ANCC vs AANP Boards for FNP and AGNP/AGCNP: Which Should You Take?
“Which exam are you going to take?” As you prepare to earn your FNP or AGNP/AGPCNP certification, your colleagues have probably asked this question. But how should you decide between the ANCC vs. AANP certification exam? And once you’ve decided, how should you prepare (and where can you find ANCC and AANP practice exams)? While the choice of certifying body likely won’t affect the type of job you can get, there are some important factors to consider when looking at the ANCC FNP exam or the AANP FNP exam. These include the cost, question type, and recertification requirements. Ultimately, the choice is a personal decision, so figure out what matters most to you and go earn that nurse practitioner certification!
Are the credentials different between AANP and ANCC?
Yes. If you pass the family nurse practitioner AANP exam, your NP certification credentials will be FNP-C, and if you pass the ANCC exam, your NP certification credentials will be FNP-BC.
Similarly, your adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner credentials from AANP will be AGNP-C, and credentials from ANCC will be AGPCNP-BC.
What do the AANP and ANCC exams cost?
Overall, the AANP certification exam costs less (see more details here):
- Members: $240
- Nonmembers: $315
However, the ANCC exam has more possibilities for a discount (and offers a discount to both ANA and AANP members—see more details here):
- AANP student member: $290
- ANA member: $295
- AANP member: $340
- Nonmember: $395
How many questions do the AANP and ANCC certification exams have?
The AANP exam has 150 questions (135 scored, 15 pretest), and the ANCC exam has 175 questions (150 scored, 25 pretest) aimed to test nurse practitioners with reasonable difficulty.
Are there different types of test questions on the AANP and ANCC exams?
Yes. The AANP FNP certification is made up of all multiple-choice questions that are primarily clinical with some administrative-based questions, while the ANCC FNP certification includes more nonclinical professional role questions. While most questions on the ANCC exam are multiple choice, you will also see multiple response, “hot spot,” and drag and drop questions. The AANP exam may also include questions about FNP procedures such as skin biopsy and wound closure. (See the AANP Examination Blueprint for a full list of procedures addressed.)
Will my certification affect what kinds of jobs I can get?
Not likely. It’s not common for an employer to require a particular board certification—they usually only require that you are board certified by one or the other (or that as a new grad, your board certification is pending). If you want to pivot to another profession such as an ENP or even a PA in emergency medicine, these certifications could be your first step on that journey.
Do the recertification requirements differ between AANP and ANCC?
Yes. Both certifications must be renewed every 5 years and require current RN licensure, but the requirements and costs are different.
- Complete a mandatory 75 continuing education hours (this includes 25 on pharmacotherapeutics)
- Complete the requirements in one or more of the renewal categories:
- Academic credits
- Evidence-based practice, quality improvement project, publication, or research
- Preceptor hours
- Professional service
- Practice hours
Details about these categories are included in the ANCC Renewal Requirements doc.
ANCC recertification costs:
- ANA member: $275
- AANP member: $295
- Nonmember: $375
AANP: Two options
- Option 1: recertify by clinical practice hours and continuing education (minimum 1,000 hours of clinical practice as an NP in your specialty within the 5-year certification period; minimum 100 contact hours of advanced CE, including 25 credits of advanced practice pharmacology)
- Option 2: take the certification exam
See details in the Recertification Handbook.
AANP recertification costs:
- Recertification option 1: Members $120, nonmembers $195
- Recertification option 2: Members $240, nonmembers $315
Now that you know the basic differences (and maybe have an idea of which exam you’re going to take), how should you study for the actual exam?
How to study for the AANP or ANCC certification exam
There are many ways to study for the exam, such as live courses, self-directed study, and question banks (Qbanks for short). You need to choose the option that’s best for you. We’re a Qbank company, so we (not surprisingly) think Qbanks are an excellent way to prepare for your test.
A Qbank is a database of multiple-choice questions that are in the same format as the ones you’ll see on the actual exam and should cover the topics included on the exam. Qbanks are designed to help you simultaneously practice for the exam and learn about each topic (so you can figure out your weak points).
One of our favorite study tips is learning how to target your “unknown unknowns”—here’s how:
- Answer a question from a Qbank
- If you answer incorrectly, read the explanation
- Take notes about why the correct answer is correct, and make sure to take notes on anything in the explanation that you didn’t already know
If you do this for every question you answer incorrectly, and if you regularly review your notes and add information to topics as you do more questions, you’ll eventually determine your unknown unknowns. In return, you’ll uncover most of your blind spots that questions on the exam can ask about.
Where can I find an AANP or ANCC practice exam?
You can access free AANP or ANCC practice questions with a free trial for the Qbank of your choice—no billing information required. The free trial includes practice questions that align with the AANP and ANCC blueprints 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 your board exam, you can easily upgrade to a full Qbank subscription.
Your Rosh Review subscription includes access to a Mock Certification Exam, which acts as a practice test for your AANP or ANCC certification exam. The exam can be found in the Boost Exams section (on the Home tab, desktop only). Note that the Mock Certification Exam includes content that follows both the AANP and ANCC blueprints, so your actual certification exam content and question type might vary slightly from what you see in the mock exam.
If you’d like to create your own mock exam targeting specific topics (or following your exam’s content blueprint), here’s a video explaining how to do so:
Choosing 150–175 questions in timed test mode can help simulate actual testing conditions.
Hopefully this has helped clarify your decision. There’s no wrong choice between AANP or ANCC certification, so go with what makes the most sense for you. And if there’s anything else you need as you prepare to earn your certification, please reach out!