Woman looking at multiple missed NPTE questions

After taking an NPTE practice exam, do you see an occasional cluster of incorrect NPTE questions in a row as you review your answer sheet? If so, you’re not alone. The key to reducing the number of missed questions in a row is to know what may be causing that to happen. In this case, it’s not so much your content knowledge that is causing you to lose points; it’s more from the test-taking skills perspective. This post will focus mainly on the mental aspect of missing multiple NPTE questions.


Reasons For Missing NPTE Questions

There are several reasons why you may be missing NPTE questions in a row. The goal is for you to work on at least one of these reasons in order to score more points on the exam. Essentially, there are two categories for missing questions: mental and physical aspects, as well as the actual test-taking skills. 

Man running an NPTE marathon

Mental and Physical Aspects

Taking the NPTE is an endurance marathon and it’s normal to have mental and physical fatigue. Some of the reasons you miss questions are by losing focus, by paying attention to external factors, negative self-talk, and general fatigue. The goal is to not miss too many NPTE questions in general, especially in the later sections. It takes energy to mentally and physically focus on hundreds of questions over several hours, so you’ll want to know strategies to help you cope with that focus. 


Losing Focus on the NPTE Questions

It’s quite normal to lose focus while reading and answering the NPTE questions; however, it’s limiting the number of consecutive points lost. Some of the reasons for losing focus may be that the questions and answers are long or have multiple components. To help reduce losing points with these lengthy NPTE questions, you could break the question and answers into parts. To regain focus on this aspect, practice utilizing the highlight feature and strikethrough.

Another aspect of losing focus is when reading the NPTE questions and realizing the topic is unfamiliar or one of your areas of weakness. This may cause some test anxiety and self-doubt in answering these questions; however, focus on what you do know. Take a step back to see what pieces of information you have to work with and go from there. It is helpful to use your brain dump sheets to work through the questions and answers.

Person being distracted from the NPTE

Losing Focus From External Distractions

Sometimes you may lose focus from internal or external distractions which can break your concentration on the NPTE questions. Some possible external distraction factors are loud background noises, doors opening and closing, movement from other people or pets and a busy environment. To help reduce these external factors, practice wearing earplugs and/or noise cancelling headphones. 

Other ways would be to find a place that is quiet, position yourself so that you face a wall and have a clean desk area. Another way to reduce being distracted is putting your cell phone in a different room to simulate the testing environment at the Prometric site where your cell phone would be in a locker.


Losing Focus with Internal Distractions

Some of the distractions that can occur while taking the NPTE exam are from within you, including your mind and body. Losing focus can happen when you are feeling tired, hungry or thirsty and uncomfortable. To avoid losing consecutive points, take the exam when you are not tired, whether it’s from a busy day or not having enough sleep. Be sure you have a sleep plan to help you concentrate and focus better. This will limit the number of silly mistakes made.

If you are finding you are getting hungry or thirsty while answering NPTE questions, you’ll want to plan your meals and snacks to be balanced. Practice having a few snacks during the exam to help replenish your mind and body. Be sure to hydrate yourself enough so that you are not feeling sluggish.

Woman feeling down about the NPTE

Mind Aspect of Missing NPTE Questions

Believe it or not, your mind can help or hurt you when answering the NPTE questions. When your mind is negative in any sort of way, that’s one when you are likely to miss consecutive questions. Let’s say you self-doubt yourself on unfamiliar topics, your internal talk can distract you from answering the question correctly. This is when you may feel that the NPTE questions are actually hard. What would be best is to tell yourself that you really know enough to answer any type of NPTE question presented to you and take a deep breath. When you are able to get into the NPTE mindset with a positive attitude and a clear mind, you’ll find that you won’t miss so many questions in a row.

Thinking About Prior Questions

Now, let’s say you answer a question and move onto the next question; however, your mind is still thinking about the previous question. If you are thinking about the answer you picked and wondering whether it was right or wrong, then you are not able to truly focus on the question that is currently in front of you. This is how you can make errors on multiple NPTE questions in a row.

You can miss important pieces of information or gloss over keywords. This is usually the case when reviewing the missed NPTE questions and you find that you actually know the information but chose the wrong answer. So, after you answer a question, gently tap your finger on the table to let that question go. 


When you take the time to self-reflect on what may have caused you to mentally miss multiple NPTE questions in a row, you’ll be able to score more points on the next exam. Even if you reduce only one type of these exam mistakes, you’ll make a difference on your score. So, let’s see how many points you can gain back. 

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