Noncognitive Factors of Grit and Mindset Do Not Predict Performance on the National Physical Therapy Exam : Journal of Physical Therapy Education

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Noncognitive Factors of Grit and Mindset Do Not Predict Performance on the National Physical Therapy Exam

Huebner, Bethany PT, DPT, PhD; Mattocks, Alma PhD, ATC; Pitt, Jason PhD

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Journal of Physical Therapy Education 37(2):p 138-144, June 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/JTE.0000000000000268



National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) performance is predicted to some degree by cognitive measures, such as grade point average (GPA) and the Graduate Record Exam scores. Researchers have begun to explore noncognitive measures, for example, grit and mindset, which could account for other potential determinants of student success in physical therapist (PT) education programs and the NPTE.

Review of Literature. 

There is a paucity of evidence that has explored non‐cognitive factors related to academic performance compared to cognitive factors. Constructs such as grit and mindset have been identified as reliable measures; however, mixed results occur in the literature as how these scales predict NPTE performance. Cognitive factors continue to demonstrate stronger correlations to NPTE performance.


Four PT student cohorts (n = 43, 45, 50, and 49) were enrolled in a prospective cohort study.


Grit and mindset were measured by self-reported questionnaires. Cognitive measures were obtained, including undergraduate cumulative GPA (cGPA), undergraduate science GPA (sGPA), graduate GPA (gGPA), Academic Practice Exam and Assessment Tool (Academic PEAT) scores, and NPTE scores. Pairwise Pearson’s correlation coefficients were calculated for each cohort. National Physical Therapy Exam scores from 2 graduating cohorts were analyzed using multiple linear regression to identify variables that predicted successful outcomes.


Neither grit nor mindset correlated with any cognitive measures. Furthermore, neither grit nor mindset were significantly associated with NPTE scores or outcomes in multivariate regression models. National Physical Therapy Exam scores were significantly associated with gGPA (β = 148.4, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 93.4–203.5) and Academic PEAT scores (β = 0.28, 95% CI = 0.08–0.49).

Discussion and Conclusion. 

Among PT students at a small liberal arts institution in the midwest, grit and mindset were not associated with any indicators of academic success (e.g., cGPA, sGPA, gGPA, Academic PEAT, or NPTE scores). NPTE outcomes were best predicted by gGPA and Academic PEAT scores. These findings conflict with previous reports that grit and mindset are potential markers for academic success and support monitoring gGPA and Academic PEAT scores to identify students who may require additional preparation before sitting for the NPTE.

© 2023 Academy of Physical Therapy Education, APTA

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