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Understanding the NPTE

Exam Administration

The PT and PTA exams are computer-based and administered at Prometric testing centers throughout the United States. Exams are administered on set dates four times per year in January, April, July, and October. Because of the time between exams, it is extremely important to carefully review and fully understand the registration deadlines associated with an exam date, as any candidate who does not meet a deadline must wait until the next scheduled exam date to test.

You may take your exam at any Prometric center offering the NPTE, regardless of the jurisdiction you selected during your exam registration.

What deadlines are important for me to know?

Every exam administration includes two deadlines that are important for every test taker to know. The full list of Dates and Deadlines can be found online. The two most important deadlines for the exam are:


  • Registration and Payment: this is the date by which you need to have both registered for an exam and paid for it. You must pay for your registration by 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time on the deadline date. If you have registered but not paid by the deadline, your registration will be closed, and you will have to wait until the next exam date.
  • Jurisdiction Approval Deadline: this is the date by which your jurisdiction, or their designee, must approve you to take the exam. It is best to have all necessary documentation to the state well before this deadline, as state processing times vary. If you are not made eligible by the jurisdiction deadline, your registration will be closed, and you will receive a refund of the exam fee, minus a processing fee of $50.


What is the format of the exam?

Both the PT and PTA exams are administered in sections, with 45 multiple-choice questions in each exam section. A scheduled fifteen-minute break is offered following the second section of both exams. Candidates may also take unscheduled breaks following the other sections of the exam, but time taken for unscheduled breaks will be deducted from the overall exam time.

Each exam includes stand-alone multiple-choice questions, some of which can include a graphic or video. Some questions will refer to a shared clinical scenario. These “scenario-based” questions will appear at the end of each section. Each scenario can include between 2 and 5 questions. Each of these questions is independent: they do not build on each other, can be answered in any order, and answering one incorrectly does not predispose you to miss any other question associated with that scenario. For the PT exam, the exam can include up to 40 scenario-based questions. For the PTA exam, up to 35 of the questions can be scenario-based.

The exam time is presented as a block of overall exam time; each section is not separately timed. You may use the exam time as you wish. The exam will terminate after the testing time has elapsed.


Exam Level


Total Questions

Testing Time

Total Appointment Time*

Physical Therapist (PT)



5 Hours

5 Hours, 30 minutes

Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA)



4 Hours

4 Hours, 30 minutes

*Includes scheduled break time, pre-exam tutorial, and post-exam survey.


How is the exam scored?

The NPTE is a multiple-choice exam with one correct answer for each question. Scores are determined by the number of questions you answer correctly, with no penalty for choosing incorrectly. It is in your interest to answer every question, even if you are unsure of the answer.

The NPTE uses scaled scores to make sure test scores are comparable.

Because different forms of the NPTE may vary slightly in their level of difficulty, raw scores (the number of questions you answer correctly) are converted to scaled scores. The scaled scores represent equivalent levels of achievement regardless of the examination form taken, ensuring that scores on all forms of the examination are comparable. This process converts raw scores to a scale that ranges from 200 to 800. Please note that a score of 800 does not equal a perfect score–it is only the highest score that FSBPT reports.

All jurisdiction licensing authorities have adopted the same criterion-referenced passing standard for the NPTE. Although FSBPT reports scores ranging from 200 to 800, the NPTE is a pass/fail examination. The examination is designed to distinguish whether a candidate has at least the minimum level of competence required to practice as an entry-level PT or PTA. The passing standard is a scaled score of 600; therefore, any score of 600 or higher is a passing score, and any score below 600 is a failing score. The number of questions that have to be answered correctly to achieve a score of 600 can change from form to form but is generally within a one to two-question range.