In order to be successful for the NPTE is to first have the right approach towards the exam which is to think like a practicing PT clinically and not as a student academically.
Avoid Academic Study Habits
Most assume that the NPTE is a standardized academic exam similar to the GRE where academic study habits are good enough to pass. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth and where many examinees actually fail because of this perceived notion. The NPTE is an entry-level PT exam of making sure that each person is safe and competent to treat but it is a clinically based exam.
Below are just 5 reasons why academic studying fails to prepare those for the exam and what participants have mentioned about these reasons.
This exam requires you to go beyond academic recall of information where just pure memorization doesn’t translate to the clinically based scenarios. For instance, just being able to define and memorize terminology doesn’t help when examples are being asked both in the question or in the answers. What does help is understanding how the terminology is applied to examples based upon the situation.
“Memorizing things is just not enough. I need to know how to apply the information in real scenarios. Also, the following chapters (cover to cover) was always my way of studying. It may have worked in school… but with NPTE it is different.” Paula Pinto
“It is most important to understand the underlying concept rather than just reading the material over and over again or to memorize it. It is better to have enough knowledge and understanding of each topic.” Aarti Gajjar
2. Reading cover to cover
Reading from cover to cover doesn’t promote learning or understanding of the material. The exam is not going to cover every little detail that the study guides provide and therefore reading everything is not necessary or helpful. Majority of the time, just passively reading chapter to chapter may actually decrease any information being retained and may actually make learning harder. When just glossing over, you’ll find that many times a paragraph has to be read over which is inefficient and ineffective. Most of the time, someone will feel they already read something but still continues to miss the same information and get frustrated about having to review again.
“I read straight through. I completed one chapter before moving on to the next. I created flashcards. I always felt as though I never had enough time to get through everything thoroughly. But now I realize that is not what this exam is about.” Christina Ram
“Before I knew what I know now about how academically studying being the wrong approach, I would go through chapters from beginning to end because I was afraid I would miss something that could possibly be asked on the NPTE. In doing so, I was more anxious and overwhelmed with the amount of content to remember.” Andrea Walkes
3. Studying one NPTE system at a time
Studying one NPTE system until completion (ex: Ortho for 2 weeks) also doesn’t promote higher learning. I have heard many times from examinees that after going to another system, they forgot what they read or learned prior to and now show weakness in those areas. This makes for a back and forth and the feeling of being overwhelmed and not accomplishing a lot of different topics. When time is of the essence, most will find they run out of time of covering all the needed topics and are left guessing on the actual questions. This makes for a low score and unlikelihood of passing.
“I would study one system for 1-2 weeks and then move on to another system – which proved to be very boring and it required a lot of my motivation to study that way. My study prep was purely academic because that’s how I viewed the exam. Now I know that it is more about clinical thinking and that my academic knowledge is just the foundation that now needs to be applied to clinical thinking/scenarios.” Petra Conaway
4. Multiple Practice Exams
Taking practice exams multiple times without analyzing leads to memorization and not understanding the information that is actually presented to you. The mind will gloss over important information causing careless mistakes and increases in missed questions. Rushing through the exams or overanalyzing are other mistakes causing low scores and frustrations about the exam itself. We’ve put together some videos described here, How to Avoid NPTE Mistakes Video Series that goes into more detail.
“I took multiple tests to try to help me in preparing and memorizing why I got the answer wrong instead of understanding test taking strategies as well as thinking critically about patient care. I got in a habit of memorizing things and that just doesn’t work on the boards.” Dan Hemmings
5. Cramming and procrastinating
Cramming and procrastinating leads to your mind being bombarded with the information overload that doesn’t allow for new strategies that actually can help you be better hard to process. Cramming leads to anxiety and being more stressed than necessary which decreases the scores on the exam. Part of having success is having enough time to process everything to be solid.
“I crammed a lot when I was studying each week and I was very stressed out all the time. ” Rebecca Amonett
“I basically just read the entire study guide book and then two weeks before the test I realized I didn’t retain anything from just reading so I crammed information into my head. I am preparing much differently this time around.” Elisa Marinella
Learn how to change these academic study habits to a more effective and efficient clinical approach with Therapy Exam Prep (TEP).
All of these are addressed in TEP’s course by having participants think more like a PT with a clinical and practical approach towards the NPTE. These are just some of the reasons why someone is not successful on their exam. The method of eliminating academic study habits have shown to increase confidence, level of understanding of the material and improved exam scores. Learn more about how to be successful on your NPTE with TEP’s strategies!
“I learned through TEP’s course that the NPTE is a different type of exam, which requires a different form of preparation. The NPTE exam prep course teaches you to think differently and TEP really breaks things down for you.” Ana Delic, Passed, Canada