AANP Certfication Exam ( I failed it)


Specializes in ER and Aesthetics. Has 7 years experience.

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Specializes in Internal Medicine. 7 Posts


Hey there friend,

Have you retaken then AANP yet? Hope you are doing well.


1 Post

As many of the nurses here I had the experience of not passing my board exam on my first try. I could not imagine what I would have done had I taken it a second time and failed it again. Nothing that I had studied for the first time prepared me at all (not even remotely) to what I saw on the exam. Needless to say I had no idea where to start again to study for the exam. Reading some of the post here was helpful and encouraged me to get my self together. Someone recommended the FNP Exam Review from national healthcare institute and I found it to be very complete and found the exam easy the second time. For all of you out there, don't be discouraged, it's a lot of material to cover but its doable.


7 Posts

Me too.. just took the AANP exam this morning.. and I failed (( doing my CEUs now via AANP online.... already fill-up my retake paperwork even before they mail me the result... so sad...


45 Posts

It's been a while since my RN Boards and the NP stuff is over 18 mos away, but I am blessed with being a generally good test taker. I'll share what I've noted, in case it might be helpful to some. Nursing questions are always harder because nursing requires looking at a problem from so may different angles and with so many different items to prioritize. Most often, JUDGEMENT, not memorization, is most critical. But our training doesn't always help prepare us for independent thinking.

You spend years trying hard to please instructors and preceptors in a very tightly-run cultural ship, where your survival depends on reading the expectations of those in charge, right down to the clinical preceptors and doctors. Even instructors who would never knowingly give you a bad grade on good work out of prejudice may struggle for objectivity if they are grading anything in which "professionalism", integrity, nursing philosophy, etc. are big factors and yours doesn't look like what they are used to seeing. Nurses are "raised from scratch" traditionally, the way military science says recruits have to first be broken down to the naked core, before they can be built back into a team of units that are on auto-pilot" in following what they're told to do (US Marines, Army soldiers,etc.) And, just like them, when we finally hit the Real World, the adjustment is a shock! Nurses are being taught to think critically in good schools, but as a matter of survival most will tell you they pay close attention to behavioral expectations, so they are looking outward for clues.

So then along comes this new role where (though even in grad school there is a lot of the old "our school's version of nursing culture and values first!") you are still going to be asked to think alone for real. It's a shock when you first hit nursing floors as a basic grad, to realize you ARE the nurse, but being an NP is even more that way, I would guess. For all the talk about collaboration, Fitzgerald says in her reviews that she's '...still waiting for that easy ("NP" level) case to come along..." which she was taught the NP would handle while the doctor did the tougher one.

So the Certification Boards, like the CDE one I passed 5 years ago, and am set to renew soon via exam, want to see your critical thinking skills more than anything else. They know you will have texts and apps and peers and other disciplines when you're fine-tuning a meds regimen or working through a tricky case, and they know you'll get better at detective work at this level as time goes by, just as you did as a new RN. That's why they're more concerned with confirming you already have, and can maintain, your critical thinking skills under pressure and DESPITE DISTRACTING "false clues". They are also checking to see if you do have a rock-solid grasp of the basics...the kind that cramming at the last minute won't provide.

"False clues" are bits of information that you might follow eagerly because they are dramatic or memorable or sound like something you have heard over and over....but if you don't take a step back and look at the big picture again one more time, you will miss much quieter clues to the real answer. And that real answer will reveal you REALLY "get" the basics, and you know what's important and what is less so.

I spent quite while memorizing such as the protocols for, say, tight dosing of a brittle teen diabetic in premature labor and through her C-section, because that is technically part of CDE knowledge level .....but not anything I would use in outpatient education. I wondered if I was really expected to have all that memorized, but I had not had an advanced exam, so I studied it to be sure. The exam was both easier and harder than I expected.

Questions involved not so much tiny technical details UNLESS THEY WERE REALLY IMPORTANT forks in the road of decision -making. Many many questions could easily be answered wrong the first look, and if you obsessed too long. Both of these are signs you're missing the boat. If something seems too easy, or too hard, then you are possibly missing the main point. Don't pounce on, "Oh--I remember that phrase!". Nor should you spend 10 minutes agonizing over 0.5 cc vs. 0.6cc of something.

If you're on the right track, you should be able to immediately toss 2 incorrect answers. With the remaining 2, you have a 50% chance of getting it right already. Ask yourself, in the real world, what kind of beginner's mistakes would be unprofessional, outside your scope of practice, or dangerous in this patient situation? An example would be a question that leads me deep into educating a patient on dosing herself with the right kind and amount of insulin, and overlooking that with her diabetic retinopathy, she probably can't read the label or see the smallest lines on a syringe, but may not want to admit it.

As a new grad, I might be so nervous about my teaching skills (especially with someone watching and grading me!) I would never think to ask. A test question that gives you the chance to consider this possibility and take it into account...but in a low-key way, so it isn't shouting the right answer at you...will often have one answer like this as the correct answer. Go in realizing that you DO know these things. Pretend you are being asked to edit a guidebook for new grads.

Practice writing quizzes for new grad RNs yourself, and see if you can think of questions that slip in vital information into a scenario or list of facts, and allow the sharp student to be the detective in seeing and recognizing the highest priority and knowing the rules for it which don't change from one situation to another. They are: Read the history. LISTEN to and see the whole patient, not just a set of symptoms. Know the critical "DO NOTs" and ask first if they apply in any way before moving to any "DOs". And so on. Now add in that they also want to know if you grasp the basics at your new level of education, and add, "What mistake might a new PRACTITIONER/PROVIDER make in this situation, which would show poor judgement about priorities or risk factors or alternative diagnoses, that if missed would be really deadly? I'm sure they have several scenarios in which you demonstrate not that you can diagnose every set of symptoms via memorization, but that there are key aspects you always check and key questions you always ask.

If Johnny feels cruddy now and he had a sore throat or tick bite a while back, do you know why they might be connected and is it automatic to ask the key questions, just in case? Good: Then the long description of the camping vacation or his nervous parent, what he ate for breakfast, or that he is diabetic won't distract you from making sure he didn't have strep, nor a bull's-eye rash, right?

One more simple example from new grad days: You have a patient scheduled for surgery. She takes warfarin, and you don't know what her dose is, and neither has anyone charted when she last had it. The clinical scenario goes into pre-op antibiotics, etc. and leads you into big worries about whether she did or didn't accidentally eat breakfast, and asked you to decide whether she should still go to surgery, having eaten 30 minutes later than is standard. Lots of colorful details lead you into the food issue, and other stuff. But wait a minute--the comment that let you know she has been fasting long enough also lets you know (very quietly and off-handedly) that she did take her warfarin at a certain time , and with this kind of surgery, you realize the food is now a moot point.

That's a crude example, but in my experience if you think like a test writer, and a a test-writer who is trying not to trick anyone, but to see if you can pick out the important stuff and start there, you will pass with flying colors. It sounds like Kaplan teaches strategy vs lots of factual and principle review. For anxious test-takers, that may be best. For calm but time-squeezed ones, a review of the material might be most helpful.

Edited by Back2SchoolRN
many typos


6 Posts


I am so sorry to hear that. I definitely can sympathize with you. I graduated from an online NP program in May. I was very nervous to take the exam so I took one month off from everything (except work). I knew I wanted to take AANP exam simply because they have less questions. I studied on and off for one month, attended Fitzgerald review course, and took the exam four days afterward. I passed the AANP exam with flying colors. The NP Certification review book by Maria Codina Leik was extremely helpful. I highly recommended the book. My advice to you: enjoy life. You can do it!


6 Posts

Don't let your anxiety, fear, and frustration get the best of you. I expected the exam to be difficult but it wasn't at all. It was only in my mind.


6 Posts

I studied Maria Codina Leik's book on and off for one month. I also took Fitzgerald review course. I was overly prepared. I passed the AANP exam first try with a very high score. I would recommend the book and the prep course.


Specializes in FNP: Urgent Care & Primary Care; RN: Med-Surg. Has 7 years experience. 152 Posts

Hi, I am sorry that you did not pass. If it helps, I did use Fitzgerald but it did not help me much. I feel that if I had done just that I too would have failed. Just my opinion. I did use Barkley that someone gave me and I had questions on the test seemingly directly from Barkley that I did not see in Fitzgerald. The Leik book is a must have. So I studied for 7 weeks each day I did not take days off, and 3 1/2 hours each day. I hope you will retake the test. Good Luck.


22 Posts

I do understand how you felt as I had failed my aanp exam on yesterday. I can take care of patients without a second thought in the ER yet was unable to pass this test. I feel like such a failure. I have been a nurse for 15 years and went to Hollier review. I have always been a poor test taker due to my anxiety. I do remember that I had taken Hurst for my NCLEX, because I needed to know how to take the test rather than the material. I feel confident in the material as I have been studying backwards and forwards, but I feel that maybe I need a review course that can help me choose my answers when I get down to two questions. This has always been my downfall and has come back to bite me.


18 Posts

I failed AANP too. I am planning to do the required 15hrs of CE without waiting for my result. I don't want to do review course (I did fitzgerald before I have barkley CD, I have Maria Leik book) I was wondering if you advise any course from AANP online just to fulfill the CE requirement. Thank you.


1 Post

I took my test today and failed as well. I am so distraught and sad. I NEED a job! I actually have 2 lined up, so this really hurt me. Do you know how much to retest? Do you know how long I have to wait? I'm so confused, angry, and down that idk what to do. My email is shannagiggles@yahoo.com if anyone can help


9 Posts

Back2SchoolRN I am very impressed and inspired by your posting regarding how nurses are taught in school versus what the exam ultimately entails. I appreciate the suggestions that you offered for varying issues that individual testers encounter and the objective solutions to their problems. My take is that there are no shortcuts and I admire your insight and candor.