PT program quickly reaches 100 percent first-time pass rate on national exam

by Chuck Gordon

Wingate University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program has come a long way in its six years of existence. This year, its fourth graduating class hit a huge milestone, perhaps earlier than expected: 100 percent first-time pass rate on the national physical therapy exam (NTPE).

“We are so thrilled for our students, our program and Wingate University,” said Dr. Karen Friel, program director. “This is a milestone that some programs never achieve, and it is especially significant given this is only our fourth graduating class.”

Karen Friel

The NTPE is a grueling five-hour exam that is administered four times a year. Students who do not pass the first time are eligible to take it again. According to the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy, a relatively high percentage pass on the first try: The average first-time pass rate for accredited U.S. programs is generally between 91 percent and 93 percent (it was 91 percent in 2018). The FSBPT does not publically report individual schools’ first-time pass rates.

Wingate’s first cohort of doctor of physical therapy students graduated in December 2016. Their first-time pass rate on the NTPE was 73.2 percent. That number made incremental progress over the next two years, to 87.8 percent in 2017 and 90.2 percent – roughly the national average – in 2018.

The 2019 class then jumped to 100 percent.

“There is usually a natural progression and improvement in scores as a program matures,” Friel said, “but this has been a rapid and significant improvement.

“A first-time pass rate of 100 percent puts us in some very good company with the best programs in the country. It is testimony to the caliber of students that Wingate attracts, the quality of our faculty and classroom instruction, and the excellent and hard work of our clinical partners who accept them for their internships.”

Since the Wingate DPT program’s founding, 201 out of 204 graduates who have taken the exam have ultimately passed.

Learn more about earning a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at Wingate, or pre-professional programs to help you prepare for graduate school in the health sciences.

Feb. 7, 2020