Competition is fierce for the coveted spots available in top tier physical therapy schools. You’ll need to do some careful planning and some preparatory work to get an edge over the competition. Below, we’ve listed some admission tips on how to give yourself a better chance to get into physical therapy school.
All physical therapy schools have their own list of specific requirements, but addressing all of the following points will give you a much better chance of getting into the school of your choice.
GPA or GRE
All physical therapy schools require a minimum grade point average (GPA) to qualify for entry. But the actual minimum is specific to each institution. The average GPA score required to qualify for a physical therapy school during the 2009-2010 academic year was 3.47. Aim high, and accrue a better GPA to boost your chances of having your application accepted ahead of other applicants.
More advanced physical therapy schools require a completed GRE (Graduate Record Examination). Complete your GRE at least six weeks in advance of the application deadline to increase your chances of having your GRE work in your favor.
Having some kind of clinical experience – even if it’s only volunteer experience – greatly increases your chances of having your application bumped to the top of the list. Having clinical experience under your belt shows not only that you know what you are doing, but that you are dedicated to your future career.
Some schools may require specific verification of your clinical experience in the form of documentation including hours worked, the field of specialization (if any), or other factors, all signed off on by a licensed physical therapist. Always check into the specific requirements of the institution to which you are applying when submitting evidence of clinical experience, or any other documentation.
Letters of Recommendation
Some physical therapy schools will require written letters of recommendation as part of your applications process. You may need as many as four letters of recommendation from appropriate individuals to qualify for top tier institutions. Usually appropriate candidates are licensed physical therapists, academic professors, academic advisors, or other prominent members of your community – though this last is often used to speak more to your character than to your academic qualifications.
Information provided should include favourable assessments of your knowledge, practical experience, your communication skills, dedication, commitment to helping your community and patients, and so on.
The admission interview is an important step in your application process, and will figure largely in determining your success or failure. A goodly number of factors go into this process, and we recommend that you take the time to read up on our in-depth guide to “Applying for a Physical Therapy School: Interview Tips”, which can be found in the Physical Therapist Education Tips section of the website.
It’s important to do well here since you’re being graded not only on your knowledge, but also on your ability to communicate comfortably and intelligently with others, which is an absolutely essential skill to a physical therapist. Specific questions you’re likely to be asked are covered in our in-depth guide mentioned above.
There are other factors than the ones listed above, of course, but these constitute the basic necessities you’ll need to cover in order to increase your chances of being accepted to the physical therapist school of your choice. Always take the time to check into the specific requirements of any school you are applying to. And you would be well advised to keep up with the APTA (American Physical Therapist Association) ’s website at http://www.apta.org as they compile and maintain in-depth information on many of the aspects of the physical therapy field pertinent to potential students. Good luck!