Passed the AANP-FNP Exam March 16th

The AANP is a tremendous source of anxiety for new grads. It was for me, too. I wasn't at all prepared for taking the exam straight out of school, so I came up with a study plan that helped me not only succeed on the AANP, but it gave me the confidence I never thought I'd have. Nursing Students NP Students Article


Passed the AANP-FNP Exam March 16th

I just passed the AANP on my first attempt on the 16th. I have been creeping on the message boards during my study time for advice and reassurance, so it's only right that I contribute.

I was absolutely floored at how easy boards were. The questions are short and straightforward. I didn't feel like any of the questions were trying to trick or mislead me. I marked 30 questions and changed one answer.

My preparation was pretty extensive because I didn't feel like I was very well prepared for the exam when I graduated in December. My study time wasn't consistent and pretty half-hearted initially because of the holidays then a vacation soon after. I had covered maybe 3 systems before I really started buckling down and being consistent starting in February. I studied every day between 3-5 hours (I averaged around 4 hours) and took either a Friday or Saturday off for my sanity. Here are the things I did to prepare in order:

Hollier Review

This was my initial review and main squeeze. For $375.00, I purchased the online review course. I also purchased a one-month subscription to the assessment and patient management Q-bank bundle for around $190 to use along with the review course. The modules are broken up into lectures based on system and patient population. The modules are divided in 4 to 5 lectures that are about 20 minutes each. You have access to the course for 6 months and can view each lecture twice. It doesn't come with a book, instead, you get a printable copy of the lecture so you can write notes. You can't backtrack in a lecture, so if you missed something or misunderstood what she was saying, you have another chance to watch it, but not until the lecture has completely finished and you open it again. When there was something I felt like I needed to write, I would immediately pause the lecture so I wouldn't miss anything. She elaborates a lot, so get ready to pause. Initially, I was in love. She is very engaging and does an excellent job making concepts understandable. That woman is the queen mother of anemia and murmurs.

My romance with Hollier started to fade when I was doing the Q-bank questions. There were so many questions that weren't covered in the lecture and I began worrying that this review was going to be too vague for my needs. I wrote down the things I didn't know about and would study them from other sources (mainly my old textbook and from a Fitzgerald book). From then on I was pretty disillusioned with this review, but I kept on with it and the Q-banks because they weren't cheap!

Now that I have taken the test, I can say there were numerous things covered on the Hollier review that were actually on the test. I rate it 7/10, you're going to have to use some outside sources, but this review definitely has knowledge of what's going to be on the test.

The Q-Bank

There are 3 types of Q-banks: Assessment which has 1300 questions that delve into things such as history taking, physical exam, diagnostics, disease prevention, and patient risks. Patient management has 1100 questions that ask cover diagnosis, planning, and evaluations. Pharmacology has 1300 questions (I didn't purchase this). The Q-banks can be bundled, so you want to use the more than one Q-bank, it will be a little cheaper to purchase a bundle. After a lecture, I would go to the Q-bank and answer patient management and assessment questions to gauge my knowledge. Sometimes it would take me 2 days to answer all the questions because combining patient assessment and management banks gets you around 100-200+ questions. The musculoskeletal assessment bank had 300 alone, but I only did around 100 of them.

So, the Q-banks can be differentiated by:

- Subject in tutor or exam mode (I almost exclusively did exams by subject in tutor mode)

- A random exam in study or tutor mode (sometimes I would do a 20 question tutor mode exam but it didn't really work well for me because I was answering all the questions by system, so when a question from a system I'd covered showed up, I usually recognized the question and knew the answer so it felt like cheating.)

- A full-length practice exam (I never did these because it was a mix of whatever Q-bank you were using).

- A bank of questions you haven't seen yet (didn't do).

- Questions you previously missed (didn't do).

Tutor mode provides rationales, by the way. The Q-bank has an app which was easy to use and didn't have any glitches. It was great to have whenever I wanted to do questions outside of my house. The Q-bank really helped me guide my studying and help me pick out my weaknesses and deficits. Once I was getting close to finishing the Hollier Review and doing the 3485304830 questions in the Q-bank, I scheduled my test 2.5 weeks out. The one thing I didn't like about the Q-bank is you can't mix assessment questions with management questions. It's either one or the other. I give it 8/10, it looks like the AANP and it will really help you find your weaknesses.

The Fitzgerald Review

This was required by my school. Information overload. I used the book as an occasional reference but nothing more. 3/10 for the lectures, but the book was a decent reference.

Board Vitals Question Bank

When I was about 2/3 through my Hollier review, I realized that I needed to start doing some comprehensive questions so I could keep what I had learned in my head. Board Vitals has a 1200 question bank. You can do a 1 month, 3 month or 6 month subscription. I did the one-month cram-session for $99.00. This was waaaaaaaaaaaaay too detailed for what you need to know for the AANP. It did have a fair bit of ANCC-type questions such as policies, legal things and informatics. I did about 50 random questions a day in 10 question increments throughout the day. The rationales were very detailed and helpful, however. The questions are novels. There were rationales provided for why an answer was correct and why the wrong options were incorrect which was very helpful. It helped me keep momentum in practicing answering questions even though. I was pretty scared as I was averaging right at 70%, but again--it's information overload. 5/10 - don't worry if you're not making high scores, use it for test taking practice and the rationales-it's great info.

Exam Edge

By the time I started using this, I had finished the Hollier review. I geared my studying towards applying what I'd learned into test taking. Exam Edge offers are 100 question tests which you can purchase in bundles. I purchased the 10 test bundle for just under $100. These questions are formatted like the AANP. You can do a timed test or a study mode with rationales. If you do a timed test, you can go through and review your answers with the rationale. You can take each test twice. There are some off the wall questions about things I'd never heard of as well as some that were frighteningly easy. After a few tests, I thought I may have wasted my money with Exam Edge as some of questions seemed too easy. To my surprise, there were questions on the AANP that were as simple and easy as the ones on Exam Edge. I took a test every day except on weekends and studied what I missed and moved on to the next test the next day. 7/10 - it's good practice and a good example of the AANP type questions.

PSI Practice Test

I took when I finished the Hollier review and spent a few days doing a quick run through my weak points. At this point, I was 2 weeks and a few days out from taking the AANP. These are retired AANP exam questions and it definitely gave me confidence and settled my nerves. It doesn't give you any rationales, but you can at least see what you missed and the correct answer. You can take it twice. I was scared to death taking it, but I got a 77% and about fell out with happiness. 10/10 - Do it. It's worth the $50.

Leik Review

I bought the Family Nurse Practitioner Intensive Review Fast Facts and Practice Questions 3rd edition book on Amazon for like $75. I had heard a lot of good things about this book, however, I was kind of wary of her because her website looks like something I made in an intro to HTML class in high school. I bought this a week before the test, mostly because I'd ran out of practice questions and this review had a test bank with over 700 questions. Looks are deceiving because it's pretty nifty. It's laid out system by system and has little fluff. There's no app, but there is a question bank online. For my purposes, I was taking mock exams, and the online test bank kept spitting out questions I'd answered before. So that I would get a different mix of questions, I just answered the questions in the back of the book (which are exactly what is on the online test bank), graded them, then went over what I missed in the book. The answer key did provide rationales. I didn't actually sit down and read the book. I skimmed through it and would read about things I forgot or needed go to over. I did notice in the answer key, there were some discrepancies, so if you're doing tests out of the book, be wary. I've heard people say that there are some inaccuracies, but I can't really attest to that since it wasn't my main study vessel 9/10 - it's a keeper, the questions were worded like the AANP, too.

Making Flashcards

The way I did it is completely unrealistic and I probably have 900 hand-written cards - no joke. It's just how I retain things. 4/10 - depends on your learning style.

In Summary

Taking mock-practice exams, I believe, is what really prepared me best for the AANP. Two weeks prior to my exam, I went into a quiet room, sat a timer for 3 hours and did 150 questions a day, 6 days a week. I did it after I had breakfast and messed around for about an hour. I wouldn't allow myself to do anything else in the day until I had done a test. I would take a break for a few hours, then go back and look over what I got wrong. By the time I went to take my AANP, I was in the routine of taking a test every day, so it was really just another day another test. The more I did the tests, the better I scored and the more confidence I had. I wasn't blowing them out of the water, but I was consistently passing. I averaged about in the high 70s to low 80s on the Leik tests, around a 70% on Hollier when I practiced and averaged around a 540 on exam edge (they use sealed scores).

Questions are based on classical clinical presentation, you will find some are hilarious easy like on exam edge. During the exam, sometimes I would think...THIS IS A JOKE? IS THIS A JOKE? Now there were some higher-level thinking questions, don't get me wrong, but none that were tricky! It was one of those you either know it or you don't things. Of course, there were some you could figure out by process of elimination.

No one review is going to 100% prepare you. You will have to use different sources.

Be consistent, take breaks don't beat yourself up. I felt like I was absolutely creeping through the Hollier review, but taking my time is what helped me most. I can assure you, by the time you go to sit for your exam, if you have prepared well, the questions will seem like cake.

Another huge reason I was successful was the support of my wonderful husband. I can't say enough about how supportive and patient he's been while I was a student and while I was preparing for this exam. He taught me to me pace myself and helped me not go insane. Being an NP student along with working and eventually preparing for this test made me a hard person to live with. I am incredibly lucky to have such a great man cheering me on.

Anyway! I knew before I submitted my test that I had passed. I am not a very confident person typically and I almost felt like it was bad juju I was feeling good about taking the exam but I did it and so can you!

If anyone has any questions, please holler I want to help!

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Wonderful response - Thank you so much for this!

Awesome post!! What version or edition of Leik did you use? I have her 2014 edition but I've heard it has several errors so I'm nervous. I don't test till February 2019 but I'm already preparing lol

Hi Truvy,

The Leik book I used was the 3rd edition published in 2017. I had no time to prepare for the test during my school time. Between clinicals, school work and my job, every second of my life was taken. It's never too soon to start thinking about getting ready for this infernal test.

Thanks so much for sharing. I plan on sitting for boards in Texas the first week of August. I have already started preparing! Your words are very encouraging!

Check out @certificationnp on twitter for practice questions and topic discussions that will be developed by members. This is geared towards fnp/acnp but can be for any specialty and based on demand. Absolutely no copy right violations professionals we will not discuss actual exam questions. It's new, so we will see if it's a good idea or not. But please be patient and let's build a strong platform where we can learn and promote each other.

Specializes in Critical Care Emergency Military Nursing.

Great explanation, thank you.

I feel like I have a million questions for you, but i'll try and keep it to a few.

1. How many months did you give yourself to study before the exam? For the GRE/CCRN, I gave myself 3-4 months for each.

2. Which exam did you take? AANP vs AANC?

3. What would you change about your prep, prep exams, books etc. If any?

Thanks again for any insight you can give.

First off no certification exam is easy. It is stressful and requires preparation - if you are prepared it seems easy if not it will be difficult. I just took and passed the AANP exam on March 13th and feel that it was easier than I expected, however, I studied for 2 months Leik, Hollier, Barkley. I attended a live review course (Barkley Associates) in January (I strongly recommend this) and followed up studying the areas they highlighted in the review course. I found this extremely helpful because it helped me organize and focus on the areas that are applicable. I also purchased the Leik Reivew Book and downloaded the App, completed all 726 review questions and watched a few Hollier review videos a friend shared (pharmacology, hematology and endocrinology). My test was heavy in cardiology (memorize MR A S S, MS ARD), pediatrics and hematology.

Despite my anxiety I do feel it was easier than I expect but I also attribute that to mastery of the areas that the Barkley Associates Review impressed upon that we needed to master. When they say know this “like the freckle on the back of your hand” know it.

I am happy to help anyone and/or answer specific questions.


On 9/8/2018 at 10:27 PM, navyman7 said:

Great explanation, thank you.

I feel like I have a million questions for you, but i'll try and keep it to a few.

1. How many months did you give yourself to study before the exam? For the GRE/CCRN, I gave myself 3-4 months for each.

 2. Which exam did you take? AANP vs AANC?

3. What would you change about your prep, prep exams, books etc. If any?

Thanks again for any insight you can give.

I've not checked this post in forever, so this is probably too late:

1. I studied for about 3 months, 6 days a week for about 3-4 hours a day.


3. I would have left my Fitzgerald review book out of the pile. Too much info you don't need.