4 Tips for Scheduling Your PANCE Exam Date

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July 1, 2022
Taking the PANCE is a big day in every PA’s life. It’s the day you’ve been working toward for years, and you want to make sure it’s a successful one. Most of the buzz about the PANCE focuses on exam content and coverage, with little mention of scheduling logistics. As the final checkpoint to becoming a certified PA, it’s helpful to know as much as you can about getting the exam scheduled, potential derailers, and how long to wait to take the exam. 

Scheduling your PANCE exam date is likely at the bottom of your to-do list. If you’re on clinical rotations, you are busy with many tasks–managing different schedules, navigating preceptor personalities and preferences, learning the culture and processes of the clinical site, and studying for rotation exams, to name a few. Set yourself up for success with these tips for scheduling your PANCE exam. 

Tip 1: Register and Apply Early

Make your online NCCPA account as soon as you can. Only graduates of accredited PA programs can sit for the PANCE, which means before you can register for the exam, your program has to enter you into the NCCPA portal. Once you’re in the system, you will get an email at the email address your program entered with instructions for setting up your account. From there, you can register and apply for a PANCE exam date if you are within 180 days (approx. 6 months) from your expected program completion date. Don’t hesitate to commit to a test date. You can make changes up to one business day before your test day without having to reapply or pay again.

Tip 2: Check Availability Early and Often

Depending on where your program is located and the time of year you finish PA school, you may find there aren’t a lot of available exam slots open when you first look. Your testing center isn’t just administering the PANCE—people from a variety of disciplines and industries can take licensure and certification exams at Pearson Vue test centers. If you aren’t satisfied with the availability, check back regularly. A lot of movement happens in the system—think of it like changing your seat on a flight. If you got stuck with a middle seat on a long cross-country flight, you would want to check in and see if an aisle or window seat opens up. 

Tip 3: Avoid Schedule Derailers

Relocating across the country, taking a vacation, planning a wedding, and getting married are some common events graduates may encounter shortly after graduation, and they can majorly derail study schedules. Finishing PA school and taking the PANCE are major events. Successfully passing the PANCE is a big cognitive load, and your brain has already been working overtime for the last 2+ years. Avoid scheduling anything that requires planning and time until after your exam. Sometimes a derailer can’t be avoided, which is okay. If you have an unavoidable derailer that you know will occur or an unexpected event occurs, identify how you will overcome any challenges or barriers, and adjust your PANCE timeline accordingly. 

Tip 4: Don’t Wait Too Long

Once you officially complete your program, give yourself some downtime—but don’t take too much time. Although you will be tired, you want to keep the momentum going. The longer you wait to take the PANCE, the further away you get from a structured learning environment. Maintaining discipline and motivation to study for the PANCE can become increasingly more challenging the longer you are away from your program. After graduation, there are no required assignments or exams, you will have far less exposure to your peers, and faculty and preceptors have a new cohort of PA students vying for their time and attention. 

A minimum of 7 days is required between your program’s end date and taking the PANCE. Many graduates will take their exam 10–20 days after graduating (1.5 weeks to 2.5 weeks after program completion). The amount of time needed to study for the PANCE varies and should be based on academic performance leading up to PANCE, recency of exposure to the knowledge and skills on the PANCE blueprint, and ongoing personal and family responsibilities. Have a sense of urgency while not rushing to take the exam when you are unprepared. 

Take Control of Your PANCE Schedule

The PANCE is the final door you must go through to become a certified PA. Taking control of when and where you take the exam will help ease some anxiety and result in a better overall exam experience. These four tips for scheduling your exam on the day, time, and location that works best for you will make it easier to get to the final door. 


More than 85% of PA programs in the U.S. use Rosh Review Qbanks to help their students prepare for the PANCE. Whether you’re looking for free PANCE practice questions or approaching your PANCE exam date and want to try a PANCE question bank, Rosh Review has something for you along your PA journey.

By Susan Hibbard, Ph.D.

FAQs

Get a little more clarification

When can I take the PANCE?
You must graduate from an accredited program to qualify for the PANCE, and you can apply for the exam anytime within 180 days before your program completion date. The soonest you can take the exam is 7 days after your program completion date.

For more information, read Everything You Need to Know for the PANCE Exam and the Top Questions about Qbanks for PA Students, the PANCE, & Rotation Exams.
Where can I find free PANCE practice questions?
You can access free practice questions with a free trial for the PANCE Qbank—no billing information required. The free trial includes practice questions that align with the PANCE blueprint and include comprehensive answer explanations and beautiful teaching images.

After practicing with these questions, if you decide you're ready for thousands of additional questions to help you confidently prep for the PANCE, you can easily upgrade to a full Qbank subscription.
How should I study for the PANCE?
If you found a study routine that worked well during your rotation exams, stick with it! If you're still trying to find your optimal strategy, check out these resources:

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