Failed AANP twice and finally Passed

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by bunnyrn401 bunnyrn401 (New)

I decided to write this post because many of the past posts about failing the AANP boards and finally passing has inspired me. I definitely spent a lot of time reading them.

How can I pass the AANP?

Failed AANP twice and finally Passed

First and foremost, I understand that everyone's situation is different and that we all don't learn/study the same way. I just wanted to share my experiences with the entire process of actually finally being able to pass my boards.

I completed my FNP program in December when I was about 33 weeks pregnant. I was too stressed from school and having poorly controlled blood sugars and being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, I did not take the boards right away. I'm still not sure if this was the right decision to make. Anyhow I had my first born in January, and having postpartum depression and anxiety, I had a hard time focusing. My husband then got a job in California, so we relocated there that Summer and it took about 5 months to get my license endorsed.

With the cost of living in Los Angeles being so high, I again postponed taking my boards and opted to work instead, night shift so I could save a couple of grand from having to put my infant in daycare.

Hollier's APEA Online Review Course

Feeling lonely, still having postpartum depression and living in a city that I was still new to, I continued to feel isolated but wanted to desperately move on with my career and "be someone" that I could be proud of. I decided to take Hollier's APEA online review course and listened to her and printed out her notes. I tried to listen to her while at work and while at home but for some reason I just could not absorb the information. The review course itself was a wealth of information and it was sometimes overwhelming to listen to her.

I listened to her maybe once and read the notes 2-3 times reviewing it. Maybe it was because I had been out of school for so long, maybe that's why I wasn't learning so well? I'm not sure. I should also mention I have major test anxiety and always got time and a half as an undergrad because that is how debilitating my anxiety was and still is. I also didn't pass my NCLEX until second time around.

I did not do as many practice questions as I should have. In fact first go round I don't remember doing any practice questions. I did purchase a PSI practice exam which I scored terrible on (50's). That cost $50.

I finally scheduled my exam and failed it with a disappointing but not surprising score of 358. Oh I forgot to mention that I found out I was also 12 weeks pregnant second time a few weeks before the exam and I was so exhausted from work, taking care of a toddler that there was no way I could study for the exam.

After failing the first time, I decided to do my research and look up exactly what I needed to do to retake this exam. It took me about 3-4 weeks to listen to all the CEU's and take the test that was required. All of the CEU's were free and offered by the AANP. I could not use the APEA review course as CEU's because I took the course before the exam date.

Liek's Review Book

I started trolling these forums again looking up study tips on how to study and what resources to use. I decided to buy Liek's review book because apparently that was the book to use. I did not go back to listen to Amelie's APEA but revised her notes. I also purchased the FNP mastery questions and reviewed those questions on my phone. I scored terribly on them. I made a study sheet with some nmemonics for CN's, and made some charts on stuff I didn't understand (CN, asthma, COPD, htn, ect.). I didn't read Leik's Book and just used it for her practice question. I read the first chapter on exam tips. I put all of Amelie's notes onto index cards. I reviewed those index cards (prob well over 100), made a cheat sheet that was prob one page written front and back and did all of Leik's questions (725). Although I memorized all of them, I still had crazy anxiety. I went to my doctor and she wrote me a note for extended time which I faxed over to PSI. I then reviewed the first exam I had purchased from PSI for the first time I took the exam. I probably maybe spent an hour or so reviewing materials and doing practice questions on the FNP mastery app and the Leik's book. All of the questions I got wrong from the FNP mastery app, I wrote them all and made them part of my study/cheat sheet. I bought 10 exam edge practice exams and scored 450-480 on them first try.

I finally scheduled myself to take the exam again, this time 3 weeks before my second baby was to be born. I was about 36 weeks pregnant and determined to pass this gosh darn exam before this baby was born. I went in and got my time and a half but failed again. This time by 7 points. I scored a 453. I wrote down some of the nmemonics I memorized and used the "marked" option. I don't even remember marking a lot of questions. And all the ones I stumble on when I came home to look up the answers, I had them right. I don't know where I went wrong.

Second time around I found that Leik's questions were very similar to the ones written on the exam. But I did not do well with...

1. Process of elimination

2. There was some information that I just did not know.

I felt so terribly disappointed in myself I just did not know what to do. I decided to start doing the CEU's again right away, but when I called AANP they said that I had to wait at least 24 hours before I started to do the CEU's. I waited the 24 hours and decided to start doing the CEU's again. I printed them all out and organized them. I decided to give myself a little bit of a break but continue to read casually. I decided that I would study during my maternity leave. I had my baby and June, started going through post partum depression again and on top of that I had a toddler at home who wasn't going to let me accomplish anything. Luckily my CEU's were done. I had already finished Leik's questions once I decided to finish them again. Someone mentioned that Amelie's APEA certification questions (3rd edition) was excellent. So I bought this also. I still had my exam edge questions (the 10 I had previously purchased, bc u can take them 3 times).

I had my daughter in June and decided to start studying again. This time around I read Leik's book. I decided that I could not study with my toddler at home, so I put her in full days at preschool (she's 2). She went to school from 8-5. My newborn was with me at home and I nursed her every 2-3 hours.

Study Schedule

I trolled these forums again. I Also decided to Start from scratch with studying. I didn't fully start to immerse myself into studying and focusing until a couple of weeks after my daughter was born. I made myself a kind of study schedule. I would fully commit to reading every chapter in that book. Which is exactly what I did. It took me about 2 days to finish each chapter in Leik's book. I bought colored gel pens to make studying fun. And also some computer paper with no lines (like the scratch paper they give u during the exams).

I did Leik's practice questions again. This time I tried my best not to memorize the answers. It's so easy to memorize the answers. Instead I would write down why I got it wrong or why it was the right answer. I would flip to back to the chapter and read about it.

It took me a month to finish Leik's book. I finished her book in the beginning of August.

With Amelie's book, I did every single question in there except for the adult Geri practice exams. Again with Amelie's practice questions, I wrote down why the answer was right (for questions I got Wrong).

After writing all of the answer and rationales down to all of the questions I got wrong, I started creating charts and ways to memorize certain body parts or guidelines, STD's, vaccine requirements, TB, cancers, treatments and antibiotics and vocabulary. I took pix of the notes so I can read them in bed or while nursing my daughter.

I read Leik's book again and did her practice questions again. I read her book a total of 3 times and did her study questions a total of 4-5 times. I obviously read it faster each time. I did Amelie's questions a total of 3 times. I spent probably 5-6 hours studying and reading a day. I sent in my re-take paperwork in August.

Two months before scheduling my exam I bought another PSI and scored 75. I repurchased the one I bought first time around and got an 88. I also decided to spend a little more time on pharmacology, drug side effects and interactions. I made a new study sheet on that. I also didn't use any of the index cards I made previously because regurgitating the information was not helpful to me.

I also bought an hour session tutorial with Prepping For FNP Certification. She kind of told me what I needed to know for the exam and shot some questions at me. It was $75/session. She didn't give me real pointers but helped me realize what I should focus on. Also explained to me some things I needed differentiating on (different anemias).

I finally decided to schedule my exam the week before Halloween. You can only take it twice a year so I definitely had to take it before December just in case I failed and had to take it again in January.

I scheduled it for this past Friday (second week of November, November 9). Asked my husband to take the day off. He was great and decided to take 3 days off so he could help with our baby who is exclusively breastfed, while I study.

I decided to make myself a 2 week calendar of what I was going to review. The past 2 weeks I only did practice questions from Leik's and Amelie's book. Third time around I did not use the FNP mastery app at all although some of my notes already contained info from the app. I also did about 5 exam edge exams scoring 530-611. I finally decided to buy Amelie's predictor exam feeling confident that I would score >70%, which I did not. I scored 67, putting me at risk. Nevertheless, I took those questions I got wrong and looked up information on it. Four days before the exam I copied my notes for each system. The night before the exam I read over any topics I was not sure of.

I did not get a good night's rest the night of the exam because my daughter still nurses every 3-4 hours and my toddler now has night terrors. I also reviewed the 2 PSI's I purchased the night before.

Test Time

I scheduled my exam for 0830, wrote out directions for my husband on what to do for our girls. Grabbed a latte and a sandwich from McDonald's before driving to the testing site. I listened to some relaxing music and got there at 0745. I walked in and started as soon as I sat down.

I did not write down and nmemonics except for the cranial nerves (which I got no questions on) I also did not get any questions on hepatitis. I got one heart murmur question and maybe a handful of pediatric questions. I surprisingly got NO question on contraceptives which I was happy about because it is one of my weak areas.

I finished at about 11:30. I used the "marked" button but only marked 2. I probably had about 10 questions I felt iffy about. The others were either straight forward, or I used process of elimination. In fact I got a lot of questions that were either similar to Liek's or questions I remember from the second time I took the exam. One thing I did do was write down key words from the questions on my scratch paper to help me identify the stem of the questions. Words like "except", "ALL but which", to make sure I would not choose the wrong questions. I wrote down key characteristics each patient had in the question to help me pinpoint what the test was actually asking me. After 3 grueling hours I received s preliminary "passed".

I am so ecstatic about finally moving on with my career and focusing on my health and happiness with my family. I should be getting my scores in the next week or two and can update this post then.

Sorry for all the typos and the extremely long post!

Thanks to all of you who shared your study experiences and to those of you who picked ourselves right back up after falling. You really helped me to focus more and work harder!

Also, please don't hesitate to contact me if you need any study tips. I'm more than happy to help! I understand this struggle too well now.

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21 Comment(s)



9 Posts




Has <1 years experience. 22 Posts

Congratulations on never giving up. I've been wondering if I really want to go beyond my RN. Your post has solidified my resolve to get my NP.

How do you feel about potentially entering practice now, having been away from your NP preparation for so long? Do you feellike you will need to take a refresher course or do some shadowing time?



26 Posts

I got dizzy reading everything you did! Well done, congrats to you and your family!



1 Article; 12 Posts

Thank u for asking this. As soon as I got my certification number, I actually emailed a free clinic to see if I can get some shadowing time. They take PA, DO and MD students. I'm waiting for a reply from the coordinator now.

Also, while I was working as a nurse, I did a lot of head to toe assessments on my unit for practice and also bc it's part of the job. I haven't looked at an eardrum for quite a while though and need to brush up on pediatrics. I think I'm a little nervous about. Other than that I tried to stay up to date with all of my skills.



1 Article; 12 Posts

virgogirl said:
I got dizzy reading everything you did! Well done, congrats to you and your family!

Yes I had quite the busy schedule. I didn't even write down feeding and bathing and playing with my kids in between. Also cooking and cleaning LOL.

3ringnursing, BSN

Specializes in ICU; Telephone Triage Nurse. Has 25 years experience. 1 Article; 543 Posts

Congratulations for your huge achievement!

bunnyrn401 said:
Thank you for asking this. As soon as I got my certification number, I actually emailed a free clinic to see if I can get some shadowing time. They take PA, DO and MD students. I'm waiting for a reply from the coordinator now.

Also, while I was working as a nurse, I did a lot of head to toe assessments on my unit for practice and also bc it's part of the job. I haven't looked at an eardrum for quite a while though and need to brush up on pediatrics. I think I'm a little nervous about. Other than that I tried to stay up to date with all of my skills.

I do hope that you get some good shadowing time in, and ultimately, look for a job with excellent clinical mentors (be they NPs or PAs or MDs) that are readily available for you and will make a supportive transition.

You have beaten the odds with passing after your multiple retakes, and with the work you put in you, should be proud of that. You will have a bit of a uphill battle with your job search and your role transition from RN to NP, so be prepared and hang in there. Remember doing head-to-toe assessments in RN practice is much different from the provider role, though it is a component. There are also many CME conferences which can help you get up to date with common disease states you will be treating.

Good luck with the next steps.


Has 7 years experience. 373 Posts

whooohooo congrats!!



1 Article; 12 Posts

Update:: I finally received my score of 671.

Charnarn NP

Charnarn NP

3 Posts

Congratulations! I am working with Prepping for NP Certification, LTD now. Prof Larsen is very patient and does guide you in the right direction.