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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

Cheating Scandals Change PT Certification Exams

Published March 30, 2011 10:20 AM by Danielle Bullen

The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy recently announced a switch to fixed date testing on July 1. Previously, new physical therapy graduates could sign up and take the certification exam whenever was convenient for them. Under the new guidelines, graduates can take the exam on three set dates in 2011: September 7, October 26, 2011, and December 5, 2011. The continuous testing option will expire on June 30.

The FSBPT claims the new regulations were put in place "address security concerns and protect the integrity of the National Physical Therapy Examination." The reason behind the change has to do with past cheating violations. Each version of the NPTE will not contain "previously compromised items." The board wants to reduce the possibility that test takers will have access to the questions in advance. After allegations that graduates of physical therapy programs in Egypt, India, Pakistan and the Philippines were sharing test questions with each other, the Georgia State Board of Physical Therapy offered different versions of the tests to students from those countries. In February, the Georgia Superior Court issued an injunction prohibiting the Georgia State Board of Physical Therapy from mandating students from those countries take a different test. In response, the Federation of State Board of Physical Therapy made the switch to fixed date testing, hoping to ward off future question and answer sharing scandals.

But what does this mean for physical therapy students from the rest of the country?  If they're in a program that graduates in December 2011, how long will they have to wait to take the exam? Being able to schedule the test when the material is fresh in their heads is a bonus for students. Time can be the enemy of memory. What will happen if too long a period of time passes? It seems to be a case of the majority of honest students having to pay for the infractions of a very small dishonest minority.

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