Exam Candidates Header Image

Exam Candidates

Enter Title

Eligibility Requirements

Current Eligibility Requirements:

In order to gain access to the NPTE candidates must meet certain eligibility requirements from both 1) the state in which they seek licensure and 2) the FSBPT.

FSBPT Requirements 
  1. You must be at least 18 years of age.
  2. Submit an online registration and pay the registration fee. 
  3. Have a degree appropriate for the exam level from a CAPTE accredited institution, or 
    1. Be within 90 days of graduation from a CAPTE accredited institution.; or
    2. Have an education that is deemed substantially equivalent. 
  4. Have only tested 3 times out of the last 4 test dates (Maximum attempts in any 12-month period per exam level is 3) .
  5. Have complied with any test security requests made by FSBPT staff. 
  6. Have completed any sanctions related to a disciplinary action taken by FSBPT or a jurisdiction licensing authority. 
  7. Be approved by the licensing authority (board) in the state or jurisdiction where they intend to be licensed.
Jurisdiction Requirements

To approve a candidate to sit for the NPTE, at a minimum, jurisdictions will require:

  1. The candidate is a graduate of or graduating from a PT or PTA program that meets the accreditation standards of the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) or is deemed substantially equivalent.

For a complete list of jurisdiction requirements visit the website for the state in which you are seeking licensure

2016 Eligibility Requirements:

The requirements below will be in addition to the current FSBPT requirements. 

FSBPT’s eligibility requirements are not the same as a jurisdiction’s requirements for licensure.

Lifetime limit

Candidates will be able to take the exam a maximum of 6 times. An individual can take the NPTE for PTs 6 times and also take the NPTE for PTAs 6 times if he or she is otherwise qualified to do so. Candidates will still be allowed up to 3 attempts per year but now will have a 6 time total limit. As of January 1, 2016, any candidate who has already tested 6 times will no longer be allowed to test unless a jurisdiction chooses to appeal this policy on a specific candidate’s behalf (see “appeals process” below).

Candidates who have not yet passed the exam received a notice from FSBPT in 2014 explaining the new requirement and implementation date. The notice period allows candidates to take up to 3 attempts in 2015. There will be no “grandfathering” for candidates who registered prior to this requirement going into effect. All candidates who do not have a passing score and have tested in the last 3 years will be notified of the changes and have until January 1, 2016 to pass the exam prior to the new requirements going into effect.

Low score limit

Candidates who receive two very low scores on the exam, currently defined as performing at or close to chance level (scale scores 400 and below), will not be allowed to test again. Candidates who receive a very low score on the exam are notified that their performance is so far away from the minimal competence level that they need to engage in serious remediation, like enrolling in another PT educational program, before attempting the NPTE again and that another score that is very low (400 or below) may result in further action by FSBPT. As January 1, 2016, candidates who receive a score of 400 or less will be notified that a second score of 400 or less will result in a lifetime ban. No scores prior to January 1, 2016 will be considered, which means all candidates will have a “clean slate” with regard to this eligibility requirement.

2018 Eligibility Requirements:

English Language Proficiency

Most foreign-educated physical therapists/assistants will need to pass the TOEFL and meet FSBPT’s current score requirements. There are some exemptions to the TOEFL requirement for individuals who are exempt under the USCIS regulations. TOEFL scores must be reported directly to FSBPT for purposes of determining eligibility for the NPTE. States may have different requirements for licensure and submitting TOEFL scores to the FSBPT does not mean that a candidate has met state licensure requirements. For information on each state’s TOEFL requirements visit the state’s website. The current FSBPT TOEFL score requirement is in the table below.

TOEFL Section  Minimum Score 
Reading 
21
Listening 18 
Writing 24 
Speaking 26

Substantial Equivalence

Graduates from non-CAPTE accredited programs will need to demonstrate their education is equivalent to a CAPTE accredited education by having an authorized agency complete an evaluation using the current version of FSBPT’s Coursework Tool (CWT). Click here for contact information for agencies authorized to use the CWT.

Appeals Process

Candidates who are ineligible to register for the NPTE because they do not meet eligibility requirements are able to request that a jurisdiction appeal on their behalf to FSBPT. The only eligibility requirements that can be appealed through this process are 1) 6-time lifetime limit and 2) the 2 very low scores policy. The 2018 eligibility requirements are not yet in effect. The process is as follows:


  1. Download the APPEALS FORM.
  2. Complete the appeals form.
  3. Submit the completed form to the jurisdiction where you have been seeking licensure. Jurisdiction contact information.
  4. The state licensing board will review the appeal request and determine whether they will submit to FSBPT.
  5. Appeals that are submitted to the FSBPT by a jurisdiction on behalf of a candidate will be reviewed and a decision made within 30 days.
  6. Candidates will be notified by FSBPT if an appeal has been granted.
  7. When an appeal is granted, the individual has ONE YEAR to register for ONE ADDITIONAL exam attempt.
  8. Candidates who appeal will need to be able to demonstrate that they are qualified to take the NPTE and are a bona fide candidate for licensure in a state.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  FSBPT will NOT review appeals requests directly from candidates.  The appeal must come from a jurisdiction.

FAQs

If I didn’t get an email about the new eligibility requirements, do they still apply to me?
All individuals applying for exams in 2016 will be subject to the new eligibility requirements even if they did not receive a letter.

Why is FSBPT implementing new eligibility requirements?
FSBPT’s mission is one of public protection and one of our primary ways of protecting the public is by ensuring that the NPTE is a valid, reliable measure of entry-level competence. Our members, the licensing authorities for 53 states and jurisdictions, have discussed enhancing exam security through additional eligibility requirements for several years. It was a topic of discussion at the NPTE Summit in 2011 and at the Leadership Issues Forums in 2012 and 2013. Additional eligibility requirements also communicate to candidates that there are minimum competencies, in addition to graduation from a PT/PTA program, that they must have to attempt the NPTE.

I received an email that said the new eligibility requirements go into effect in 2015. Is that correct?
The changes to the eligibility requirements go into effect when a candidate registers for an exam that will be administered in 2016. This means that the eligibility requirements are based on the exam date you are choosing to take, not the date you are completing the exam registration. Some people will register for 2016 exams as soon as the registration opens which happens in 2015. Anybody registering for exams that will be given in 2016 or later will be subject to the 6-time lifetime limit and the two very low score requirements.

Questions

If you have questions about the eligibility policies please contact examregistration@fsbpt.org