My Tips on Passing the AANP Exam (2017)

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    So, you've graduated from your NP program and now, onto the certification exam. Here are some tips...

    My Tips on Passing the AANP Exam (2017)

    So I am another one of those graduated NP students who has been trolling these boards endlessly, looking for tips & tricks on how to pass the AANP board exam. As of June 17th, 2017, I passed the exam! It was a grueling 30 seconds as I waited for the results to print out to find out whether I passed or failed, and it honestly felt like a dream when I saw the capitalized letters: PASSED. However, I had slightly different circumstances throughout my studying for the boards. I was pregnant through the last semester of my program and had a baby 2 weeks before graduation, so truth be told I had to figure out a certain schedule to study effectively! Anyway, seeing as how much I depended on this website to collect all the tips I could find, I felt it is necessary to share my own tips for success!

    #1 - DO NOT wait too long post graduation to take the boards!

    This is absolutely the most important tip us students were given by our instructor, and I completely agree. The longer you wait, the more information from school you forget. It's best to go for it when information is still fresh! I decided to take mine a little over a month from graduation after giving myself a 1 week "vacation." It's highly recommended you take the boards <2 months post graduation.

    #2 - DO review Leik and Fitzgerald!

    These were literally the only two resources I used to pass the exam. I did not attend any live or online course. If only one could be utilized, Leik by far is the best choice! I loved that her book (second edition) was so straightforward, and she gives all the information that is important to know. I would pay special attention to her exam tips with each chapter, and to spend time answering every single question in the back of the book. I was only able to get through half the questions before taking the exam, and I wish I had done them all!

    Fitzgerald is a genius - however, she does tend to dive a little to deep into certain topics, such as bacterial organisms and whether they are gram pos. or gram neg. etc. <-- this is not important to know! I listened to her audio CD's as I went through her workbook. I found her workbook to be especially helpful in terms of the different tables (STI's, pediatric rashes, diabetic medications etc.) I actually copied these tables for last minute reviewing the night before the test.

    #3 - DO take the PSI practice test (75 questions), APEA predictor exam (150 questions), and ExamEdge (5 tests)

    It's true that practice makes perfect! Set aside 1-2 hours each day to take practice questions, and read the rationales on those you get wrong. I don't remember which question came from where, but a few were recognizable through one or multiple practice tests. As far as the ExamEdge, don't buy more than 5 tests. I did not find their questions to be similar to the actual exam, but they are good for content and for getting used to the format of the exam. I got about an 85% on the PSI practice tests, 71% on the APEA predictor exam, and a range of 70-77% on the ExamEdge tests.

    #4 - DO set a schedule of studying.

    I printed out a calendar and wrote out which subjects I would cover on certain days, then I spent 3-5 hours during those days studying. Make sure to set aside 1-2 days for pediatrics alone, then another day just for geriatrics. My test had many, many questions on the elderly and frail elderly. This seems to be the trend for the 2017 exams! So definitely know benign and abnormal conditions of the elderly!

    #5 - DO relax the night before.

    I got a massage the night before the test, and I have to say it was the best decision I made! After a month of studying, you just need that relaxation to help settle all the information you have packed into your poor brain by that point.

    To all those who are about to take (or retake) the exam, I wish you luck and I hope that some of my tips help you as reading others helped me! Remember! Don't over analyze questions or change answers, unless you know it is correct 100% ..I know it's cliche but go with your gut! Really, it works!
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 14, '18
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  3. by   KeeperMom
    Thank you for this info.
    I took the ANCC adult-gero exam in March and didn't pass. I am almost out of the 90 day waiting period to re-take. I am debating on whether or not to take the ANCC exam again since I am somewhat familiar with their format and some of the content.
    There is a Barkley review in a few weeks nearby that I was planning to take but I'm still sort of up in the air about it all.

    Do you have a link for the practice exams?

    I also agree 100% about not waiting too long to take the exam. I did wait too long d/t some family things - good things but it took me away from studying, etc. I'm about to get really serious and more focused on re-directing my studies and dedicating some time to the exam in the next few weeks. I have got to get it DONE!!
  4. by   SL APRN FNP-C
    I'm sorry to hear you didn't pass! While listening to Fitzgerald's audio CD, she did mention that the ANCC has really upped the difficulty of their questions. Have you considered applying to take the AANP while you wait? I would really recommend making a calendar schedule of studying! With a newborn at home, it really helped me focus on which subjects to review for a given day! Here are some links for practice tests:

    http://www.aanp-fnp.com
    Exam - 15 Consecutive Questions

    Definitely review the practice questions on the back of Leik too. Good luck!!
  5. by   Va daughter
    I took the AANP exam today and failed it. I took alive review by Amelie Hollier and have been studying the Leik book and did the questions in the back. I am lost as to what to do now.. SUGGESTIONS.. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I am wondering about the ANCC board since I only have one more chance at the AANP for a year.
  6. by   SL APRN FNP-C
    I think it would be wise to go ahead and sign up for the ANCC. I've heard that it is recommended to sign up for both initially. This was going to be my backup plan just in case. Unfortunately I'm not sure which textbooks are best to study the research and theory portion of the ANCC. I know Leik's very last chapter may be useful for that!

    Did you study every chapter of the Leik book? I would purchase Fitzgerald's review book; maybe it would provide different and useful information than Hollier. My suggestion would be to study what kinds of signs and symptoms classic each disease process, treatment, and management - especially those mentioned in Leik. If you plan on taking AANP one more time this year, definitely make a schedule of chapters to review each day so that studying is more organized. I also made separate notes on certain diseases I was unfamiliar with, or facts I found throughout the book to be really important. Notecards may be useful! Good luck to you!
  7. by   nursejulies
    SL- I studied the same way!!! I took the AANP exam in June and passed. I could not afford the expensive review courses and decided to buckle down and spend weeks pouring through the pages of Fitzgerald's latest book and Leik's book. I work full time and have a young child, so total I spent about 3.5 weeks studying whenever I was not at work. I read every page and took extensive notes (this works for me personally, it's how I learn), then did the corresponding test questions, and reviewed what I got wrong. I did chapters correspondingly-- I'd have cardiac day, men's health day, endocrinology day, etc, and spent 5 days reviewing my weak areas. Fitz's book has something like 2,000 questions, and Leik's 600. I rented these on Amazon for around $30 each (note these are not meant to be used as practice guides, just to pass the test, so they are essentially useless after passing the exam). It IS possible to do this exam without spending hundreds on review courses. I had a friend who paid $$ for the online Fitz class, and I looked through some of her materials, and it was the same as what's in her book for the most part, just broken down into easier to read charts. I agree Fitz goes way into the weeds. Leik's is easier to read and gives great study tips that I found useful for the exam, but the book needs extensive layout editing for easier reading, and there are some errors (ex. oats are gluten free-- not that this is on the exam but just a small annoying detail to me). I also signed up for BoardVitals, and used this during my "review week" after I finished both books- which I would NOT recommend. These questions were nothing like the ones on the actual exam, and are much more tailored to medical students. I would say this was a huge waste of the $120 I spent. I also got several apps for free and did all the questions on there. Overall I did nearly 4,000 practice questions. I think it is also worth the $50 for the 75 question sample test from AANP. I got two very similar questions on exam day and I actually scored the same on my exam as I did on the practice test (84%).
    I was very surprised on the actual test as I kept getting questions completely different than the material I studied. I got what felt like a large number of geriatric questions and women's health questions, despite the breakdown of percentages of the questions given on the AANP site. I also got a LOT of questions from Health Assessment -- such as, identifying a description of what I'd see using my ophthalmoscope or coming up with a diagnosis based on a description from an maneuver performed. The review books do not go too deep into health assessment type of questions so I would definitely recommend reviewing Bates. I kept thinking the questions on anemia or heart sounds or antibiotics were next, as I spent a lot of time memorizing these and the books overemphasized their importance, and barely got any questions on them! Some of the questions were on diseases I had never heard of and I had to given an educated guess- hopefully these were the sample questions! I also found you can use your own test taking skills to answer questions by process of elimination or picking out the one different drug based on the chemical name.
    You can "mark" the questions you aren't sure of and go back later. I found this tool very helpful as I was incredibly nervous. I went through the whole test and answered all questions I knew based on gut reaction, and marked all I didn't. Then I took a break to go splash cold water on my face and give myself a pep talk. You can get 50 questions wrong on this exam and still pass. I had marked 55! But the exam is three hours long and this was after one hour, so I went back and spent a good 2-5 minutes on each question and thought them through, and in the end, I had absolutely no clue on six questions. It is a nerve wracking test, and as someone who has an associates, bachelors and master's, the hardest test I've ever taken. You have to watch the wording as it is clearly done by people who have written tests for a long time. The questions are relatively short but perfectly worded to try to trick you if you don't know your stuff. I genuinely was not sure if I passed when I left the room and almost started crying when the nice test center man said I had!
    In the end, the score does not matter, just that you pass! And one thing I reminded myself of was that employers do not care how many times you take it, or which exam you take, as long as you have a license. So even if you fail, it doesn't mean you're a failure personally, it just means it may not have been the right test or the right timing for you. That's one advantage of having two test options-- if you are better at the cultural/social stuff, ANCC might be better for you. The best thing you can do it keep trying and remember it's just one test, and you graduated with a master's degree which overall is much more challenging!
  8. by   Cerberus
    Hello, guys!
    Just wanted to share my plan of study for the AANP Exam. I took it May 23, 2017 and PASSED (thank God)! I graduated from Walden University in the beginning of February, and kind of took about a month off (I was still studying a little and listening to Fitzgerald CDs’ in a car). I started studying seriously mid-March 2017 and studied hard for about 2 months. Some days I studied 2-3 hours, other days 7-8 hours. On average, I would say about 5 hours a day. Here is what I studied:
    1. First of all I listened to 2010 edition of Fitzgerald CD’s (friend of mine gave them to me) for about a year and a half – a little bit at a time during driving. I went over all of them at least 6 times.
    2. Leik book was my study bible. I know the book has some outdated material in it, but 90-95% of the material is still usable. As I was going over and memorizing the material in Leik book, I was writing the most important stuff out into a blank notebook. I believe when you write stuff down, you memorize it better. Also, I was highlighting the MOST important stuff. I went over the entire Leik book at least 3 times. “Repetition is the mother of learning”.
    3. I took Amelie Hollier Review course right after I graduated (end of February, 2017) and found it very helpful. I went over her book (the one provided for the review course) once more (closer to the exam date, which was around the beginning of May). Also, I was lucky and won her predictor exam (150 questions), which I saved for the end of my studies. I took the predictor exam a week or two before I took the boards and scored 71%, which kind of suggested that I was ready.
    4. I did all 600 or so questions in Leik book. And some of them I did twice. I was getting 80-85% of them after I went through the Leik book.
    5. I went ahead and purchased a “Certification Practice Questions” (ISBN 978-1-892418-18-0) by Amelie Hollier (as was suggested in some Youtube videos) and found it to be very helpful. In my opinion the questions asked on boards were very similar to the ones in that book. Fitzgerald’s questions I found to be a little too tough, Leik questions were a little too easy, whereas Amelie’s questions were just right. I did all the “disorders” questions (the first part of the book) and all the FNP and Gero practice exams. I think I did close to 1800 or so questions total including Leik, Hollier, (some Fitzgerald) and Hollier’s predictor exam.
    6. Another important thing I utilized was the quizlet app. There, I found some questions made up by a user “jenhopper”, which were directly from Leik book. So every time I finished a chapter in Leik’s book, I went ahead and did the flash cards on that chapter in quizlet. After the flashcards I took the test within the quizlet app. Those were not the most sophisticated tests in the world, but they did help to study and memorize material.


    After studying all that and taking the exam, I scored 75% on the AANP exam and PASSED! Some of the questions were tough and long, while others were extremely easy and to the point. As I mentioned above, Amelie Hollier’s practice questions were the closest thing I found to be similar to the real exam.

    Lastly, I want to add that I did all the studying while working about 25-30 hrs a week and having a toddler around. I believe that if I was able to pass, everyone else can too. Study hard, and do not give up!!!!!!!!! ; - )
  9. by   RNtoFNP20yrs
    Quote from Cerberus
    Hello, guys!
    I graduated from Walden University in the beginning of February, and kind of took about a month off

    Hi Cerberus! I'm starting at Walden next month. BSN-MSN FNP. Did you feel like you were well prepared after completing their program?
  10. by   teenynurse
    I have been on this site for a while, checking out posts. First thank you for those that were positive. As of today I passed the boards my first time.

    1) Try not to freak out(every time I was going on the site I was freaking out!)

    2) I went to Amelie's confrence she is awesom! I had a friend give me jump drive in which I made cds for my car. I went to barkley review, he says notdo questions. This is Wrong! I did questions from apea which helped me how to answer questions. Leik's book is golden! Pay close attention to exam tips. I also did aanp test, two of my questions were from this. A lot elderly Questions, just know Parkinson's, dementia,vaccine and derm. Remember you got this!
  11. by   casaL
    HEY Guys I just PASSED my exam today August 11 of 2017, I am super happy I passed but I wanted to come and share my study tips for anyone else thats coming next. I read Leik book twice, boring to say but yes read it twice, did the Amellie Hollier Certification review book the latest edition in that book the three Family NP tests, Geriatrics and the Peds test each 150 questions plus all the questions in the system sections. Plus before graduating from school the entire Barkley's Book with all questions. Then, questions, questions, questions, questions, .........on apps on the phone like FNP mastery and the Leik app on the phone too. The test was not easy I have to say, maybe I was nervous. But it is not the kind of test you to throw stones at, BE READY, take it seriously they will ask you a realm of questions here and there!!!!!Had a lot of Peds questions, geriatrics, adolescents, do not spend time learning dosages, know why you are increasing a med or why removing another one, make sense and logic of why you are recommending a treatment, be ready to think and analyze and pick the best choice that answers your question or issue at hand. I emphasize in the practice, practice questions it makes a big difference, expose yourself to enough questions. Good luck guys and be the best NP's you can be!!!!!
  12. by   tekialove
    Hi There, And Congrats on passing. I am taking the AANP for the second time in a few days in hopes of being successful. I just took the Hollier Aug4-6 and won a predictor test. I am very nervous and don't really remember what was on my test in January. I am scared about the antibiotics, did you have lots of med questions that you can remember? Any help would be appreciated
  13. by   2BlessedFNP
    Your advise is right on. You don't need to waste money on everything out there. I also would only recommend Fitzgerald and Leik. My two cents on what I did to pass. I only took 4 weeks to fully study. I reviewed by systems starting with my weakest systems first. Writing things down on note cards helped me because if I needed a quick reference back, it was available. Using mainly both Codina-Leik's intensive review book and Fitzgerald's Nurse practitioner certification examination and practice preparation. These really complemented each other, although some information like someone said earlier isn't up to date or incorrect but 95-98% is. I only completed like 30 questions out of the 600 in the back of the book. I just didn't make it that far. And although Fitzgerald went more into depth about information, I loved it. It's better to know more than to know less. For each disease that I read in Leik's book, I went and read in Fitzgerald, which reinforced the information and added to. If you have seen this Fitzgerald book, questions are presented prior to the information on the condition/disease but I actually did it in reverse order and read the information then answered the questions.

    After I reviewed each system in Leik and Fitzgerald, I tested my knowledge by taking practice questions on the FNP Mastery application I downloaded on my phone full version) which by the way is awesome. Similar to Leik's application because it's by the same company but it was better than hers. Questions can be completed by body systems which is cool.

    I also used another application on my phone called FNP pocket prep which are questions from Fitzgerald 2014. Any time I had some kind of down time or if I was watching tv to so called "rest" from studying, I completed questions on this app as well as the FNP mastery app.

    Two weeks before my exam, I took Holliers predictor exam. I scored like 69% which really made me panic and was very discouraging. I went ahead and bought the two exam bundle for like $50 or $55. I scored 73 on another one 1 week before my exam but I really didn't agree with some of the answer choices and rationales. So I decided to just use it as a guide to review the systems that I score low on (50-60%). I actually took the last one just because I paid for it two days before the exam and scored a 79% so I felt a little better. Really do not know if I recommend this at all but like I said, it made me review systems I scored low on.

    One thing I would strongly recommend is taking the two practice exams, the Family as well as the Adult-gero exams offered by AANP on their website. It actually redirects you to the PSI website (who is the ones that schedules and administers the official board exam). They are suppose to be retired questions but I swear I had similar if not verbatim questions seen on there. Wasn't a whole lot but a handful but they were there. The Fitzgerald online course has an exam at the end of it modeled after the exam and was awesome. I believe I saw some similar questions from there.

    So in all, the best spent money were on the following. I would recommend getting the Fitzgerald' review. Whether online or in person as well as her Nurse practitioner certification examination and practice preparation book. Get the FNP exam bible--Codina-Leik's intensive review book. It complements Fitgerald's information well (not completely exact but very well). Like I said, I didn't complete all 600 questions in the back of the book or even 50 because I ran out of time but it is a great resource with quick facts and tips that you need to know. If you don't do anything else with this book, at least read over the sections labeled "exam tips" and "clinical tips". Downloading the FNP Mastery and FNP pocket prep is also highly recommended. I would also take the two practice quizzes offered by AANP online as well as the few questions at the end of their candidate booklet available online.

    Some things I did do that I probably could have done without. I did end up buying questions from boardvitals which I probably shouldn't have bought. I only used it for like 2 days and never completed any questions after. I also took the Hollier review after graduation and had her audio cds that I purchased a year before graduating that I listened to while driving to and from work starting those four weeks prior to my exam (which I didn't get all the way through). I ended up not listening to them anymore because it began to confuse me with the information that was already stored in my head but I cannot be sure if this helped me or not. I also had the Hollier certification practice book I bought the year before and never completed questions out of it, which now is a waste of money. But you know they say the mind is an incredible thing and stores information seen or heard so when it needs to recall it, it will recognize the info unconsciouslyas being familiar and may have helped me answer some questions. But either way, study hard, try to understand the information instead of memorizing (although there is a small amount that just needs to be memorized) and don't purchase everything that is offered (was minutes away of buying ExamEdge questions because I read about it but soooo glad I didn't waste more money and I was also tempted to buy the tons of stuff offered at Hollier's live review because everyone else was). Make sure to take the time to rest and be reassured your life will become yours again!
    Last edit by 2BlessedFNP on Aug 16, '17
  14. by   sarringt22
    Thank you everyone for your post and suggestions! They were very instrumental in me passing the exam. One suggestion I took was practice writing after you have done your extensive studying. Take a blank sheet of typing paper and write down everything that you were somewhat uneasy about and practice writing it each and everyday. Such as hypo/hyperthyroid, intersupp/pyloric stenosis, trich, etc. as well as your acronyms! It really helped me. Some of the items i had on my sheet were actually on my exam! Good Luck to each of you.
    SA, FNP-C

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