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Last Minute Advice for the NPTE

With only a few days left before the July 2015 NPTE, I thought it would be good to review a few things that might be important to remember on your test date.

Without a doubt, the NPTE is the most important test you will take in your graduate studies. This is the test that allows you to practice as a physical therapist in United States of America. With a test of this importance, it is easy to see why many students are paralyzed with anxiety going into it.

Here are a few key things that will keep you from freezing up on the exam. These are things that have helped me and thousands of other students as they have prepared for the NPTE.

  1. Read, read, read the question and then answer that question. This is perhaps the most important point of advice I have for you. Too often, we either read too much into the question or too little into the question and end up putting down an answer that only addresses part of the question. I suggest that you carefully read the stem of the question three times. The first time, you need to read the question just to get the idea of what it is asking. The second time, you read the question highlighting and looking for keywords that help you understand what it is asking. The third time you read the question, you pay special attention to the stem portion. After that, you carefully look through all of the answer options and see which one answers the stem the best. Stay focused, and only answer the question is asked.
  2. Do not let the NPTE define you— it is meant to refine you. In perhaps one of my most popular posts, I instruct students to be careful how they approach the NPTE. The mission of the board exam is to make sure that you are competent as you provide physical therapy services in the USA. It is simply a measure of your current knowledge, and not a measure of your potential. I have seen so many students become discouraged and depressed as they consider the depth and breadth of the NPTE. It is a huge test, and covers three years’ worth of material in just five hours. Rather than define yourself by this test, let it refine you. This means that you spend the appropriate amount of time and energy working to learn the material on the exam rather than just try to “game” the test. Let it become a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block.
  3. Take care of yourself first. As you approach the NPTE, be sure to keep your life in balance. This includes getting enough exercise, enough rest, and eating healthy. The body and the mind are inseparably connected, and it can be too easy at times to forget to appropriately take care of yourself. Obviously you will be spending an inordinate amount of time studying in the weeks prior to the exam, but make sure that you don’t totally neglect the other areas of your wellness.
  4. Keep your focus on the “why.” This is a huge test, and will consume your life for several months before you take it. It is important to keep focused on the reason why you are going through so much pain. For some people, this “why” is simply that they want to be able to provide for their families. For others, the satisfaction of helping patients become well is powerful motivation. Whatever your reason is, make sure that you are staying focused on that. We can endure just about anything if we have a big enough “why” to do it.

These are simply some of the tips that kept me going as I was preparing for the NPTE a few years ago. I hope that these words will give you some encouragement as you approach the NPTE.  Good luck!