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“Trick” questions on the NPTE (and how to crack them!)

Have you ever wondered if there are “trick” questions on the NPTE?

As you can guess, my use of the quotations indicates that they’re really not trick questions trying to trip you up.

If you’re like most students, it’s pretty much a given that you have encountered trick questions along your way.  Usually these come from professors who are really keen on making sure that they drive home a crucial point.  Occasionally, you’ll find one on a practice exam that really makes you think.

Over the years, I’ve found that most of these “trick” questions really just require one particular key insight to make sure that you answer them correctly.

Regarding the NPTE specifically, here are a few categories of “trick” questions that you may encounter:

  1. “What would you do next” questions. Classic fodder for the NPTE include questions that make you think like a therapist.  They ask you what you would do next in a given situation.  Frequently, these questions ask you to make a decision that would affect the patient’s outcome.
    1. Solution: Always work with a patient in this order—Examine, Evaluate, Diagnose, Treat, and then reevaluate.  Sometimes a question will ask you what to do next and will have an option for Examination and Intervention.  Always examine/collect data before beginning interventions.
  2. Refer to the physician questions. When do you need to refer to a physician?  When do you need to call 911?
    1. Solution: Always refer to a physician when the patient scenario is outside the physical therapist’s scope of practice.  Most often, this is for vitals and findings that are outside of normal parameters and may indicate more serious illness.  Only stop treatment and call 911 if it is a life/death emergency, such as suspected stroke or heart attack.
  3. Most/Least/Best/Worst. Don’t you hate it when you put down the correct answer to the wrong question?
    1. Solution: Read the question carefully, taking special note of keywords like MOST/LEAST, etc.

Almost always, the “trick” question simply requires a careful reading and thorough approach.

Be careful—read the questions carefully—put down the most effective/direct answer.

Simply following those rules will help eliminate most of the stress that may come from “trick” questions on the NPTE.

Happy studying!