Earning your Family Nurse Practitioner certification is a major professional accomplishment that culminates after years of hard work and dedication. Gaining an FNP certification is key to launching your NP career and opens up a diverse range of rewarding opportunities within the healthcare field.
However, the FNP exam has a reputation for being notoriously challenging. According to RegisteredNursing.org, the pass rate for both the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB) exam and American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANCC) exam is roughly 86%.
To maximize your chances of success and enhance your knowledge, it is imperative to adopt effective exam preparation strategies.
Here are four you should know:
1. Prioritize Study Topics
Years of academic preparation and clinical experiences exposed you to a broad range of clinical information. All of this data will help you hone your skills as a future FNP, but you must be able to integrate this information in order to pass the FNP exam.
An exam preparation course helps you organize your study routine and prioritize the numerous topics you will need to review and understand. Knowing which study topics to focus on, and when, helps you:
Allocate your time and energy appropriately
Deepen your subject knowledge and comprehension by allowing you to build on concepts in a sequential, logical manner
To help you streamline your study routine, write down a list of topics you feel the most secure about and a list of topics that are areas of weakness, then concentrate your efforts on the latter. Formulate questions about key concepts, review relevant information to help you answer these questions, and summarize in writing what you have learned to help solidify and expand your understanding.
It is tempting to review and revisit subject matter that you feel most proficient in — resist this temptation. The FNP exam is a high-stakes step in your professional trajectory. You must be willing to strengthen your weakest areas of competency in order to ensure you have a well-rounded foundation of knowledge.
2. Use Practice Questions to Confirm (Not Build) Your Knowledge Base
By the time you are ready to study for your FNP exam, you should already have a solid knowledge base. Practice questions are intended to help you enhance and refine this knowledge base rather than add to it. Practice questions give you a chance to simulate the exam environment, test your knowledge and familiarize yourself with typical verbiage you may see on an ANCC or AANPCB exam.
Consider practice questions a "wrap-up" of your study efforts that allow you to demonstrate mastery and comprehension. Consistently scoring less than 85% on practice exams is a good indicator that you need to go back and review relevant subject matter more thoroughly.
3. Go Beyond Memorization
The type of efficient, flexible, and critical thinking required for the FNP exam is the same type of thinking you will rely on as an entry-level family nurse practitioner. In this way, using rote memorization simply to help you pass the test is doing a major disservice to yourself as a clinician as well as to your future patients.
To provide effective and ethical care as a FNP, you must be able to understand not only what you are doing in a given clinical situation, but also why you are doing it and what sort of outcomes you expect. This level of competency requires the ability to apply the knowledge you have and will continue to build upon throughout your career.
So, while memorizing some facts and details may be helpful, this should never be the main goal of your study routine. Prepare for your FNP exam by deepening your understanding of key concepts and developing mastery in your clinical reasoning skills.
4. Give Yourself Ample Preparation Time
To optimize your success and overall well-being as you prepare for your FNP exam, you must allocate your resources of time and energy appropriately. As with virtually every other discipline that requires a professional qualifying exam, such as law or medicine, additional study that includes a review course is required for success on the exam.
The exact amount of exam preparation time you need will vary depending on factors unique to your situation, including your learning style, work schedule, and family and personal commitments.
A good guideline is to commit to at least 4 to 6 weeks of formal study after you complete your initial exam review course. Your daily calendar should include 2 to 3 hour blocks of dedicated study time, 6 days per week. Be sure to commit to these sessions, including study group sessions, like you would any other appointment.
No matter where you are in your journey toward an FNP career, Fitzgerald Health Education Associates provides the resources and tools you need to accomplish your goals and sharpen your skills. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions about the FNP exam or continuing education opportunities.