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The 4 Types of Students Who Fail the NPTE

Your Type Can Determine Your Outcome On The NPTE


Studying and preparing for standardized tests can feel like mental gymnastics, mixed with an emotional rollercoaster. The volume of material to commit to memory may feel daunting. You don’t know what study methods are best for you to implement, or which mountain of advice to follow, or how you’ll find the money, time or solace to study. Your priorities are skewed, and you fall into a comfortable rut that gives you the same failed results each time. I’ve been there and can empathize with those of you who can’t pass the NPTE. You may think that you’re failed attempts with the NPTE or practice exams are because you can’t learn the information; however, it’s much simpler than that. Here I’ll detail the 4 types of students who fail the NPTE. At the end of this blog, I challenge you to strive to become like student #4 by tomorrow.


Student #1: The Retreater



This student has taken and failed the NPTE and/or practice exams on one or many occasions. They retreat to their comfort zone and study using the same habits and methods that failed them to begin with. On occasion, they may seek out help or guidance from a friend. However, they retreat right back to following their comfortable, yet flawed pattern of study.


The Retreater needs to take a step backward and carefully examine themselves and understand what type of learner they are and what study methods are best suited for him/her.


If you’re more of an auditory learner, then flashcards aren’t your strong suit. Try to implement repeating the information out loud and listening to videos and podcasts to help seal in the info. However, if you’re a visual learner, flashcards, charts, and tables may be your best friend. Then some learners engage more with text via reading and writing, and kinesthetic learners who are hands-on students. Next, you need to analyze and figure out the “why” of the questions being asked. Once you take these steps, you will be more comfortable and effective with the change in your study habits.


Student #2: The Misguided



As the description implies, this student is misguided. They are filled with misguided advice and misguided good intentions. Unbeknownst to them, they are listening to the wrong people. And the first lesson to learn is that preparation and studying methods are not a one size fits all approach. There is nothing cookie cutter about studying for the NPTE, just like there is nothing cookie cutter about treating a patient’s low back pain. We each have our own strengths and weaknesses, and you must figure out what yours are in order to dominate the NPTE.


If you are given well-intended advice, you must do with that advice the same thing you’d do for your future PT patients; critically think about the information presented to you and ask how or if the given advice would benefit you. Also, ask “why” that specific piece of advice worked for that student. Do you both have the same strengths, weaknesses or learning styles? If not, then their advice may not fit your needs.


Student #3: The Average Student



While this student will give 100% effort and do whatever it takes to pass the exam, their approach is like that of an average student. This student utilizes basic review courses and read textbooks, which are all typical and expected approaches to the NPTE. While these resources are great and proven helpful, utilizing these measures alone may not guarantee that you’ll pass the NPTE.


Additionally, the average student tends to be limited by some level of a resource. They use time, finances, children or family as the reason they don’t go above and beyond. They’ll exclaim that they failed because, “I didn’t have enough time to prepare” or “I didn’t have enough money to pay for courses.” Yet, in the same breath, they will prioritize purchasing new phones, computers, and other expensive items, but not prioritize investing in their preparation to become a licensed physical therapist. Ask yourself if you are limited by particular resources which are preventing you from striving above and beyond.


Student #4: The Extraordinary: 150% Effort



This is the student you should strive to be tomorrow. This student is a true overachiever and operates at 150% effort. They have no limitations. If finances are an issue with purchasing a course, they’ll hustle until they acquire what they need. If they are tired, they’ll reorganize their priorities to have better time management. Their mantra is, “Can do, and will do, what others won’t do.” You may ask yourself if this is the ideal student, how did they fail the NPTE? It could be as simple as having a pacing problem during the exam or not taking advantage of the time breaks to prevent mental burnout. Once the problem has been addressed, their persistence and focus are honed on dominating the NPTE to become a physical therapist that will change the profession.


Now that the four types of students have been laid out be honest with yourself and state which student you are. Then ask yourself what you have to do to become student #4 and give 150% effort. Step out of your comfort zone and embrace the change in study habits you need to make. Do not be lead astray. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses before blindly accepting every piece of advice you’re given. Strive to be more than an average student. Refrain from making excuses about your perceived limitations. Finally, the ride or die mantra, “I can do and will do, what others won’t do.” Put 150% effort in all that you do, and you’ll dominate the NPTE.     

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