What’s the PANCE Exam Passing Score?

May 29, 2023
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t expect a spike of anxiety AFTER I graduated from PA school. I remember all the questions that came to mind: “Am I ready for the PANCE?” “Were these past two years enough preparation for me to pass this exam on the first try?”
Maybe your journey has been a bit different from mine, but in the end, we all have the same fate: we must pass the PANCE before we can achieve our dream of helping others! With declining PANCE pass rates in recent years, it is more important than ever to understand how the exam is scored and how to prepare. Here are a few tips for passing the PANCE, including some additional information about the PANCE passing score.

What is the PANCE Passing Score and What Does it Really Mean? 

To pass the PANCE, one must score at least 350 (out of 800 possible points) on the test.

According to the National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA):

“The score… is determined via a process called standard setting. Standard setting requires a panel of Physician Assistant content experts with experience about the knowledge, skills, and abilities an entry-level PA should possess for safe and effective practice.” 

These content experts engage in a standard-setting process known as the Angoff method, which requires panelists to review individual test questions and decide whether someone who is “just qualified” would be able to answer the question correctly.

The recommendations from the panelists then go to the NCCPA Board of Directors for consideration and approval. So, let me interpret this: the score is based on what the NCCPA determines a person must know in order to be a competent PA. 

Now that you’ve gotten an overview of what goes into your PANCE score, let’s get into why you’ll want to pass it the first time around! 

3 Reasons It’s Important to Pass the PANCE on the First Try 

Passing the PANCE exam on the first try can be advantageous for multiple reasons. Here are my top three: 

1. It Saves Time and Money. 

If you don’t pass the first time around, you’ll need to retake it. This means additional exam fees, study materials, and potentially lost work time.

2. It Demonstrates Competence and Professionalism.

If you pass the exam on the first try, that speaks to your dedication and says you’re serious about being a PA. Employers like to see that, and it’ll translate into increased job opportunities and salary negotiations.

3. It Boosts Confidence 

Think about it, wouldn’t you feel confident entering your first job after PA school knowing that you passed the exam the first time around? Boost your morale and sense of what you can accomplish by crushing it the first time.

5 Tips on How to Prepare for the PANCE

To increase your chance of passing PANCE on the first try, you should start early and take a proactive approach to exam preparation. Here are five tips on how to do it: 

1. Identify Knowledge Gaps 

These are areas where you may need to review. The best way to identify them is to go over your performance in PA school and make note of which medical topics you struggled with.

2. The PANCE Content Blueprint

The NCCPA PANCE blueprint outlines items covered on the exam. This should be a bookmarked and well-visited site. Use this blueprint to guide your study plan and ensure that you are effectively covering relevant topics.

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!

3. Utilize Question Banks (Qbanks) 

Practice questions are imperative for your exam preparation. They’ll give you a sense of what might be on the test. The Rosh Review PANCE Qbank has beautiful explanations that will help you learn the material. 

4. Take a Course 

Consider the four-day Rosh Review PANCE Review Course. It’ll give you an opportunity to work directly with 2 PA experts, right in your area, who are there to guarantee your success! 

5. Use a Study Schedule 

Rosh Review has a wonderful tool known as the Blueprint PA Study Planner. It’s your digital assistant, and tells you when, how, and what to study! Let technology help you—trust me, I wish I had this when I was prepping for my PANCE! Check out this blog post for more ideas on the best PANCE study planner.

Final Thoughts From a “Seasoned PA-C”

Your career is a marathon, not a sprint. But you want to pass the PANCE exam on the first try, and you should work towards this goal. It is possible, you can do it! Experts at Blueprint Test Prep and Rosh Review can help. Reach out to us. Get a mentor or a tutor to help you. With the right preparation, you can pass the PANCE on the first try and get started on a career as a certified physician assistant!

As we said in the Army, “We’ve got your six!” (This is a cool way to mean: “We’ve got your back and we’ve got you covered!”)

Interested in joining a live course for accelerated review? Look no further—the 4-day Rosh Review PANCE Review Course is now open for enrollment to help you pass the exam on the first take!

I wish you the absolute best on your PANCE!

Frank W Ritz, PA-C, DScPAS, MPAS

Blueprint Test Prep Tutor

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 Frank Ritz, DScPAS, PA-C, MPAS

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