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How to pass the ANCC for Psych NP

I passed! This is the best feeling in the world!

I just took the ANCC exam for Psych NP and here are my thoughts on how to pass this test. I would like to reiterate that this information is from MY experience and may not be reflective of others who have taken and passed this exam.


I studied for 8 weeks using the Fitzgerald Review. I continued to work full time (3-12hr shifts). In hindsight 4-6weeks is probably good enough and I was scheduled to take my exam at the 6 week mark but then I got nervous and rescheduled.

Review Materials

I purchased the Fitzgerald Review, the ANCC Psych NP book, the ANCC Psych NP practice questions, the ANCC test taking skills, and the FamilyNPprep.com questions. All of them helped in different ways but ALL of them are not necessary to pass.

  • The Fitzgerald Review was a great overview of the material...it is through and detailed
  • The ANCC Psych NP book is the nuts and bolts of the psychiatric nursing.
  • The ANCC Psych NP practice questions. These questions are expensive but worth it. This exam is more of a reflection of test taking skills than material. In other words the test questions aren't hard but you have to apply the knowledge and pick the best right answer.The ANCC website has free practice questions and if you can't afford the $109, do the practice questions..at least 2 of my tests came from the free practice questions.
  • ANCC test taking skills $30. So basic. So worth it. There are 200 questions, you are bound to lose concentration/focus...this overview refreshes your memory on how to answer questions, what to do if you lose concentration, what do to if you are stuck between two questions, etc. Is this information a game changer? No, it's information that has already been out there and may be in some review books but as I was taking the test I could hear the narrators voice in my head when trying to decide between 2 answer choices.
  • FamilyNPprep.com. The questions are nothing like the exam but it will help you go over topics more obscure topics like ethics, communication, negligence, etc. I ended up buying the 10 pack of questions...really you only need about 3-5 after test 6 the questions just got sloppy and unrealistic.

If I had to pick all over and I was short on cash, I would pick the ANCC Psych NP book for a review and the questions. I would also see if my college library has the Kaplan and Sadock Comprehensive Review, Deja Review Psychiatry, Case Files Psychiatry for practice questions. The questions from these books are unlike the questions on the exam but if you can answer them you know the material.

Setting up a Study Program

Decide each week what you are going to go over and put it in your calendar as an "event" so a reminder pops up on your phone. Review a new topic or two for a few days then rehearse/review then go on to a new topic. If you are feeling overwhelmed about how you are going to remember everything... check out Remember everything you want and manage the rest by Helmut Sachs. This book is excellent in teaching you how to think about material so you can recall it whenever you need it.

Actual Test

This is a test of your applied knowledge. A lot of short scenarios where you have to know the information about medications for disorders, medication interactions (think inducers of CYP450), ethics, therapeutic communication (lots of questions on this) also as jamonit '13 stated in their post topics included "cohort observational studies, beneficence, sensitivity/specificity, Prochaska's, independent variables, and ethics/cultural questions." You have to know some basics of other conditions like thyroid disease, elevated lab values for a cardiac condition or autoimmune disease (think common diseases occur commonly). The test will ask you questions less like "A person comes into your office and hasn't sleep in three days, has a lot of energy, and has just spend $10K on antique postage stamps does this person has bipolar 1, bipolar 2, cyclothymia, dysthymia". Go to the ANCC website for practice questions...they are the real deal.

In hindsight I could have taken this test at the 4 week mark because it really was more about applied knowledge. But I walked in very confident that I had done/reviewed everything I could and that was half of the mental battle.

Mental Health While Studying/Taking the Exam

When I first started studying I thought, "man how am I going to remember all of this information" but week by week I was retaining the information. As my confidence grew so did my belief that I could pass this exam. I never held on to thoughts that I wouldn't pass..sure those thoughts crept up but I didn't entertain them. I'm also a big advocate of meditation/visualization; everyday I would meditate to reduce anxiety and to set my mind up to visualize a positive outcome. If you have never tried meditation, Oprah has a great FREE 21 day meditation experience with Deepak Chopra..its for beginners and it is great...go to her website. Also "Tapping" is a great way to alleviate stress...for more info on Tapping go to youtube or look up the Tapping Solution on Amazon.com

Remember you can do this!! I hope this information helps.... I scoured this site looking for a concise understanding of what this test would be like and I found a few posts scattered here and there so I wanted to post this more comprehensive post for all of the upcoming grads! Good Luck!


Specializes in Correctional Nursing; MSN student. Has 16 years experience.

Congratulations!!!! Wow, what great tips. I am just beginning the education journey so will remember

this. Is the Sachs book good for any stage of learning? I am terrified of returning to school....retaining info, etc.

Again, great job and good luck with your career!

Congrats from me too! I have applied to two schools for PMHNP this fall. I have yet to hear back from them, but hope to soon. I printed off your post as a future reference, even if I am at the earliest, 3 years away from taking the exam myself. Thanks you so much for your post!

Thank you so much for the input! I'm a year behind, but your suggestions helped me pass also! I just passed last week Feb 2015 and I used your suggestions. The test is in a format that you need to think through every question - think ADPIE for sure!

Thanks for your information. Its very helpful. I am taking my PMHNP ANCC exam in two months. I will not be able to attend live Fitzgerald course. Do you recommend audio CD or online course for Fitzgerald? Please let me know because I don't know which one to order and which one is good? Thanks.

Have you taken the exam yet? What review did you decide on? I am scheduled to take exam in 2 1/2 weeks. Really anxious.

Taking it in 3 weeks. Anxious but studying.

I just passed the ANCC psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner exam. I used information I found on this website to help me prepare so I also wanted to share what I found the most helpful so instead of starting a new thread I was going to add to this one that I found very helpful. I will follow the same outline


I obtained a masters as a Clinical Nurse Leader in 2009. So I had pharm, patho, health assessment awhile ago. I took my psych courses in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 and then tested in June 2015 so this has been a whirlwind.

I started studying during my last semester of school with Barkley's CDs. Whatever we were studying in class I would also study with the CDs. This was helpful for my course tests and to help breakdown some of the barkley content. I wish I had the CDs a during the semester before. I graduated the first week of May and took 4 weeks to study. I continued to work full time.

Review Materials

I purchased the Barkley review CDS, Barkley practice questions, mometrix flash cards, ANCC PsychNP practice questions, and the familynpprep.com questions. A collegue had the ANCC Psych NP book from 2010ish and I used that to review.

  • The ANCC Psych NP was the most valuable, and I was using an old version
  • The ANCC Psych NP practice questions. I failed both of these sets the first time, I got in the 60s. I agree they are worth it. The free questions are helpful and you can always do the free questions in areas that are related, like psych cns. You can also take them multiple times. So I took one right away and then took it again, with no extra cost, a month later. I felt slightly better knowing I passed it the second time
  • Barkley review course on CDs. If I didn't travel so much I don't think these would be worth it. I listened to them at home some but mainly on the road. I learned a lot from them but they didn't cover the stuff that I needed help with: laws, professional role stuff…
  • Barkley practice tests. These were not worth it. They tested over things from the Barkley course, like mnemonics they recommend.
  • Mometrix Flash cards. I liked these cards. They divide them into the sections of the ancc test outline. The professional role cards were very helpful. Also the therapeutic communication cards. Its something we all do but the cards broke this info down into ways that were very helpful during the test. Due to weather problems across the country they took forever to get here and I only had them for one week but I do recommend them. Mometrix also gives you free test taking videos. I've always considered myself a good test taker but I used the strategies a few times.
  • FamilyNPprep.com. I bought the 5 pack of tests. Mainly because I had failed all of my other pretests. I passed all of these and that really helped my confidence.

Actual Test

Know inducers/inhibitors of CYP450, research terminology, medication interactions (especially medical and psych meds), therapeutic communication, know basic lab values so you can say which is high (example would be listing a wbc, anc, urine specific gravity, and lipid level, being able to say which value is of concern), cranial nerves (if you ask the client ____ what nerve are you testing), know values for common diagnostic screening/testing (beck, hamiltons, psq10…) so you can say what the score indicates. There were many more abstract questions but these were some concrete ones that would be good to know.

I kept track of how many questions I felt 100% about, 30 of the 200, lol. Another 60 I definitely had down to 2 answers. The other 110, well...So don't get discouraged during the test if you feel like you don't know the answers.

Hello skv38866,

You are so helpful and thank you for your detailed information. Did you take any break or went through 200 questions straight? How was your time management for exam? Did you have time left when you finished? How many question did you mark and came back later? Please let me know.


Hello skv38866,

You are so helpful and thank you for your detailed information. Did you take any break or went through 200 questions straight? How was your time management for exam? Did you have time left when you finished? How many question did you mark and came back later? Please let me know.


I don't ever take breaks during tests, that's just my preference. It took me a little over 1 hour to go through the questions once, and I answered them all, and then I went back through them all. 2 hours total, so I had 1 hour left. At first I was marking the ones I wanted to look back over but it ended up being all but 30 of them so I just looked over everything. I'm generally a fast test taker but I did make myself slow down.

You can cross out answer options on the test and highlight words. I used the highlight for words in the question like "least likely" or other words that would change which type of answer they needed. I liked the cross out feature a lot.

I took the PMHNP exam and failed by 3 points. Has anyone else taken it lately ? Has anyone taken the ANCC review course ? If so, was it worth the money ? Any suggestions or tips I would greatly appreciate.

I also took the exam recently and failed by 11 pts. Devastated! I did take the review and it gave me good direction in terms of a study plan. Have you taken a review? I plan on retaking soon. What atudy material did you use?

Where do you access the ANCC practice questions? I see the free ones on the ANCC website but there's no paid version. I called the ANCC and the lady I spoke with seemed to have no idea but she referred me to the ANA's reviews which was $125 for two 75 question test. That doesn't sound like what you were talking about.

Also, there's no ANCC test taking still through the ANCC. I saw the flyer for the past year but non current. Are they getting rid of their review materials?

can anyone send a link to where they bought the ANCC books? having trouble finding them online. Thank you

Hi skv38866

first of all, congrats and God bless you for taking time out to give us insight.

I am preparing for the boards. I am just stuck on research review for 2 weeks. culd you plz shed some insight on approx how many questions of research.

also, is it enough to just focus on the definitions given in the ANCC review book for research section or should spend significant time on Melnyk.


HI- i am supposed to take my ancc psych boards in 2 weeks but considering rescheduling. I am using board vital but am scoring low. My average score is 62, but I'm scoring from 56 to 76 and have been in the low 60s. Is there anyone who has passed and was scoring similar with board vitals? Really struggling with research and policy.


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