NPTE Exam Information

In order to become certified as a physical therapist or a physical therapist assistant, individuals need to pass the National Physical Therapy Examination. This exam has been developed by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy to maintain high standards in the practice of physical therapy, and to ensure that professional standards are consistent from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The NPTE exam is required for licensure or certification in all fifty states.

The NPTE exam for physical therapists is divided into the following four sections: Examination (26% of the exam); Evaluation, Diagnosis, Prognosis, and Outcomes (22.5%); Intervention (41.5%); and Standards of Care (10%). The NPTE exam for physical therapist assistants is divided into the following three sections: Tests and Measures (21.3%); Intervention (60%); and Standards of Care (18.7%). On both exams, the systems of the body are covered in the following approximate proportions: musculoskeletal (24%); neuromuscular (24%); cardiovascular/pulmonary (13%); integumentary (7%); and non-system (32%). The physical therapist examination consists of 250 questions and must be completed within 5 hours; the physical therapist assistant examination consists of 200 questions and must be completed within 4 hours. There is a fifteen-minute break scheduled for the middle of the exam. Fifty of the exam questions are pre-test questions, which do not count towards a grade but are used to develop future versions of the exam. It will not be possible to tell which questions are pre-test questions. Scoring is based on the number of correct answers, so candidates should select the best answer when they are unsure. The raw score (number of questions answered correctly) will be converted into a score on a scale of 200 to 800; the scaled score takes into account differences in difficulty between versions of the exam. The minimum passing score is a 600.

Exam results will be delivered by the test administrator to the relevant licensing jurisdiction; candidates will obtain their scores from their licensing authority. The NPTE exam is administered by Thomson Prometric throughout the year at locations around the country; prospective test-takers can register at the Prometric website. Test-takers must arrive at the testing location at least thirty minutes before the examination with two forms of identification: one government-issued photo ID and one ID with the name pre-printed and a signature (a credit card, for instance).

Last Updated: 04/28/2014

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