APEA 3P Exam Test Blueprint

The 3P examination is a competency-based exam that tests clinical knowledge in the three core courses: pathophysiology, pharmacotherapeutics, and physical assessment. This exam is administered after the core courses have been completed and is used as an assessment tool to determine clinical readiness. A score of 67% or greater indicates adequate knowledge in the core courses. Exam results identify any knowledge deficits. These results assist students in creating an appropriate study plan for improving knowledge deficits.

The APEA 3P exam is based on the testing domains and knowledge areas listed below. Use this blueprint to plan your study and preparation.

Testing Domains Number of Questions Percent of Questions
Physical Assessment 25 33%
Pathophysiology 25 33%
Pharmacotherapeutics 25 33%
Total 75 100%

Explanation of Testing Domains

Physical Assessment:

These questions evaluate the ability to obtain subjective information from a patient or caregiver when gathering a history. Questions encompass interviewing techniques, obtaining a chief complaint, reviewing past records, and identifying risk factors. The physical assessment questions also address the ability to obtain objective information from the patient. This includes conducting an assessment and recognizing normal and abnormal findings.

Students are encouraged to review notes from their Advanced Health Assessment course. Questions on the 3P Exam may be related to each body system and knowing what signs and symptoms relate to a certain condition or disease. For example, questions may ask about the appropriate areas to auscultate for heart, breath or bowel sounds. Questions are related to basic information necessary to perform an assessment of each body system.


These questions evaluate the ability to make prescribing choices that involve a specific medication or patient. This includes the ability to select the best medication for a specific patient based on factors such as drug side effects, efficacy, prescribing constraints (e.g., cost or insurance), allergies, and drug-drug and drug-disease interactions.

Students are encouraged to review notes from their Advanced Pharmacology course. Students should review:

  • Drug classes
  • Prescribing: mechanism of action, brands, drug classes
  • Safety: adverse and toxic reactions
  • Pharmacokinetics: absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion, and drug-drug and drug-disease interactions
  • Precautions, indications and contraindications
  • Patient education: delivery and monitoring
  • Evaluation: efficacy, side effects, and lab interpretation related to specific medications

The 3P exam focuses on the mechanisms of action for all major drug classes related to each knowledge area and may ask questions about all the bullet points listed above. For instance, what is a common side effect of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors? Questions are based on basic pharmacotherapeutic principles.


These questions evaluate knowledge of developmental physiology, pathogenesis, manifestations, and the etiology of altered physical and psychological health or disease conditions. Based on this knowledge, the student should be able to relate clinical manifestations to certain diseases or conditions, provide a description of the disease or condition, and state the etiology and incidence. An understanding of pathophysiology is important to assist in creating a differential list and arrive at a proper diagnosis. Questions may ask about diagnostic studies that need to be performed to aid in the diagnosis or detection of disease, injury or any other medical condition. Questions on the exam may also ask about the interpretation of lab results.

Students are encouraged to review their notes from the Advanced Pathophysiology course.

Explanation of Knowledge Areas

Knowledge areas tested in the 3P exam include primary care diagnoses related to each body system across the age continuum. Because the exam is computer generated, we are unable to assign a specific number of questions related to each diagnosis.

Knowledge Areas (this list represents common knowledge areas required to deliver primary care and is not all-inclusive)

  • Cardiovascular: atrial fibrillation, peripheral artery disease, varicose veins, heart failure, peripheral edema, coronary artery disease, anticoagulation, hypertension, infectious endocarditis
  • Dermatology: psoriasis, tinea corporis, scabies, herpes zoster, dermal cyst, keloid, tinea capitis, atopic dermatitis, urticaria, melanoma, acne
  • Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat: visual acuity, cataract, vertigo, diabetic retinopathy, papilledema, hyperopia, rhinitis, hearing loss, pterygium, ototoxicity, acute sinusitis
  • Endocrine: diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, hyperandrogenism, acromegaly, hyperthyroidism, myxedema, hyperprolactinemia, polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Gastroenterology: giardiasis, cirrhosis, pancreatitis, abdominal pain, small bowel obstruction, hepatitis B, enterobiasis, Crohn’s disease, gastroesophageal reflux, gastroenteritis, pyloric stenosis
  • Hematology: anemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia, iron deficiency anemia, pernicious anemia, lymphatic system, Rh incompatibility, beta thalassemia, sickle cell disease
  • Men’s Health: benign prostatic hyperplasia, hydrocele, penile cancer, erectile dysfunction, prostatitis, testicular torsion, epididymitis
  • Neurology: seizures, meningitis, neutral tube defects, migraine headaches, transient ischemia, headaches, Parkinson disease, tension headaches
  • Orthopedics: rheumatoid arthritis, meniscal tear, osteoarthritis, gout, rotator cuff, sprain/strain, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, muscle spasm, osteosarcoma
  • Pregnancy: fundal height, preeclampsia, birth defects, TPAL, fetal growth and development, Naegele’s rule, hypertension in pregnancy, placenta previa, UTI during pregnancy
  • Psychiatry: substance abuse, depression, serotonin syndrome, Munchausen by proxy, generalized anxiety disorder, bulimia, bipolar disorder
  • Respiratory: asthma, hemoptysis, COPD, empyema, pleural effusion, community-acquired pneumonia, pneumonia, tuberculosis, pertussis, croup
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections: all
  • Urology: incontinence, UTI, renal insufficiency, enuresis, end stage renal disease
  • Women’s Health: breast cancer, premenstrual syndrome, menopause, contraception, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea
  • Pediatric: growth and development, developmental milestones 

Students are encouraged to review diseases or conditions in each knowledge area, including those described above. During that study, it is important to focus on:

  • Pathophysiology
  • Assessment findings
  • Pharmacology

Students who would like to enhance their 3P knowledge may consider MyQBank for practice questions. Information on MyQBank is available at this link: https://www.apea.com/qbank

3P Exam Sample Results