When I was studying for the October 2018 NPTE, I couldn’t find any helpful study plans. There were a few study plans that you had to pay for, but I eventually had to create a study plan on my own.
I’ve created several NPTE study plans to help. These study plans are similar to how I studied, or how I would study differently if I spread my studying out over several more weeks.
Disclaimer that is obvious but needs to be included: I haven’t personally tried out any of these study plans, nor can I guarantee passing the NPTE if you use a plan exactly as written. These are guidelines to help create your own study plan, but it’s up to your own efforts to be successful.
What if you hate study plans?
Don’t follow one.
The main thing I recommend planning is to space your practice exams every 1.5-3 weeks.
You don’t need to plan your studying each day to pass. As an almost licensed physical therapist, you know how to study and you know what you need to study. Focus on the main categories of the exam, and don’t stress about memorizing insignificant details.
Does anyone actually follow their study plan?
Some people probably do, but I doubt that most students follow a strict study plan like the ones below. Study plans are meant to be a guideline to keep you on track, and should be changed as your studying progresses.
Life gets in the way. Sometimes you will feel burned out on studying and need a rest day. Sometimes you’re invited to go on a weekend trip, which would get in the way of your planned 4 hours of studying. Plan on changing your study plan often, if you create and attempt to follow one.
How to use these study plans
I don’t recommend using the study plans exactly as I’ve created them. Each study plan should be used as a general guideline, and will need to be altered to better fit your life. Everybody will study differently depending on personal needs and current life situations. Please use the following steps below to create a good study plan for yourself:
Step 1: Take a practice exam
I highly recommend taking a practice exam about 2-3 months before you plan on beginning your studying. This gives you enough time to determine if you want to prepare for a few months, or if you feel okay with studying 6 weeks before your NPTE date. I recommend taking a practice exam from the Scorebuilders or TherapyEd books and saving the PEAT exams until later.
Step 2: Choose the # of weeks you need to study
Based on your practice NPTE exam score, how good you felt about answering the questions, and how much free time you have, choose a length of time that works for you.
Most of my classmates studied 6-8 weeks, which I feel is a good amount of time to study. However, a 12 week plan may be better if you want to spread your studying out, especially if you’re going to take the NPTE while you are still in school.
Step 3: Choose a pre-made study plan below
There are different versions of each, so try to choose the one that works best for you. If you don’t like any, I’ve included a blank plan at the very end. There are Microsoft Word versions (using the font Calibri) and PDF versions of each study plan.
Step 4: Customize your study plan
Now that you’ve decided on a study plan (or a blank study plan), edit the plan so it’ll work better for you. I recommend printing out the study plan and writing on it, editing the plan on your computer before printing it, or creating an electronic copy in a calendar app.
You’ll need to change the “NPTE Exam” if your test date isn’t on a Tuesday.
I included about “review weak areas” in study plan because you’ll need some flexibility. You can add more specific details once your studying has progressed and you know what you need to study more.
Here are some questions to consider when you’re creating a personalized study plan:
- Is there a topic you find the most difficult?
- Do you hate studying one subject and want to get it out of the way?
- Will you want to take 5-8 practice exams, or just 2-3?
- Do you have vacation or graduation plans?
- Will you need extra practice to improve test-taking skills?
- Do you get bored easily and want to study a different subject every day?
- Would you prefer to study only 3 days a week? 5 hours/day? No studying on weekends?
Create an ideal study plan. Don’t spend more than 1 hour on it, and then just start studying. Don’t worry if you’re not sure if the plan works for you. Adjust your plan as you go, maybe every 1-2 weeks.
Try to set aside a certain number of hours of studying per week, if that works for you. My plans are around 15-20 hours/week, with fewer for the 12 week plan. Focus on the main categories of the NPTE, which include musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, and cardiopulmonary. Set aside less time for the other systems and non-systems.
The most important thing to follow are your scheduled practice exam days. Ideally you would spread the exams about 1.5-3 weeks from each other, so you have time to review all the exam questions and then to study any areas you need to improve. You probably don’t want to take all your practice exams in the month before the NPTE, so make sure you’re not falling behind on those.
The most important thing to remember
Take breaks! Have fun. If you want to take a week-long break, who cares?
Studying for the NPTE is not your life. You are very likely to pass the exam. You’ve been learning for the last 2.5 – 3 years, and are well prepared to pass. Don’t let yourself get too worried or stressed about the exam.
NPTE Study Plans
Don’t see a study plan that works for you? Need help editing your plan? Send me a message and I’ll try to help as best as I can.
6 weeks – with 4 practice exams
6 weeks – when studying is boring
8 weeks – when busy with clinicals
8 weeks – 5 practice exams
8 weeks – when studying is boring
12 weeks – when busy with clinicals
Blank study plan – up to 12 weeks
Where else can you find study plans?
Maybe you don’t like these study plans, or you want to view other ideas and see if something is better for you.
Here are other places you can find study plans:
- Scorebuilders textbook
- TherapyEd textbook
- NPTE Unfiltered
- PT Progress
- Paid NPTE Study courses (check websites to confirm)