Predicting Academic and Licensure Examination Success Among Physical Therapist Assistant Students

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Identifying and admitting students most likely to succeed is key to physical therapist assistant (PTA) student and program success. However, there is currently no information available regarding admission criteria outcomes among PTA students. The purpose of this research was to examine quantitative PTA program admission criteria and their ability to predict student academic and National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) success.


All CAPTE-accredited PTA programs were asked to return data for each student admitted to the program since 2009 including those who graduated, were dismissed, or left the program. Data on 2809 PTA students from 31 programs in 24 states were used for this research. Predictor variables included prerequisite course grades, overall prerequisite GPA, and standardized test scores. Outcome variables included dichotomized academic success (academic difficulty/no academic difficulty) based on research by Utzman et al and ultimate NPTE status (pass/fail). Binary logistic regression with multiple models was used for data analysis.


A&P I grade (academic: odds ratio = 1.44, P = .0005; NPTE: odds ratio = 1.72, P = .007), overall prerequisite GPA (academic: odds ratio = 2.02, P = .0005; NPTE: odds ratio = 2.14, P = .0005), and TEAS total score (academic: odds ratio = 1.05, P = .0005; NPTE: odds ratio = 1.06, P = .006) were the only significant predictors of both academic and NPTE success. For both outcomes, A&P I, GPA, and TEAS remained the significant predictors regardless of the program type (public/private/for-profit), students' sex, and students' ethnicity.

Discussion and Conclusion.

When establishing the PTA program admission criteria, A&P I grade, overall prerequisite GPA, and TEAS total score offer predictive values for both academic and NPTE success regardless of the program type, students' sex, and students' ethnicity. These scores should be important contributors to admission decisions for PTA education.

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