Study Tips – Prepared for the NPTE?


PT Blog   •   October, 2017

Third year! You never thought it would arrive, but alas! You are in your third year well into the hustle and bustle of clinical rotations, studying for the PT boards exam, and managing that school/life/work balance. For most of you, you are a few weeks into clinical rotations and trying to recall Year 1 information; what was the name of that nerve that innervates serrates anterior again?

We have been there. We were in your shoes wondering if we had forgotten everything we learned. That’s part of the reason we created PT Qbank for you! We want to make it easy, efficient, and mobile in order to provide you with access to easy to use PT study information.  In the beginning, you’ll be motivated to carry your books to and from rotations each day, but as the year goes on you’d rather not have to lug a ten pound book around. Lucky for you, there’s a handy study tool in your back pocket. PT Qbank can be easily accessed from any web browser. Use PT Qbank when your patient cancelled their evaluation, at lunch, or at the gym between sets.

We want to help you succeed in treating patients and passing the NPTE with the most up to date PT study information.  Below, we’ve listed some tips to set you up for success this year.  You will be taking, and passing, the NPTE before you know it. Be prepared with these PT study tips!

  • Create a study plan:
 This will set you up for success on the NPTE, yet it’s often overlooked. Create a feasible plan for the rest of your third year until you take the NPTE. Make it work for you. Completing a rotation for acute care? Understand you may have more time than if you were on your orthopedic clinical. Break down the NPTE study outline and create sections to study each month. Don’t forget the big 3: Musculoskeletal, Neuromuscular, and Cardiovascular Pulmonary; allow yourself more PT study time for these specific areas.

  • Acquire your materials:
As the old adage goes, ‘Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.’ Useful resources include the updated content outline (effective January 2018), your orthopedic book, your neurology book, cardiovascular pulmonary notes, integumentary notes, and study books. A few we recommend are here & here.

  • Space out your studying:
You should’ve completed this in your PT study outline. Ensure that you have concentrated, short times to study for the most effective learning. Several studies demonstrates that shorts bursts of studying increased productivity, 52 minutes to be exact~

  • Take Practice Exams:
We offer a mock exam made of 200 questions. Testing yourself , via the PT Bank, on the material results in better outcomes compared to those who just study the material. Our exam will allow you to see which are your deficits are in, in order to focus on that material and ensure success with the NPTE.

  • Sign up for the exam!
Studies have shown time and again that setting an intentional plan (i.e.: I will study 2 hours every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for 6 weeks until my test date) increases your chances of success. Based on the plan you implemented above set a reasonable time frame (usually 1-3 months to reduce risk of burnout) for studying then sign up for the exam.

We hope these PT study tips prove useful and best of luck!

Review Question

How many minutes of studying is optimal to do before taking a break?


Fifty-two minutes is optimal before taking a break. Between sessions, take 10-15 minutes to reset and then study for another 52 minutes!


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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