Decompressing after the NPTE

Great!  You have now completed your NPTE! Pat yourself on the back; you can now check off that you have taken one of the most important exams for your career. Now that you are done with the exam, that part of the roller coaster ride is over. However, you may feel you are left hanging until the next part of the ride comes to an end which is getting your NPTE results next week. 

While you may feel relieved after finishing the NPTE, you might have some lingering thoughts and emotions afterward about the exam. This very exam that you just sat through, physically may have felt like you ran a 10k marathon or that you just plowed through a brick wall. The emotional side may have you feeling a variety of emotions similar to being bipolar: up and down– the relief that it’s over (yay!) to oh no, gotta wait for the results (time to worry). 

Smiley

Keeping Your Mindset Positive After Taking the NPTE

It’s easy for your mind to wander in a million different ways: rethinking, re-playing the day–however, it’s not fruitful to do that. The unknown only creates more anxiety that is not necessary and creates havoc on your physiological system. Just know that the exam is done, so let it go. There’s nothing you can do now after you have submitted the exam. So rather than dwelling on the past, let’s have you focus on a positive outcome or how you want life to be after passing the exam. Shifting your mind will help lead to changes coming your way.

Don’t Ask Anyone and Definitely Don’t Share with Others

If you haven’t taken the exam, don’t even ask those that have taken it about the exam–the last thing you need to do is to jeopardize the person who just took the exam and your chances to sit for your own exam. In reality, it doesn’t matter what the other person thinks or feels because each exam experience is going to be different and yours will be unique. 

This may be hard to imagine for most of you, but if you ask several women who have given birth what their experiences were during labor, you’ll find different answers and experiences because no two are alike, even subsequent births for the same woman will be different. What varies with each woman are the number of hours spent in labor, the contractions, how hard they felt and long they were, how long she pushed or if she needed an emergency c-section to get the baby out. Each woman has a different tolerance for discomfort which determines how much pain meds (epidural) or no meds at all she will ask for to help deliver the baby. 

Even the emotional and psychological aspects can vary, such as whether the woman yells, screams or keeps calm and quiet during the whole process. This rollercoaster of emotions is the same thing with your exam, so avoid comparing in general with others. It doesn’t help you if another person states it was “so easy” and didn’t need to study that long or if someone else states “that it was so hard and unfair” and studied months for hours on end. What’s best is to reflect on whether you took the steps to feel confident that you had prepared enough to pass.

NPTE Question

Don’t Count How Many NPTE Questions

Just a reminder again – the NPTE is now over so there’s no reason to pull out the books (even to look up that one question that bothers you–the “oughta know” academic mindset–but really to keep your insane mind actually sane) or even think about how many questions you could have missed and the hope you that have actually passed. Forget about the silly mistake you may have made or that there were questions that you may have not studied for. Don’t rack your brain to recall (remember, you shouldn’t do that anyway) and it only makes you more anxious than necessary about the upcoming result.

Don’t cave into the looking things up; you can’t change your answer if you do realize you missed something. By looking at things, it only makes you feel worse if you realize that you changed an answer that was right and now is wrong. This may have you begin to self-doubt and lose confidence in passing by making you feel you may have missed more. Remember, you checked a box at the end of the exam that you wouldn’t recall in any form anything about the questions. The FSBPT had a disclaimer that recalling questions is not legal. So, don’t go even go there. This would purposely be self-inflicting pain and causing mental anguish. Why would you want to do that to yourself? Just let your mind and body take a break after the accomplishment of taking the test. 

This Chapter Is Done–Now On To The Next One

Congratulate yourself on accomplishing everything so far. Breathe a sigh of relief on getting through the NPTE. Now that this part of the journey is done, it’s time to close the chapter and start writing a new one. Just as the exam tests you mentally, your challenge now is to focus on the present and look forward–not backward with any “coulda, shoulda, woulda” or the “if only I had” or anything remotely possible that you blew it. Don’t waste any energy on thinking about the exam and don’t begin to worry about the results. 

Reconnecting

Give Yourself A Break And Reconnect

By now, either you drank a lot of (insert whatever you like) and yes, it’s worth it and well deserved. Just like anything else, don’t go overboard–in moderation is preferred. It’s time to allow yourself to recuperate both mentally and physically. Get the much-needed sleep that you may have been deprived of for the last few (insert the amount of time here) while studying for the NPTE. Go out, have some fun, relax for a few days. But also, don’t forget to connect with those that you inadvertently shut out for the last few weeks to months while you were preparing. I would even say you may have to apologize to some about the lack of interest, focus or giving your full attention to them. It’s time to reconnect and be who you really are–the real you without the stress. 

As much as you may think that the NPTE is testing you on just content, it’s actually testing a lot more than you may realize. This comprehensive PT exam was to see how well you endure the inner dialogue with yourself (positive or negative), how well you manage to beat fatigue, how competent you are on the foundations to apply clinically and how good you are as a test-taker. So, it’s no wonder that this exam seems like a marathon and many don’t want to face it again. 


Let me know what other inner dialogue you may have right afterward and how you can calm those thoughts to keep you sane for the next week. Learn more of what happens behind the scenes after submitting the NPTE. 

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