Student Eligibility for the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE)

In order to gain access to the NPTE, candidates must meet certain eligibility requirements from both 1) the state in which they seek licensure and 2) The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). Students are encouraged to refer to the FSBPT website for updates and modifications regarding student eligibility and the process of applying for the NPTE.

Current FSBPT Eligibility Requirements (3/2015):

  • You must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Submit an online registration and pay the registration fee.
  • Have a degree appropriate for the exam level from a CAPTE accredited institution, or
    • Be within 90 days of graduation from a CAPTE accredited institution.(NOTE: For PA state licensure, students may NOT take the NPTE prior to graduation); or
    • Have an education that is deemed substantially equivalent.
  • Have only tested 3 times out of the last 4 test dates (Maximum attempts in any 12-month period per exam level is 3).
  • Have complied with any test security requests made by FSBPT staff.
  • Have completed any sanctions related to a disciplinary action taken by FSBPT or a jurisdiction licensing authority.
  • Be approved by the licensing authority (board) in the state or jurisdiction where they intend to be licensed.

2016 FSBPT Eligibility Requirements:

The requirements below will be in addition to the current FSBPT requirements. FSBPT’s eligibility requirements are not the same as a jurisdiction’s requirements for licensure.

Lifetime Limit:
Candidates will be able to take the exam a maximum of 6 times. An individual can take the NPTE for PTs 6 times and also take the NPTE for PTAs 6 times if he or she is otherwise qualified to do so. Candidates will still be allowed up to 3 attempts per year but now will have a 6 time total limit. As of January 1, 2016, any candidate who has already tested 6 times will no longer be allowed to test unless a jurisdiction chooses to appeal this policy on a specific candidate’s behalf (see “appeals process” below).

Candidates who have not yet passed the exam received a notice from FSBPT in 2014 explaining the new requirement and implementation date. The notice period allows candidates to take up to 3 attempts in 2015. There will be no “grandfathering” for candidates who registered prior to this requirement going into effect. All candidates who do not have a passing score and have tested in the last 3 years will be notified of the changes and have until January 1, 2016 to pass the exam prior to the new requirements going into effect.

Low Score Limit:
Candidates who receive two very low scores on the exam, currently defined as performing at or close to chance level (scale scores 400 and below), will not be allowed to test again. Candidates who receive a very low score on the exam are notified that their performance is so far away from the minimal competence level that they need to engage in serious remediation, like enrolling in another PT educational program, before attempting the NPTE again and that another score that is very low (400 or below) may result in further action by FSBPT. As January 1, 2016, candidates who receive a score of 400 or less will be notified that a second score of 400 or less will result in a lifetime ban. No scores prior to January 1, 2016 will be considered, which means all candidates will have a “clean slate” with regard to this eligibility requirement.

2017 FSBPT Eligibility Requirements:

English Language Proficiency:
Most foreign-educated physical therapists/assistants will need to pass the TOEFL and meet FSBPT’s current score requirements. There are some exemptions to the TOEFL requirement for individuals who are exempt under the USCIS regulations. TOEFL scores must be reported directly to FSBPT for purposes of determining eligibility for the NPTE. States may have different requirements for licensure and submitting TOEFL scores to the FSBPT does not mean that a candidate has met state licensure requirements. For information on each state’s TOEFL requirements visit the state’s website. The current FSBPT TOEFL score requirement is in the table below.

TOEFL Section Minimum Score
Reading 21
Listening 18
Writing 24
Speaking 26

Appeals Process:
Candidates who are ineligible to register for the NPTE because they do not meet eligibility requirements will be able to appeal. Candidates who appeal will need to be able to demonstrate that they are qualified to take the NPTE and are a bona fide candidate for licensure in a state. A candidate should remediate prior to reaching the 6-time lifetime limit or 2 low-score limit. Appeals will not be accepted until registration opens for the 2016 exams. At that time this webpage will be updated with specific instructions on how to appeal and any appropriate forms.

Jurisdiction Requirements:
To approve a candidate to sit for the NPTE, at a minimum, jurisdictions will require:

  • The candidate is a graduate of or graduating from a PT or PTA program that meets the accreditation standards of the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) or is deemed substantially equivalent.

For a complete list of jurisdiction requirements visit the FSBPT website for the state in which you are seeking licensure. For PA licensure see State Board of PA at


Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Alvernia University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email:; website: The program's current status is probationary accreditation; for more information see If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 610-568-1546 or email

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