If You Fail the AANP Exam, Can You Take the ANCC?
- Nov 29, 2023
Last month, I sat down with Sarah Michelle to talk about the declining AANP FNP pass rate and how to give yourself the best chance of passing on the first try.
Still, there are plenty of obstacles that come with taking the exam that may lead to a failing score. If you do fail your AANP FNP exam, we want you to know first and foremost that you are still worthy and able to become a real deal NP! In this follow-up interview, Sarah and I talk about what to do after failing the AANP, how long to wait before taking the ANCC, and how to prepare to pass your retake exam. Let’s dive into it!
If You Fail the AANP Exam, Can You Take the ANCC?
Hi Sarah! Thanks for joining me today. Today we’re going to be covering the question that a lot of students are asking now that the AANP FNP pass rate is decreasing: “If you fail the AANP exam, can you still take the ANCC?”
Before we jump into the topic, can we have a refresher on the difference between the AANP and ANCC exams?
What’s the Difference Between AANP vs. ANCC?
There’s a bigger chunk of the ANCC exam that covers more “professional role” content, but other than that, it’s basically the same exam, the same prep. Ultimately, you’re going to prepare for both exams the same way. You’re going to the same NP schools, covering the same material in your courses, and even though people get tripped up on the small differences between the exams, they’re really not that different.
Thanks for clarifying! So as a refresher of our last conversation, the AANP FNP pass rates are going down. If you’re one of those people who does fail the AANP exam, what’s the next step you should take right after getting that failing score?
I think in the ideal world, if you fail AANP, you just go ahead right that day and start the process of signing up for ANCC. They’re totally independent from one another, so if you fail one and pass another, it’s no big deal. You’re still a real deal nurse practitioner.
If you go ahead and apply for ANCC, then you don’t have to do any of AANP’s additional requirements to retest, because that’s going to take extra time. You want to go ahead and just get in the process so you can take your exam as soon as possible again.
How Long Should You Wait Before Taking the Exam?
Awesome. So when you do sign up for the ANCC after failing AANP, how long do you recommend waiting before taking it again? I’m curious if you recommend a “buffer period” of studying or just jumping into the exam right away.
It really depends on every student, but I think a good way to gauge how much more time you’re going to need is simply by doing a 1-on-1 readiness session.
In a 1-on-1, we can tease out what went wrong the first time and make sure we address it before you retake the exam. So, was it an anxiety thing, or was it a content thing? Then depending upon which it was, we can tell you on how to move forward.
I’ve had students before who failed AANP on Monday, and they’re already signed up for ANCC and passed ANCC on Tuesday. So it doesn’t have to be a definite amount of time between the two, but I feel like mentally, emotionally, physically, at least a month is a nice time just to give yourself a break. It’s a lot to process after failing and then taking the exam again.
Yeah, it’s so high stakes, that would be like running a marathon twice in a week! That’s a lot.
How Do You Ease Test Anxiety After Failing AANP?
So in our last interview, we also talked about how if you have high anxiety on test day, that also might be a factor in failing the exam.
Is there any specific strategy that you recommend for somebody who will be taking the ANCC exam after failing AANP, so that they can have a higher level of confidence going into the next exam?
I think a lot of it is the same anxiety prep. However, because ANCC does have more professional role content, I would suggest spending a little bit more time to build up your confidence there just because it’s something that’s not hit on as much in school.
A lot of what you learn in board prep is to take the exam, but it’s still important content that you’re going to want to know as a practicing nurse practitioner anyways. So just make sure that you’re doing practice exams and practice questions that include that content and taking mock exams that truly represent the exam. Like our exams, for example, have 30% professional role content, because that’s what we expect you to see on ANCC.
A lot of it is also just fine-tuning what worked for you anxiety-wise before the exam, and what didn’t work. If you can really just label and figure out what worked and what didn’t, then you can tweak moving forward and try something different. We have a lot of different anxiety resources in our courses that you can do to help with this, too.
Do you want to talk a little bit about anxiety resources that are available after failing AANP?
A lot of it boils down to general test-taking strategies that we’ve all forgotten. Many NP students have a gap between nursing school and NP school, so you haven’t taken a big exam in a long time.
It’s helpful to just refresh on those tips, like if an answer choice has absolutes in it (“always,” “only,” and “never”), that’s usually not going to be the right choice. Or if there are two answers that have opposites, like one says hypotension and the other says hypertension, it’s probably one of those answers. I think just refreshing the basics can really help with anxiety.
Need a refresher on some test-taking tips? Check out this video on the SMNP Reviews YouTube channel!
Plus, there are other things that are tailored to specific types of learners. So I think we talked about in the last interview, for students who have ADHD, taking a break every 25 questions to kind of reset and reboot a little bit. Or, maybe you’re one of those people who walks into the exam and you feel like you’ve lost all of your knowledge and panic. It can help to have something called a “brain dump sheet” where you literally write down things when the exam starts that you don’t want to forget that you can come back and reference.
Can I Still Pass ANCC After Failing AANP?
So my last question would be, do you have any success stories of people that you’ve worked with who did fail AANP and then passed the ANCC? Is there anything that you specifically saw that they did to help them pass the second time?
It happens all the time. Literally, students every day who have failed AANP go on to take ANCC, because that’s typically our advice on both ends. So if you fail ANCC, I tell you to go take AANP. And if you fail AANP, I tell you to go take ANCC.
A lot of times, just a little bit of tweaking in testing style is enough for people to pass the other exam. Some learners are going to vibe with one exam, and some learners are going to vibe with the other exam.
A lot of it also comes back to figuring out where you went wrong the first time. Did you not know the content well enough? Were you trying to be like a DIY test taker and only do a Qbank before taking the exam? Did you get so flustered that you just got lost in the middle of the exam before pulling yourself back out?
A lot of it just boils down to really figuring out where you went wrong the first time, which is why the 1-on-1 readiness session has the failing questionnaire, which can be a really good tool in teasing that out.
Is there anything specific on the questionnaire that people reading this article would want to ask themselves?
Sure! On the failing questionnaire, we ask students how many practice questions they did, how long they spent studying, their anxiety resources that they use, and what resources in general they use. Which review course did you use? What Qbank did you use? Did you use multiple?
A lot of times if we see students who say they did 6 reviews, for example, then we can pull right out of that failing questionnaire that this is an anxious student. So there are little clues in every question that we ask.
What Happens If I Fail Both AANP and ANCC?
Just curious, if someone were to fail both exams, are there any tips to decide which one they take the third time? And are there any requirements for retaking the exam?
I recommend taking whichever one you scored higher on. Whichever test you felt like you vibed with a little bit more, that’s the one I would go back to after.
Or, for some people, it depends on the time frame. For AANP, there’s no wait to retest again, but you have to do 15 contact hours to be able to apply to retest. If you fail ANCC, it’s a 60-day waiting period, but there’s no contact hour requirement. So, some people don’t have 60 days to wait to retake ANCC, for example, so they would have to retake AANP that doesn’t have that wait period.
Any final pieces of advice for someone who failed the AANP exam?
I think the biggest thing is just for you to remember that failing your exam has no bearing on how great of a NP you will be! This is just a small blip in your lifelong learning journey that you can (and will) overcome.
Looking for more (free!) NP board prep content? Check out these other posts on the SMNP Reviews blog:
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