NPTE Study Tips: Best NPTE Practice Exams for 2015

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If you’ve read some of my old blog posts, you know that I didn’t pass the NPTE the first time I took it. Aside from reading and reviewing a review book from cover to cover, my other mistake was not doing as much NPTE practice exams than I should have.

Taking an examination that will either make or break your career or even change your life – as much as it did mine; hails for tons of preparations. Aside from just reviewing and studying for the NPTE. You will also need to prepare yourself physically and mentally for a 5-hour long exam. I remember I only took 3 or 4 practice exams a week before my scheduled NPTE.

When I did prepare for my second NPTE, I made sure that I was physically prepared for it. I remember my mind shutting down on the 3rd hour when I took the NPTE the first time.

How many NPTE practice exams should you take?

Well for me, I started concentrating on just solely doing practice exams 3-4 weeks – on a daily basis with one day off during the week. I simulated it as close to the real thing. Having only a break every hour, eating something every break, but I also experimented on what meal I took before I did a practice exam. Just to see how my body feels and how I can make it affect my mindset. No rice or starchy carbs for my pre-meal exams! I also had a handful of practice exams that I had to repeat two to three times.

With almost 20-30 days, what practice exams are best to do?

What are the Best NPTE Practice Exams?

1. Practice Exam & Assessment Tool (PEAT) from FSBPT. This is far by the best practice exam as it has the same look and line of questioning as in the NPTE. For $99, you will have access for a two timed (5 hour) exam that you can access for 60 days, but if you need more time than that you can pay an additional $50 for an additional 50 days.

2. TherapyEd’s National Physical Therapy Examination Review and Study Guide 2015.  This new NPTE reviewer has a 600 question database from a USB where you can test yourself on  subjects and cases that you may have been having difficulty on.

3. Scorebuilders PTExam: The Complete Study Guide by Scott Giles 2014 Edition. The Scorebuilder study guide comes with three 200 question sample examination but you have to take it through their elearning website through Insight, where you enter the access code found in the front cover of the book.

4. The PT Content Master App. It costs $29.99 and it has 750 multiple choice questions that you can access anytime with your phone. I had this one too and everytime I find myself waiting in line at the bank or grocery store; I use this app all the time. Good refresher for basic information.

5. PT Online Advantage Student Version. You can purchase one exam for $40.00 or get 2 exam combo for $60. Both are full length exams and another good investment for practicing for the NPTE.

Practicing will help you hone your test taking skills and your ability to rule out each question everytime. Keep on reviewing for now and mark your practice days in your calendar.

Overview: Study the NPTE. Musculoskeletal System.

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I have started to compile the best topics to go through when studying for the NPTE. The next National Physical Therapy exam is just a couple of months away. Try to study one body system at a time. For me, I started with the Musculoskeletal system. So here’s the overview:

Musculoskeletal System

Anatomy and Physiology
  1. Muscle, Tendon, Ligament anatomy, physiology and function.
  2. OIAN and joints of major muscle groups
  3. Active and Passive Insufficiencies
  4. The beloved Force Couples on the major joints of the body
Joint Biomechanics
  1. Joint types and Muscle Lever Types
  2. Osteokinematics (Flexion. Extension, Abduction, etc…) and Arthrokinematics (Roll, slide, Glide)
  3. Open and Closed kinetic exercises and movements (Purpose for each)
Physical Assessment
  1. Special Tests
  2. Manual Muscle Testing
  3. Brachial and LumboSacral Plexus
  4. Upper Limb and Lower Limb Tension Tests
Musculoskeletal Conditions/ Common Injuries or Diseases Related to these joints/areas:
  1. Head and Cervical Spine
  2. TMJ
  3. Shoulder
  4. Elbow
  5. Forearm, wrist and hand
  6. Thoracic spine
  7. Lumbar Spine
  8. Pelvis
  9. Hip
  10. Knee
  11. Below Knee, Ankle and Foot
  1. Normal Gait
  2. Abnormal Gait Patterns (include amputee gait patterns)
Differential Diagnosis Connective Tissue Conditions and Diseases
  1. Sprains vs. Strains
  2. Tendonitis vs. Tendonosis
  3. Other diseases (Rheumatoid vs. Osteoarthritis, Scleroderma, Polymyositis vs. Dermatomyositis, Systemic Lupus Erythmatosus…)
Musculoskeletal Medical Management
  1. Diagnostic imaging
  2. Common Lab test
  3. Common Surgical Procedures
Musculoskeletal Physical Therapy Applications/Interventions
  1. Effects of exercise (benefits, soreness, fatigue…)
  2. Therapeutic Exercise (Per body part/ hip, knee…)
  3. Manual Techniques (Joint Mobilization, PNF, McKenzie)
Study and Review for the NPTE: Recommended Textbooks and Reviewers
  1. TherapyEd’s National Physical Therapy Examination Review and Study Guide 2015
  2. Differential Diagnosis in Physical Therapist: Screening for Referral 5th Edition by Goodman
  3. McGraw-Hills NPTE National Physical Therapy by Mark Dutton
  4. Orthopedic Physical Assessment 6th Edition by David Magee
  5. Therapeutic Exercise: Foundation and Techniques

Life After Passing the NPTE


Either you jumped for joy, screeched like a banshee (like I did), ran like a crazy monkey around the house (like I did) or froze with happiness while reading that one sweet word on the computer screen.

After hours and hours of reading, reviewing, analyzing and doing numerous practice examinations, you finally reap the rewards of all your hardwork.

I know I cried when I passed the NPTE. Becoming a Physical Therapist in the United States was my ticket to financial independence from being a single mom back then.

If you are like me, a foreigned trained Physical therapist. You still have to go through some hoops after passing the NPTE. And if you are like me, who lived in The Philippines and started the process from there; your journey isn’t over yet.

In my case, I had a direct employer who came to The Philippines twice a year who would take me under their wing after I passed the NPTE. I have spoken to them even before I had my NPTE scheduled. So, when I notified them that I finally made it! They started my process in getting an H1B visa and an H4 dependent visa for my son.

I passed the NPTE in May 2011, but I was granted my H1B visa in September 2012, almost a year and a half later. Well my case is different too, I passed under NYSED and had to endorse my license to Washington – and that took 7 months if I am not mistaken.  It was a long wait, but I am glad that it all happened the way that it did.

I flew to Salt Lake City first, where my employer’s headquarters was and then had to spend 10 days there while undergoing orientation and getting my social security number.


The VP of recruitment came along with his assistant who picked me up at the airport and asked me if I drive in Manila. So, when I said yes, he said, “If you can drive in Manila, you can drive anywhere.”

The following day I was back in the airport picking up a rental car for me to use. I had an awesome time driving around Salt Lake City and Park City, Utah – with all directions listed in a small notebook! I didn’t have a GPS-enabled phone then.


Going to the Zoo in Utah - by myself :D
Going to the Zoo in Utah – by myself :D


Turns out that my company usually flies in a group of therapist at a time. I was by my lonesome during my time. It actually got a little lonely – and to top it all off – I had to leave Sky in The Philippines for a while.

After my 10 days, I flew from Salt Lake City to Pasco, WA. And started work after 1-2 days of shadowing another Physical Therapist.

The first year was the hardest – especially the first few months. First of all, I didn’t know sh*t about documenting, computers are just a pain in the ass, and then there are so many times that I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing for my patients. The healthcare system is so different from what I was accustomed to – becoming a Physical Therapist in the beginning is not easy at all.

When I did my first evaluation, it took a million years to finish the documentation and the assessment. I didn’t know what questions to ask, I stuttered one too many times. It was one patient and it took me 3-4 hours to finish everything. One patient.

And I felt like a complete idiot, which led to many sleepless nights of crying and trying to cram whatever information I can, to make me become a better Physical Therapist the following day. And to top it all of, I was working in a Skilled Nursing Facility where the caseload was high at that time and I was working 9-12 hour days. I was so miserable at one point, I almost bought a ticket back to The Philippines a year into working there.

Riding the Bus in Pasco, WA
Riding the Bus in Pasco, WA

But you know what? It becomes easier. When I am stumped on something, I learned to accept the fact that I don’t know everything and I have to research on it and see what I can do for the next day. I can do evaluations almost at autopilot now, but still trying to see and assess how I can help the patient get back on his feet again.

Passing the NPTE was one of the best things that ever happened to me, and I know at one point you might question yourself when you find yourself homesick and getting swamped with paperwork and dealing with a lot of difficult people, whether it be your patient or your co-worker. But you will adapt, you will cry, you will laugh and most of all you will have integrity with the work that you do.

And that is why you are a Physical Therapist.

Happy Treating!

Registration Deadline for Taking the NPTE 2015

It is the first quarter of 2015 and I am sure that a good number of you are already preparing for taking the National Physical Therapy exam this year. Referenced from the FSBPT website, below is the schedule of registration deadlines.


1 This is the latest date that your state board can notify FSBPT that you are eligible for the examination. It is your responsibility to ensure your jurisdiction has what it needs to approve you to sit for the NPTE by this date. NOTE – Some states may have earlier application deadlines.

2 To view and download the free candidate score report, go to Check the Status of My Request on the date listed in the table above. The free score report will remain viewable for 30 days. After 30 days reports may be purchased at the standard fee for an Individual Score Report.

3  The July PT examination will be given on 2 consecutive days. Candidates registering for this exam will automatically be assigned to a test date during registration.

Please visit the FSBPT website for more information and to keep yourself updated.

Best Books to Review and Study for the NPTE


One of the hardest thing for me to do is focus on what books and reviewers to use when I was preparing for the NPTE exam in 2011. I know that there have been changes in the percentage of subejct in the exam- but regardless of that – I think the best way to self-study is by tackling one subject 2-3 days consecutively, instead of trying to read and study one reviewer from from front to back at a time. With so many options out there, here are the best NPTE reviewer and physical therapy textbooks to invest in.

National Physical Therapy Exam Review and Study Guide 2015 

This one of the must haves for reviewing for the NPTE. It comes with a USB with 3 sets of practice exams or create your own exams based on what you want to focus on, with an explanation of the reason for the answer for each question. I based my review with the chapters and topics of this book.

McGraw-Hill’s NPTE by Mark Dutton 

I liked how this review book is easy to read on the eyes. It explained cases and subjects in a direct and easy to understand manner. It also comes with a 600 Q & A on CD that you can use as one of your practice exams.

Differential Diagnosis for Physical Therapist 5th Ed. by Goodman and Snyder 

This is not the usual reviewer, but it provides a great explanation on how to rule out systemic diseases versus musculoskeletal conditions based from the signs, symptoms and examinations. Reviewing this book will help you RULE OUT the correct answer for each question.

PT Exam The Complete Study Guide 

If you have extra budget to spare for an additional review guide and practical exams. The NPTE reviewer by Scorebuilders is another good investment. It comes with 3 sets of practical examinations as well. I don’t have one on hand, but you can integrate this by choosing the chapter with the same case or subject in the Pass the NPTE calender guide.

Physical Rehabilitation 6th Ed. by O’Sullivan 

This is the most comprehensive textbook that you can reference on when you need a more thorough explanation of a case. This textbook is a good investment that will last you up until when you’re working as a Physical Therapist.

Orthopedic Physical Assessment 6th Ed. by David J. Magee   

This textbook is what I used to get a good grasp of Special Tests that are outlined in all the NPTE review books I read. So, when I can’t imagine a special test in my mind and need extra help with the visuals and how to execute it. I turn to Magee’s guiding words for it.

Therapeutic Exercise 6th Ed. by Carolyn Kisner  

This is a gem of a textbook for a thorough explanation of evidence based practice topics. I needed this textbook for the joint mobilization, PNF techniques and proper positioning and movement for exercises. This is another textbook that I like having on hand when I don’t get my imagination right!

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small compensation. Thank you!

How to Pass and Review for the NPTE 2015

Hello again world! It has been a couple of years since I last posted. And I have finally found time to revise the Pass the NPTE calendar guide and some updates on the latest and best reviewers and reference textbooks to use to help you review for the NPTE.

I know that there are some typo’s there, but I was on a roll today to finally finish it and been wanting to publish it within the first quarter of 2015 to start of the year right for everyone who is planning to take the NPTE this year.

I will keep you posted for any NPTE and Physical Therapy news and keep yourself updated on Pass The NPTE Facebook page as well!

Download the Pass The NPTE Calendar Guide by right-clicking the image below.


Recommended Books for Studying the NPTE 2013

UPDATE: This List has been updated.  The Best Books and Reviewer for Studying and Reviewing for the NPTE 2015

Are you planning to take the NPTE exam this year? There are new editions of the recommended books for studying for the NPTE. I really don’t advice to get ALL of the books since it can be quite expensive AND WOULD YOU REALLY HAVE TIME to go through it all? I would recommend getting one or two core REVIEW BOOKS and the following textbooks to get into the nitty gritty of a particular case that needs further explanation for you.



1. National Physical Therapy Examination: Review & Study Guide 2013

2. McGraw-Hills NPTE National Physical Therapy Exam, Second Edition

3. PTEXAM: The Complete Study Guide

4. Kaplan National Physical Therapy Exam – I just like this one since it has two practice exams that you can use.

Recommended NPTE Reference Textbooks

1. Physical Rehabilitation (O’Sullivan, Physical Rehabilitation)

2. Therapeutic Exercise: Foundations and Techniques

3. Differential Diagnosis for Physical Therapists: Screening for Referral, 5e (Differential Diagnosis In Physical Therapy)

4. Orthopedic Physical Assessment, 5e (Orthopedic Physical Assessment (Magee))

Among the Reference Textbooks though, I would invest on number 3; Differential Diagnosis by Goodman. I have the 4th edition and I love how easy it was to understand the cases that will help you RULE OUT other diseases that may mimic other neuromusculoskeletal conditions.

I will update the Pass the NPTE Calendar and Study Guide within this year as well with updated information and more tips to help you pass the NPTE. Please subscribe to our email updates or by Liking Pass The NPTE Facebook page too! I will be holding a contest soon and will be giving away one of the recommended review books!

How NOT to Study and Review for the NPTE

With just two months to go for the April date of the NPTE and two more testing NPTE exams for this year, I am sure that everyone who is reviewing or even planning on reviewing for the NPTE are overwhelmed with HOW to study for this exam.

Well, I know I have created a basic study review guide and provided study tips on how my studying and reviewing , this time around I would like to point out MY MISTAKES when I reviewed for the NPTE back in 2010, for my first attempt to take the exam.

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1. Trying to Cram my head with too many books. You name, I tried reading it! Trying to read reference  text books like Magee, Kisner and Sullivan from cover to cover. And then trying to read two to three physical therapy review books did not help either! It is useful to have the mentioned reference textbooks on hand just to read through if there is a certain topic that you want to get a more detailed explanation of.

2. Reading one Review Book at a time.  I remember getting so excited when I received my IER or the Sullivan National Physical Therapy Exam Review Book in the mail the first time. I didn’t have an exact plan on how to really review, I just read it from page one up until the end for a month! It did not help me retain the must needed knowledge that you really need to be able to answer the NPTE. Best way to go about it is focus on a topic or case for a certain amount of days. For example, you can read the neuromuscular chapters of the IER, Mark Dutton’s McGraw-Hill NPTE book and Scorebuilders in two to three days to help you retain the cases in your head better than just trying to zip through a whole review book. I personally only used TWO REVIEW BOOKS, just to give me a better understanding on a per case basis. I used IER and Mark Dutton’s book; I did not have the resources and time to get the Scorebuilders, just thought I’d let you know.

3. Not Doing Enough Practice Exams. This was MY WORST MISTAKE on my first attempt to take the exam. I only did three practice exams for my 2010 exam and my mind and MY BODY was not prepared enough to take a 5-hour long exam in one sitting. Just think of the NPTE as a marathon, do at least one practice exam a day 3-4 weeks before your NPTE exam date. The review books I mentioned have practice exams in CD included and you can rotate these exams on a daily basis. I would also highly recommend that you purchase the PEAT and include it in your mix of practice exams; it gives you a FEEL on how the REAL NPTE is like on screen. The NPTE is 5 hours long; so take advantage of the breaks every 50 items and do that during your Practice exams and your body won’t get into shock of getting so overwhelmed when you take your actual NPTE.

These are just my two cents on how NOT to make the same mistakes I had when taking the NPTE. I will share more when I get more information along the way.

Review the NPTE Online with Therapy Exam Prep

I actually signed up for Therapy Exam Prep during their pilot class. But, I wasn’t able to maximize their online reviews and classes because of unforeseen circumstances on my personal life. However, I would recommend that you enroll online if you are the type of person and student who thrive on discussions and support whether online and offline.

You will have assignments that you need to do, and post your answers online on the forums. This was one of the tasks that I remember doing that was helpful in retaining information. One of the hardest thing in reviewing is knowing what to KNOW. There are so many information both online and offline that can be pretty overwhelming, and the assignments really helped with getting you to remember what indeed is needed to be remembered.

The Therapy Exam Prep NPTE review lasts for 3 months, with a scheduled live webinar that you can attend and join in. As well as download the webinar on-demand if you missed it or you just want to listen to it again. What’s great about joining a live webinar is the chance for you to asks  any question that will help you better understand the topic at hand.

If you need another way to help you review and pass for the NPTE. You can head on to Therapy Exam Prep website and check if this one will work for you. Investment for their program is US$375 and you can pay via Paypal and Google checkout.