Tips on Passing the PANCE and PANRE Exams

pass pance panre

The Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) and Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam (PANRE) can be intimidating tests. The PANCE is composed of 300 multiple-choice questions completed over five hours, while the PANRE is four hours and composed of 240 multiple-choice questions.

It is important to understand the components of the test and the number of questions to expect from each topic. Be sure to study each topic, but focusing more time on heavier-weighted subjects will yield the best results.

The following is a breakdown of the percentage of exam content on each subject.


Medical Content Categories

  • Cardiovascular System: 13%
  • Dermatologic System: 5%
  • Endocrine System: 7%
  • Eyes, Ears, Nose, and Throat: 7%
  • Gastrointestinal System/Nutrition: 9%
  • Genitourinary System (Male and Female): 5%
  • Hematologic System: 5%
  • Infectious Diseases: 6%
  • Musculoskeletal System: 8%
  • Neurologic System: 7%
  • Psychiatry/Behavioral Science: 6%
  • Pulmonary System: 10%
  • Renal System: 5%
  • Reproductive System (Male and Female): 7%

Task Categories

  • History Taking and Performing Physical Examination: 17%
  • Using Diagnostic and Laboratory Studies: 12%
  • Formulating Most Likely Diagnosis: 18%
  • Managing Patients
    •    Health Maintenance, Patient Education,
      and Preventive Measures: 10%
    • Clinical Intervention: 14%
    • Pharmaceutical Therapeutics: 14%
  • Applying Basic Scientific Concepts: 10%
  • Professional Practice: 5%


  • Cardiovascular System 13%
  • Dermatologic System 6% 
  • Endocrine System 6%
  • Eyes, Ears, Nose, and Throat 8%
  • Gastrointestinal System/Nutrition 11%
  • Genitourinary System (Male and Female) 5%
  • Hematologic System 4%
  • Infectious Diseases 6%
  • Musculoskeletal System 9%
  • Neurologic System 7%
  • Psychiatry/Behavioral Science 5%
  • Pulmonary System 10%
  • Renal System 3%
  • Reproductive System (Male and Female) 7%

The key to doing well on the exam is be preparing with practice questions. The BoardVitals PANCE/PANRE question bank includes more than 1,700 questions to help you prepare for both the PANCE, PANRE, and PANRE-LA. Getting used to the style and content of the questions is essential to your success.

Preparation for a test of this size and scope requires weeks and months of planning and studying. Use all available resources, including books, the internet, your peers, and review courses. The exam, while daunting, is just one more obstacle in the Physician Assistant career path, and one that many before you have overcome.

Looking for more advice as you navigate your career throughout PA school and as a practicing PA? Download The Complete Guide to Becoming a Physician Assistant, the new eBook from BoardVitals. Filled with words of wisdom from PAs who have been through it all, this FREE Physician Assistant guide will help you on your journey towards becoming a PA, before, during, and after PA school. 

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