Why is the NPTE so hard?

Do you think that the NPTE questions are hard? If so, you’re not alone in thinking this; however, despite what you may think, the questions are actually quite fair! Really you may think, how are the questions actually fair?


Your NPTE Mindset

How you perceive the exam either makes or breaks your score by how hard you think it is, even before taking or studying for the NPTE. If you think the questions are hard, then, yes, they will seem hard. However, if you think the questions are easy, then they will be easy for you and that means you’ll get more questions right. “That’s nice”, you may say, but the questions still seem hard.

Rather than looking at the NPTE questions as just questions to answer, view the questions as patients that you are interacting with and helping. Remember, the questions are written mainly off of patient scenarios and not based off of textbooks. When you can view the questions as snippets of part of an evaluation, you can tackle the exam better and more easily.

Your Mood

Feeling negative or down for the NPTE.

When your mindset towards the exam is not great, your moods will mimic the same outlook. When you are not in a good mood, you only make studying or taking the exam much harder for yourself. You’ll find that you are easily distracted with other things and wanting to just get things done without really focusing too much on what is needed. Family, friends, colleagues or anyone  around you can be affected by your mood when you have less patience and are more irritable over small things.

You’ll also be annoyed by not retaining the information or having low scores on the practice exams. You may feel bad and not happy to re-read the material you just covered or are left wondering what to focus on. You’ll kick yourself for making silly mistakes and resent knowing you could have done better. With your mood being negative, you make the learning process unpleasant and the exam much harder than necessary. And it’s easy to change that around when you are in a good mood as things go smoother and you retain the information better.


NPTE Exam Questions

One aspect of thinking that the questions are harder than they really are is based off of previous questions you have seen. When you have to think more than just recall, you tend to feel the questions are much harder in general. Of course you want the questions to be easy; however, what you actually get is a mixture of various difficulty levels presented to you and this would be similar to treating different complexities of patients.

The easy questions are ones that you can answer right away without much thought. The medium questions are a mix of some known and then where you would think a bit and this is where the guessing begins. The hard questions are where you have to use your brain a lot more and deal with unknowns and that’s where the doubt may come in.

You may think the questions are harder than necessary when you feel you don’t know all of the content material; however, you can still answer them when you are methodical by understanding the anatomy of the question and take a moment to think about what’s being asked. When you feel that there are more of the medium and hard questions, you feel that the exam overall is harder.


Your Studying Approach

Studying for the NPTE

Questions may also seem harder based on your studying approach towards the exam. If the approach was more about just passing and waiting until closer to the exam, the academic study habits of reading, memorizing and utilizing mnemonics were used. While it may have worked for classes, it doesn’t necessary work for this exam as the questions are less straightforward and more clinically based.

For the questions to make sense, taking the time to study clinically by learning how to integrate the content information with examples. Instead of reading everything, it’s learning to refer to the textbooks or study guides more as a medical chart. When you take the time to understand the information from the content and test-taking aspect, you will retain and be able to apply it towards the exam more easily.

Your Retention

One of the fears in general for any type of exams is being able to remember the information when it’s needed the most. Here’s the drawback of just relying on the academic study habits because, even though you may have studied or read the information, being able to retain the important aspects and recalling clinically can be an issue.

It’s not like you actually forgot everything you learned or read, it’s just that the exam asks you questions that are presented differently from how you actually studied. When studying one system at a time or focusing on memorizing, there is a disconnect with the content material and what the exam asks you. The academic study habits lean towards answering the easier questions or what is considered as level one of recalling basic information.

When questions require higher levels of learning, this is where clinically thinking is required in order to answer the questions. This is where the notion of “this wasn’t in the textbooks” come into play and why the questions seem harder than what was studied. Being able to integrate and relate with clinical examples helps to retain better and answer questions on the exam.


Your Test Taking Approach

When tackling the NPTE questions, the exam seems harder when starting from the very beginning of the question. Wait, ok now you don’t make sense – you’re supposed to start there, right? Actually, if you read from the first word to the last word, you will more than likely make the mistake of over-analyzing. Overanalysis is the major culprit of how you lose a lot of points on the exam. It’s also a way to make the exam harder than it’s supposed to be.

Test-taking skills and strategies tend to be neglected or not practiced regularly as it’s usually not seen as a crucial part of passing the exam compared to studying content. However, just like having the content knowledge down, knowing how to tackle the exam with test-taking strategies is actually how to get those points to go beyond the barely passing scores. When implementing test-taking skills, it helps to reduce the anxiety felt on the exams.


Finishing the NPTE

As you can see, there are many ways we make the NPTE harder than it actually is. While knowing the content material is important and being able to have good test-taking skills, the difficulty of the exam comes down to how you actually perceive it to be. In general, you control how hard the exam will be just with your mindset. Give yourself an advantage by viewing the exam with a positive mindset and getting into the zone. Let’s see how much more points you can gain by treating the NPTE as a game.

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