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The purpose of this text is to help a physical therapist candidate prepare for the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE), and to equip the candidate with some excellent study tools. These study tools are designed to review the required level of didactic information, and to prepare for the NPTE by focusing on key topic areas.


The NPTE is a 5-hour, 250-question (200 scored, 50 pretest), multiple-choice examination. Preparing and sitting for such a comprehensive 5-hour examination can appear to be a daunting task. However, with the appropriate guidance about what to review from the pertinent subject areas, the student should be able to study with real direction and focus.

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The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) develops and administers the NPTE for both physical therapists and physical therapist assistants in 53 jurisdictions—the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Further information about the NPTE is available at

The information presented in this study guide is intended to be all-inclusive so that candidates do not have to use a number of texts to study for the examination. While it is hoped that the majority of information presented is familiar to candidates, some areas may require additional study prior to the examination. Special emphasis has been placed on subject areas that have traditionally been found to be weak. In addition to the chapters covering musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiovascular, pulmonary, pediatric, geriatric, and integumentary physical therapy, there are also chapters on special topics such as administration, education, research, pharmacology, orthotics/prosthetics, adjuctive interventions, therapeutic exercise, and pathologic/psychological conditions. Given the importance that both the musculoskeletal and neurologic systems play in the field of physical therapy, greater emphasis is placed on these two systems, as is reflected in the relative size of their respective chapters. Illustrations and tables are provided throughout the text to help retain information. In addition, the layout of the book has been designed to allow candidates to add information in the margins.


The simulated examination questions on the CD-ROM are designed to help diagnose the strengths and vulnerabilities of the reader’s academic and clinical backgrounds. After taking the simulated examination, the reader is provided with a performance analysis, which provides feedback about areas of vulnerability and strength, emphasizing those areas that require additional study. The examination that is provided on the CD-ROM is also available online, to provide the reader a true sense as to how it feels to sit in front of a computer and take the NPTE examination.


It is hoped that the contents of this book, the CD-ROM, and the online information will help the reader organize and focus his or her study in the most efficient and effective manner. This is a work in progress in the everchanging world of physical therapy. The author would welcome any suggestions for changes or additions. Please email your suggestions and comments to

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