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6 Tips for the Night Before the NPTE

by Meredith Victor Castin


It's the week of the NPTE, and many of you are busy cramming the last bits of information into your brains. While it's certainly a cram fest for the week leading up to the test, the night before the exam should be all about taking care of yourself. That does not mean you shouldn't study, but using your time wisely is key. Here are 6 night-before-the-NPTE tips to make sure you're at your very best on exam day.

1. Focus on your diet

Foods that are commonly considered "brain food" include fish, coconut oil, eggs, etc. We're not nutritionists, and we don't endorse any particular diet (some of our staff are vegetarians and others are paleo, etc). The important thing is not to deviate too much from your normal healthy diet, just in the name of cramming.

Make sure to eat a good dinner several hours before you go to sleep, and ensure that you have a healthy breakfast in mind for the morning of the test.

If you're normally an egg person, preparing a few hard-boiled eggs in advance will ensure you can have your normal meal, even if you need to have it on the go. Oatmeal-lovers can cook a pot the night before and have cut fruit set out in advance, to hasten the prep in the morning. If you need a bit of procrastination, LifeHacker wrote an awesome article about "brain food" and what it actually does to your brain.

2. Get plenty of rest

Set your alarm to allow plenty of time to wake up before the test. The last thing you want to do is be rushed to get out the door because you hit snooze too many times.

  • Don't forget to build in some time for the normal anxiety-related insomnia.
  • If you can't sleep after you get into bed, listening to a comedy podcast can help shake the jitters.
  • Whatever you do, don't have caffeine the night before your exam! An apple can provide an energy boost in the late afternoon, and you won't have the risk of being kept up all night, stressing out about the test.

3. Study if you wish

Some people say you should do NO studying the night before the NPTE. I disagree. I perform best under pressure, and my adrenaline is surging right before a test.

Read over everything once the night before the exam, and again before the test, if you have time.

4. Meditate

Meditation is a way to get your mind on board with the idea of success. Many of us have anxiety regarding test-taking, and meditation can help calm the nerves. Many options exist, so decide whether you prefer a guided meditation versus sitting solo. UCLA put together a cool list of free meditation files, including a basic body scan and one designed to promote sleep. However you decide to meditate, ensure that your visualization practice involves envisioning yourself at the testing center, confidently answering questions, and remaining calm in your surroundings.

5. Exercise, within reason

Telling a group of physical therapists to exercise is definitely preaching to the choir and, if anything, PTs may have the tendency to overdo it before a test. Exercising the night before the exam is an excellent idea (as is a morning stroll before the test, if there is time). If you over-exercise or exercise too late the night before the NPTE, though, you may wind up being too keyed up to sleep. Twenty minutes of moderate exercise will get your blood pumping without exhausting you and interrupting your chi...namaste.

6. Prepare to the point of being super nerdy

Channel your inner Leslie Knope! Make sure you have a printed, hard copy of the map to the testing center.

Relying on your phone's GPS is like asking Murphy's Law to slap you in the face with a rotten, wet fish on the morning of your exam!

Ensure that you have your forms of identification and any paperwork. Leave everything right by the door so there is zero chance that you will forget it in your nervous haste to get out the door. Leave at least 30 minutes earlier than you think is necessary. If you arrive early, you'll have extra time for a snack, last-minute pep talk, or review of your lab values/mnemonics. The last thing you want to have happen is to arrive late at the facility and be locked out.

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