AANP-AGNP Exam prep
Nurse Practitioner students need encouragement and confidence when going into certification exams. This article is part of my journey to taking and successfully passing boards and is meant to promote self confidence and fearlessness, from a very realistic standpoint.
I wanted to write a little about my journey through my program and passing boards. I went to UCCS and completed their Adult-Gero NP program in December of 2017. I have been an RN since Aug 2013 and took each step one-by-one; completed my ADN, moved onto my BSN immediately, and then entered the NP program immediately. I haven't been out of school for more than 2 months in a longggg time. And, not that you'll be surprised, but I have already put my application in for the DNP program at UCCS.
With all that said, the point is this, I started from the basics and just worked class by class to get where I am today. Lots of impatience, patience, frustration, happiness, tears, and laughs. It's been a lot of ups and downs to say the least. I have sacrificed time with my husband, kids, family, and friends and constantly reminded myself of the end goal. Some days were harder than others, but thats why we fight, right? To be great.
I did complete the MSN program online through UCCS, but was lucky enough to be able to attend Health Assessment in person once a week for a couple months. This was sooo helpful because having a teacher to just bounce things off of and challenge your knowledge is so rewarding.
Going into boards I'll tell you this, I was extremely, extremely nervous. I generally have anxiety and fight that on a daily, but this pressure felt like I had never felt before (and I took the NCLEX in an hour and passed with 75 questions!). I had already pictured not passing the test, saw myself having to search for CEU's, telling my impending job that I failed, the whole nine yards guys. My fear/anxiety of failing was REAL.
So, lets get to the good stuff, right? The meat and potatoes of this whole post; how did I pass? Here's what I did, what I felt worked for me, and what I did not like as much. These are simply my opinions and doesn't reflect anyone else.
Money was a huge issue, so I had to things little by little. I had to make giant sacrifices to be able to afford the Fitzgerald study program. I did the online version and was satisfied with the program overall. HOWEVER, I did feel like she spoke very fast and often times I would pause the video to catch up on my notes. I would also pause the video prior to each and every question that would come about. I did this because I wanted to assess the questions without her talking me through it and discern the answer independently. If I got it right or wrong, at least I knew my train of thought and how to adjust.
I took a couple of predictor tests; the APEA predictor and the AANP predictor. (I did take the Barkley predictor in my program as it was required by my school). The Barkley test indicated that I was likely to pass; however, both the APEA and the AANP indicated that I would likely not pass. This played a HUGE part in my anxiety. I felt like they were all good to get a grasp on questions, timing, etc., but to score so poorly, just increased my anxiety even more.
I also did all 680 questions in Liek's book, to which I would do again in a heart beat. I did not have the time to read the book, so I thought Ill answer the questions, read the rationales and go from there. So, this is what I did. I read the rationales for the questions I got right and wrong and used aseparate notebook to write down pretty much everything.
I've previously done a "wall of knowledge" for the NCLEX, so I took the same approach for the AANP exam. I used 6 poster boards and put all the information that I wanted to see on a daily; CN's, Anemias, Antibiotic regimens, EENT, signs, tests, etc. I think this was so helpful just because if I was folding laundry or something I would just peek at my wall and refresh.
The test site was 125 miles away from my home, so I drove out and stayed in a hotel the night before. I also scheduled my test for 1pm because I felt like I wanted to wake up easily, eat breakfast, and casually attend my exam.
Actual day of test: I didn't sleep at all, couldn't fall asleep until past 1am, woke up about 9am, and jumped in the shower. I went to Panera to just sit and review anything I felt like I needed to in the Leik book, but what really happened? I shoved a cinnamon roll AND a bagel down my throat and about 4 cups of Diet Coke. LOL. I left Panera and headed to the test site. Holy test site. HOLY HOLY HOLY. I sat in my car and I literally yelled at myself. I said, "Krystal, you got to this point from hard work, not luck, so you CAN DO THIS". I prayed to God to be with me, prayed to my grandparents to watch over me, put on my Nana's earrings for good luck and bam. Went in still a nervous wreck, but content with the outcome, either way. I had to be, otherwise I would not even be able to sit and process info.
PEOPLE, I marked 50 items. FIFTY. The test is only 150 questions and I marked 1/3 of the total. I went through each question, taking my time, and really trying to understand what they were asking me. When I reached question 150, I still had 50 to go back through. This was exhausting, not going to lie. I was feeling fatigued at this point, but did not want to get up and take a break and waste any time.
So there I went, reviewing 50 questions. I know that it's total TABOO, but I did, I repeat, I DID, change some answers. I did this because once I went back over some of the questions, the answer was way more apparent. Whether this was related to my nerves being slowed down a bit by fatigue, or just having the thought of "I already failed", I decided to change some answers. Most people recommend against this, but for me, I go with what works for me.
I finished the exam after 2.5 hours. I walked out of the computer area, gathered my items, and signed out. The test proctor said, "the results will be on the printer and you can head on out". The papers were face down, so I didn't have any indication of whether I passed or not. AND let me tell you, the proctor should go play poker in Vegas because his face did not give away anything. I even asked him, "Do you know the results?", he of course said, "Yep". I said, okay, I'm not going to look and just walked out of the office.
TWO STEPS out of the door I said Krystal, it's time. One way or another the result was going to just be, and I would move forward either way. Turned my paper over and frantically searched for the result, then, bam, PASSED. The best 6 letter word I've ever read.
I quickly turned back around, ran back into the test center and hugged the proctor. He gave me a congrats, I mumbled something about how my whole life has changed, and sprinted to my car to call my family. I literally screamed to my husband, "I PASSED!!". Overall, the nervousness I felt prior to the exam was not like anything I've experienced before, and I deployed to Iraq at 20 years old, so if that gives you any indication, wow, right?!
Would I change anything? I would've started studying sooner (I started about 3 weeks post graduation, then had to stop related to a family death, had one more week and then tested). I would've saved my money to have funds to purchase everything I wanted. The Leik book was approximately 75 dollars, Fitzgerald was $300 or so, APEA test was 32 bucks, and the AANP test was $50. Not to count the test itself, which was $315. Holy expensive right?!! Trust me when I say I didn't buy all these things at once, had to wait for a paycheck to buy the Leik book, cashed in my investment to pay for Fitzgerald, and my Dad paid for the test. Thank God for all the help and support I have been given throughout all of this because without it, I would've for sure been unsuccessful.
Sorry for the book that I've written, but I felt like sharing my story might help others along their journey to passing the AANP AGNP exam. At the end of the day I would also change one other thing and that is this: I would've believed in myself more...I would've been a lot nicer to myself through all this. Self doubt is such a beast and a hard one to tame when you face such a life-changing exam. Remember guys, you didn't get where you are without HARD WORK. DON'T DISCOUNT YOURSELF. You earned your spot. All that you have given up in life to become successful, comes down to this day, the day where you show the world, you are worthy. Did you hear me?! YOU, RIGHT NOW, YOU READING THIS, ARE WORTHY and YOU CAN DO THIS.Last edit by Joe V on Mar 9
I'm Krystal and I just recently passed my AANP AGPCNP boards and have an NP license in KS. I attended UCCS for my MSN and will continue to obtain my DNP. I encourage self love, confidence, and honesty in the field of nursing, plus so much more. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Joined: Feb '18; Posts: 3; Likes: 3
Specialty: 5 year(s) of experience