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A Review Guide for the NPTE

Updated on December 20, 2011

Getting Your Thoughts Together

UPDATE: There is now a 2012 addition of the IER or NPTE Guide by Siegelman and O'Sullivan Available in Amazon and over at the website.

I previously wrote about some guidelines on how to really study for the NPTE. I have not passed it yet and I am slated to take it again this coming May 25, 2011 in one of the Prometric center in Las Vegas. I just want to share how I have been reviewing and my upcoming plans right before D-day.

In hopes that I might be able to help one or two aspiring Physical Therapists, who are in the same boat as I am. The strategies here are what I think might help me pass the exam this second time around.

And I hope and pray that the second time is a charm!

With all the books and online exam materials out there. You can buy all of them, but how DO YOU BEGIN IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Well, first thing's first and breathe in. And get your thoughts together.

The Books You Need

1. Physical Medicine By Sullivan

2. IER Review and Study Guide 2011

3. Differential Diagnosis by Goodman

4. Therapeutic Exercise 5th Edition by Kisner

5. Orthopedic Physical Assessment by Magee

Physical Therapy Books From Amazon

Study Guide

When I took the NPTE the first time. I studied by books. I finished the IER 2009 in a month, read Differential Diagnosis by Goodman the next, Therapeutic Exercises by Kisner and then Magee right after.

After taking the exam, I realized how wrong it was to read and study blindly by books. What is working better for me now. And makes it easier for me to understand is studying by CASES.

Here's a rundown of the list of cases. And I read the same cases or topics in different books. Just as long as it's the same topic.

  • Musculoskeletal
  • Neuromuscular
  • Cardio and Pulmo
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Cardiovascular Accident
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Wound Management, Burn and Integumentary system
  • Amputation
  • Orthotics, Prosthetics and Wheelchair
  • Other Systems
  • Pedia (Cerebral Palsy)
  • Therapeutic Exercise principles
  • Physical Agents and Modalities
  • Professional Roles, Management and Teaching
  • Research

For example, when I studied Cardio and Pulmo. I read the chapter on Cardio and Pulmo in IER, the Physical Therapy Management / Intervention from Physical Medicine by Sullivan in Cardio and Pulmo chapter, and the Cardio and Pulmo chapters in Goodman.
That goes for the other subject areas or cases too. And I right now, I am not forcing myself to read and finish one to two chapters a day. But I read two to three hours a day, and make sure that I understand what I am reading.

It makes no point if you read 8 hours a day, but not understand or recall anything the following day.

I just use Therapeutic Exercise by Kisner and Orthopedic Assessment by Magee as reference for exercise guidelines and special tests. Not really from cover to cover. Since I know it is almost impossible to do that. And if I did, I am just wasting my time.

When and What Practice Exams to do

For the last 3 to 4 weeks leading up to the NPTE proper, I plan to just do a practice exam every single day.

It's a way for my mind and body get used to the rigors of a 5 hour long exam. Much like a marathon, test taking needs training.


  1. The 3 sets of exams from IER 2012.
  2. Online Exam by Sullivan and Siegelman
  3. Online Advantage by Scorebuilders
  4. PEAT exam by Fsbpt (a MUST Practice Exam Test to take!)
  5. Kaplan National Physical Therapy Exam
  6. McGraw-Hill's NPTE (National Physical Therapy Examination) (Lange)
  7. Physical Therapy Content Master App from Scorebuilders (If you have an iPhone or Ipad, has 750 questions you can use on the go)

Don't forget!

Just some other none NPTE related stuff that you can do to boos your mental health.
  • PRAY. PRAY and PRAY. It does not matter what religion you are, never forget to ask help from the BIG MAN above.
  • Exercise at least ONCE A DAY for 30 minutes. 
  • Read and Do something that YOU enjoy doing. Let your mind breathe.
  • Spend time with your family. After all you're doing all this hard work for them.
And lastly, THINK POSITIVE. :) Hope these tidbits helps!


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    • HuggingMommy profile image

      HuggingMommy 6 years ago

      Hi maria! I am so sorry but I really don't have any idea with regards to Jurisprudence exams. Can you take it AFTER you taking the NPTE? If you're taking the NPTE this coming July 2012 - you have ample time to review.

      Just remember to study on a PER CASE basis and not on a per book basis. Read on SCI in Siegelmann, McGraw Hills and even scorebuilders in 2 to 3 days. Same style applies to other cases.

      And most importantly, just do a lot of practice exams 3 weeks before the exam proper. Just one exam a day. And RULE OUT EACH CHOICE EVERY time.

      Goodluck and I wish for you and everyone else to pass it too!

    • profile image

      Maria 6 years ago

      Hi. I am so glad for you. I know this is a very late response but I am interested to know more about preparing for the exam. I really wanted to pass the exam scheduled on July 31 and I am studying for it and with God's help, I will make it.I am taking NPTE for GA and now my concern is the Jurisprudence exam because I have to take it asap. Do you have any idea about it? How many questions for it? Thank you

    • HuggingMommy profile image

      HuggingMommy 6 years ago

      Hi Sandy, Differential diagnosis by Goodman and the latest edition of the NPTE by Siegelman is the top two books that I highly recommend that you invest in.

      And breakdown your days on reading on a per case basis. And on the last 3 weeks before your exam, just do PEAT, practice exams of 2012 NPTE too. Goodluck and Godbless! :)

    • HuggingMommy profile image

      HuggingMommy 6 years ago

      So sorry for the late reply. You are welcome! Thanks for dropping by as well and wish you well in your NPTE!

    • HuggingMommy profile image

      HuggingMommy 6 years ago

      Hi Areej, I don't have soft copies of Kaplan. I bought it through

    • profile image

      SANDY 6 years ago

      Excellent job huggingMommy...your study'plan was very organized,wow;I'm planning to RE-TAKE the exam for 3x time,october 2012,the books that I have are: Physical Rehabilitation (Sullivan),Therapeutic Exercise 5th Edition by Kisner

      Orthopedic Physical Assessment by Magee and The 2009 NPTE (review and study guide) by Sullivan; I'm thinking to buy Differntial Goodman too,do you think that could be ok wwith those book ?or buy the 2012 NPTE? any suggestions? Thanks and appreciate your response!

    • profile image

      Physiology22 6 years ago

      thank u for that inspiring wrap up of what things to do before the big day..ill be taking the exam the second time around soon..thank u for that energy boosting on the go encouragement..sometimes only few words could make a change in ones lyf...

    • profile image

      Areej 6 years ago

      Hi All,

      First, let me congratulate you for the great success you've made in inspiring thousands of Practitioners before embarking on the exam...I've taken this exam and wasn't able to pass yet.

      I really would appreciate if you could send me soft copies of previous exams such as Kaplan National Physical Therapy Exam and others..

      my e-mail is

      Congratulations ? :)

    • profile image

      lochness 6 years ago

      WOW!!! I'm inspired by you!!

      Congratulations in passing your NPTe!!

    • HuggingMommy profile image

      HuggingMommy 6 years ago

      Hi Gummy Greens, yes I was able to pass the NPTE last May! :) Results were out by May 27 for me.

    • profile image

      gummygreens 6 years ago

      hi hugging mommy, did you pass the npte last may 25? im sure the results are out now

    • HuggingMommy profile image

      HuggingMommy 6 years ago

      The test questions in Scorebuilders PT app is different from the book... It was a nice way of keeping my mind in tip top shape while out doing errands :D

    • profile image

      surf57 6 years ago

      The most important thing to prepare for NPTE is to practice problem solving.. I took the NPTE back in 2007 and i had barely a month to prepare/study.. So what I mostly did is concentrate on the Reviewers Sullivan and Seigellman.. and answered their practice exams, analyzing how i came up with the answer and if i got the wrong answer, analyze what was wrong with how i came up with my answer.. It conditioned my mind to be better at analyzing and increased my chances of choosing the right answer.. hope this helps..

    • profile image

      Pinks 6 years ago

      Hey..I heard about scorebuilder's App...Is this app having different practice questions from its original book?? m already having Scorebuilder's is it worth buying this book?

    • profile image

      Mike 6 years ago

      I'm looking at buying an app for my iPad...I can't decide if I want the scorebuilders app or the McGraw hill one. Anyone tried either of them? Which one is better? Thanks for your input!!!

    • profile image

      6 years ago

      I came across to your blog and find it very very helpful. I am still contemplating on taking the NPTE. Hopefully one day i will gain courage to do it like you.

      GOOD LUCK to your upcoming exam. :)


    • profile image

      in_cube in NY 7 years ago

      to HuggingMommy: Here's my email address just in case we're ready to roll the ball ""

      Thank you & have a good one! ;)

    • profile image

      the_exile 7 years ago

      HI G, nice guide here. Im also going to take the TEST but later this year, December. By the way, your other blog is also a wonderful read.

    • HuggingMommy profile image

      HuggingMommy 7 years ago

      @Priya... I think I didn't make it the first time I took it, because I did not study smarter. I just read and read and memorized. I read most books from cover to cover, but did not do enough NPTE practice exams... Which I think is the most important part of preparing.

    • HuggingMommy profile image

      HuggingMommy 7 years ago

      in_incube in NY: I know what you mean! You know what some of me and my friends did? We took one of the IER exams together... And we voiced out what we think is the best answer. It became a group discussion/ practice exam :) Perhaps we can do that too?

    • profile image

      Priya 7 years ago

      Hi G, this's Priya. Thanks for this lovely blog. But its striking to hear that after 6 months of preparation that U weren't able to make it. Could you please tell how much you scored at the practice exams before You gave the NPTE. thanks a lot once again :)

    • profile image

      Dian 7 years ago

      You really are very organized. I admire your helpful tips. You remind me a lot of my friend. :) Have your tried the NPTE reviewer by Dutton (McGraw-Hill's NPTE (National Physical Therapy Examination)? Is it good and useful?

    • profile image

      lief 7 years ago

      Thanks hugging mommy.

    • profile image

      in_incube in NY 7 years ago

      He guys! I just need your opinion, be-coz I feel like I'm totally exhausted studying alone for a couple of months now.. I mean you know without a group discussion or something.. Anyone here that surely feel the same way? Thanks & I appreciate your response!

    • profile image

      babyPT 7 years ago

      Excellent job HuggingMommy! These information will surely help PTs while preparing for NPTE-i..God bless us all!

    • profile image

      abbie 7 years ago

      nice! that's very helpful! thanks for sharing. btw, did you attend the 2 day prep course of IER? and what's the difference between the 2009 and 2011 review guide? thanks!

    • HuggingMommy profile image

      HuggingMommy 7 years ago

      Thanks guys! Just wanted to share... Let me know what else I can add in the tips... We can help each other as much as we can :D

    • profile image

      hurtlocker 7 years ago

      Hi! We have the same style for the NPTE-I and I find it effective.

    • profile image

      in_cube in NY 7 years ago

      WOW! For me, that's a BIG WOW! You really inspired me! I'm gonna take NPTE on May 2011 here in NY too.. thanks a lot!

      Go PINOY PT's out there!! SHOUT IT OUT! Mabuhay tayong lahat!