Exam Blueprint

physiotherapist in blue scrubs making notes on a clipboard while elderly man watches from his seat on exam table

Exam Blueprint for the Written Component

The purpose of a blueprint is to qualitatively and quantitatively describe the content that is covered on an exam, and in what format.

Exam content tested on the Written Component is based on the Physiotherapy Competency Examination Blueprint 2018, which is a competency-based blueprint that aligns with the Competency Profile for Physiotherapists in Canada (2017).

Content of the Written Component

The PCE Blueprint 2018 is organized around seven Domains and four Areas of Practice.

  • Each Domain contains a set of entry-to-practice milestones (i.e., abilities expected of a physiotherapist following the completion of education and at the point of initial licensure).
  • Each Area of Practice contains a set of conditions to be tested on the exam.
  • The blueprint also lists the contextual variables to guide the PCE. These guidelines ensure that the questions selected for each exam are representative of a variety of practice settings and client populations that entry-to-practice physiotherapists are likely to encounter.

Questions appearing on the Written Component are selected from a large bank of exam questions. Each question is mapped to one Domain and one Area of Practice. The blueprint is used to guide the selection of questions for an exam, ensuring that the right type and percentage of questions is included on each exam.

The percentage of exam content and the number of exam questions tested from each Domain and Area of Practice are shown in the tables below.

Domain% of exam questions# of exam questions
Physiotherapy Expertise50 – 60%100 – 120
Communication5 – 15%10 – 30
Collaboration5 – 15%10 – 30
Management3 – 7%6 – 14
Leadership3 – 7%6 – 14
Scholarship3 – 7%6 – 14
Professionalism5 – 15%10 – 30
Area of Practice% of exam questions# of exam questions
Musculoskeletal45 – 55%90 – 110
Neurological15 – 25%30 – 50
Cardiovascular-respiratory10 – 20%20 – 40
Other10 – 20%20 – 40

Structure and Format of the Written Component

  • The exam is a four-hour, computer-based exam consisting of 200 multiple-choice questions.
  • Each question consists of a stem (i.e., an introductory part that presents the question or problem) and four response options, one of which is the correct or best response.
  • Approximately 90% of the questions are accompanied by a vignette (i.e., one or more sentences containing information about the client scenario).
  • Approximately 10% of the questions are stand-alone questions (i.e., independent questions that are not associated with any other questions on the exam).
  • Vignette-based questions are presented first, followed by the stand-alone questions.
  • All questions are equally weighted. Correct responses are worth one mark each. Incorrect responses receive no marks (no marks are deducted for incorrect responses).