The Pocket Guide to Passing the ANCC Certification Exam for FNPs

The ANCC Family Nurse Practitioner certification test is a competency-based exam provided by the American Nurses Association (ANA). The ANCC exam provides a rigorous and accurate assessment of nurse practitioners' entry-level clinical knowledge and skills.


This test certifies you as a nurse practitioner in a variety of specialties, including:


    • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP-BC)
    • Adult-Gerontological Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP-BC)
    • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP-BC)
    • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC)


The ANCC examination is criterion-referenced, meaning the examinee's performance on the examination is not linked to that of others in deciding the pass/fail status. An examinee must get a score equal to or greater than the minimum passing score for the examination on a criterion-referenced test.


In 2020, the pass rate for this exam was 89 percent. The key to success is understanding the best approach for studying.


Get familiar with the test

Familiarize yourself with the distribution of the exam content amongst the four different domains:


    • Assessment – 21% of the exam content – Obtaining patient information such as medical history, chief complaint, and current conditions
    • Diagnosis – 26% of the exam content – Combining and interpreting subjective/objective data to prioritize potential diagnoses
    • Clinical Management – 43% of the exam content - Planning patient-centered therapy and care that is tailored, cost-effective, and in accordance with the best standard of care
    • Professional Role – 10% of the exam content – The new exam, developed in 2019, focuses less on the professional role topics and more on clinical content


Understanding the blueprint of the exam will help you develop a study strategy for it.


Put practice questions to good use

Practice exam questions are an excellent approach to completing your research on a subject and showing your understanding of the material. After studying, you should be able to answer practice questions with an accuracy of 85 percent or above. Starting with the practice questions, however, is not the best way to prepare for the exam.  It is better to use practice questions to complete, rather than begin, your NP certification review.


If you are not scoring well on practice questions, you need to study the material associated with those questions more thoroughly. Afterward, go through the questions again to see if you hit the accuracy goal.


Don't solely rely on memorization

Memorization alone is a poor approach to preparing for this or any exam. It allows you to recite the concept, not why you should use it. Understanding concepts and using the information to know what to do and why to do it is a better method for knowledge creation.


Understanding allows you to connect ideas to concepts you can relate to and apply. Forced memorization will not lead to comprehension.


One method to avoid simple memorization is the SQ4R system, which includes:


    1. Survey the study information to establish session goals.
    2. Question the information to get a firm grasp of the concepts.
    3. Read and Research source material to methodically answer the questions you’ve developed.
    4. Recite these answers or write a summary to further understand the information. You can use the summary as a resource when you review the topic later.
    5. Review the goals you established before the study session to ensure they were met.


Utilize a Review Course to Prep for the ANCC Exam 

Taking a review course is a great approach to assess your understanding of the various concepts covered in the exam and your overall knowledge base. Schedule the course in advance of your exam date so that you have enough time to master unfamiliar material.


A review course allows you to concentrate on the areas where you are not that strong. It also ensures that the information you study is the most current. The exam blueprint changes every few years, so it’s important to have the most current information available to you. A professional review course can provide that assurance.


As one of the leading FNP exam preparation resources, Fitzgerald Health Education Associates features a 99%+ pass rate and an NP Pass Guarantee. Led by an experienced team of practicing and board-certified NPs, we have helped more than 140,000 NPs pass their Family Nurse Practitioner certification exam and enter a rewarding NP career with confidence.


Fitzgerald Health Education Associates offers you the materials and tools you need to achieve your objectives and improve your abilities. Please contact us if you have any concerns about FNP certification or continuing education alternatives.

*Disclaimer: It’s important to remember that practice tests should be used as a means of recognizing whether or not you’re ready to take your NP boards, and should be utilized as you’re wrapping up your NP certification review, not beginning it. For more information to help guide you through the first steps of your learning journey, visit to get started.


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