ANCC vs. AANP: Which FNP Exam Should I Take?

fnp exam

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) are the governing boards that administer tests to examinees seeking to become certified as a nurse practitioner. Both ANCC certification and AANP certification are credentials that demonstrate the necessary expertise by nurse practitioners. There are multiple FNP exam areas including Family, Adult-Gerontology, Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Midwifery and Psychiatric. Depending on your degree, tests can either be acute or primary care.

We offer board review for both the ANCC and AANP Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). Because of this, we’re often asked how the tests (and our products) differ from one another and if one is better than the other. Hopefully, we can provide you the answers you’re seeking below:

What content is covered in the ANCC and AANP FNP exams?

ANCC Outline:

  • Assessment (21%)
  • Diagnosis (26%)
  • Clinical Management (43%)
  • Professional Role (10%)

AANP Outline:

  • FNP DOMAIN 01 – ASSESS (36%)
    • Task 0101: Obtain subjective patient information including but not limited to relevant medical history (including biopsychosocial, economic, environmental, family, military, travel, occupational, preventive components), chief complaint, history of present illness, and review of systems to determine health needs and problems.
      • Interviewing patient/family/appropriate others
      • Reviewing records
      • Obtaining information regarding additional healthcare providers involved in patient care
      • Identifying both patient- and population-specific health, medical, and psychosocial risk factors
    • Task 0102: Obtain objective information based on patient age/developmental level, health history, and comorbidities to further define and evaluate health needs and problems.
      • Performing physical examinations
      • Ordering/performing/supervising diagnostic tests and procedures
      • Ordering/performing/supervising screening tests
  • FNP DOMAIN 02 – DIAGNOSE (24%)
    • Task 0201: Formulate differential diagnoses.
      • Synthesizing and analyzing subjective/objective information
      • Prioritizing potential diagnoses
    • Task 0202: Establish definitive diagnoses by:
      • Ordering, performing, supervising, and interpreting additional diagnostic test
      • Performing and interpreting additional physical examinations
      • Synthesizing and analyzing additional information
  • FNP DOMAIN 03 – PLAN (23%)
    • Task 0301: Establish a safe plan of patient-centered treatment and care that is individualized, cost effective, consistent with best evidence, age appropriate, and culturally-sensitive in order to address the diagnoses by:
      • Considering co-morbidities
      • Ordering, performing, supervising, and interpreting results of further tests
      • Prescribing, ordering, and administering pharmacological therapies
      • Prescribing, ordering, and administering non-pharmacologic therapies and/or procedures
      • Providing relevant education and/or counseling
      • Providing anticipatory guidance, health promotion, and injury prevention
      • Making referrals to and engaging in consultation with other health professionals and community resources
      • Including patient/family/appropriate others as active participants
      • Providing for appropriate follow-up
      • Responding to patients in urgent and emergent situations
  • FNP DOMAIN 04 – EVALUATE
    • Task 0401: Determine the effectiveness of the plan of treatment and care based on outcomes by:
      • Assessing patient response(s)
      • Collecting additional subjective and/or objective information as needed
    • Task 0402: Modify the plan of treatment and care as appropriate based on outcomes by:
      • Ordering, conducting, supervising and interpreting further tests
      • Adjusting therapies
      • Providing additional education
      • Initiating referrals and consultations
      • Coordinating follow-up and monitoring plan of care
      • Including patient, family, and/or appropriate others as active participants

How long is the test and how many questions does it contain?

ANCC: There are 175 questions, including 25 pretest questions that do not count towards your final score and cannot be distinguished from those that are scored. The allotted time for the exam is 3.5 hours.

AANP: The exam contains 150 questions, including 15 pretest questions that are not scored and cannot be distinguished from those that are scored. Your score is only determined by 135 questions. The exam lasts 3 hours in length. You’ll have around 50 seconds to answer each question.

How do I get my ANCC or AANP FNP exam results?

ANCC: You’ll receive notification of whether you passed or failed the exam immediately upon completion. If you fail the exam (don’t worry you won’t) the ANCC will send a score report to your address including information regarding performance on each content areas of the test.

AANP: Don’t stress out, exam results are available immediately upon completion of the exam in a pass/fail format. Examinees who fail the exam (it won’t be you) will receive an official letter articulating strengths and weaknesses pertaining to knowledge areas covered on the test. 

FNP ExamWhat is the pass rate?

ANCC: In 2018, the average pass rate for the FNP exam was 86.2%.

AANP: In 2019, the average pass rate for the FNP exam was 86%.

Key Takeaway: Many examinees make the mistake of not adequately preparing for the difficulty found in these exams as demonstrated by the pass rates. This is not the NCLEX®. Understand that and prepare effectively.

What happens if I fail the exam?

ANCC: If you fail the ANCC FNP exam you will have the ability to retake the test after 60 days of the last testing date; however,  you cannot take the exam more than three times in any 12 month period.

AANP: If you fail the  AANP FNP exam then you must complete 15 hours of continuing education credit in the area or areas of weakness identified on the score report. A great benefit of using our AANP FNP question bank is that you can easily fulfill those 15 required hours of continuing education credits while simultaneously studying to re-take the exam!

What should I study?

For both exams, you need to use more than one resource.

First: master your material from school and clinical.

Second: choose a highly vetted question bank to complement your other study materials.

Conveniently, if you’re seeking to become a Family Nurse Practitioner, we offer an exceptional board review for the ANCC and AANP FNP certification exams.

FNP examNote: The question formats found within our ANCC and AANP board review are reflective of the board exam they represent. For instance, the AANP is notorious for using tricky wording whereas the ANCC exam is known for using unique question formatting. Since both of our ANCC and AANP question banks are written by certified Family Nurse Practitioners that have passed the exams, our board review is expertly tailored to the specific board exam you choose.

You can access more information and a free trial by following one of these links below.

BoardVitals ANCC FNP Board Review

BoardVitals AANP FNP Board Review

FYI: You do not need to purchase both board reviews to adequately prepare. Choose one!

Is the AANP easier than the ANCC exam?

The AANP is rumored to be the easier of the two exams, specifically for those seeking their FNP certification as it historically had a higher pass rate than that of the ANCC FNP exam. However, in recent years, the pass rates for these two exams have leveled out, making it difficult to judge which is the more difficult test.

Which is better: ANCC Certification or AANP Certification?

There is a stigma that the ANCC is more widely accepted at hospitals nationwide. There was a time when organizations such as the Veterans Administration only recognized the ANCC; however, today, the ANCC and the AANP are both certifying boards, so companies cannot discriminate against one or the other.

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