ANCC vs. AANP: Which FNP exam should I take?

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) are the governing boards that administer tests to examinees seeking to become certified as a nurse practitioner. There are multiple test areas including Family, Adult-Gerontology, Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Midwifery, and Psychiatric. Depending on your degree, tests can either be acute or primary care.

We offer board review for both the ANCC and AANP Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). Because of this, we’re often asked how the tests (and our products) differ from one another and if one is better than the other. Hopefully we can provide you the answers you’re seeking below:

What content is covered in the ANCC and AANP FNP exams?

ANCC Outline:

Foundations for Advanced Practice (37%):

A. Advanced Physiology/Pathophysiology Across the Life-Span

B. Advanced Pharmacology For Treating Patients Across the Life-Span

C. Advanced Health/Physical Assessment Across the Life-Span


D. Clinical Prevention and Population Health for Improvement of Outcomes

E. Research methodology

F. Informatics

Professional Practice (17%):

A. Leadership, Advocacy, and Inter-professional Collaboration

B. Quality Improvement and Safety

C. Healthcare Economics, Policy, and Organizational Practices

D. Scope and Standards of Practice

Independent Practice (46%):

A. Health Promotion and Maintenance Across the Life-Span

B. Illness and Disease Management

C. Care of Diverse Populations

D. Translational Science/Evidence-based Practice

E. Advanced Diagnostic Reasoning/Critical Thinking

AANP Outline:

Assessment (36%):

A. Obtain subjective patient information including but not limited to relevant medical history (including biopsychosocial, economic, environmental, family, military, travel, occupational, preventive components), chief complaint, history of present illness, and review of systems to determine health needs


B. Obtain objective information based on patient age/developmental level, health history, and comorbidities to further define and evaluate health needs and problems

Diagnosis (24%):

A. Formulate differential diagnoses

B. Establish definitive diagnoses

Plan (23%):

A. Establish a safe plan of patient-centered treatment and care that is individualized, cost-effective, consistent with best evidence, age-appropriate, and culturally-sensitive in order to address the diagnoses

Evaluation (17%):

A. Determine the effectiveness of the plan of treatment and care based on outcomes

B. Modify the plan of treatment and care as appropriate based on outcomes

Key Takeaway: In comparison to the AANP exam, the ANCC usually has more questions focused on professional issues like healthcare policy and ethics.

How long is the test and how many questions does it contain?

ANCC: There are between 175 or 200 questions. It will take around 4 hours to finish the test depending on the number of questions.

AANP: There are 150 questions and the exam lasts 3 hours in length. You’ll have around 50 seconds to answer each question.

How do I get my ANCC or AANP FNP exam results?

ANCC: You’ll receive notification of whether you passed or failed the exam immediately upon completion. If you fail the exam (don’t worry you won’t) the ANCC will send a score report to your address including information regarding performance on each content areas of the test.

AANP: Don’t stress out, exam results are available immediately upon completion of the exam in a pass/fail format. Examinees who fail the exam (it won’t be you) will receive an official letter articulating strengths and weaknesses pertaining to knowledge areas covered on the test.



What is the pass rate?

ANCC: In 2015, the average pass rate for the FNP exam was 75%.

AANP: In 2015, the average pass rate for the FNP exam was 81.4%.

Key Takeaway: Many examinees make the mistake of not adequately preparing for the difficulty found in these exams as demonstrated by the pass rates. This is not the NCLEX. Understand that and prepare effectively.

What happens if I fail the exam?

ANCC: If you fail the ANCC FNP exam you will have the ability to retake the test after 60 days of the last testing date; however,  you cannot take the exam more than three times in any 12 month period.

AANP: If you fail the  AANP FNP exam then you must complete 15 hours of continuing education credit in the area or areas of weakness identified on the score report. A great benefit of using our AANP FNP question bank is that you can easily fulfill those 15 required hours of continuing education credits while simultaneously studying to re-take the exam!

What should I study?

For both exams you need to use more than one resource.

First: master your material from school and clinicals.

Second: choose a highly vetted question bank to complement your other study materials.

Conveniently, if you’re seeking to become a Family Nurse Practitioner, we offer an exceptional board review for the ANCC and AANP FNP certification exams.


Note: The question formats found within our ANCC and AANP board review are reflective of the board exam they represent. For instance, the AANP is notorious for using tricky wording whereas the ANCC exam is known for using unique question formatting. Since both of our ANCC and AANP question banks are written by certified Family Nurse Practitioners that have passed the exams, our board review is expertly tailored to the specific board exam you choose.

You can access more information and a free trial by following one of these links below.

BoardVitals ANCC FNP Board Review

BoardVitals AANP FNP Board Review

FYI: You do not need to purchase both board reviews to adequately prepare. Choose one!

Is the AANP easier than the ANCC exam?

The AANP is rumored to be the easier of the two exams, specifically for those seeking their FNP certification since it has a 5% higher pass rate than that of the ANCC FNP exam. Using the pass rate as a basis for difficulty then you can reasonably say that the AANP exam is easier than the ANCC.

Bottom line, does it really matter which test I take?

Well, to be clear, it shouldn’t. There is a stigma that the ANCC is more widely accepted at hospitals nationwide. There was a time when organizations such as the Veterans Administration only recognized the ANCC; however, today, the ANCC and the AANP are both certifying boards so companies cannot discriminate against one or the other.

This article is originally from the BoardVitals Blog: