How to Pass the NPTE Exam: 3 Steps to Creating a Study Schedule that Works

When you finish studying for the NPTE exam, how do you feel? Ask yourself:

Am I energized? 

Is it fun to learn the information? 

Do I want to come back to it all tomorrow?

If you’re anything like Dr. Kyle Rice, the answer to all those questions is probably a big fat “nope.” 

Years ago, when Dr. Rice — aka “Coach K” — was spending his days Googling “how to pass the physical therapy board exam,” he felt lost. Overwhelmed. Unconfident. Unmotivated. 

“As a Type A student who struggled with standardized tests since high school — and who’d failed the NPTE exam multiple times — all I wanted was a plan,” says Dr. Rice. “At the end of every day, I felt like I’d gone down a bunch of rabbit holes. I was studying everything so I didn’t miss anything, and it wasn’t getting me anywhere. All I wanted was someone to say, ‘Here’s how to pass the NPTE in one shot. Follow these steps. Let’s get it done so you can get on with your life.’” 

To do that, Coach K knew he didn’t want a program that treated him like a number. He needed a tailored approach and a step-by-step plan to pass the NPTE. 

While Coach K didn’t know the stats at the time, he knew a solid schedule was what he needed to pass the NPTE exam. Today, we know this:

80% of students who set a study schedule will NOT be following it by the end of week 1

If you’re a person who loves structure, that fact should make you feel better. You’re not alone! You have the right approach; you just don’t have the right tools. 

Another thing we know: The people who figure out how to pass physical therapy board exam almost always use a good, solid schedule to do it. 

So how do you create that magic schedule for yourself? You identify your problem. For most people, that problem is easy to pinpoint.

Your NPTE exam problem is study burnout.

Have you ever tried a 2-day NPTE course, or spent a weekend following every second of a study plan and, when you got to the end, you know it’s not going to work out for you? You feel exhausted and lost and like it’s never going to happen. That, friends, is study burnout. 

Now, you may be saying, “Duh, Coach! I already knew that. That’s what I feel. This can’t be the magic answer!” 

Coach K agrees. He says, “You’re right. Identifying burnout isn’t magic. But what is magic is figuring out what’s causing your burnout. And it’s one of three things.”

3 common causes of NPTE exam study burnout 

1. You’re not getting rewarded for your hard work. 

You’re putting in all this effort but you’re not getting much out of it. 

You’re on a hamster wheel. You’re studying harder than ever. You’re following someone’s plan.

But your score isn’t changing. 

2. You can’t say no. 

  • To your classmates who want your help
  • To your family who wants you to come home the week before your test
  • To your boss who needs you to work overtime just this once

You are a people pleaser. 

Your study time is over if anyone says:

  • “I just need you for an hour.” 
  • “But you did it for me before!” 
  • “I can’t do it without you.”

You can’t say no. Which means you can’t really prioritize the NPTE. Which means you can’t prioritize your career. 

3. You have superhero syndrome. 

You feel like you can accomplish everything yourself. 

You don’t need anybody else.

You’re supposed to save everybody, and complete every task, even if it’s unrealistic. 

You don’t have time to rejuvenate or rest — even though you know a tired brain can’t retain. 

All of your energy is going out and none is coming in. 

How do you fix these problems (and pass the NPTE)?

First, pick out your problem. Then, take steps to fix it. 

If you do that, Coach K guarantees that you are “crazy significantly” more likely to pass the NPTE. 

You have to figure it out for yourself, but once you do, you’re unstoppable. 

The 3 most common fixes to NPTE exam problems:

  1. Do something different.
    Stop doing the same things you’ve always done. Find a new NPTE prep course, ask someone you trust to be your mentor, switch your study group — do something different. You can’t keep doing everything the same way and expect different results. 
  2. Set boundaries.
    Figure out exactly what you need from NPTE exam prep and treat that time as untouchable. That includes setting boundaries for other areas of your life. Take a holistic approach to your study plan. It will give you more energy, make your study time better and give you the tools you need to figure out how to pass the NPTE in one shot.
  3. Take care of yourself.
    How well do you take care of yourself? Answer on a scale of 1-10. If you’re below a 5, you’ve got Superhero Syndrome. A ton of energy is going out, not enough is coming in, and you’re struggling. Find some outlets that will fill you up — exercise, relaxation, nutrition, family time — and gas yourself up! Self care is a game changer — for the NPTE exam — and for your life as a whole. 

Finally, ask for help.

Remember when we said that all Coach K wanted when he was trying to figure out how to pass the NPTE was help? Well, to get help, you’ve gotta ask for it. 

At the PT Hustle, our team is here to listen and figure out if we can help you. Our system isn’t for everyone, and if it’s not for you, we’ll tell you that so you can figure out what is. 
If you struggle with one or more of the challenges we talked about today, the NPTE Coaching Program may be what you’re looking for. If you’re a bad test-taker who’s failed the NPTE exam in your past, this program will guide you through the whole process. You’ll get live weekly workshops, engaging lectures, cheat sheets, NPTE exam guides and more — all on your schedule — so it’s great whether you’re taking the NPTE next month or next year. And remember: Once you eradicate your problem, this process can actually be fun. The right study plan will give you energy and focus so you can go in there and crush the NPTE. Let’s get it!!

Dominate the NPTE

Get started on the road to passing the PT exam!