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NPTE - PT and PTA Exam overview.

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

Purpose of the NPTE Program

The PT and PTA exams are designed to assess a candidate’s basic entry-level competence after graduation from a PT or PTA program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) or from an equivalent non-accredited program. The exams have two main purposes: 1. To help ensure that only those individuals who have the requisite knowledge of physical therapy are licensed in the physical therapy field 2. To help regulatory authorities evaluate candidates and provide standards that are comparable from jurisdiction to jurisdiction

General Eligibility Requirements

In order to sit for the NPTE, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

1. You must be at least eighteen years old.

2. You must have a degree appropriate for the exam level from a CAPTE-accredited institution. Candidates who did not graduate from a CAPTE-accredited institution should see the additional requirements outlined below.

3. You cannot have an open security investigation or sanctions that have not been completed.

Non-CAPTE Accredited Institutions

Licensing authorities set additional eligibility requirements for candidates who graduated from a non-CAPTE institution. Make sure you have thoroughly reviewed your jurisdiction’s licensure requirements before you register for the NPTE. You will not be able to schedule an appointment until your licensing authority has reviewed your registration and made you eligible to sit for the NPTE.

Testing Limits

The following testing limits apply to all candidates taking the NPTE:

1. You cannot test more than three consecutive times. If you have tested three consecutive times, you must skip the next exam date.

2. You cannot test more than six times in your lifetime at either exam level. You may test up to six times at both the PT and PTA level if you are otherwise qualified to test at both levels.

3. You cannot test if you previously took the exam twice and received two very low scores, defined as any scaled score below 400.

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.

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 Leve


Total Questions

Testing Time

Total Appointment Time*

Physical Therapist (PT)




5 Hours, 30 minutes

Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA)




4 Hours, 30 minutes

*Includes scheduled break time, pre-exam tutorial and post-exam survey.

Get three Full exams 250Q/Exam now

Rescheduling, Withdrawing, and No-Shows

Once you have scheduled a testing appointment with Prometric, you can change your exam location, depending on availability, by contacting Prometric. You can only reschedule your exam appointment within the same testing window. Rescheduling fees apply and are calculated based on how far in advance of the exam date you are requesting to reschedule:

Days before Cancellation/Rescheduling


30+ days before scheduled exam

No Charge

5–29 days before scheduled exam


Less than 5 days before scheduled exam

Full Sitting Fee

What does the NPTE Passing Score Reflect?

Setting a passing score involves the process by which a performance standard is established. The passing score typically reflects the test score corresponding to a desired level of performance and is used for making decisions about what level of performance is high enough for a given purpose. The passing scores established for the national physical therapy licensure examinations (NPTE) reflect the level of performance required to provide minimally safe and competent physical therapy services by physical therapists and physical therapist assistants.

Individuals scoring at or above the passing score have met the performance standard and are eligible for licensure, and individuals scoring below the passing score have failed to meet the performance standard and are not yet eligible for licensure. The term “passing score” is used interchangeably with the terms cut score and performance standard.

Exam Security on Test Day

Candidates are required to provide two currently valid forms of identification to be able to sit for the examination. Before entering the testing room, a Prometric staff member will take your photograph, scan you with a metal detector wand, and take a digital image of your fingerprint. You will need to give a fingerprint scan each time you enter or leave the testing room. Additionally, Prometric records all testing sessions on video.

Exam Security after Test Day

FSBPT conducts additional validation and screening analyses following testing. In some cases, examination records are selected for additional validation analyses. Reasons we may hold scores include: • A mismatch between registration data and data received from Prometric, • Response patterns that suggest a very narrow range of studying, • An incident at a test center that requires investigation, • The score is very low (near guessing), • Very large score gains. Candidates whose examinations are held for additional validation will be contacted through email by FSBPT staff. Candidates will be required to provide additional information about how they prepared for the NPTE. FSBPT will not release these candidates’ scores until they complete this additional investigation or if the candidates provide inaccurate information. Candidates who do not complete the investigation within sixty days of testing are subject to having their scores canceled.

For more details Download Candidate Handbook

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