PASSED - 2017 ANCC AGANCP comprehensive exam!!
I wanted to share my experience as I scoured this blog in the months prior to choosing the ANCC exam and leading up to my exam. I found the entire process to be confusing and frustrating from which test to choose to how to properly prepare for that exam. I wanted to add my experience in hopes of generating questions from those in the same boat and hopefully offering some reassurance.
Background on me - I am an Med Surg turned Emergency Department nurse of 10-years (6 years med surg, 4 ED). I never spent time in and ICU except during clinical experience. I attended a prestigious college for my master's degree (because they were the only one offering the Adult Acute Care track in my city) and did ok, graduated with at 3.34 gpa while working night shift - ugh! To recap - I was exhausted, wet-brained and NOT a genius on any level. But I did have great clinical experiences in school and working in the ED.
OK, to the stuff you want to hear -
1. I chose the ANCC exam over the AANP because it is an established exam and has a moderately better reputation. Also, the pass rate on it is better than the AANP. The research I've done reported overall that the ANCC test was more policy and practice characteristics based while the AANP exam was more clinical question based. I'd say that was likely the case (discussed below). I will say that no one I knew, from prior students, instructors, established NPs had any idea or counsel as to why you would choose one over the other and made it feel like flipping a coin was just as good for choosing, ugh!
2. I started studying on a 3-5 day, 4 hours or so at a time/session about 45 days before the exam, but there were several breaks in there for a camping trip and other family/work stuff.
I bought the 2016 (year prior) Barkely CDs and an empty lecture outline on Ebay. It was MUCH MUCH cheaper and fit my style - I put them on my phone and then could listen and take notes anywhere. I even took my son camping and listened to the CDs with the material I was weakest in (ENDOCRINE and NERUO, hello!). He, from what I've read, is a part of the board on the ANCC test bank and so he was able to give really good overview of all disease process and policy stuff. He was also very funny and easy to listen to.
I also bought the latest Fitzgerald book, which was good. I looked up the diseases and areas that I was testing poorly in on the practice exams and it gave a lot more detail on those topics. She is MUCH more detailed, and overall way TOO detailed for the comp purposes. So I was careful not to devote an enormous amount of time to memorizing the whole book - just using it to supplement my weak areas.
I got a CRAM flashcard account and made A TON of flashcards from the Barkley notes I'd taken ONLY on the material I wasn't 100% able to recite with a working knowledge. (You can find them on there - I made them public if you want to). I went over them a million times and looked up info that I didn't understand and added supplemental cards.
I am visual so I looked up things I couldn't get to stay in my head (like some neuro disorders for example) on YouTube and watched various funny humans teach me in their own techniques. It worked!
Finally, I bought the practice exams on Barkley's site - they are $25/each and HARD!! Some of them were VERY clinical, way more than his lectures! I scored mid 60s and 70s on all four. But it definitely was worth it as it showed me the stuff I thought I knew but didn't. I also did all of the ANCC's exam questions, this helped also as they had quite a few and highlighted the various areas. I struggled with some of the policy/culture of nursing/ethic questions so I read these areas in Fitzgerald again too.
3. The exam itself was LONG! I am a super fast test taker and I took the ENTIRE 4 hours. But I also really took my time and marked ALL the questions I felt iffy about for second review (it was at least 30 questions). I'm not going to lie - there was a time, about halfway though, that I had a wave of panic and was SURE that this was futile and I was failing (I was having RN NCLEX exam flashbacks!!). However, I kept on going and was able to realize that there were a lot of things I knew as I went on.
The content was a LOT of policy, ethics, nursing culture questions. There were definitely clinical questions but they weren't crazy. There were also some prioritization of care questions like "which would you provide first". I had med questions but nothing with dosing or anything that felt tricky. Very few things that involved vents and I was surprised, given Berkeley's review focus on shock, that there weren't a ton on that either. *Though I will say that I went over and over his shock table and looked for additional practice questions on shock so I would be able to identify it and know its initial treatments and that DID help on a few questions*.
At the end I DID change some answers on those I had flagged. And I TOOK MY TIME!! Despite all that - I was SHOCKED when she said "Congratulations"!!!!!!
So there it is - I passed. And if I can do it, so can you! I hope this helps, I know it is hard and SO SO SO stressful, but feels SO good on the other side!
GOOD LUCK!!Last edit by Brian S. on Sep 8, '17
Sep 3, '17Congratulations! Sounds like you did the ground work and you were ready! Thank you for tips - I'm in my last semester and really appreciate hearing what worked for you.
Congrats!Sep 3, '17First off, congrats! Do you have an NP job lined up?
"I chose the ANCC exam over the AANP because it is an established exam and has a moderately better reputation. Also, the pass rate on it is better than the AANP. The research I've done reported overall that the ANCC test was more policy and practice characteristics based while the AANP exam was more clinical question based. I'd say that was likely the case (discussed below). I will say that no one I knew, from prior students, instructors, established NPs had any idea or counsel as to why you would choose one over the other and made it feel like flipping a coin was just as good for choosing, ugh!"
-- The AANP doesn't offer the acute care exam... American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANCC) and American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) do.
I took both last month and agree the ANCC exam was focused more on the health care system, delivery of care, and process improvement. The AACN version was definitely more about diagnosis based of signs and symptoms along with evidenced based treatment. The AACN exam was harder, but made me feel like I know what I am doing...Sep 4, '17I have accepted a Critical Care Fellowship through our Medical College here in Milwaukee for one year. Its a new programs so I'm excited to be involved and help offer feedback for future NPs! I'm expecting to take a job in one of the ICUs at the Medical College afterwards.
Thank you for more clarification on the certifying bodies! It really can be such a maze!
SarahSep 5, '17Congratulations, Stybring! How can I find your flashcards? Tried looking for them on the Cram site. Thanks so much!Sep 5, '17Quote from JOMARNTry "AGACNP 2016 Review"Congratulations, Stybring! How can I find your flashcards? Tried looking for them on the Cram site. Thanks so much!
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