Two Georgia State University Class of 2019 Doctor of Physical Therapy graduates attained the unique goal of making the highest possible score on the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE). It’s not uncommon to have one student score 800 out of 800 on the exam, having two do so is quite unusual, especially out of a small group. Jared Davis and Joe Hoyt were among 14 students who took the exam before graduation. Both scored 800 out of 800 on the NPTE during their first attempt in April and were shocked at passing the exam on the first try and earning top scores.
“Is that a glitch?” Hoyt asked when he learned his numeric score. “I legitimately thought I could have failed,” he said. The exam was tricky; he quickly narrowed down answers to two options on most questions but selecting the correct final answer was harder. Davis felt the general medical questions were the most difficult as they related to conditions the PT students rarely saw in clinical.
“You’re looking for red flags, which is difficult as many [conditions] can present similarly,” said Davis about non-PT conditions that require a medical referral.
Hoyt and Davis are grateful that the Georgia State PT program prepared them well for the exam and future PT practice. They said the faculty taught thoroughly in class and clinical. For Hoyt, immersing himself in the PT program from his first day made a difference in his success. For Davis, a two-day exam preparatory session helped identify his potential areas of weakness. Passing the exam before graduation was a goal for both students as each was ready to start his career as soon as possible.
“When I found out I could take the April boards, I decided it was worth the extra pressure,” says Hoyt.
“I was really motivated to start working as soon as possible,” said Davis. “I knew it [the exam] would be stressful but thought it would be achievable.” A previous Georgia State alum, Davis worked at Grady Hospital as a PT aide before enrolling in the DPT program. Observation on the job helped him in school and on the exam.
Davis begins a PT travel therapy position in rural Georgia in early June, rotating between an in- patient and outpatient hospital care units and a skilled nursing facility. He says the job is an excellent way to experience several areas of PT practice early in his career. He plans to move to California in the future and eventually to work in an outpatient setting. Hoyt has started working for a rehabilitation clinic south of Atlanta and waits to receive his Georgia license.
Required by states to practice therapy, the national NPTE exam questions focus on patient scenarios. The five-hour exam includes 50 experimental questions, which do not count in the test taker’s overall score. Therefore, the 800 out of 800 is not a perfect score.
“I could miss all 50 of the trial questions and still make 800 out of 800 on the exam,” said Davis.
The national average for passing the NPTE on the first attempt is 91%. Georgia State has consistently held a 97%-100% first-time pass rate.