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2024 National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE)

The National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) is a pivotal step for those aspiring to become licensed physical therapists in the United States. In 2024, the NPTE continues its tradition of rigorously testing candidates’ knowledge and skills in physical therapy. This comprehensive guide aims to provide an in-depth look at the content breakdown of the NPTE, focusing on the examination’s structure, especially the distribution of questions across various body systems.

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  • Purpose: To evaluate candidates’ readiness for entry-level physical therapist roles.
  • Format: Computer-based, multiple-choice exam.

Content Breakdown

  1. Musculoskeletal System
    • Proportion of Exam: ~30%
    • Focus: Assessment, treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, biomechanics, kinesiology, manual therapy.
    • Clinical Examples: Fractures, arthritis, sprains, post-op rehab.
  2. Neuromuscular System
    • Proportion: ~20%
    • Focus: Neurological assessment, treatment of neurological disorders, neuroplasticity, motor learning.
    • Clinical Examples: Stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury.
  3. Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Systems
    • Proportion: ~15%
    • Focus: Cardiopulmonary rehab, pathologies, exercise prescription.
    • Clinical Examples: Heart failure, COPD, hypertension.
  4. Integumentary System
    • Proportion: ~5%
    • Focus: Wound management, skin pathologies, healing modalities.
    • Clinical Examples: Burns, ulcers, post-surgical wounds.
  5. Other Systems
    • Proportion: ~15%
    • Focus: Gastrointestinal, genitourinary, endocrine, lymphatic systems.
    • Clinical Examples: Lymphedema, incontinence, metabolic diseases.
  6. Non-System Domains
    • Proportion: ~15%
    • Focus: Professional roles, ethics, legal aspects, administration, research.
    • Clinical Application: Broader responsibilities of a physical therapist.

Exam Format and Scoring

  • Total Questions: 225
  • Real Questions: 180 (scored)
  • Sample Test Questions: 45 (not scored, used for future exams)
  • Time Allotted: ~5 hours
  • Scoring Method: Based on correct answers, no penalty for guessing.

Preparation Tips

  • Study Resources: Current textbooks, NPTE prep courses, online materials.
  • Practice Tests: Simulate exam conditions for better preparation.
  • Ongoing Learning: Keep abreast of the latest research and developments in physical therapy.


The NPTE of 2024 presents a well-structured and comprehensive assessment for aspiring physical therapists. Understanding the detailed content breakdown, especially the distinction between real and sample questions, is essential for effective preparation. With diligent study and awareness of the exam’s structure, candidates can approach the NPTE with confidence, ready to embark on their professional journey in physical therapy.

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