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NPTE Quarterly Faculty Newsletter Volume 12; No. 2

Second Quarter 2015

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.

Subscription to the newsletter is free. For subscription information or comments, please contact

Table of Contents

Find States’ Initial Licensure Information Online

The Federation’s Jurisdiction Licensure Guide is a quick and useful resource of initial licensure information.

Go to FSBPT home and click on Top Resources | Licensure Reference Guide.

Under Initial Licensure, you will find two tables:

  • Initial licensure requirements for PTs and PTAs
  • Taking the NPTE prior to graduation

As information may change, it is always advisable to check the state’s licensure webpage as well.

Sign up for the November 13-15 NPTE Workshop for Educators

Why do educators attend? Because they learn: 

  • How to write better multiple-choice questions for their exams that follow the same format as the NPTE 
  • How to statistically analyze test questions to determine if they are good questions
  • How the NPTE is developed from content outline through scoring
  • How to prepare students for the test administration experience
  • How to interpret and effectively use school pass rate report

To sign up or obtain more information, click Educators on the blue ribbon and click Educators Workshops.

This Quarter’s Question: How much does the NPTE vary in difficulty?

One of the most common questions we get from educators is whether the form a candidate took was easier or harder than the form a candidate took on a previous administration.

NPTE forms use a process called Item Response Theory (IRT) Equating. This process ensures the cut scores are equal regardless of how difficult the items are.

In theory, we could construct test forms that are very different in terms of difficulty while using the same theoretical standard.

In practice, we try to keep the cut scores very close, within one or two questions on each form.

Candidates often report that a particular form is easier of more difficult than another form they have taken.

On average, this isn't the case.

However, candidates often perceive the forms to be different in difficulty in relation to the amount they have studied, their familiarity with particular topics covered on the exam, and day-to-day differences in their perceptions.

What Students Need to Know

How do I submit a challenge for an NPTE item I think is incorrect?
We encourage candidates to reach out to us if they find a question confusing or if they believe there is no correct answer.

There is no fee for this service.

All appeals are reviewed by FSBPT staff and members of the exam committee.

In most cases, the candidate misremembered or misread the question.

Appeals of questions can be sent to or by mail c/o Rich Woolf, DPT, NPTE Content Director, FSBPT 124 S. West Street Alexandria, VA 22314.