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Road to the NPTE: The Big Day

The road has led us here. Tomorrow is the big day and all the good advice says that we shouldn’t study today. We should relax our brains. That’s easier said than done! As my classmates take the NPTE, at this very moment, I want to write about the process that has led up to “the day before” I take my turn dancing with the NPTE!

For future students, here are a few lessons learned.

Originally, the idea was to write one article a week… maybe even more if possible. But, somewhere in the haze of studying over the past 6 weeks, there wasn’t much time for anything. It’s summer and I live in NY. If you’ve ever lived in NY you’ll understand that nice weather is rare and winter is king up here. One of the struggles was forcing myself to sit inside all day. I recently learned a new term, FOMO (fear of missing out), and I definitely had it. There were a few unbelievable days this summer, but I buried my nose in the books and drove on. I met with a few classmates during the weeks and we kept each other focused. It made learning the material easier. I forced myself to take at least one day a week to NOT study and allow my brain to recharge. The problem was that anytime I wasn’t studying I would feel guilty. Sure enough, the opposite was true as well. I felt guilty for always studying and not “doing anything fun” in the beautiful weather, with my even more beautiful girlfriend. I’m lucky to have her support though. In fact, she often encouraged me to study more!

Lesson 1:

Support is essential. Surround yourself with people that won’t compete for your attention. Keep your eyes on the prize! Loved ones, true friends, and classmates will keep you focused and understand the importance of what you’re doing!


Since graduating, I’ve had some great opportunities. I received my limited license and I’ve started working part time at Duffy & Bracken. Also, I accepted an offer as an assistant instructor at SUNY Downstate. Palpation is a key skill required for therapists and I feel very privileged and humbled to be passing on what knowledge I have acquired thus far. I’ve found teaching fulfilling and the opportunity to help the first year Physical Therapy students as they embark on this wild road is priceless. This is where my math skills came into play. There are never enough hours in the day! I’ve worked limited hours at the clinic and only teach one day a week. I couldn’t afford to lose any study days. On days that I worked I woke up early to study, for at least 3-4 hours, before I went in. The days became long! When I got home reading was the last thing I wanted to do. Instead, I watched videos and one key resource was PT Final Exam. Will, Johnathan, and Reema provided videos that ranged from 60-120 minutes. They discussed essential topics and answered questions. A positive community was created and they provide structure to help manage your time. For anyone that wants to work while studying, it’s possible. Think of each patient as a case study. Apply the concepts you’re studying. If you add anything to your schedule, be prepared to cut an equal amount out. I’ve had to make sacrifices, such as cutting back on my exercise routine. I miss you exercise.

“Whatever you want to do, if you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it” – Maya Angelou

Lesson 2:

Prioritize your time. Make sure studying is always your top priority. I sometimes lost track of that, but luckily my “support system” was always there. You should block out time that is dedicated only to studying. For me, I studied for a minimum of 3 hours, and up to 10 hours some days.


Prometric called, just as I finished typing the paragraph above. It was a reminder for tomorrow.

“Mark, this is just a reminder that you are scheduled for tomorrow at 8:30 AM. You need to show up at least 30 minutes early and bring 2 forms of valid ID.”

Thanks for the butterflies, lady.

“I seek strength, not to be greater than others, but to fight my greatest enemy, the doubts within myself” -P.C. Cast

Stay positive. Perhaps this is an attempt to convince myself. You will get nervous. You may start to doubt yourself. I’ve discussed practice exam scores with classmates to make sure we were in the same range. I’ve “Googled” PEAT scores and O’Sullivan test exam scores to see what people who passed the exam were scoring. In case you’re interested this is what I found:

135/200 – O’Sullivan

145/200 – Peat & Scorebuilders

That seemed to be the general consensus, if you’re scoring in those ranges you “should” be alright. Keep in mind, this is hardly scientific and you have to take most of what you read online with a grain of salt (I said most, not all).

It’s alright to be nervous. This is an important exam. You’ve went through three years of school for this. Think about that. You’ve dedicated the last three years to learning and understanding the profession of Physical Therapy. You’ve passed all the exams and practicals, as daunting as those “hell weeks” were, that your professors threw at you. You know the material. Don’t psych yourself out. Pysch yourself up!

Here is a great TED Talk about how the mind affects the body and the ability of the body to affect the mind.

For the big day tomorrow, I’ll be sure power pose in the bathroom before I take the NPTE.

Lesson 3:

Everything is hardest while you’re “IN” it. For future students that will take the NPTE. This is going to be an unnerving time in your life. You will feel overwhelmed. Sometimes you’ll answer a string of questions correctly and feel like Eduard Einstein (Albert’s son). You’re not alone in this. Put in the time, learn the concepts not the little details, and know that one day you will look back and tell people “It wasn’t that bad”.

Despite all the good advice, it’s time for me to look over my weak points one last time!

Good luck to everyone taking the exam now, and everyone that will be with me tomorrow! Be sure to read this article on 6 Tips for the Night Before.

I hope you found this helpful and that some of you can relate! If you have any questions, comments, or thoughts you’d like to share leave them below.

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About Mark Denesha

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


  1. I walked out so traumatized. I keep thinking of the answers I know were wrong and can’t stop beating myself up for that.
    I wish they gave out the results sooner.
    How did it go for you?
    I read your blog going into the test and felt good. The test sapped all of that goodness though

    • Mark Denesha

      I felt the exact same way, as did the rest of my class and pretty much anyone I talked to. It was one exam that I definitely thought I failed and was ready to start looking at re-exam dates. You probably did better than you thought, don’t beat yourself up, just know that you did your best and take some much needed R&R! Keep in touch!

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