Program Factors Influencing Success on Npte Exam
Purpose: Physical therapists currently receive 2.5-3 years of education at the professional doctoral level, and must pass a comprehensive board exam (NPTE) prior to licensure. As most students are post baccalaureate prior to starting the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program, the cost associated with professional DPT education is growing. Cost to apply for licensure and take the NPTE is at least $600 (depending on state license application fees), and if the applicant is unsuccessful, practice is delayed and costs compound. Therefore, success on the NPTE is critical. There is a growing body of literature on characteristics that influence success on the NPTE, such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, clinical education performance, and program grade point average (GPA).1-7 Many studies are correlational in nature, with only a few discussing the contribution of each of the variables to success. Understanding the influence of certain variables that are consistent across programs would provide a baseline for programs to better predict which students might struggle on the NPTE. This knowledge would then allow the program to develop and offer targeted assistance to identified students prior to any unsuccessful attempt. Methods/Description: Student (n=149) data from six cohorts of students from two private university programs representing the Midwest and Southeast United States were analyzed to determine correlation and contribution towards success on the NPTE. Variables used were prerequisite course GPA, overall undergrad GPA, first year program GPA, overall program GPA, GRE (all three subtests and total), and change in program GPA from first year to final. Initially, all three GRE scores were used in the regression model; however, there was a great deal of similarity between them, confounding the model; therefore, the total GRE only was used in the final model. Similarly, first year GPA and overall program GPA were so similar, that only the overall program GPA remained in the final model. Results/Outcomes: Moderate correlations were noted between both total GRE and overall program GPA to NPTE score. There was minimal correlation with prerequisite course or overall undergrad GPA related to NPTE success. Variables that contributed significantly to the regression model were total GRE and overall program GPA, while prerequisite course GPA had a very small negative contribution to the model. Change in GPA throughout the program had a very small effect. Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Insight into factors that contribute to success on the NPTE are useful to programs to support student success on the exam. Based on these findings, our programs may develop activities to work with students on standardized test taking strategies, and in supporting students who appear to struggle with program curriculum. Future studies could add additional cohorts from our programs or from other similar programs to determine if these findings remain consistent.