What’s the Difference Between AANP and ANCC NP Certification Exams
You're nearing the end of your Nurse Practitioner program and it is time to consider which certification exam to take. There are currently two recognized certifying boards for NPs: The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). Both boards offer multiple testing options for the specialties of Family, Adult-Gerontology, Pediatric Medicine, Adolescent Medicine, Emergency, Midwifery and Psychiatric with further delineation into acute or primary care. For example, the ANCC offers board certification (BC) for the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP-BC).
Graduating nurse practitioners can choose to sit for either exam as organizations have come to recognize both exams as valid certifications. Tracy Lutche, RN, FNP-BC, chose to sit for the ANCC exam after utilizing several review books and completing the Fitzgerald course review online. "I actually didn't know much difference between the two exams before I took it. A big factor for me was having the "BC" (board certified) designation in my title. The exam was really challenging. I'm usually very good at taking tests but this exam had me second-guessing the entire time. The exam I completed was very focused on research which didn't validate much of my clinical knowledge, but I understand they make changes and revamp the tests every so often."
As recently as May of 2019, the ANCC exam content has been updated to include more clinical information and less professional role and nursing theory. There are 175 questions to be considered over 3.5 hours, where 150 questions are actually scored. As opposed to the prior ANCC exam having three content domains of foundations for practice, professional practice, and independent practice, the updated exam contains 10 knowledge areas and 13 skills across four content domains:
- Assessment (21%)
- Diagnosis (26%)
- Clinical Management (43%)
- Professional role (10%)
The skill areas include:
- Comprehensive health history and physical assessment
- A focused history and physical assessment
- Risk assessment
- Functional assessment
- Differentiating between normal and abnormal physiologic or psychiatric changes
- Diagnostic test selection and evaluation
- Pharmacotherapeutic intervention selection
- Pharmacotherapeutic intervention evaluation
- Nonpharmacologic intervention selection and evaluation
- Therapeutic communication
- Culturally congruent practice
- Resource management
In contrast, the AANP exam is competency-based and comprised of 150 exam questions with a score based on 135 scored questions. The AANP Certification Board (AANPCB) is accredited by the Accreditation Board of Specialty Nursing Certification and the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. The AANPCB offers FNP, A-GNP and ENP certifications. Willa Espina, MSN, FNP chose to take the AANP exam after completing the Fitzgerald review as well. "I understood that the AANP exam was based more on clinical application. I believe that having a strong clinical background helped me pass the test."
There are two domain focus areas of the AANP examination:
- Pediatric (both newborn and infant)
In summary, both the ANCC and AANP exams are valid for working in a Magnet facility or meeting reimbursement guidelines for Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance companies. A strong deciding factor could be in the choice of career. As the ANCC exam has more of a research and theory flavor, those NPs seeking academic positions might consider this test more valuable. NPs who plan to work in primary care or family health centers may lean towards the clinical side of the AANP exam. Either way, NPs must choose an examining board and hit the study books!
For additional information see our overview of nursing certifications.
Amanda Bucceri Androus RN, BSN
Latest posts by Amanda Bucceri Androus RN, BSN
Our Visitors Found These Nursing Topics Useful
Nursing is a wonderful career choice with plentiful job opportunities to choose from. However, nurses are often subject to high-stress environments in the workplace, and if the stress is not properly managed it can lead to burn-out. RELATED: Nursing Shortage…
How important is it to attend an accredited nursing school? You may be going through a time where you just found out that your nursing school is not or was not accredited, or you may be reading this because you…
Nurses are expected to be intimately involved with the care of the public regarding health matters such as prevention of disease, healthy lifestyles, and the treatment of disease and conditions. This care and exposure is not without direct risk to…
Contact hours and continuing education units (CEUs) allow the RN to further his or her education and keep up-to-date with new and exciting developments in the nursing field. Completing continuing education activities demonstrates a nurse who is excited to learn…
Boards of Nursing are challenged to protect the health and welfare of the public by assuring that only competent and safe nursing care is being provided by licensed nurses of high moral character. Moral character can be assessed through a…