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Ensuring Validity

Understand the process of practice analysis

As the developer of the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE®), FSBPT has a responsibility to ensure the validity of the results. For the NPTE to be a valid indicator of the ability to provide safe and effective physical therapy services, FSBPT must ensure that:

  • Questions on each examination measure important knowledge and skills required for safe practice.
  • The proportion of questions measuring various knowledge and skill areas is commensurate with the importance of these areas to physical therapy practice.

By ensuring the questions on the NPTE reflect important knowledge and skills relevant to safe and effective care, we can better distinguish between candidates who can practice competently and those who have not yet demonstrated the knowledge and skills needed for competent practice. The tenacious efforts of NPTE volunteers and staff go a long way toward the goal of protecting the public by promoting entry-level competence.

Analysis of practice

To accomplish these tasks, FSBPT undertakes a formal, systematic process referred to as an "analysis of practice." This process begins with the identification of work requirements for entry-level practitioners and ends with the development of a formal set of test specifications that delineates the knowledge and skills related to safe and effective entry-level practice. FSBPT formally reviews these data and updates the content outlines for the PT and PTA examinations every five years.

New Approach: Collecting Data Each Year

Because physical therapy practice evolves, the content of the examinations must be updated on an ongoing basis. In 2018, FSBPT initiated a new, multi-year survey methodology to collect and analyze practice analysis data annually rather than once every five years. This approach enables FSBPT to monitor ongoing and emerging trends in entry-level requirements and to respond quickly to changes in the profession that necessitate adjustments to the licensure examinations. 

FSBPT will still conduct a formal review and revision of the content outlines every five years. However, having data that is collected annually will alert FSBPT and the NPTE volunteers if the PT and PTA professions are changing more rapidly than anticipated.