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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.

Candidates may test at any Prometric testing center that is offering the NPTE, regardless of where they are seeking licensure. For example, a candidate who is seeking licensure in Virginia may test at a Prometric testing center in Maryland; the scores will be sent to Virginia once they are released.

Exam Overview

Both the PT and PTA exams are administered in sections, with fifty 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.

The exam time for both the PT and PTA exams is presented as a block of overall exam time, which candidates may use as they wish as they complete the exam. 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.

Exam Scoring

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. Thus it is in your interest to answer every question, even if you are unsure of the answer.

The NPTE uses sophisticated procedures to ensure test forms are equally difficult across administrations. Scaled scores are an important part of making sure test scores are comparable.

As forms (versions) of the NPTE may vary slightly in their level of difficulty, raw scores (the number of questions a candidate answers 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. The NPTE scaled score is a mathematical conversion of raw scores to a scale that ranges from 200 to 800. Because of the conversion, 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 not designed to distinguish between many levels of competence, only 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.

If a form of the examination is slightly easier than the form on which the passing score was set, a candidate would have to answer more questions correctly to obtain a scale score of 600. If the form of the examination is slightly harder, a candidate would have to answer fewer questions correctly to pass the examination. This process ensures that we apply the same standard of difficulty regardless of whether the items are a little easier or a little harder than those on another form.

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