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High jumperHey everyone,

Here we stand with another NPTE behind us.  The April 30 exam has passed and everyone is patiently (or not so patiently) awaiting the results.  It can be very nerve-racking to just sit and wait for your scores.  I remember calling my state licensing agency several times in the interim period because I was so anxious to hear how I had done.  It turns out (I didn’t realize it at the time) that the scores are reported to the jurisdiction 5 business days after the exam.  The individual score reports are then available to the student 10 business days after the exam.  The dates for the April 30 NPTE are:

  • May 7—Scores reported to the state jurisdictions
  • May 14—Individual score reports are available (but only free for 30 days—be sure to take advantage of the report)

On the appropriate date, you can go to this link to check the status of your free score report.

What to do if you pass

If you passed the exam (with at least a 600/800 score), now is the time to celebrate.  Your hard work has paid off, and you can now begin to help rehab your clients and actually get paid for it.  That was a momentous occasion for my wife and me—I was finally going to get paid real money to do something that I had been paying to do for several years.  Oh, the irony of PT school.

What to do if you failed the exam

If your score came back less than 600/800, you’re likely going through various stages of grief and pain.  You studied hard and paid a lot of money to take the exam—it is incredibly frustrating to hit a wall in your progression.

I get asked all the time, “What do I do now?”  Here are a few suggestions if you didn’t pass the NPTE:

  • Take a day or two to recover and do something fun—get your mind off the pain.  Many people are embarrassed to have not passed, especially when their classmates are all celebrating on Facebook.   Remind yourself why you want to be a physical therapist and try to keep in mind your inspiration.
  • Refocus—thoroughly review your score report and look for any trends that may have cropped up.  Some people struggle with test fatigue and score poorly on the last 2 sections while others have difficulty with an entire category.
  • Recommit—create a study schedule that addresses your top areas of weakness and attack them with a vengeance!  There is no compensation for lack of knowledge of the material, so hit the books hard.  Write out a schedule and stick to it.  Spend about 4 hours each day studying and reviewing.
  • Practice—take numerous practice exams in a “test environment.”  If it’s test fatigue that kills you, work on your test endurance.  Review the practice questions until you know the answer and rationale so well you could recite it in your sleep.

Too often, students of mine say that they are familiar with a particular subject but really don’t have the material thoroughly learned.  A quick test of this would be to have you start writing as much information as possible about some common diagnoses.  If you can’t quickly rattle off examination, evaluation, differential diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention for common diagnoses, you’re in trouble.  I recommend you make tables, doing this for each diagnosis and injury you can find.  You’ll be so glad you did—all of the reviews I get from my Mastermind Study Groups where I lead you through this process describe how much better organized each student is after going through this process.  My firm belief is that most students struggle with having enough structure and organization in their studies.

Whatever method you use to study for the next exam, make sure you have a plan and that you get started sooner than later.  I have reminded many people that becoming a physical therapist is not easy—if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.  This exam is hard but doable.  Keep working hard and you can beat it.

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