I started this blog post several weeks ago, where I added things, removed some and debated if it was worth sharing with the world. This topic is universal and very subjective because I’m only a recent graduate who is sharing her one-time experience with the PANCE. The rest of the post will be very informal, so judge very lightly.
These are my views on the topic and everything I wrote about is not going to apply to every student.
Was the test hard? Yes, it was. Probably one of the most challenging exams I’ll ever take.
What study tools did I use? I used Pance Prep Pearls and Rosh Rapid Review e-text as my text resource. Hippo education, PPP question book, Smarty Pance and Rosh Review were my resources for questions. In hindsight, I probably could’ve benefited from an additional study guide, but I am a person who doesn’t like too many sources. Once something works, rarely do I ever want to change it.
- Rosh: I did all the body system questions, the family, internal, surgery and emergency medicine EORs. I also completed the Mock PANCE to replicate the PANCE in a 5 hour sit down. This was done 7 days before my exam.
- Hippo: I completed at least 4x 200+ random question per practice exam. I reviewed mostly the questions I got wrong and allowed HIPPO to pick my questions based on my weak areas.
- Smarty Pance: I did 3 of the comprehensive 225 questions exam during the first 2 weeks of my studying. I didn’t return to use Smarty Pance because it wasn’t as tough as the remaining resources.
- PPP question book: I only did 160 question out of the whole 600 question book. I was short on time and simply preferred computerized practice question. Although if I had more time, I’d have done more of these questions because they helped.
Tutor or Exam mode while doing questions? I believe that tutor mode makes me lazy as it helps answer future questions. Simply put, I didn’t do any tutor mode. I timed myself for every exam to build up my stamina. You’re going to be taking an exam, so start stimulating that and you’ll be ready. Sidebar, I had about 8-10 min in each section of my PANCE to review my exam and news from fellow classmates was how they were running out of time.
Did I take the NCCPA Pretest? Yes, I did and totally worth the $50 investment. Honestly, this is the only test that is very similar to the actual test and helps to show where you stand among your peers who’ve taken it. Do not take the pretest until you’ve reviewed all the topics and at least 10-14 before your exam date. It has a way of unnerving even the calmest students, so prepare for it because you don’t want to waste your money or time taking it when you’re not ready.
What were my weak areas? Pulm, Msk, OBGYN & GU were my weak points. I did terrible on reproductive system because I did not review those topics before taking the pretest. Therefore, it is important to finish reviewing all materials before taking it. TRUST ME.
How long did I study? PANCE is an individual race. You must know where you’re as a student and know what works best for you. I took my exam exactly 6 weeks after my first board review. I put in about 10 hours x 4 days a week consistently in the library and a about 6 hours here and there on days I wasn’t in the library. I needed the structure of the library and no distraction to complete what I needed to do. While this worked for me, it can be different for you. I know a lot of people say you’re studying for PANCE while in clinical rotation, but that time is not the same because you’re still focused on passing an EOR & graduating. There must be time set apart to focus on solely studying for the PANCE and that time varies. Average recommended time is 4-8 weeks depending on who you’re. Some students will take it within 2 weeks, while some will take 10 weeks or more. Its all up to where you stand.
How much time is too much time? Just as you don’t want to take the exam unprepared, don’t take forever either. You can be ready objectively but subjectively you may feel not ready and willing to keep pushing off the test. If your practice scores show that you’re doing well, your pretest places you in the green and you know your stuff, don’t take forever waiting. Because life will be happening around you, which can affect how well you study if you are weeks to far into it.
What topics needs extra attention? The main heavy hitters to know are cardio, pulm and GI. BUT, reproductive health, GU, and professional practice are content areas not usually given much thoughts to and I’d recommend paying closer attention to them. Personally, I treated reproductive health as a topic that “I should know already” but it turns out that I needed to read and put in more effort. Do not sleep on professional practice content areas.
Was I anxious? I had a lot of anxiety leading up to my exam and even until the morning I got my result. I was blessed to receive so many great news that morning- my niece was born that morning as well. I believe that being mentally prepared for the exam was just as important as studying for the actual blueprint. We know the material but learning to be a test taker and not doubting yourself is vital. After my exam, I felt like such a weight was lifted and that I could have passed. While thinking about that, I tried to quell my eagerness because you just never know. That was the hardest part and the waiting was bad. Thank God for great friends who will adjust their plans to keep you company after taking that exam!
Does your score matter? I simply have no idea. To me it doesn’t matter if you pass at 350 or 750, because you’re both a PA-C. Your test score doesn’t determine what type of practitioner you’ll be. While studying, ask your faculty what numbers are ideal to be scoring. If you reach out to me personally, I will share what numbers I think can tell you where you stand. I have only my knowledge and other classmates to use as my source for it, which is why I do not feel comfortable sharing it here.
Test taking tips… Do not change the question asked. Answer what you’re given, as it is given. Do not think like a clinician, think exactly like the textbook. Read the last line first and then start from the beginning to help focus. Review questions you answered wrong then find out why you answered it the way you did and learn from it.
Group study or no? I did one group study session with my friends and it was only on cardiology. While it was helpful, we found that we were all at different points and wasn’t going to be productive to keep meeting up. We stayed in touch via video chat, group text and phone call whenever someone had a question, which was very often!
My support system was… My three closest friends in the program were the people I spoke with the most. I shared everything from my anxiety, study techniques, stress and tips with them and vice versa. I limited the amount of people who had access to me during my study time because I didn’t want to interrupt the energy I had cultivated. My state of mind during those 6 weeks were fragile and life was happening all around me and I had to block a lot of it out. You must do what you have to do sis!
If you’ve made it this far, I hope you learned something and will share my experience with the 2019 PANCE with others. It was an exam that put my 27 months in the program to test, to see if I had what it takes to practice. I am blessed to have family and friends who supported me because it was a tough 6 weeks. No one else will be able to understand what you’re feeling, except for your classmates, so it is okay to take however long you need to be ready. If I remember more helpful information, I’ll update this post as needed.
p.s: be mentally prepared by learning how to control your anxiety.
p.s.s: If you are a borderline student or struggled while taking your EORs, PACKRAT etc, then I’d recommend taking your time to evaluate your weak areas and strengthen them. Those areas do not disappear just because you’re done with school. The PANCE is too important and expensive to just “go take it”. There are students who don’t pass or do well, that’s the sad reality of it. It doesn’t mean they’re not smart, they just must adjust to taking a test. Do yourself a great service and do what’s best for you. Check how you’re scoring on your practice test; find patterns in questions you get wrong and alter your studying appropriately.
p.s.s.s: the passing score of 350 from last year exam will not yield a 350 this year according to the information regarding the 2019 PANCE. That means the PANCE was harder this year, which has put alot of people on edge. It is neccessary to stress, because you want that “C” bad, but don’t let the stress stop you from effectively studying and learning to be a better tester.
The 2019 PANCE was a real one, from my experience and the passing rate nationwide.