The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) are the two organizations that administer the tests to become board certified as a nurse practitioner. There are several tests depending on your educational qualifications. Tests areas include Family, AGNP, Peds, Midwifery and Psychiatric, and tests can then be Acute or Primary care, again depending on your degree. You only need to be certified by one, but I took the primary care test from both organizations. Why both, well I got cocky and failed the AANP the first time. That made me focus and get serious. I also said to hell with this and registered to take both the ANCC and AANP tests in the same week. Logic told me I can’t fail both, luckily I passed both and I am now 2 for 3.
Most of my classmates were taking the ANCC test and I started hearing people saying it was easy and not what they expected. First mistake, do not listen to people. I should have looked at the websites and noticed that about 80% pass both tests. That means next time you're in a lecture count off your classmates and realize that on average every 5th person is going to fail. Like those awful group project, count off 1, 2, 3, 4. . (Shit it’s me).
Mistake number two is I studied wrong. You need to use more than one resource, and especially do not get stuck on practice test questions for your studying. Master your material from school and clinicals. Because although Fitzgerald and others books are decent, not one question from those books are on the tests. They may be similar enough to confuse you, but they are not the same.
You will hear that it does not matter which test you take, which is true. The ANCC has been around longer than the AANP test, and there was a time when organizations like the Veterans Administration only recognized the ANCC. Today because they are both certifying boards, companies cannot discriminate against one or the other or they would probably be sued.
The AANP is 150 timed questions and the ANCC is 175 timed questions. Some of the questions for both tests do not count, and you do not know which ones. They mix sample questions into the tests to see how people will answer them, and if they are viable test questions then they can be added in the future. This testing is also not like the NCLEX test, where the computer might turn off at 75 questions, or adjust based on how you are doing. You will answer all questions, and they are all random multiple choice. I did hear that they might be adding some pictures in the future, which would have been nice with those dermatology questions. For example reading erythematous scattered raised papules could be a couple things, give me a picture please.
Truthfully, I really wanted to like the AANP test, because their organization seems geared towards Nurse Practitioners, and they have local and state chapters for NPs to network. The ANCC on the other hand is all over the place and seems to certify everything and anybody including the hospital itself. They are the ones behind the whole Magnet Hospital certification. Magnet status cost hospital a lot of money and research is showing Magnet status has not improved patient outcomes, but it does look good in the advertising and on the letterhead.
Having now seen 475 of the board questions it is true, the AANP test is concentrated more on assessment, diagnostic and treatment based questions. While the AANC, while still having assessment, diagnostic and treatment questions, also includes therapeutic communication, research, policy, cultural issues, epidemiology, psychology and some regulatory questions mixed in. I liked this format, because as an NP only part of your business is assessing and treating patients. Also, look at your program it may be pushing you towards one or the other test. Besides the core curriculum our program had lots of research and cultural components.
It might be my background, but the ANCC seemed easy compared to the AANP. Since I took the AANP test twice their questions seemed redundant and they like to play word games. For example instead of checking your knowledge base, they would ask several questions on one topic like TSH, T3 and T4, or COPD and only change some words in the question or answer looking to trick you.
Have to renew in 5-years, but for hundreds of dollars each it will not be with both organizations. We will see who does a better job of supporting and promoting NPs and probably renew with them.