What should the last month NPTE preparation be like? Studying smartly and effectively, including the last few weeks of reviewing. Most importantly, preparing yourself mentally and holistically including getting enough sleep, eating right and building up your endurance to sit for this marathon exam. There’s more than just knowing content as you want to be able to perform your best on the actual exam day.


When we feel we need to hurry up the NPTE preparation and learn everything this actually increases our stress and irritability while trying to retain information better. What you’ll find is that the ramp-up doesn’t actually reduce stress or test anxiety, but quite the opposite. This is especially true when cramming a lot of material in, going through intensive boot camps that overload your brain or taking practice exam after practice exam. These learning activities create the feeling that you are going to lose the information if you don’t keep yourself busy. What you’ll find is that your brain is already full and the feeling you’ll miss something creates more anxiety and doubt.   

girl using sticky notes for NPTE preparation

3 – 4 Weeks Prior to the NPTE

This is the time where you want to focus more on quality rather than quantity. You’ll want to begin to ramp down on your NPTE studying and ramp up on taking care of yourself. Early on in the beginning of the month prior to the exam, here’s your last chance to learn anything new as you want to make these days count. 

What to Study NPTE Preparation

Utilize the sandwich approach of hitting last-minute weaker topics with stronger topics during this portion of NPTE preparation. This will be the last time you have a chance to study new areas and allow for your brain to process and retain that information for the exam. What you want to focus on are the common conditions or important concepts that would make an impact on your score. The goal is that you gain an understanding at the general level in order to apply your knowledge to specific scenarios. Remember at this time, it’s not about looking up fine details that are most likely not to be tested.

taking an NPTE practice exam on the laptop

NPTE Practice Exams

At this point, build up your endurance to see how well you are mentally and physically prepared to sit for this exam. Limit yourself to taking a practice exam only once a week. Be sure you are simulating the day by practicing with full-length NPTE practice exams that include that extra section of 50 questions. This is important so that you are not losing points due to fatigue during the last section or running out of time.


Focusing on Yourself

Mentally

It’s normal to feel some anxiety and nervousness towards the exam as the day gets closer. However, it’s the time to focus on your success rather than any “what ifs” or self-doubts. If you have taken the exam previously, this is definitely not the time to think about the past NPTE preparation as that will just make your anxiety worse. Right now, focus on saying positive affirmations such as “I have passed the NPTE!” It’s better to have an active voice rather than a passive or future voice such as “I will pass the NPTE.” That way you can be sure you train your brain to be confident in your choices rather than focusing at some future point in time: maybe I will, I hope. 

Physically

Building up your sitting endurance will be key when taking this important PT exam. This includes making sure your core is tight, you’re sitting upright and not letting your head draw your shoulders forward. In other words, keep yourself from slouching. It’s hard to sit for hours at a time without movement, so practice some pressure relief techniques in your seat. The goal is that you can do this without being noticed and also to help relieve muscle tension.

girl image visualization at night

Holistically

Being awake the night before doesn’t produce great results for the exam. This is the time to start working on your NPTE sleep plan so that you can be restful just before the exam. Getting enough sleep is crucial for you if you want to have better mental focus, physical endurance as well as able to cope with the exam experience. Going to sleep a little earlier also helps you to practice calming your brain from thoughts that could keep you up. 


1-2 Weeks Prior to the NPTE

The last few weeks before the exam, your NPTE preparation focus should be more about reviewing important areas and preparing yourself for the actual day. This is when you want to begin shifting away from content and gain more on mentally preparing yourself for this exam marathon.

girl sitting and NPTE studying with books

What to Study NPTE Preparation

There shouldn’t be any new material you are learning at this point during the last few weeks of NPTE preparation before the exam. The focus should be more on just reviewing, still utilizing the sandwich approach of weaker areas and then stronger areas. This is also the time to practice writing out and utilizing brain dumps to help you on the actual exam day. Keep in mind that the laminated boards will be smaller than legal size paper and you’ll only get to use one side. You’ll want to practice with a pen that would be similar to the whiteboard marker so you can adjust and see how legible your writing will be. You’ll want to avoid any studying or reviewing the day before the exam as this is time to rest your brain.

NPTE Practice Exams

During the last few weeks, focus more on NPTE missed questions rather than taking a lot of practice exams. To maintain your confidence up, don’t take a practice exam the day before the actual exam. When looking at missed questions, focus on picking out keywords and correlating them with simpler terms or examples. At this point, it’s not so much about learning or why an answer is correct or wrong, but rather being able to recognize patterns from the test-taking point of view. This helps to avoid the common mistake of overanalysis and helps to keep the information at face value.


Focusing on Yourself

Mentally

As the NPTE day gets closer, this is the time to practice visual imagery about how you want the day to be like. The idea is that you can overcome any possible obstacles that are thrown your way by being proactive rather than reactive in a given situation. Taking the time to envision how you’ll be able to handle different types of questions or answers will help to reduce stress and anxiety towards the exam. This also helps to calm your mind at night as you lie in bed before going to sleep. What you want to focus on are the positive aspects of how well you’ll perform. This includes knowing you did all you could to study and anything unknown you’ll be able to answer with ease.

guy staring at hamburger for meals

Physically

To help with your energy and focus, you’ll want to plan out your meals and snacks. What you’ll want to do is to stick with familiar foods and portions that settle well in your stomach. A common complaint when taking exams is having mental fatigue during the exam, especially towards the last section. You’ll want to be sure you can sustain your focus with balanced snacks (more protein and fewer carbohydrates) and avoid high sugary and caffeinated drinks. To help with hunger during the exam, you’ll want to incorporate enough protein that can help you last a few hours. Taking the time now to figure it out helps to improve your physical endurance towards the exam.

Holistically

In order to have a great performance on the NPTE, you’ll want to be able to reduce any stress or anxiety towards the exam. When relaxed, you can think better, work out what the question is asking and being able to pick out the answers in a more logical way. Each day, you’ll want to incorporate an activity that allows your mind and body to relax. Choose something that brings you joy or makes you smile and puts you at ease towards the exam. When you are feeling good, you’ll have a better outcome and see an increase in scores. 


girl sitting on the floor mediating

Overall, take the time now to give yourself a mental, physical and holistic edge towards passing the PT exam during the last month of NPTE preparation. Remember, there’s more to this exam than just knowing the content knowledge: it’s also about how you can beat the NPTE. For additional resources and details about reducing anxiety, I recommend reading “Dealing with NPTE test anxiety.” Did you enjoy or relate to these exam insights? If so, let me know as I’d love to hear how these tips helped you be prepared!

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