How Many Times Can You Take the PANCE?

June 28, 2024
When you sign up to take the PANCE, of course the goal is to pass it on the first try! Still, if you’re anything like me and your nerves are high leading up to your exam, you may find yourself having anxious thoughts like, “What if I don’t pass on the first try? What would I do next? And how many times can you take the PANCE?”
If those questions are running through your mind like a freight train and keeping you up at night, don’t worry! Even if you do need to retake the PANCE, you can still get back on track to becoming a PA-C. We’ll address the all-important questions of how many times you can take the PANCE, what the time restrictions are, and how to reach out for help if you need it.

What is my likelihood of passing the PANCE?

Let’s start by looking at the statistics. PANCE pass rates are down to 92% in 2023 and 2022 for first-time PANCE takers. While the odds of passing are clearly still in your favor, 8% of people who take the exam for the first time in 2023 didn’t pass. The pass rate for the PANRE in 2022 was even lower at 89%. 

The idea of not passing the first time can be a terrifying thought for anyone who has put so much time, money, and effort into their coursework and preparation. Perhaps you even have a job lined up after graduation or made plans to celebrate after the test date. I had a friend whose wife was pregnant and due about a month after the exam, which put an immense amount of pressure on him to pass the first time. 

Regardless of your specific situation, there’s likely a lot on the line. The good news is that if you don’t pass the first time, you can absolutely retake the exam!

Struggling to remember key topics during your PANCE prep? Download our FREE study sheet with mnemonics that our PA instructors use during our live PANCE/PANRE review course!

How many times can you take the PANCE?

Multiple times, in fact. So, while it may be disappointing if you didn’t pass the first time, take a deep breath because it’s not the end of your PA career.

The unfortunate thing is that when this happens you do need to wait a full 90 days before trying again. This will push back when you can start practicing as a physician assistant, and if you have a job lined up there’s a chance they’ll opt to hire a new candidate rather than wait. It may also alter the timeline of personal life plans, which of course could be frustrating.

If you didn’t pass the PANCE the first time, please don’t get discouraged. As I always say, everything happens for a reason and there will be plenty of positions available for you when you do pass. Instead, take these 90 days without underlying commitments of clinicals, coursework, or a job to really hone in on studying and give yourself the best chance to pass on the second attempt. 

Try to remove distractors that were present during your first attempt, and give yourself the best setting to pass on your next try. Once you do pass and start applying for PA jobs, nobody will ask you how many attempts it took to pass the PANCE. They only care that you did it!

How many times can you take the PANCE in a single year? 

You’re able to take the PANCE up to three times per year, with at least 90 days in between each try. You can attempt the PANCE up to six times total and you have six years after graduation to complete these attempts. 

Per the NCCPA, after six years or six attempts, whichever comes first, the only way to be eligible for additional attempts would be to redo PA school. This, of course, would not be practical for most people—therefore if you find yourself in a position where you’re unable to pass the PANCE after two or three tries, it’s important to completely revamp your technique to make sure you don’t find yourself in this position.

Want a quick look at all of your PANCE prep options? 👀 Here’s the TL;DR!
👩‍💻 Join our live PANCE/PANRE Review Course
📈 Try out the PANCE Qbank (with 3,800 NCCPA-formatted questions!)
🤝 Get a free consultation for PANCE tutoring

How many times can you take the PANCE vs the PANRE?

For those taking the PANRE, the rules are a bit different. For starters, there’s the option of the PANRE-LA, which is a virtual option for recertification that includes up to 12 quarters of 25 questions each between your 7th to 9th years of practice.

This is an up-and-coming method of recertification that allows providers to space the test out rather than taking the complete exam all at once. In contrast, the traditional PANRE is available to those in their 9th or 10th year of certification and is administered all at once at a Pearson VUE testing center. 

You can also retake the PANRE only once in any 90-day period. However, the 90-day limit may be waived if you have less than 90 days left in your 10th year or if you didn’t already exhaust all attempts for the year. You’re allowed to take the exam four times. 

How do I prepare for my PANCE retake?

If you’re reading this post because you’re worried or you got the news that you didn’t pass your PANCE/PANRE exam, don’t fret. You’re not alone! Plenty of other people have been in your shoes, most of whom are now practicing physician assistants with this long behind them.

If you didn’t pass PANCE/PANRE on your first attempt, or your mind is reeling from practice exams, there are many options for next steps. I’ve been working with Blueprint for the past two years, a company that offers individualized tutoring, PANCE/PANRE review courses, practice question banks, and a multitude of other resources to help get you on track with studying.

Work with a PANCE tutor

Specifically for those who are looking for a new study technique, you may want to consider opting for a PANCE tutor. While this is a financial commitment, tutors will work with you individually to help organize your schedule, optimize your study time, and, of course, find the material you’re struggling with and review it with you to enhance your knowledge and understanding. 

Enroll in a live review course

In addition, the PANCE/PANRE review courses that have helped so many PA students succeed come with a 100% pass guarantee! This means that we’re so confident in our ability to help you succeed you’ll actually get your money back from the course if you follow the course guidelines and still don’t pass.

Final Thoughts 

If you fail your PANCE on the first try, it’s important to understand that you have options. You’ll get to try again and there are an abundance of resources available to help you succeed. Don’t get discouraged—you’ll have a chance to come back stronger and still become an excellent PA. You’ve got this! 

Rosh Review is the leading Qbank provider for PA programs across the United States. Whether you’re a pre-PA student or PA-C, Rosh Review has something for you along your PA journey. Start a free trial today!

By Olivia Graham, PA-C


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