Generally, 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 students don't pass the exam on the first attempt. Don't despair, students have passed the certification exam without taking a review course! Students who attend APEA's live review course have a greater than 99% pass rate on the exam on their first attempt. If a live review course isn't in your budget or can't be fit into your time schedule, consider purchasing access to an online version of the course or purchasing an audio version of the review course on an mp3 player. APEA no longer produces review course CDs; be cautious about any that you see for sale on other sites because they are outdated.
The advantage of the APEA review course is that it helps students identify their strengths and weaknesses in exam content, learn to approach and answer multiple choice questions, and develop a study plan. The course is a real time saver because the information is organized in a concise manner to allow students to maximize study time.
All of the questions on the AANP and ANCC exams for FNP and AGNP candidates are multiple choice. There are no True/False or fill-in-the-blank questions. The ANCC exams for FNP and AGNP candidates sometimes contain alternate question types. See the APEA blog for a post that contains information about test differences. The post is titled "Which certification exam should I take?"
No, you may have had case studies in school, but the questions on the exam are usually brief and to the point. There may be 2 or 3 statements leading into the question, but I've never had students tell me that they had longer question stems than indicated above.
No, it does not turn off after you've answered enough questions to pass. You may have had this experience with the NCLEX if you took it on the computer, but this is not true of the NP exam. Be prepared to answer all questions no matter which NP exam you're taking.
Take some time to evaluate your scores and reassess where your weaknesses are. Passing the exam requires more than just mastering the material. You've got to be able to approach the questions and know how to answer them. If you didn't pass the exam, it's likely that your weakness is in one of these two areas. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like some suggestions for preparing for your exam retake.
No, there is not an equal distribution of cardiac, respiratory, neurological, etc. questions on the exam. In fact, you may take the exam on the same day as one of your classmates, and you'll receive different questions. One test may have 6 questions on hypertension, another exam may only have 2 questions. It's the luck of the draw. Be prepared to answer questions in random order on a variety of topics.
Since you've been out of school for a while, you're different from the new graduate who is preparing for the exam. Your approach may be different too. If you're working in general practice, you may have an easier time preparing than someone who is working in a specialty area. Consider taking APEA's review course so that you'll get a good overview of test material. Remember, you've got to approach your exam with a new grad mentality. This can be difficult for NPs who have been in practice for a while. Experienced NPs are able to consider many different aspects of a patient's care. Because of this, they ask themselves what I consider to be the most dangerous thing you can say while taking your exam: "Yes, but."
As soon as you completed a review course, you should have developed a plan for studying based on your identified strengths and weaknesses. If you feel comfortable with the material, consider practicing multiple choice questions. These will get you in the groove of answering the types of questions you'll see on the exam. They will also help you continue to learn more information as the exam nears. Consider a subscription to MyQBank. You can find information on the APEA website. Also consider taking an APEA Predictor Exam.
Many students feel that a review course is helpful in their preparation for the exam. This is a personal decision. The APEA review course is organized so that students review a large quantity of information in a short period of time. The course is organized according to subject area. Another reason to take a review course is to improve test-taking skills. Important content points are driven home by lots of multiple choice practice questions in APEA's review course. Many students tell me that they've learned more in 2 days at a live APEA review course than they did in 2 years of graduate school.
Sure, if you want to spend twice the money and have twice the stress!!! Seriously, TAKE ONLY ONE! I tell students all the time that if they know enough to pass one exam, they'll know enough to pass the other exam. If they don't know enough to pass one exam, they won't pass the other one either.
I'd start with a couple of different review books. A review book tends to organize information in a concise manner for the reader and keeps you from being distracted by extraneous information or topics that you're not likely to see on the certification exam. If the information in the review book is something that you're not familiar with, I'd use a textbook or my notes from school to clear the issue. A textbook is too comprehensive to use to study for your exam.
Generally, you have about 3 hours to take either exam. This corresponds to about 60 questions per hour (or one question per minute) that should be answered in order to finish in the allotted time. Some questions will require a little more thought and thus a little more time. Other questions will require less of your time. The bottom line is that you will have about 3 hours to take the exam. This should be plenty of time. In fact, for some students this may be too much time because it allows them to go back and change answers. Statistically, your odds of changing a response to a correct answer are lower than the reverse. In other words, your first impression about an answer is usually correct and if you change it, you're more likely to change it to an incorrect answer. Stick with your first impression!
This is a personal decision because students have individual learning needs. The majority of students take the review course about 8 weeks before or after graduation. Some students want to take the course in close proximity to the time they will take the exam because this allows them to have recently completed a comprehensive review of all the material. Students feel like the information is "fresh" in their brain at the time they take the exam. Many students have told me that they felt the review course gave them "momentum" going into the exam. Another group of students prefers to take the review course within 4-12 months prior to graduation. Many students have told me that taking the review course at this time helped them focus on what was important while they were still in school. They also learned a lot of clinical pearls during the review course that helped them as they completed their clinicals. The main disadvantage to taking the course at this time is that the student may actually learn lots of new information at the course instead of it being a thorough review. The main advantage is that it allows the student plenty of time to identify strong and weak points and study accordingly.
AANP: 512-637-0500 or email@example.com
ANCC: 800-284-2378 or firstname.lastname@example.org
You will receive a preliminary "pass" or "fail" result on the computer screen after you have completed the exam. An official paper copy of your results will follow by mail.
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