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Student Question:

Hi Will, I am a [foreign-trained] PT. I have been living in the US for 5 years now and I plan to take the NPTE in October. I was badly surprised to learn that only 26% of the internationally trained students pass the exam (first attempt)…how do you explain this incredibly low score compared to the US students?

It’s hard for me to figure out what makes it so hard for foreign (besides the language but it shouldn’t be an issue for me, my speaking is not perfect but I understand well) ?

I would truly appreciate if you have tricks to share so I can be in the 26% of lucky PT 🙂 

Thanks so much for reaching out!  Yes, you are correct that first-time pass rates for foreign-trained PT’s can be quite low.  I feel like it can be explained by a few factors:
  • In my mind, the biggest factor is the amount of time from graduation until testing.  What I typically see is that a foreign-trained PT graduates and practices in their home country for 5 years before attempting to take the NPTE.  This means that they have a lot of time to forget all of the good things they learned in PT school.
  • A secondary factor is the style and scope of their education.  Often, other countries implement different types of testing to assess proficiency.  For example, Canada’s national exam requires a practical, hands-on component whereas the USA does not.  The NPTE is also exclusively multiple-choice questions rather than vignette or story questions.
  • A final factor is the language barrier.  It can be difficult to read and understand the scientific terminology in a second language.  This is a problem for some and not for others.
As far as how to remedy the poor first-time pass rate, my biggest suggestion is to become extremely comfortable with the test content and style.  This means that you’ll review in depth all of the FSBPT’s NPTE Content Outline and take practice exams in the same style as the NPTE.  I would highly recommend going through the workbook steadily and taking practice exams in a test-like scenario.  Be sure to review every practice question that you miss or guess on to make sure that you are solid in those content areas.
I hope that helps.  Even though the pass rate is low overall, I have found that foreign-trained students who take my course have >70% likelihood of passing and >90% likelihood if they complete the course as outlined.
Happy studying!!  You’ve got this!
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