What Are the Differences Between the AANP and ANCC Exams?
Registered nurses (RNs) who decide to become family nurse practitioners (FNPs) have a decision to make: Which FNP certification exam should they take? Aspiring nurse practitioners can choose between two certification exams: the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) Certification Board exam and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) exam. Passing either exam will qualify you to become a family nurse practitioner, but the two tests are distinctly different. In this article, we delve into the key differences between them to help aspiring FNPs answer the question: Should I take the AANP or ANCC exam?
What is a family nurse practitioner?
A family nurse practitioner (FNP) is a type of advanced practice nurse who provides comprehensive healthcare services to individuals and families across the lifespan, from infants to seniors. FNPs are trained and qualified to assess, diagnose, treat, and manage a wide range of health conditions. They often work in primary care settings, such as family medicine practices, clinics, or community health centers.1
What does a family nurse practitioner do?
Typically, FNPs perform the following types of duties:
- Patient assessment: FNPs conduct physical examinations, gather medical histories, and assess patients to make informed healthcare decisions.
- Diagnosis: Family nurse practitioners can diagnose common acute and chronic health conditions, order diagnostic tests, and interpret the results.
- Treatment: FNPs can provide a variety of treatments, including prescribing medications, administering vaccinations, and offering preventive care.
- Patient education: Family nurse practitioners educate patients and their families about health conditions, treatment options, and preventive measures.
- Chronic disease management: FNPs help manage and monitor chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma.
- Health promotion: Family nurse practitioners promote overall health and wellness through counseling, screenings, and lifestyle recommendations.
- Referrals: If a patient’s condition requires specialized care, FNPs can refer them to specialists.
- Collaboration: FNPs often work in collaboration with physicians and other healthcare professionals to ensure the best possible care for their patients.
How do I become an FNP?
To become an FNP, first you must become a registered nurse (RN). Then you’ll complete a family nurse practitioner program, which can be a master’s degree program or a doctoral program. Then you’ll need to pass the AANP Family Nurse Practitioner certification exam or the ANCC Family Nurse Practitioner certification exam to earn national certification as an FNP. You’ll also need to meet any specific licensing requirements mandated by the state in which you wish to work. Additionally, you’ll need to renew your FNP certification every five years.2
ANCC vs. AANP: What’s the difference between the exams?
At one point, the AANP exam focused more on clinical knowledge while the ANCC exam focused on research and theory, in addition to clinical knowledge. Now, though, both exams have a strong clinical focus. Here are differences between the AANP and ANCC exams:
- Answer 150 questions in three hours.
- Questions address patient assessment, diagnosis, planning, and evaluation.
- Knowledge areas include pathophysiology, pharmacology, physical assessment, and evidence-informed practice.3
- All questions are multiple choice with one correct answer.
- To pass the AANP exam, you must earn a score of 500 or higher.
- After you pass, you will be an FNP-C. C stands for certified.
- Answer 175 questions in three-and-a-half hours.
- Questions cover patient assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation.
- The exam covers body systems, drug agents, and age groups from infants to seniors.
- Questions are multiple choice but use a variety of formats, such as choosing all answers that apply when there is more than one correct solution or drag-and-drop questions that require you to put items in order.4
- To pass the ANCC exam, you must earn a score of 350 or higher.
- After you pass, you will be an FNP-BC. BC stands for board certified.
Which FNP exam should I take?
Both tests are challenging, and not everyone passes the first time they take the exam. The pass rates are similar between both exams, which indicates that neither test is easier than the other. To determine which FNP exam you should take, consider the following:
- What type of test-taker am I? Try practice questions for both types of tests to see which seems to suit your personal test-taking style.
- How much will it cost? The exam costs are slightly different and there are discounts available depending on which organization you joined. Be sure to check renewal costs as well since you’ll need to renew your certification every five years.
- What are the exam prerequisites? Both exams require nurses to be graduates of an accredited FNP program and to hold a current RN license. However, the ANCC requires specific prerequisite courses in order to take the exam.5
Remember, both the AANP and ANCC certification exams are recognized, accepted, legitimate pathways to becoming a family nurse practitioner. You can take either exam to become an FNP. You could even take both tests if you want to spend the time and money doing so! Just keep in mind that the AANP and ANCC could change their test questions and focus at any time, so be sure to check with both organizations on their exam content before you make a final decision about which FNP exam to take.
Walden University’s Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program with a Family Nurse Practitioner specialization academically prepares students to sit for both the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) FNP exam and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) Certification Board FNP exam. Walden is No. 1 in Master of Science in Nursing graduates in the U.S. The online MSN-FNP program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Didactic coursework in the program is 100% online, which can enable nurses to complete their master’s degree in nursing while working full time.
Are you ready to provide high-quality nursing care to patients throughout all of the stages of life? Walden’s CCNE-accredited online MSN-FNP degree program is the first step to becoming a family nurse practitioner.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) – Family Nurse Practitioner degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
The baccalaureate degree program in nursing (BSN), master’s degree program in nursing (MSN), post-graduate APRN certificate program, and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at Walden University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (www.ccneaccreditation.org).
Note on licensure: Walden’s MSN nurse practitioner specializations are designed to academically prepare graduates with an active registered nurse (RN) license to practice in the U.S. as nurse practitioners. However, each state has its own academic preparation and authority to practice requirements and issues its own license for an RN to be permitted to practice as a nurse practitioner in that state. Learn more about professional licensure.
No graduate program can guarantee that graduates will obtain licensure to practice as a nurse practitioner. We encourage students to consult the appropriate board of nursing or regulatory authority in the states or jurisdictions in which they reside or intend to seek licensure to determine specific requirements. Walden Enrollment Specialists can provide general information relating to licensure; however, it remains the individual’s responsibility to understand, evaluate, and comply with all requirements relating to licensure for the state in which they intend to practice, as requirements vary widely.
Note on certification: Walden’s MSN program is designed to academically prepare graduates to apply for national certification. Walden makes no representations or guarantees that completion of Walden coursework or programs will permit an individual to achieve national certification. We encourage students to consult an appropriate certifying body for the specific certification eligibility requirements. Students should also consult their state board of nursing or other state agency to determine what certifications are required or accepted in that state. It is an individual’s responsibility to understand, evaluate, and comply with all requirements relating to national certification, as requirements vary widely. For more information about nurse practitioner certification exams, students should visit the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board at www.aanpcert.org, the American Nurses Credentialing Center at www.nursingworld.org/ancc, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) at [email protected], or the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) at https://pncb.org, or other nurse practitioner certification websites.
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