Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-3-2018



A Case Study of the Characteristics for Successful First Time Passing of

the National Physical Therapy Exam in

The University of New Mexico Doctor of Physical Therapy 2012-2017 Cohorts


Beth Moody Jones


B.S., Physical Therapy, University of Vermont, 1982

M.S., Orthopedic Physcial Therapy,Old Dominion University, 1994

D.P.T., A.T.Still University of Health Sciences, 2004

Ed.D., University of New Mexico, 2018

Not passing the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) has significant consequences. If a student does not pass the NPTE on the first attempt they can retake the examination, however a student may only take the examination a maximum of three times in any 12-month period and, effective as of January 2016, there is a 6-time lifetime limit on NPTE attempts. Individual state boards have ultimate regulatory oversight on retakes and/or remediation. In the state of New Mexico, there is an in-depth remediation program.

The purpose of this study was to look at multiple variables that were presented as potential factors for success (admissions criteria, within program testing, hidden curriculum, personality traits such as grit and mindset, age and timeframe from undergraduate degree and race/ethnicity) to determine their impact on successful first time passing of the NPTE within the case boundaries of the University of New Mexico DPT 2012 -2017 cohorts.

This study was a programmatic evaluation intrinsic case study design bounded with one physical therapy program over a six-year span. This study underlined the important characteristics of admissions and the curriculum, as well as student characteristics, that may lead to successful first time passage of the NPTE. Through study of the quantitative measures that were accessible, such as admissions criteria and cumulative in-program comprehensive examinations (STEP exams and PEAT exam), as well as qualitative aspects of students who were both successful and not successful in their first attempt at the NPTE, the potential predictors of success that may frame admissions policies and within curriculum policies are discussed.


DPT, NPTE, UNM, physical therapy education, curriculum, benchmark exams

Document Type




Degree Name

Educational Leadership

Level of Degree


Department Name

Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy

First Committee Member (Chair)

Allison M. Borden

Second Committee Member

Arlie Woodrum

Third Committee Member

Russ Romans

Fourth Committee Member

Cheri Koinis