Your nursing practitioner program is about to end, and you will need to choose which exam to take to be a licensed nurse practitioner.
Two governing boards administer exams to test takers who are seeking to become a certified nurse practitioner:
- ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center) and
- AANP (American Association of Nurse Practitioners)
Both certifications are vital credentials that showcase the necessary expertise of nurse practitioners. These boards offer multiple testing options for specialties in Adult-Gerontology, Family, Pediatric Medicine, Emergency, Adolescent Medicine, Psychiatric, and Midwifery, with further delineation into primary or acute care.
Nurse practitioners have an option to choose to take either of the exams as the organizations have recognized both of the exams to be valid certifications. Some graduating nurse practitioners don’t exactly know the difference between the two exams. A significant factor is always the BC (Board Certified) designation in their title. Read on to know more about the difference between the two.
FNPs and AGNPs Certifying Bodies
The AANP and ANCC are NP certifications in adult-gerontology and family roles. Both organizations and their certification offers are discussed below.
The AANP represents NPs and is a national membership organization. The AANP Certification Board is an independent non-profit organization separately incorporated from AANP. Members of AANP receive a $75 discount when applying for an AANPCB certification.
The NCCA (National Commission for Certifying Agencies) and the ABSNC (Accreditation Board of Specialty Nursing Certification) certify and accredit the AANPCB family NP and the adult-gerontology program. The available certifications from AANPCB are FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner), A-GNP (Adult-gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner), and ENP (Emergency Nurse Practitioner).
ANNC is a subsidiary of the ANA (American Nurses Association) known to promote excellence in healthcare and nursing through credentialing programs. ANA is known to be a membership organization. ANCC does not have a membership organization for all types of nurses. Nurses are recognized in ANCC’s credentialing programs in specialty practice and primary care.
Things to Consider When Choosing Which Exam to Take:
Make sure to carefully review these references before finally deciding on which exam suits you best.
- Plans for your career. Are you considering working in a clinical setup or in the academe? AANP-certified FNPs and AGNPs are able to work in a clinical setting in any chosen state and can be reimbursed by insurance like Medicaid and Medicare. Those certified by ANCC also allow primary care AGNPs and FNPs to work in clinical settings in any chosen state and can also be reimbursed by insurance like Medicaid and Medicare. If you’re planning to work in the academe, ANCC’s exam may suit you best as it contains nursing theory and research.
- Desired testing style. AANP and ANCC have different styles, although both offer multiple-choice exams. AANP is purely multiple choice. ANCC has multiple-choice questions and other variations on testing like hot spots and drops and drag. If you aren’t much comfortable with multiple-choice formats, AANP will be the best choice for you.
- Content preference. AANP exams for AGNPs and FNPs focus mainly on clinical content. The questions reflect 35% Assessment, 25% Diagnosis, 21% Planning, and 18% Evaluation. ANCC exams consist of questions based on clinical content, nursing theory, and professional issues for NP like the scope of practice, privileges, and licensure.
About the ANCC Exam
The ANCC-FNP exam has 175 items, of which 150 are scored and 25 are pretest questions, to be answered within 3.5 hours. For AGNP candidates, there are 200 items, of which 175 are scored and the rest are pretest questions, to be answered within 4 hours. The exam usually has 13 skills across four content domains and 10 knowledge areas:
- Professional Role
- Clinical Management
Skill areas include the following:
- Risk Assessment
- Physical Assessment and Comprehensive health history
- Functional assessment
- Diagnostic test selection & evaluation
- Difference between abnormal and normal psychiatric or physiologic changes
- Pharmacotherapeutic intervention selection
- Pharmacotherapeutic intervention evaluation
- Therapeutic communication
- Nonpharmacologic intervention evaluation and selection
- Resource management
- Culturally congruent practice
- A focused physical assessment and history
About the AANP Exam
The AANP exam for both FNPs and AGNPs is composed of 150 questions, of which 135 are scored and the remaining are pretest questions for future analysis and consideration. These are the two domain focus areas of the AANP exam:
- Assessment – Obtains patient information that includes but not limited to patient-relevant medical history, history of present illness, and chief complaint
- Diagnosis – establish a definitive diagnosis and formulate a differential diagnosis
- Plan – Individualized care and treatment for patients, consistent with evidence-based, cost-efficient, age-appropriate, and culturally sensitive care
- Evaluation – Determine if the plan for treatment and care was adequate, and modify the plan based on the outcome
- Pediatric – both with newborn and infant
What Happens If I Fail?
ANCC: If you fail the exam, you can retake the test 60 days after your last testing date; however, in case you don’t get lucky on the 3rd time, you can’t take the exam after 12 months.
AANP: In case you fail the exam, you must complete continuing education credit of 15 hours depending on the area of weakness, which is identified on the score report. This is one great benefit of the AANP-FNP questioning banks because you can easily fulfill the required 15 hours of continuing education credits, at the same time reviewing or studying to retake the exam.
How Much Does the Exam Cost?
- AANP: For members of the AANP, the testing fee is $240; for nonmembers, the cost is at $315.
- ANCC: For members of the ANA, the fee is $295; while nonmembers’ fee is $395. For members of the AANP, ANCC gives a discounted rate of $340.
Which of the Two Exams is Easier?
It is rumored that the AANP is easier, especially if you are seeking for FNP certification. The reason for this is that it has a 5% higher passing rate compared to the ANCC-FNP exam. Considering the passing rate is a good basis to compare both exams in terms of difficulty.
In summary, both AANP and ANCC exams enable you to work in any clinical setting in any state. Both are also valid if you want to meet reimbursement guidelines for Medicaid, Medicare, and other insurance companies. If you are considering a career in the academy, the ANCC would be a better choice as it includes nursing theory and research. On the other hand, if you want to spend more time in the clinical field, the AANP may be a good option.