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The Surprising Piece You’re Missing in Your NPTE Prep

How do you tackle something that’s not tangible?

As physical therapists and assistants, we live in the world of touch and tangibility. The abstract and non-tangible tends to make less sense to us. Yet, as some of you have learned the hard way, the non-tangible mindset is a bigger piece of solving the NPTE-success puzzle than you thought.

Just as we learned in school about the immense changes our brains can undergo via neuroplasticity, we are malleable too. We learn, change, shift, and adapt. That’s what PT school was all about, anyway. Drinking from a firehose and learning to juggle the information you were supposed to know with the information you had to know to keep up and pass certainly requires malleability.


Information is great. It’s the lifeblood of our profession. We treat using knowledge, cunning, and critical thinking.

Yet, shockingly, your knowledge abilities are NOT the answer to this test.

Knowledge fluctuates. It ebbs and flows. Use it or lose it. It bend to your current mindset and perspective.

In other words, your abilities change as your mindset and perspective changes.

We already know this in therapy. We know the body is much more capable than someone often gives credit to it. This can be demonstrated even in collegiate runners. They LOVE to run. They run all the time. They have scholarships and competitions dependent on their running abilities. And yet, in the lab, it is evident that simple verbal encouragement allows them to run harder and faster and longer than they thought they could.


We also know from pain science research that patients with central sensitization tend to have increased pain and pain experiences with increased stress. Mindset, circumstances, and the perspective of circumstances literally changes their brain’s interpretation of danger.

Then, there’s the stories of increased stress actually aiding knowledge and abilities.

Think about miraculous stories you’ve heard of people who never learned CPR, or who took a class 18 years ago. They never assume they’d have to use that information. Even without any formal training, people still go for it. AND they can succeed. It’s probably nowhere near perfect - but, it’s perfect to the person whose life was preserved.

In that instance, mindset shifts to survival mode. The best is put forward without time for timidity or answering to fears.

Image by Dave M from Pixabay


The case in point is that mindset SHIFTS knowledge and experience. And this can be either to the good or to the bad. So the first step on your NPTE® journey is to recognize how you’re knowledge has been responding to your mindset.

Think about your panic mode. When does it happen? The anxiousness of failing and the uncertainly of your future career magnify after you bomb that practice test because your confidence in yourself tanks.

Simply recognizing the degree to which your abilities are influenced by your mindset is a great start.

Suffice it to say that mindset preparation is as valuable and important as your other NPTE preparation.


Takeaway Prescription

Your prescription for the day and this week is to find ONE way to enhance your mindset.

What lifts you up?

What gets you out of bed?

What do you enjoy?

What calms your fears?

What eases your anxiety?

Where is your happy place?



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