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ANCC vs AANP Boards for FNP and AGPCNP: Which Should You Take?

One of the topics we hear family nurse practitioner (FNP) students and adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner (AGPCNP) students talking about is deciding which certification exam to take. Should you take the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) exam or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) exam? What do you need to know so you can make an informed decision?

We recognize how stressful the process is to select (and pass!) an NP certification exam. It’s absolutely normal to feel overwhelmed by the certification journey, but don’t worry! We’re here to simplify and compare frequently-asked questions about the AANP and ANCC certification exams (for FNP and AGPCNP students).

In this post, we’ll discuss four things to consider when deciding which test to take: test formats, content overviews, scoring systems, and pass rates. We hope this article will help empower you to choose the exam that is right for you! Remember, at the end of the day, there is no wrong decision!

ANCC vs AANP Boards for FNP and AGPCNP: Which Should You Take?

AANP and ANCC Test Formats 

How many questions are on each exam?

AANP exams

Each exam contains a total of 150 questions. There are 135 scored questions, and 15 pretest questions. 

ANCC exams

Each exam contains a total of 175 questions. There are 150 scored questions, and 25 pretest questions. 

A note about pretest questions: pretest questions tht play an important role on both exams but don’t affect your final score. Instead, they help gather statistical data to decide whether these questions should be included in future tests. You can think of them as trial questions. Because pretest questions are included among your other board questions and aren’t labeled separately, remember to give every question your best shot because you won’t know which ones will count toward your score!

Comparing the Content of the AANP and ANCC Exams 

What type of questions are on each exam?

AANP exams

The exam consists of multiple-choice format questions. 

ANCC exams

The majority of each exam consists of multiple-choice format questions, but drag-and-drop, multiple-response, and hotspot questions may also be included.

What information is tested on each exam?

AANP exams

FNP exam

  • Assessment (36 scored questions)
  • Diagnosis (35 scored questions)
  • Plan (34 scored questions)
  • Evaluation (30 scored questions)

AGPCNP exam

  • Assessment (37 scored questions)
  • Diagnosis (34 scored questions)
  • Plan (34 scored questions)
  • Evaluation (30 scored questions)
ANCC exams

FNP exam

  • Assessment (29 scored questions)
  • Diagnosis (26 scored questions)
  • Plan (29 scored questions)
  • Implementation (43 scored questions)
  • Evaluation (23 scored questions)

ANCC AGPCNP exam

  • Patient Assessment Process (34 scored questions)
  • Plan of Care (93 scored questions)
  • Professional Practice (23 scored questions) 

**Note that the test content outline for this exam will change slightly on September 13, 2023.

The AANP and ANCC NP certification exam guides also give you detailed lists of knowledge areas for each exam. Be sure to check them out, as they can help guide your studying!

If you need an extra boost before exam day, we’ve got you covered. Sarah Michelle’s live study groups, question banks, and self-paced courses include questions specific to ANCC and AANP, so you can make sure you’re studying exactly the right content and feel confident going into your exam. You got this!

How long does each exam take to complete?

AANP exams

Up to 3 hours.

ANCC exams

Up to 3.5 hours.

AANP and ANCC exams are computer-based and completed in approved testing centers.

How the AANP and ANCC Tests are Scored 

How is each exam scored?

AANP exams

The total number of correct responses (total raw score) is converted to a scaled score. Scaled scores range from 200-800, and you’ll need to get a minimum score of 500 to pass the exam. 

ANCC exams

The total number of correct responses (total raw score) is converted to a scaled score with a maximum possible score of 500. You’ll need to get a minimum score of 350 to pass the exam. 

Both AANP and ANCC report your final score as a simple “pass” or “fail.” All NP certification exams are electronically scored, and your performance won’t be compared to other test takers’.

AANP and ANCC Pass Rates

What are the pass rates for each exam? 

Here are the 2022 pass rates for first-time test takers:

AANP pass rates:

FNP exam: 74%

AGPCNP exam: 83%

ANCC pass rates:

FNP exam: 86%

AGPCNP exam: 81%

AANP or ANCC? Things to Keep in Mind

Remember, the effectiveness of an NP program is partly determined by students’ pass rates on certification exams, so keep in mind that your program leaders are there to help and provide you with guidance and resources to support your efforts in passing. You have lots of support in your corner!

Once you pass an AANP or ANCC exam, NP certification is granted for a generous five-year period. And, in the off-chance that you don’t pass on your first attempt, there’s no need to worry. Both AANC and AANP offer steps to retake the exam, and you’ll receive post-test reports that give feedback on specific content areas covered in the exam.

No matter which NP certification exam you choose to take, a passing score opens up a world of endless opportunities as a certified NP. Happy choosing, and best of luck!