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Upon graduating from an accredited physician assistant program, you may take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE), which assess basic medical and surgical knowledge.
Depending on your recertification cycle, by the end of the sixth (or tenth) year, PA-C designees must have passed the Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam (PANRE), which is also designed to assess basic medical and surgical knowledge.
While the content covered on the PANCE and PANRE exams is the same, there is some difference in the nature of the questions. As outlined by the NCCPA, the questions on the PANCE are more specific, while questions on the PANRE tend to address broader clinical issues. This difference is most apparent in the questions related to applying basic science concepts and reflects the different functions of the two exams.
The 2017 Overall PANCE Pass Rate was 95%.
The 2016 PANRE Pass Rate for First-Time Takers was 92%.
Both the PANCE and the PANRE are organized into two dimensions: Physician Assistant Practice Task Areas and Diseases/Disorders by Organ System
The PANCE is a five-hour exam that has a total of 300 MCQ's, which are spread out over five sections of 60 items with 60 minutes to complete each section. The way the testing is configured, you can take breaks between the sections (and we highly suggest taking a break in between).
In addition to the BoardVitals PANCE / PANRE Question Bank, be sure to review the 10 sample PANCE / PANRE questions provided by the NCCPA.
Our PANCE question bank attempts to follow the format of five options per question, though you will find a few that only have four choices, specifically where we found it appropriate to limit the options and provide explanations for why each one is incorrect.
"Be careful on the pharma questions…" we hear from students over and over to know which drugs not to give, in which situations, and what the potential side effects and complications are. PANCE has a very high emphasis on patient safety and anyone preparing for this exam should keep this in mind. Our question bank has several blocks of questions that cover this content area specifically. Specifically, focus on CV drugs, neuro/psych drugs, and antimicrobials. Also, spend time on EKGS (our question bank has several good EKG questions to focus on). Don’t try to memorize the information – try to gain understanding instead.
Also, make sure to focus on the systems with the higher percentages of exam content. (For example, we’ve heard that the Hematologic questions can be really tough, but it’s only a small percentage of the exam, so focus more on areas like Cardiovascular, GI, and Musculoskeletal)
Finally, remember to RELAX. After you’ve drilled thousands of questions, and studied the topics, you really are ready. The vast majority of our students pass, so take comfort in knowing that you’ll be well prepared. Our average score in the question bank is below 60%, but nearly everyone passes, so that should help give you a benchmark. Also, use our flagging system to track questions that are particularly difficult so that you have a good review session 1.5 - 2 weeks before the exam.