Between 80 and 90% of first-time candidates pass the National Physical Therapy Exam. However, these high pass rates shouldn’t lull you into a false sense of security that the test is “easy.” Instead, keep in mind that the people who passed–and more importantly, did well–studied hard before taking the test.
Trying to prepare for an exam as large as the NPTE can seem quite daunting. Where should you begin, how early should you start studying, and how should you break down your studying efforts?
We’re here to help you create an NPTE study schedule. While this isn’t an exact template, we do offer tips, tricks, and examples that will help you come up with a study schedule that works well for you.
Read on as we guide you through the process of creating an NPTE study schedule.
How Early Should You Start Studying for the NPTE?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. You’re going to need to think honestly about everything from your current knowledge to your ability to retain information and your other obligations.
Many people treat their NPTE study schedule like a full-time job, studying about 40 hours per week for at least three weeks. However, not everyone can do that. If you have a job or other obligations that take up a good chunk of your time, you may want to start studying two to four months (if not earlier) before the exam.
You should also think about your study habits in PT school. Did you need to study hard before each test or could you retain most of what you’d learned in class? If you know that a ton of studying is crucial for your success, give yourself more time.
Tips Before Creating Your NPTE Study Schedule
Once you’ve decided how early you want to start studying, there are a few more steps to take before putting together your NPTE study schedule. Let’s take a closer look at the preliminary steps you can take to set yourself up for success.
Gather Helpful Resources and Materials
You’re going to need things like NPTE study guides and practice exams to successfully study for the exam. Some people also benefit from taking additional classes or working with experienced tutors to get a handle on the NPTE’s thorough material.
If you think you’d benefit from taking a class or two, head to https://therapyteam.com/. They’ve got a ton of great resources to help you prepare.
Assess Your Physical Therapy Strengths and Weaknesses
Let’s break the NPTE down into individual subjects. We’re looking at:
- Cardio and pulmonary systems
- Musculoskeletal systems
- Neuro/nervous systems
- Integrated systems
- Additional systems
- PT equipment, devices, and modalities
- Safety, teaching, learning, and research
The first three subjects are considered the “Big 3” and make up the majority of the test. You’re going to want to focus on those subjects as much as possible during your study sessions.
However, it’s also important to spend more time on the subject areas that give you more trouble. Rank each subject matter on a 1-5 scale, 1 being the subjects you know best and 5 being the subjects you know least. Keep these rankings in mind as you decide upon how many hours to devote to each subject.
Take a Practice Exam
We highly recommend this step even if you think you have a good sense of your strengths and weaknesses. Head to a quiet place with a practice exam and a timer and do a practice round. Give yourself the designated five hours with one break, recreating the conditions of the exam room as much as possible.
Not only will this reveal which subjects you struggle with the most but it will also give you an idea of how difficult the test really is. This will put you in the right headspace to take your studying seriously.
Creating a Specific Schedule Per Day
The best way to set yourself up for success is to create a thorough daily schedule. Each week, try to devote at least six days in a row to studying, taking one day off to rest and recuperate.
We recommend creating a daily schedule with a ratio of 3:2:3–that is 3 parts book review, 2 parts practice questions, 3 parts practice question review. In an ideal world, we’re talking in terms of hours, but only you can decide how much time you can devote to studying every day.
Stick to the same subject area for a day at a time, rather than switching from subject to subject each day. This makes it easier to track your progress and ensure that you’re giving your weak spots their due diligence.
Make sure to schedule at least two more practice exams.
A Note on Studying The Final Week Before Your Exam
You’ve probably heard differing theories on whether cramming before an exam is a good idea or not. We’re here to tell you that it’s not.
In your final week before taking the exam, spend a few hours per day going over the material at large. At the beginning of the week, focus on the areas that give you the most trouble. The day before the exam put down the study guides and get some rest.
Pass the NPTE with Flying Colors with These NPTE Study Schedule Tips
Most people pass the NPTE because they’ve worked hard to master the exam materials. Use these tips to create an NPTE study schedule that doesn’t just help you pass the NPTE exam but gets you across the finish line with flying colors.
Veterans all over the nation are transitioning into new roles in the workforce. If you’re looking for more inspiration or help that will get you started down a new career path, take a look around.