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Test Taking Tips for the NPTE

by Jasmine Marcus, PT, DPT


In my studying for the NPTE and today, in part two, I’m sharing test-taking tips for the NPTE.

Along with being didactically challenging which you've planned for by studying, the NPTE is also psychologically challenging. You most likely feel that there is a lot riding on passing the NPTE, which is true in some sense, but false in others. You have been preparing for the NPTE for 3 years now and have been dedicated and focused on studying since graduation (or are about to get started depending on when you read this article).

The NPTE is a long test, a psychological battle, and besides studying, there are several things to keep in mind while taking it:

Remember the obvious

Dress in layers, bring a good snack for your break, and read through every possible answer before selecting your choice. You’ve taken multiple choice and standardized tests before, so don’t psych yourself out. You’ve done this, and done this well before. Make sure to read everything the NPTE tells you about test day so that you go in fully prepared.

Expect at some point to feel like you’re failing.

A co-worker told me before the test that at some point during the exam, everyone feels like they’re bombing. This advice was invaluable during the bleakest moments of the test. At some point, your eyes will glaze over as you’re stuck on a difficult question contemplating what eight more weeks of studying might feel like. Take a deep breath, remember the feeling is normal – the vast majority of first-time test takers pass – and get back to work.

Similarly, remember that no one has ever gotten 100%. NO ONE.

The likelihood of getting every question right is minimal. Anyone who does typically goes on to write the textbook on exam prep (Note: This part said that no one has received a "perfect score" - however from community feedback, we found that people do get perfect scores... go figure!), so don’t sweat the question about blood pressure that you don’t quite remember. It’s just one of a couple you’re bound to get wrong since perfection isn’t even on the table. And look, the goal of taking the test is NOT to get 100%, it's to pass, get your license, and start your career.

The NPTE has questions that, put plainly; you just are not going to get right. If you run into a question that you don't know the answer to or a series of questions for which you are not confident you chose the right answer, that's ok! Move on, and concentrate on the challenge in front of you. Keep your focus on the present moment, on the one single question that you need to answer at any given time and you will do great!

50 questions don’t count

Fifty questions are in development and don’t count towards your score, so every time you encounter a crazy question, tell yourself that it is a development question that won’t count anyway. Between 50 questions that are not scored and a few that you have to get wrong (since there’s no such thing as perfection), you have a good 75 questions or so to be unsure about before you even start to worry.

Take a good picture

At the beginning of the test, the testing center will take your picture for ID verification purposes. Little did I know that this picture would pop up, again and again, every time I start or end my break. If you’re frowning and looking annoyed like I may have appeared in my picture, it can be quite a downer every time your face reappears. Instead, as I have told numerous people who took the test after me, smile and look happy to cheer yourself up at breaks. It may sound silly, but it works.

Celebrate afterward

Since I had already started working on a temporary license, I had to go to work the day after. And because I had returned home to take the test in the same spot where I’d taken the GREs (I wanted to use a familiar testing location), I had a five-hour bus ride waiting for me right after the test. After sitting for five hours to take the test. I wouldn’t recommend that day to anyone, so instead, go out to dinner or have a few drinks and pat yourself on the back for having studied so well for the past eight weeks.

Use these 6 test-taking tips for the NPTE and you will perform like a champion!

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