If you're nearing the end of your nursing education, you might be wondering about next steps. While it would be nice to jump right into the career of your dreams, you'll likely need to first take and pass certification exams. Your academic advisor can offer specific guidance on which tests you should take. Understanding the differences between the main nursing certification exams can help you decide which pathway is right for you.
The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) are two of the most respected professional organizations for nurses. Both groups offer certification tests for healthcare workers. There are some major differences between the ANCC vs. AANP tests, though, so you'll want to make sure you understand your options before deciding which exam to take.
When deciding whether to take ANCC vs. AANP tests, it helps to consider your goals. If you're hoping to launch your career as a nurse practitioner, you'll find no shortage of tests available from both groups. Of course, you'll first need to earn your Masters of Science in Nursing. Completing this degree is critical to your performance on certification tests, regardless of whether you take the ANCC vs. AANP exam. Graduate school is where you'll learn the material you'll need to succeed in both test-taking and professional settings.
Once you've finished your degree program, you'll be ready for certification exams. The tests offered by ANCC and AANP tend to be rigorous, demanding, and an essential part of becoming a nurse practitioner. Allow your career goals to dictate which test you take. Those interested in research and theory may choose to take the ANCC exam. The test questions take a more academic approach to evaluating the knowledge and skills of aspiring nurse practitioners. The AANP exam, on the other hand, may be a good fit if you dream of working in a clinical role, as questions are more focused on diagnosing and assessing patients.
The ANCC exam will qualify you as a nurse in one of these specialty areas:
The AANP exams will qualify you as a nurse in one of these specialty areas:
Obviously, there are several different ANCC vs. AANP certification exams. When it comes time to decide which nurse practitioner certification test is right for you, it helps to compare apples to apples. AANP exams feature 150 questions that examinees must answer over the course of a three-hour testing window. Regardless of which specialty area you're focusing on, you can expect the same amount of questions and time in which to complete the exam
The ANCC exam, on the other hand, has up to 200 questions to answer during a testing period of three to four hours. You'll be required to answer at least 150 of the 200 questions, which is why some people perceive the ANCC test to be slightly more challenging than the AANP test.
Perhaps the biggest difference in AANP vs. ANCC NP certification exams is the types of questions to expect. The AANP exam features only multiple-choice questions. The ANCC test, on the other hand, will give you questions where you select one option from many, multiple choices where you select all options that apply, and drag and drop questions. Whichever exam you opt to take, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the exam structure ahead of test day.
You might be curious about the AANP vs. ANCC pass rates. In 2018, 85 percent of test takers passed the AANP exam on their first attempt. By comparison, about 86.2 percent of examinees passed the ANCC exam on their first try. It just goes to show how comparable these two exams truly are!
One of the main differences between ANCC vs. AANP are the certification opportunities offered to healthcare workers. While AANP focuses solely on qualifying nurse practitioners, ANCC extends their reach to several different healthcare career paths. ANCC offers certification exams for clinical nurse specialists, nurse executives, and those working in specialty nursing areas. Whether you see yourself aiding mental health patients, seniors, or children, there's an ANCC specialty exam right for your career.
No matter which nursing certification exam you opt to take, you'll want to prepare using practice tests from Exam Edge. Research shows that practice testing is one of the most effective forms of exam prep. The act of taking a practice test flexes the same muscles you'll need on the day of the real exam. By practicing the skill of retrieving specific facts and synthesizing test questions in advance, you'll be ready for anything your nursing certification exam sends your way.