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NPTE® Content

The Basics about Content

Content outlines delineate the major content areas of the examinations. A committee composed of physical therapists (PT) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) developed them based on national analyses of the tasks that PTs and PTAs perform.

In June 2022, FSBPT completed a new practice analysis cycle. The process resulted in important updates to the NPTE Content Outlines that will go into effect in January 2024. For more information on the practice analysis and rationales behind these changes, see the Ensuring Validity page



Questions and Answers

The exams consist of objective, multiple-choice questions covering the major areas of physical therapy.

The PT exam consists of 250 items and the PTA exam consists of 200 items. These examinations were developed to measure knowledge and abilities required of entry-level physical therapists and physical therapist assistants.



How FSBPT Develops Items

Questions (items) for the NPTE are written by physical therapists and physical therapist assistants representing a broad range of practice settings in all parts of the country.

Beginning item writers are trained by experienced staff and colleagues to produce high-quality, psychometrically sound multiple-choice test questions that cover the major areas of physical therapy practice reflected in the test content outlines.

The items are reviewed by an independent panel of content experts for suitability for inclusion in the examination item bank. Before being used as a scored item on the NPTE, newly written items are pretested as unscored items to gather statistical information. The pretested items that demonstrate good statistical characteristics then become eligible to appear on the scored portion of the NPTE in future years.


Role of Exam Committees

The involvement of a large, representative group of practicing physical therapists and physical therapist assistants and other professionals on examination committees at every stage of test development ensures that the NPTE is relevant to the current practice of physical therapy.

  • Item writer coordinators are experienced item writers who provide the first level of review for newly written NPTE items. They work closely with item writers to ensure that their items meet the criteria to be eligible for inclusion on the NPTE.
  • The examination development committee is responsible for reviewing new items sent from the item writer coordinators. The committee members check that item content is relevant for entry-level practice and determine whether items are appropriate for inclusion in the NPTE item bank.

    The examination development committee also determines which items are included on each examination based on the test content outline, which stipulates the content areas that must be covered and the number of questions to be included for each area. The committee members approve the final selection of items with the aim of ensuring that the examinations administered to candidates are valid and reliable.