FNP Pass Rates – Why Have FNP Exam Pass Rates Declined for AANP and ANCC Nurse Practitioner Exams?

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FNP Pass Rates - Family Nurse Practitioner Pass Rates are Down on AANP and ANCC FNP Exams

FNP Pass Rates Are Down – Why Have FNP Exam Pass Rates Declined?

Family nurse practitioner pass rates have fallen for both AANP and ANCC exams.

The field of family nurse practitioners has exploded over the last decade, more than quadrupling in size. The structures that educate and support people in the field have had to grow and change as a result; however, they’ve run into some problems. There are two routes to certification for family nurse practitioners (FNP's): they can either certify with the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), or with the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). The ANCC’s recently published a new blueprint for certification in May 2019 so that it now more closely resembles the AANP’s. 

You might be relieved to know there has not been a significant deviation in FNP pass rates between the two tests (ie, people don’t fail one more than the other.)

The ANCC certification is smaller, and it’s difficult to find published score information for every year. However, the AANP publishes test taker populations and scores annually. As the amount of test-takers has increased, so has overall failure rates - dramatically. We recently wrote an article covering the differences between the two FNP exams, with a more in-depth discussion of the decline in FNP pass rates, here

Strange things regarding FNP pass rates

Now, it’s logical that the number of failures would increase with the overall population. It’s strange, however, that the percentage of failures would go up as well, when the overall quality of education has not changed. What’s even stranger is that (in our admittedly anecdotal research) it is sometimes the students with the highest academic scores that are failing the initial exam. If these students aren’t failing due to lack of knowledge, then there must be another cause for the decline in FNP pass rates.

We’ve isolated two likely reasons for this: time per question, and what each question is looking to achieve.

Both FNP exams are timed, now give you an average of 72 seconds to answer a question. That doesn’t sound so bad, but when you’re answering over a hundred questions, having to move so quickly can wear you down. This feeds into the second problem, which is questions that are structured to mislead uncautious test-takers, or “gotcha” questions. The premise behind these types of questions and the speed at which they must be answered is that this weeds out people who only know most of the material, as opposed to people who absolutely understand the material and as such would not be misled. 

We cover ways that a test-taker can study to avoid pitfalls such as these in our recent article on retention. It discusses different question types and why test-makers employ each one, as well as how people retain information and the best, most efficient ways that test-takers can learn and study so that they don’t get tripped up in their examinations.

The article discusses retention in detail, and is quite the read, but here’s an infographic we assembled with a basic coverage of its contents: 

Retention is a good thing to understand, as that understanding will shape the way you study, but the way you approach a question matters as well. When faced with a select-all-that-apply (SATA) question, here’s what you can do to avoid hasty errors or confusion:

  • View each answer as a true-or-false question. Don’t try to look at all the answers at once, or weigh them against each other - just look at each option, and consider whether it’s true or false. 
  • Read the question stem carefully! Don’t just scan for keywords, or assume what the question is - some may be deceptively phrased.
  • Take your time. You’ll want to rush, but keep in mind that you have over a minute to answer each question. If something’s stumping you, try marking it and coming back later, so that you can get the easier questions answered first.

FNP pass rates family nurse practitioner exam pass rates, learning and retention

This advice also applies to multiple choice questions (MCQs). 

At the end of the day, it’s better to miss a question due to lack of knowledge than missing a question due to haste.

How the Select-all-that-apply (SATA) Question Type Can Impact FNP Pass Rates

There’s nothing more frustrating than going through your results and seeing questions that you could’ve gotten right, if you’d only paid more attention. In an exam with over a hundred questions this kind of error is bound to happen, but you can use the steps we outlined above to help minimize that.

We’ve included a FNP exam "select all that apply" example question below:

FNP pass rates family nurse practitioner exam questions

The answer is option three (Administering immunization for HPV), and only option three.

The question's inclusion of "select all that apply" is designed to mislead - but so long as you’re careful and know your stuff, you should be just fine.

Finally, if you’re looking for quality ways to prepare for either exam (and if you're seeking to avoid large crowds and travel issues) you can find everything you need for effective FNP exam prep online.  For more sample questions and the most-proven, pass-guaranteed FNP exam review online (and other FNP CE-required resources) - we encourage you to try a free trial of Med-Challenger’s line of FNP exam preparation products, here.  

Good luck on the exam!


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