National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE)

The NPTE is used by licensing agencies around the U.S. as
part of an evaluation and/or certification process. It is developed and
maintained by the FSBPT. This exam is meant to test the competence of entry-level licensure candidates.

Who is Eligible?

Eligible candidates must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a degree from a physical therapy program that meets the accreditation standards of the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE)
  • Be approved by your state or jurisdiction board where you plan to be licensed
  • Not have exceeded the number of exam attempts allowed per person (3 per year or 6 per lifetime)

Candidates must submit an online application and exam fee of $485.  Additional licensure fees may apply depending on your location.

When and Where is it Taken?

Once your application has been approved you will be sent an Authorization to Test (ATT) by email, which will include the instruction on how to schedule the exam.

The NPTE is available on a few specific dates throughout the year. Registration deadlines do apply so make sure to not miss the deadline, causing you to wait until the next available date.

The exam can be scheduled at one of about 360 Prometric testing locations scattered throughout the U.S. and Canada. A full list will be given to you during the registration process. Prometric charges an $85 testing fee for the NPTE.

Schedule for your preferred testing session as soon as possible to ensure there is enough space. Seats are limited and filled on a first come, first served basis.

For those with disabilities or who cannot test under normal conditions, special accommodations can be requested. This must be done during the application process and supporting documentation will need to be provided.

Should you need to reschedule or cancel your appointment, you can do so at no charge by contacting Prometric at least 30 days before your exam. Changes made 29-5 days before your exam will be charged $50. No changes can be made within 5 days from your exam appointment.

What Should I Bring?

It is imperative to arrive at least 30 minutes before your appointment, as there is a check-in process to be completed before you can begin taking the exam. Those who arrive late will not be allowed entrance and will forfeit all paid fees.

You will be required to provide two valid and current forms of identification to the testing site. These must contain information that matches your application/registration information, such as your full name, signature, and photo. IDs with missing or incorrect information will not be accepted.

Personal items are not allowed in the testing area and will be stored in a secured locker during the exam. Only your ID and locker key are allowed on your person throughout your exam. If you are found with additional items, you will be dismissed and your scores voided.

Scratch paper and writing materials will be provided at the testing center. Do not bring your own.

What is Covered?

This exam contains 250 multiple-choice questions. You will be given five hours to complete them all.

The following are the main content areas found on the exam and the approximate number of questions in each:

  • Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Systems (23-28 questions)
  • Musculoskeletal System (51-60 questions)
  • Neuromuscular and Nervous Systems (44-50 questions)
  • Integumentary System (9-12 questions)
  • Metabolic and Endocrine Systems (5-7 questions)
  • Gastrointestinal and Genitourinary Systems (7-14 questions)
  • Lymphatic System (3-8 questions)
  • System Interactions (8-12 questions)
  • Non-System questions (23-30 questions)

You will be given a scheduled 15-minute break after the second section of the exam. You are also allowed three unscheduled breaks if you need them.

How is it Scored?

Scores are reported to jurisdictions about five days after your exam date. About 10 days after your exam, free score reports become available online. After 30 days, there will be a fee to view these.

Exams are given scaled scores on a range of 200-800. You must receive at least a 600 to be considered passing.

As mentioned above, you are allowed to retake the exam up to three times per year and up to six times during your lifetime. In addition, you are not allowed to test again after receiving two very low scores (400 and below) on the exam.

How Can I Prepare for the NPTE Exam?

That’s a great question.  We’ve broken down the answer into three parts.

  1. Do yourself a favor and study.  Do not walk in unprepared. We have recommended prep materials below, but that only helps if you actually try.  Plus, studying is actually proven to be the best antidote to test anxiety.
  2. Take care of yourself.  Make sure you’re eating well, exercising, and sleeping.  All of these things are scientifically linked to brain performance.  If you take care of your body, you’ll be helping your grades.
  3. Get a study guide or set of flashcards.  Some people study better a certain way. Find your study strengths and make the most of them.  We’ve tried to make it easy for you by tracking down the best study guide and flashcard set for your exam. Below you’ll see links to both!

Study Guide



Last Updated: November 9, 2023