Let's break down your PANCE and PANRE preparation in as few steps as possible
1. Download the 'Examination Content Blueprint' (ECB) from the NCCPA
The ECB lists the diseases that you should focus on and describes which information you should study for each disease. Follow the link below: Break down the ECB into parts that are easy to handle, depending on the time you have before the exam. (You should know your study habit by now)
- View the NCCPA Exam Content Blueprint
2. Identify Your Weak Areas
As a student, you may have been offered a mock, computer-based exam called the PACKRAT. The PACKRAT appears to predict PA student outcomes on the PANCE. You can use your PACKRAT results to focus your review.
The NCCPA also allows you to take a mock PANCE or PANRE on their website for $35. They will score it and highlight your weak and strong areas. This is a good place to start and will give you a baseline from which to guide your studies.
You can also access my exams which will give you a feel for your level of preparation.
- The PA Life: Free PANCE and PANRE exams
- For topic-specific exams and an exhaustive set of review questions join the PANCE and PANRE Academy + Smarty PANCE.
3. Obtain Great Study Materials
It is completely up to you, but the most common sources of valid and not excessive references are as follows. I still prefer hard copies over kindle format review books. My personal favorites are starred below.
- A Comprehensive Review for the Certification and Recertification Examinations for Physician Assistants: Published in Collaboration with AAPA and PAEA
- Appleton & Lange Review for the Physician Assistant (Appleton & Lange Review Book Series)*
- Swanson's Family Medicine Review: Expert Consult*
- PANCE PREP PEARLS; A practical comprehensive study and review guide for the PANCE and PANRE
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4. Listen to Review Material at the Gym or in the Car
I am a huge fan of the free Physician Assistant Exam Review Podcast by Brian Wallace. It is a great way to study while you are sitting in traffic, on a long trail run or working out on the elliptical at the gym.
I offer a FREE Audio PANCE and PANRE Board Review Podcast that covers 10 questions per episode. It is a great way to get into the habit of answering test question and makes a good complement to Brian's more in-depth topic review.
- Members of the PANCE and PANRE Academy + Smarty PANCE have access to all episodes and over 400 audio questions.
5. Consider Taking a PANCE/PANRE Review Course
Although this is costly and often overkill it will add an extra layer of security if you are feeling a bit anxious. I took the UMDNJ PANCE review course as part of my initial training 11 years ago. It was well done and the practice exams were worth the price of the course alone.
UMDNJ PANCE or PANRE Review Course
- The UMDNJ course is considered by many to be the gold standard. You can take it in person or online. They claim a 98.6% pass rate.
- Get an instant 10% discount by entering the code 'PALIFE' at checkout
- Help Zebra: Don't let the archaic looking website fool you. This online program is one of the best-kept secrets!
- CME Resources: I have no experience with this course, but others have said it is quite good.
- RoshReview: I have also heard good things about this program although I have no personal experience with the course.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice
Practicing exam questions is a must! The more questions you practice the higher the likelihood of passing your exam. There are many resources available.
1. Take the practice exams in the review books:
The Appleton and Lange Q&A is constructed of nothing but practice question and you should work through the ones that focus on your weak areas. Swanson's Family Practice Review is similar but includes updated explanations and readings that complement the material as you progress through the questions. I love the immediate feedback and teaching points this book provides.
2. The PANCE and PANRE Academy + SMARTY PANCE
Speaking of immediate feedback and teaching points, I have built this into all of my exams as part of the PANCE and PANRE Academy and Smarty PANCE. Studies show that obtaining immediate feedback allows you to learn the course material at an accelerated rate.
For this reason, I urge you to take a look at the PANCE and PANRE Academy + Smarty PANCE and consider it an integral part of your study plan.
I also recommend signing up for the FREE 60-day email review series that will keep you on the ball by sending you one review question daily.
Join the PANCE and PANRE Academy + Smarty PANCE
3. Retake an NCCPA practice exam
In step 2 you took an NCCPA practice exam to guide your studies and gauge your preparedness. Now is a great time to take a second exam.
3. Exam master
For many students, their PA program has purchased this source of questions for them.
This website contains thousands of PANCE style questions that you can practice in areas that you want to get better in or diseases that you want to review. Follow this link if you would like more information, and ask your school if they have purchased access.
- Exam master Physician Assistant Exams
- They also have an app Exam master on iTunes
Finally, GOOD LUCK!
Study hard. Take the exam seriously. You only want to take it once every 10 years.
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Hi, I’m a second year PA student starting my first rotation in a couple weeks. I was wondering if you have any comments on the Hippo Education program for PANCE prep. Due to its cost, I’m hesitant to join the group of my classmates to buy the program, even with a group discount. I have already purchased two of the books you listed (Comprehensive Review… and PANCE Prep Pearls) and also have access to ExamMaster through my school. I would be grateful if you could offer some guidance as to what I should use to study. I realize everyone has different study habits; however, I would hate to purchase all of these things and end up with too many resources. Thanks!
hello there! thanks for this great info. I am a PA who was certified and licensed and worked for 10 years then quit for 9 years. I need to re-certify. What would you recommend for someone out of practice for so long? I am trying to choose between an in-person course and an online course. In-person would be challenging because of childcare but do-able if necessary.
Stephen Pasquini PA-C says
In your case if you can swing it I would recommend a dedicated in-person review course. I have heard CME resources is quite good, and I am a big fan of the Rutgers review course. They have a nice online option as well,but it helps to be able to complete the exams during the lectures.