Physical Therapy full-time in Greenville, SC. She has been an avid health and fitness fan playing softball growing up, tennis in high school, and completing 2 half-marathons in college. She enjoys traveling overseas and has completed 2 short-term medical mission trips for physical therapy in the Dominican Republic (2013) and Haiti (2015), with intentions of returning yearly.
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