FNP Students: Read These 4 Tips for the AANP Exam

aanp exam

You’ve logged your practicum hours, completed your coursework and walked the graduation stage with the confidence and drive to expand your nursing practice as a family nurse practitioner. There’s only one step left in your journey: passing the certification exam.

To gain certification as a family nurse practitioner, graduates of accredited nurse practitioner programs take a competency-based examination through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

We recently asked graduates of Chamberlain’s MSN – Family Nurse Practitioner Specialty Track their advice for preparing for the exam, which tests clinical knowledge in families and individuals across their life span. (Find the examination blueprint here). Read on for their advice:

1. Practice questions, questions and more questions!

If you’ve studied for the NCLEX, you know how helpful completing practice questions can be in your preparation. Many of our graduates pointed to making time daily to complete practice questions as a key to their success with the AANP Exam.

“Questions, questions, questions,” said FNP graduate Jaclyn Hamlin. “I tried to do practice questions every day for at least a few minutes. Take practice tests – for AANP, there’s a 50-question practice test you can do that is made up of their questions. Three of the questions on that practice test were on my actual exam.”

Equally as important as completing practice questions is to read and understand the rationales provided – spend the extra time to understand why you might have gotten a question wrong.

2. Take advantage of the resources Chamberlain offers.

Make the most of every learning opportunity you can, especially when it comes to utilizing your resources. For Chamberlain FNP students these resources include an online review through APEA (Advanced Practice Education Associates) during their Capstone class and an intensive twenty hour in person review, covering strategies and tips to equip students with the knowledge to pass the exam.

“I was extremely prepared for boards and took them during week 8 of Capstone,” shared FNP graduate Jaime Henson. “My advice to other students is you only get out of the program and studying what you put in to it. You cannot expect to pass without putting in the effort!”

3. Make studying a part of your daily routine.

Find a way to make studying part of your everyday routine – however it fits best with your lifestyle. Graduate Craig Philhower’s job involved him spending four hours per day in the car – so he used that time to listen to the review course in his car. For Jaime, creating flashcards helped her study on the go – and she linked up with classmates each week to drive the concepts home.

“I made flashcards out of every single exam tip in the book,” she said. “I also made flashcards out of common diseases, treatments and symptoms. I studied every single day for a couple months, even if it was just reviewing 25 flashcards. Some students in my cohort formed a study group and we practiced questions a couple times per week. It was terrific to have all of our different backgrounds and experience when we worked through questions!”

4. Be prepared to help calm exam jitters.

Testing can be nerve-wracking – so take the guess work out of the day by ensuring you know where the test center is and where to park. Get a good night’s sleep and eat something hearty enough to get you through the exam. 

“I drove to the test center a week ahead of time so I knew exactly where I was going so I wasn’t worried about that,” said graduate Sarah Magula. “I made the first appointment in the morning. I left early so I would be there well ahead of time. Some people I talked to stayed over in a hotel near their test center to get a good night’s sleep.”

Some final advice? Be sure to put the same level of effort into your exam preparation as you did the program.

“My advice to other students is that you only get out of the program and studying what you put into it,” Jaime said. “You cannot expect to pass without putting in the effort!”

Looking for more FNP specialty track tips? Find a few of our favorites here:

FNP Graduates Share 3 Time Management Tips

4 Tips for Landing Your First Family Nurse Practitioner Job

5 Apps to Help You through the MSN-FNP Specialty Track


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