AANPCP May 2016


I passed the AANP - FNP exam on 5-27-16. I told myself I would post something to pass on my experience since I was a silent reader to the forums the whole time I was in school considering I did get a lot of good pointers from many of the posts.

Anyway, I finished my program in the first part of May but I started preparing for the exam in January. I attended Amelie Hollier's live review and got a lot of good pointers from her. I liked the way she dummified many of the things I was having a hard time wrapping my head into - antigen vs antibody, immunity vs infection, murmurs, where to locate them, etc.

I also did Fitzgerald's online review. It was part of the curriculum so it was not much of a choice. With that said, I'm glad our school made us go through to her review because it built up on the basic information provided by Hollier. And since it was the online version of the review (it's actually a recording of the 3-day live review that has been subdivided into sections), I listened through the entire online recording twice and went back to the sections where I thought I needed more reinforcement. I also had the book that went with the recorded video and took plenty of notes as if I was in the actual live session. I referred to those notes many times on the days leading up to my exam.

Books. I used two books to prepare for the exam. Leik and Fitzgerald. I also had Hollier's adult-gero and FNP prep book, which I will get to later. Leik was my all around go-to book. She presented information in a direct to the point manner, which I really liked. Just the important stuff and not much frou frou. I also did the practice tests (600+ total), 150 questions at a time to mimic the actual exam. I scored in the 75%s in her practice tests. I do want to point out that the book was published before the JNC 8 and DSM V guidelines came out. This was fine because she also had instructions in the book on how to go to her website for the link to the most current guidelines. I read and re read her book and highlighted the living daylights out of it. I particularly liked the way she presented signs and symptoms of diseases and labs/diagnostic tests as well as medications for diseases/conditions as well as contraindicated treatments.

The Fitzgerald review book had about 3000 practice questions (somewhere in that ballpark). The questions in her book came before a discussion section, which explained the answer choices in the practice questions. She had a tendency to get wordy and every so often would include information that she herself would say "Is not approved for use" or " no longer used in practice". This was paradoxical to her her live course where she said numerous times that examinees would be tested on current evidence based practice. I did not do too well on her practice questions. I scored anywhere from 62% to 75%. Not much for boosting one's confidence and as the days passed my confidence was slowly ebbing away. However, in retrospect, the Fitzgerald review provided more information than was needed for the exam. Many of those information were the ones I stressed about because there was just way too many percentages and statistics ones' brain can remember.

To be honest, I began reading through Leik around March. I usually did 2-3 hours each day, off and on through the day. I didn't really focus on studying until after I finished clinicals in mid April. At that point, I studied about 6-7 hours each day. Even then, I did not finish Fitzgerald's book. There was just so much material to cover and I ran out of time. Plus, towards the end I felt I could not stuff anymore information in my brain. It's as if my brain cells were filled to the brim and refused to allow anything else to squeeze in. I didn't get the chance to go through Hollier's practice questions due to time. I did not purchase any test banks, Qbanks, predictor exams, exam edge, etc. My spirits were pretty low after going through Fitzgerald's practice questions that for some reason I could not torture myself anymore. Besides, since the practice books were divided into systems, if you score low on a particular system then that means you need to rehash that system. At least that's what I told myself and my practical side just would not let me spend money on information that I already had in front of me.

The AANP exam itself was quite straightforward. The questions were well spread out across different systems, including a very minimal non-clinical set of questions. I had to make myself slow down and pay attention to Except, Mostly, Least, etc. I was careless about those when I did the practice questions which contributed to some of my low scores. The answer choices in the AANP exam actually allowed you to eliminate the ones that do not apply if you just take the time to analyze the question. Fitzgerald's live course emphasized this principle numerous times and boy was she right! Just as she said on her review, AANP did not have multiple answers to one question type scenario. I also took the time to write down all the mnemonics and good-to-know points, on the sheet of paper they provided during the exam, as soon as I sat down in my assigned booth. Fitzgerald also suggested this and she was right, it does help. A lot. I referred to my list a few times during the exam and it helped with cutting down the stress a notch since the information was right in front of me versus me trying to pull it from the recesses of my tired brain. I guess, the last and most important thing is to slow down and analyze each question. The answer is there, all I needed was to stop and tell myself why 3 out of the 4 choices would not apply. I finished the exam two hours in and had 58 minutes to spare to review my answers and take the survey. I actually think the live versions and the books helped out in equal measure to prepare for the exam.