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4 Study tips for the NPTE

Road to the NPTE: 4 Study Tips – Week 1

I graduated!

Behind the scenes -Carnegie Hall
Behind the scenes -Carnegie Hall

Two weeks ago, my class and I walked across the stage at Carnegie Hall, and were introduced as newly minted Doctors of Physical Therapy. Hard to believe the day finally came, and the moment was fleeting, but I tried to absorb as much as I could. The evening was spent with the most important people in my life: my family. I couldn’t have done it without them!

The following week, the excitement of graduation had faded and the reality of the NPTE sank in further. It’s around the corner, and it will come and go as quickly as graduation did. I’ll be ready, and so will you!

Authorization to Test (ATT Letter)

Finally, authorization to schedule my exam, through Prometric, arrived yesterday. This process can be lengthy! For future students, I urge you to complete your paperwork as soon as possible. The sooner your documents are processed, the sooner you’ll receive your ATT. This easy tip will increase your odds of getting to test at a facility nearby, as seats do fill quickly. I’m lucky and was able to find a seat July 22nd at 8:30 AM in Manhattan. Bring it on NPTE!

Studying: The Process Begins

The past two weeks have been spent “studying”. The unofficial start of the process began June 1st. I accessed the retired NPTE that I had taken a few weeks earlier, and went through all the questions I missed. Some were careless mistakes, but the majority was material that I certainly need to revisit. The specific areas included EKGs, statistics, and neuromuscular. After, I went over the questions that I answered correctly. Most of my answers made sense, but some were undeniable guesses. A few I managed to reduce to two choices and simply flipped a coin. Make sure you take time to understand why answers are both incorrect and correct. The first week was merely a “warm-up” before the real studying began.

Monday, June 8 – This marked the first day of my study journey! A reminder on my phone went off at 8:30AM to make sure I got my brain in gear.

Breakfast – Check!

Coffee – Check!

O’Sullivan’s – Check!

Pen & Notepad – Check!

Chapter 1 – Musculoskeletal

10 minutes later I found myself slouched over on my couch, struggling to keep my eyelids open. The material is DENSE! As many of the reviews said, it’s not an easy read. My warm-up week didn’t really prepare me for the amount of detail O’Sullivan’s reaches. Originally, I scheduled and allotted myself 6-8 hours per day of study time. After every hour I stood up, stretched, and did some pushups. Despite my body and brain calisthenics, I only managed 3 hours per day. The material was all relatively familiar and so after three days, I decided to move on to the areas that I am weak in. This helped. I started on neuromuscular, and although the brain anatomy and tracts are not my most beloved topics, the novelty of it kept my attention. In total, I covered about 100 pages in O’Sullivans. I need to get more done!

Staying at home was a bad idea. Starting fresh tomorrow, week 2 of studying, I will head to the library. I’m always more productive in a positive setting where work is being done. The comfort of my apartment, on the couch wearing gym clothes, doesn’t get the gears turning in my brain. I’m confident that I”ll be able to better concentrate myself and yield more productive hours this week.

Review Course

I chose not to take a review course. A few of my classmates, however, did participate in the TherapyEd weekend course. They had nothing but good things to say and my one friend told me:

I learned a lot, but it wasn’t a magic course that taught me everything I need to know for the test.

Time. We need to put in the time to learn and fully understand the concepts. I think that is the key to success for this exam. Unfortunately, there aren’t any magic tips or tricks to passing, but I do have 4 study tips to be more efficient. There are 5 weeks until the exam. I need to prioritize and effectively make use of that time.

Helpful Resource

Some great news! I have access to the Home Study Bundle and Webinar sessions with PT Final Exam.


The material is great and they even provide 248 practice questions. The questions are formulated very similar to the ones I took with the retired NPTE. The biggest benefit for me thus far has been the organization. They do a great job of providing a break down of the topics that you NEED to be familiar with. This allows me to visually see what topics I still need to cover. They also offer a Mastermind class. I’ve only had the opportunity to sit through one session thus far, but Will Crane did a fantastic job of fielding a ton of questions that the students had. They covered practice questions in depth and I found his insight very helpful. The sessions are recorded so that you can access them later. I think using this resource in conjunction with my review book will thoroughly prepare me!


4 Study TIPS

What have I learned in one week of studying? Here are 4 study tips that you should apply now!

  1. Environment is key!
    Reduce distractions. A great application I found for Google Chrome is called “NewsFeed Eradicator”. It will make your Facebook newsfeed empty! Genius. You no longer have any reason to waste valuable minutes on nothing.
  2. Have multiple resources.
    Don’t rely on just one text or review guide.
  3. Take breaks every hour – move your body!
    I stretch and do calisthenics every hour. This keeps my mind fresh!
  4. Be accountable!
    Have a friend. Have a blog. This short article has allowed me to reflect on my progress, or lack thereof. I’ll adjust accordingly, and be sure to have a phenomenal week of studying.

Check out the other articles in the NPTE series

How to Register for the NPTE in All 50 States

Registration: Applications and Forms – New York 

PEAT and Which Study Guides to Use

The Big Day – Lessons Learned from Taking the NPTE

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About Mark Denesha

Mark Denesha
Physical Therapist, strength training enthusiast, & team member at NGPT. Find your strength.

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