Failed AANP the first time, passed the second!

Students NP Students


Hi all,


I am writing to you because I was in the seat you are sitting in right now. I, too failed my AANP boards the first time. I was devastated. I felt like the biggest idiot and failure. I spent the entire day crying, thinking how could this happen to me, I was an ICU nurse for 4 years, I graduated with almost a 4.0 GPA from my Master's Program. My professors, clinical instructors and even physicians have always complimented me on my suggestions and thoughts for care. Never would I have ever thought this would happen to ME. But it did. And it was the most humbling experience I have ever gone through. But give yourself one day to be upset, cry your heart out and try again.  


June 12, 2023: Let me tell you my first experience sitting in the Prometric testing center taking my exam. That morning I woke up I was incredibly anxious, I slept maybe 4 hours, tossing and turning. My hands were shaking with anxiety, I was restless, and was cramming trying to get every last inch of my note cards studied and ready to sit at noon for my exam. I knew the material I studied and was confident in that. I sit for the exam and immediately, I felt lost. Numerous questions included words I didn't even feel I could interpret. Maneuvers I had never seen or heard of before. Pneumonia questions that had 4 correct and appropriate PNA treatment options, and just paragraphs I felt like I couldn't even follow. I was distraught to say the least. Some questions I felt were simple, but that felt like very few throughout the exam, so I took my best guess and moved on. I finished with 1 minute and 10 seconds left. Upon submitting my exam, I saw the 'NO PASS' and ran out of that room as fast as I could. I bawled my eyes out in my car to myself for almost 30 minutes, thinking how and why me, and then left. I spent the whole day thinking about how I had this job lined up and how was I going to tell them and what would I do now. How do I tell my family, my friends, etc. or do I ? All the thoughts you're probably having right now.


After spending the rest of that day crying, feeling sorry for myself and then going to bed, I woke up and was back at it. I organized a study schedule and got to work.


My initial review consisted of Fitzgerald and some of the LEIK book and online practice questions. I felt confident in Fitzgerald and her information, so I was confused how I failed especially with her high pass rates. I also took the $50 online practice exam 1 for AANP and scored a 78% (which was higher than most of my friends who had passed), I scored an 86% on Fitzgerald's final exam, and was averaging about 70-80% on Leik online questions, as well as 70-80% on FNP Mastery. But I was prepared to try another resource. Once you fail your AANP, they require you to do 15 CEU's on their website and submit them to retest. I did this as quickly as possible and submitted them to try to retest within the next week or few. I just did random ones and let them play (they are not guided towards the exam at all). They are supposed to be in your area of weakness on the exam but honestly, I don't think they even look at that.


I received my score 3 days later, I scored a 475 meaning I missed maybe 2-4 questions on the exam. My lowest area was planning. I then researched online and found a study guide for $20 on Etsy that was a full condensed review of the LEIK book and other combined resources to study and decided to break that up into sections and study/memorize at least 10-15 pages a day to complete the 160 total. (I will attach this resource below, but please be mindful this info and guide was based off of information for the 2023 exam, I am unsure if the provider will update this information throughout the following years.) I did this, as well as wrote down the questions and topics I remembered from my exam and ensured I touched upon those and studied almost 5-8 hours a day for 3 weeks and decided to sit for my AANP exam, AGAIN.


The decision to sit for my AANP again or to switch to the ANCC was up in the air. I had noticed the pass rates were better for ANCC and the AANPs had dropped 10% in just one year. This was a huge red flag to me so I applied to sit for both exams, but ended up cancelling my ANCC because it took SO LONG to even get a number. (I did get most of my money back minus a small fee so this is an option for you too)


I studied this packet and made note cards religiously. I probably had well over 1,000 by the time I was done but writing them out and studying them as you go was a huge help. I was never a note card person until this exam, and it sure did help. You can reference back and even quiz yourself. I also did at least 50 practice questions on Leiks website each night before bed as well as the free FNP Mastery, and made note cards of any questions I would get wrong throughout the practice. My scores kept improving the more questions I did I was then averaging between 80-100% on short practice quizzes on the online Leik. This helped me gain confidence. I also used quizlet and just typed in "2023 AANP Exam" and found numerous flashcard sets, I studied these too, this was also kind of helpful.


Once I felt prepared to take my second exam I scheduled it. I do suggest not waiting more than a month, because I feel like sometimes you lose the information that is so fresh in your mind especially if your score was so close, (I'd say above a 450) meaning you barely failed. This is just my opinion.


This time around for my exam, I scheduled it early so that I didn't have all day to think about the test and try to "cram study" before it. I woke up ate breakfast and felt a little more prepared but was just as nervous. I felt like I had so many people counting on me and that if I didn't pass this time, I was the problem and felt like maybe this career path isn't for me. But do not think that. Be CONFIDENT. Start saying I'M GOING TO PASS, and WHEN I pass, no more negative comments and second guessing yourself.


The second exam I took today, was night and day. I finished with over an hour left, I knew most of the answers and it felt 10 times easier. Even the questions weren't as long, some were basic questions like INR values and identifying a-fib, questions that I didn't feel I had before. I then ended my test with over one hour left, got up used the bathroom, got a drink of water, and then went back to flagged questions. I told myself, you failed by maybe 2-3 questions the first time, so the most you can change is 2. They say go with your gut, so that's what I did and when I submitted with 30 minutes left after double checking, I received the preliminary "PASS" on the screen, and instantly could not stop smiling. I cried upon leaving and just thanked God the whole way out. Called my family and delivered the news. The hardest thing I had ever gone through in my life was over. The kitchen table full of papers and prep work could be cleaned. Notecards, burned. The tears were now happy tears and I felt a weight lifted off of my shoulders.


So overall, I do think it just depends on the bank of questions you get. I think others have easier exams and that's just life. But I will say your confidence needs to be up. Rely on the information you know. And understand, failing does not mean that you're an idiot, that you didn't know the content or that others are going to be better providers than you. Don't think that for one second. You're taking an exam to diagnosis like a DOCTOR, who have years and years of schooling, residency and experience. FNPs have to know everything about everything, it's the broadest scope of practice available to an NP and the closest thing out there to a doctor these days. So, remember, this test is going to be hard, we can't know everything, no one does, so relax, try to take deep breaths throughout and you will pass this second time.


I hope reading this helps you like it did for me the first time around and I wish you all the best of luck on your exams and future practice. Please feel free to message me with questions, advice or even just to vent, because I get IT.


Link to study guide used:



Ann O

28 Posts

I too was at 475 I did Sarah Michelle and leik but not fully. I did weakest on planning as well. I didn't do leik questions but I will now any other recommendations? [email protected]

Specializes in ICU, ER.

Use the study guide I linked (from Etsy) below and go through it ! (It's 150 pages but SO SO worth it) Give yourself 2 weeks and take the AANP exam again! You will pass the second time! Have confidence!

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