How to Prepare for the Physical Therapy Board Exam

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Do you want to succeed and become a valued member of the physical therapy profession?

In the past few years, the pass rate for the NPTE exam has consistently been 86%. If you want to be among the 86%, it’s essential to develop a study plan and take the exam preparation seriously.

The physical therapy board exam consists of 250-multiple choice questions that take five hours to complete. If you would like to be a physical therapist, you must sit through this test. Unfortunately, it’s pretty intimidating for some people.

Whether you’d like to take your physical therapy board exam in January, April, July, or October, you should have a solid study plan to pass the test. Below are six tips to help you better prepare for the test:

Create a Thorough NPTE Study Schedule

The NPTE exam focuses on eight essential topics from cardiovascular to musculoskeletal to neurology and other body systems. In fact, the three topics mentioned above cover a large percentage of the NPTE exam. Therefore, you can dedicate specific times for different topics to ensure you cover all of them.

When creating a study calendar, start by evaluating your strengths and weaknesses. Which topics are more challenging for you? Would you need to dedicate more time to the more challenging topics?

If you’re not doing well in specific subjects, it means you need to dedicate a little more time to them. You can also create your study calendar based on the exam’s major topics. Check each subject and their percentage in the NPTE and schedule your study time accordingly.

Whether you have 10, or 15 weeks to study and prepare, always ensure you leave three or more days blank on your study calendar. This helps you catch up on any topics you’re lagging on, and you need additional study materials.

Utilize Spaced Repetition

Spaced repetition is an amazing study tool when preparing for any exams. It helps your brain remember even the most challenging topics in NPTE. Additionally, there is a lot of research supporting this study method.

Spaced repetition is a study method that involves spreading out your study of different topics and revisiting these materials later in time. Going back to these materials and jogging your mind through quizzes, mnemonics, and flashcards is a great way of solidifying the content, keeping it in your brain for longer. This method also helps you remember and relate to any new content you study.

For instance, you can always set aside a week to do some quizzes, review challenging topics, and go through the charts. It becomes pretty easy to remember complex topics when you come back to them periodically with time.

Take Numerous Practice Exams

Another great way to prepare for the NPTE exam is by taking numerous practice tests. Spread out these exams within your study period to avoid overworking yourself. If you have ample time, take as many exams as possible.

While some people may only require three practice exams to pass the main NPTE exam, others require more practice tests. It’s also advisable to take the 2 PEAT exams. But, keep in mind that you will need to pay for these tests.

However, they are beneficial during NPTE exam prep because they were used in previous years. Go through as many PTA Exam practice questions as possible to adequately prepare yourself.

After taking the test, set a day to go through each question and review your performance.  Understand how you got different questions right and why you got others wrong.

Be Wise When Using Supplement Study Materials

Today, there are plenty of excellent NPTE study materials both online and offline. However, you have limited time to prepare for the exam. When preparing for the test, it’s advisable to use the NPTE textbook and supplement it with other great resources that complement its topics.

You can use Picmonic to enhance your memory of challenging concepts or even other advanced tools such as MedBridge to sharpen your clinical skills. These are excellent supplements to the standard NPTE study book. Using different reading resources is an excellent way to cover many topics and remember challenging ones.

Teach Others What You Know and Even What You Don’t Know

If you’re struggling to understand something, the best way to learn is through teaching others. Start by creating a study page or a small review chart to teach other classmates. When preparing to teach others, must practice in your holidays, you will synthesize the concepts into bite-down sizes and manageable summaries. 

This process forces your brain to draw out critical points within challenging topics, making them easier to understand. Talk to other students in your class and ask them if it’s okay to go through different topics with them. When teaching, you will be verbalizing the concepts, and it will be easier to remember them.

It’s also a great way to keep track of your best and worst topics. You will quickly know if you need to spend more time on different topics.

Take Care of Yourself

As a future physical therapist, you probably know how vital the connection between your mind and the body is. Therefore, it’s essential to take care of your body while preparing for the exam. If you put off staying fit while overworking yourself, you will likely set yourself up for failure as you won’t be your best self during the exam day.

Always take breaks when studying to step out and feel the fresh air. Go for a walk, a short hike, or even a jog. This will give you a chance to clear your head and get some fresh air. Preparing for a major exam is stressful; hence, you need breaks from the books and study quizzes.

Are You Ready for the Physical Therapy Board Exam?

It’s possible to pass the physical therapy board exam the first time you take it. That’s because the physical therapy board exam pass rate is relatively high, especially for first-time students. However, you need a comprehensive NPTE study schedule and supplementary reading materials for maximum preparation.

Did you enjoy this article? Check out other posts on our site for more informative tips.

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