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NPTE Quarterly Faculty Newsletter Volume 13; No. 4

Fourth Quarter 2016

The mission of the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy is to protect the public by providing service and leadership that promote safe and competent physical therapy practice.

The NPTE Quarterly Faculty Newsletter is published by the Federation (FSBPT) as one mechanism to communicate with educators in PT and PTA programs. This effort to provide ongoing communication includes current information and updates on the NPTE as well as information on other regulatory issues that might impact or be of interest to program educators.

Please share this newsletter with other PT or PTA educators.

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Table of Contents

Group PEAT Went Academic – PTA forms Available!

Since December 1, 2016, the PTA version of Group PEAT’s forms have been completely different from the PTA PEAT forms that are available to individuals. The Academic version of PEAT for PTs was introduced in June.

  • Like the individual version of PEAT, this version (called Academic PEAT) has a practice form and a retired NPTE form.
  • BUT both the practice and NPTE forms of Academic PEAT are different from the individual PEAT’s practice form and NPTE form.
  • And, unlike the individual version of PEAT, Academic PEAT is only available for purchase by physical therapy programs for their students.
  • This allows you to more accurately assess your students’ readiness to take the NPTE. Why? Because students can no longer use the individual version of PEAT to prepare for taking Academic PEAT.

Academic PEAT can be purchased by logging on to the FSBPT Educators Area. For further information, contact

aPTitude Now Available for Use by Students and Other Pre-licensure Candidates

Since its launch in 2010, aPTitude has served as a free online continuing competence management system for PTs and PTAs to maintain their records of completed activities. Many PT and PTA program faculty have suggested that FSBPT allow students to access aPTitude so they can also record their participation in conferences, professional meetings, residencies, and other activities. We are pleased to announce that since October 2016, students can create an aPTitude account.

Once licensed, aPTitude will continue to assist these experienced users in tracking their requirements and storing their documentation. In addition to the ongoing awareness and outreach efforts FSBPT conducts with students, we encourage you to also help promote the benefits of using aPTitude to your students. Please contact if you are interested in obtaining resources and materials, such as PowerPoint slides or language for email communiques, about aPTitude.

2016 Practice Analysis Completed and New Content Outlines for 2018 Approved by the FSBPT Board of Directors

The 2016 practice analyses for PTs and PTAs are now complete and the FSBPT Board of Directors has approved new content outlines to be effective in January of 2018.

The changes to the content outlines will be made public in January of 2017, so that candidates have approximately a year to address any potential areas of concern before they become effective on the NPTE. The full results of the practice analysis will be available no later than May of 2017. In accordance with the changes, revised PEAT forms will be available in October of 2017.

We do not expect that the changes will have a substantial impact on candidates. The changes to the content of the NPTE will be minor relative to previous years. The changes were made by the PT and PTA task forces informed by data from thousands of practice analysis survey respondents, their own expert interpretation of the data, and the role of the NPTE in protecting the public.

For example, at both the PT and PTA exam levels, the task forces recommended separating out lymphatic system questions from the cardiovascular and pulmonary topic. In the 2013 Content Outlines, questions from these areas were combined into a single area. For 2018, these questions will now be treated as distinct content areas, meaning the Exam Development Committee will now ensure there are a minimum number of questions pertaining to each of these content areas on the exam (as opposed to treating them interchangeably). The task forces felt that entry level information about the lymphatic system was important enough to warrant questions specifically devoted to this topic.

At the PT exam level, the task force added a small number of questions relating to the gastrointestinal examination. The task forces noted that with more direct access, PTs are increasingly required to assess possible GI issues during the physical therapy examination. The task forces also suggested making some minor wording changes and making the practice analysis results easier to access. FSBPT will be working through these changes in 2017.

FSBPT thanks the members of the Oversight Panel, PT and PTA Task Forces, and the thousands of physical therapy professionals who took the time to respond to the practice analysis surveys. In recognition of their efforts, FSBPT has donated $5,000 to the Foundation for Physical Therapy ( to further scholarship and research in physical therapy. We also held a raffle for respondents and the winners received an iPad Pro 9.7”. The winners were Nick Fabish of Gibsonia, Pennsylvania and Edsel Icmat of Elk Grove, California.

Volunteers Needed for 2017 Standard Setting Meetings

In conjunction with the introduction of the new content outlines for 2018, FSBPT will be revisiting the NPTE passing standard for PTs and PTAs. We’re looking for dozens of volunteers, representing a wide range of areas of expertise, practice settings, and experience levels to help us review and possibly revise the NPTE passing standards. The meeting for the PTA standard setting will be held on June 2-4, and volunteers must be PTAs, PTs who supervise PTAs, or PTA educators. The meeting for PTs is on July 14-16, and volunteers must be PTs or PT educators. All volunteers must be currently licensed and in good standing with their regulatory boards. If you are interested in volunteering or wish to nominate someone who would be good for this task force, please contact

This Quarter’s Question: How are questions selected to be on the NPTE?

Each question begins with a volunteer item writer. FSBPT asks item writers to write questions based on the results of the practice analysis and content outlines to ensure NPTE questions reflect knowledge and skills required to perform important entry-level work activities. Item writers must provide a current textbook reference for the correct answer, and a justification for why incorrect response options are wrong. That information is reviewed by an item writing coordinator, who is also a volunteer and typically has extensive item writing experience. Items that are approved by the coordinator go to FSBPT, where they are reviewed for fairness (cultural bias or US-centric language or context) and edited to make sure they are clear and concise. Items are also review by the Examination Development Committee (EDC), a group of volunteers with a wide variety of backgrounds in physical therapy, to ensure the content is current and entry-level. Items are then selected for pretesting and put on a test form. Test forms are then reviewed by the EDC. The EDC can make changes to better cover important areas or to eliminate overlap or items that hint at answers to other questions.

Once an item goes through pretesting, FSBPT staff review the item to determine if it is being interpreted as intended using statistics, and the EDC will either accept or reject the item into the item bank. After items are accepted into the item bank, they may be selected to be on test forms as scored items, and at that point the form will again be reviewed by the EDC for fairness, clarity, currency, content coverage, and overlap. In summary, a tremendous amount of work and care goes into the questions selected for the NPTE.

What Students Need to Know: Can I appeal an NPTE question?

Yes. FSBPT does accept appeals in cases where a question is unclear or does not have an unequivocally correct answer. Appeals can be sent to All appeals are reviewed by representatives from the Exam Development Committee (EDC), and successful appeals will result in a scoring change. It’s worth noting, however, that of the appeals FSBPT receives, it is very rare that the appeal results in a scoring change. In many cases, an item might seem confusing but the candidate selected the correct answer. In other cases, the question is a pretest question and was not used to score the exam. Very often, the candidate is simply misremembering the question.

In order to maximize your likelihood of a successful appeal, it is important to include as much information as possible about the question in your appeal. It is important to provide your name as it appears on your registration, the exam level and testing date, and if possible the exam section the question appeared in. Additionally, specific information about the question and response options is required. In general, if you can provide a reference to back up your position, it is helpful.