AANP vs. ANCC Certifications: Differences and Tips for Choosing

As your nurse practitioner program draws to a close, it’s time to decide which certification exam to take. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) are the two recognized certification bodies for NPs at the moment. Both boards provide numerous test options for the Nurse Practitioner and other nursing specialties, frequently with additional distinction between acute or primary care For instance, the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP-BC) is board certified (BC) by the ANCC.

Organizations now recognize both exams as legitimate certifications, so newly graduated nurse practitioners can select which exam to take. After using several study guides and finishing the Fitzgerald course review online, Tracy Lutche, RN, FNP-BC, decided to take the ANCC exam. “Before taking the exam, I actually didn’t notice many differences between the two tests. Having the designation “BC” (board certified) in my title played a significant role for me. The exam was really challenging. I usually do well on tests, but this one had me doubting myself the entire time. The exam I passed was heavily research-focused, which didn’t validate much of my clinical knowledge, but I understand they periodically change and update the tests. “.

The ANCC exam content has recently been updated to include more clinical information and less professional role and nursing theory. This happened in May 2019. There are 175 questions to be considered over 3. 5 hours, where 150 questions are actually scored. The updated ANCC exam has 10 knowledge areas and 13 skills spread across four content domains, as opposed to the previous exam’s three content domains of foundations for practice, professional practice, and independent practice:

In contrast, the 150 exam questions on the AANP exam are competency-based, and the exam results are based on 135 answered questions. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies and the Accreditation Board of Specialty Nursing Certification both grant their approval to the AANP Certification Board (AANPCB). The AANPCB offers FNP, A-GNP and ENP certifications. MSN, FNP Willa Espina decided to take the AANP exam after finishing the Fitzgerald review. “I realized the AANP exam was more focused on clinical application. I think that having a solid clinical background contributed to my success on the test. “.

In conclusion, passing the ANCC and AANP exams qualifies one for employment in a Magnet facility or for receiving reimbursement from Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance providers. The decision of a career may be a major deciding factor. NPs pursuing academic positions may view the ANCC exam as having greater value due to its emphasis on research and theory. NPs may prefer to focus on the clinical portion of the AANP exam if they intend to work in primary care or family health centers. In either case, NPs need to pick an exam board and start studying!

ANCC vs AANP: Breakdown & Common Misconceptions!

What is the ANCC exam?

Another exam that judges nurse practitioners and grants them certification in their chosen specialties is the ANCC exam. This test assesses nurse practitioners in areas like nursing theory and best practices in addition to having many questions on clinical topics. Questions in the ANCC exam’s first three sections assess candidates’ clinical management skills, knowledge of various medical conditions, and knowledge of how to assess patients.

Nurse practitioners respond to questions about their professional roles in the ANCC exam’s final section, which involves examining their non-clinical expertise. Questions about professional roles on the ANCC exam may cover subjects like ethics, research, regulations, and more.

What is the AANP exam?

The AANP exam is a test that certifies nurse practitioners in a specific nursing specialty for those who pass it. The AANP exam covers a variety of nursing topics because the majority of the questions assess a candidate’s competency and clinical application. The AANP exam includes assessment as one topic, which can refer to abilities like conducting physical examinations and identifying symptoms of medical conditions.

A nurse practitioner’s capacity to identify medical conditions, design efficient treatments, and monitor patient progress is also examined on the AANP exam. Candidates may only need to pass the clinical portions of the exam for some specialties.


The AANP and ANCC exams differ in the following ways:

Who offers it

The company that offers each test is the first significant distinction between the AANP exam and the ANCC exam. Candidates can consult the American Association of Nurse Practitioners for information regarding the AANP exam. Candidates must get in touch with the American Nursing Association, which administers the test, to register for the ANCC exam. When a nurse practitioner chooses which exam they want to take, they can get in touch with the relevant agency to sign up for the exam and learn how to get ready for assessment.


The costs associated with taking the AANP exam and the ANCC exam can also vary. If candidates are not members of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, they must pay a $315 exam fee. Nevertheless, a nurse practitioner can take the exam for $240 less if they join the organization.

Candidates who are not members of any professional nursing organizations must pay $396 to take the ANCC exam. However, if a nurse practitioner chooses to join the American Nurses Association, they can take the ANCC exam for a lower price of $295. The ANCC exam can also be taken by nurse practitioners who are already American Association of Nurse Practitioners members, but they must pay a $340 fee.


Another significant distinction between the AANP and ANCC exams is the format used by each exam. The AANP exam includes only multiple-choice questions. This implies that each question presents a range of potential responses, and candidates can mark the response they favor and move on to the following question right away.

For the ANCC exam, some questions use the multiple-choice format. However, there are also multiple-choice questions on the test, and candidates are encouraged to mark any responses that apply to the solution. The ANCC exam also employs hot-spot questions, which require marking a specific area on an image to denote objects, the body, and more. Candidates may also come across drag-and-drop questions that require them to put items in a specific order or match solutions to their applicable questions.


Nurse practitioners can earn a variety of specialty certifications through the AANP and ANCC exams. Candidates can pursue three different certifications after passing the AANP exam. The following three certifications are available to nurse practitioners who pass the AANP test:

Nurse practitioners now have a few more certification options thanks to the ANCC exam. The ANCC exam offers credentials for additional specialties in addition to the certifications that the AANP exam can grant. A nurse practitioner can become certified in the following specialties by passing the ANCC exam:

Tips for deciding which exam to take

You can use the following advice to choose which exam you might want to take:

Consider what the exams cover

Given that each exam assesses various areas of expertise and provides various certifications, considering what each exam covers can help you decide which to take. For instance, if you want to become a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner, you might decide to take the ANCC exam instead of the AANP exam because it offers certification for that specialty.

Explore the format for each test

Knowing which format might suit you best can help increase your chances of passing the test and receiving certification because the AANP exam and the ANCC exam each use different question formats. For instance, you might select the AANP exam since it only contains multiple-choice questions if you discover that you perform well on assessments that use them. The ANCC test may be a better option for you if you prefer questions in a variety of formats.

Decide whether you want to join a professional association

Both the AANP exam and the ANCC exam were developed by particular nurse practitioners’ professional associations. While candidates can sit for either exam without belonging to a professional association, considering whether they want to do so can help them decide which exam to take. It might be best to select the AANP exam if you’re interested in joining the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Take the ANCC exam if you intend to join the American Nurses Association.

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Is ANCC more prestigious than AANP?

In 2018, the ANCC pass rate was 86. 2% and the AANP rate was 85%. Additionally, approval rates as determined by test-takers are very close. In 2019, the AANP approval rate for FNPs was 86% and the ANCC approval rate for FNPs was 87 1%.

What is the difference between the AANP and ANCC?

The AANP exam is a multiple choice exam. There are several different question types on the ANCC exam, including multiple choice, multiple response, drop and drag, and hot spot. AANP testing may be a good option for you if you are uncomfortable with question formats that are not multiple choice.

Which is harder ANCC or AANP?

The AANP is rumored to be the easier of the two exams, specifically for those seeking their FNP certification since it has a 5% higher pass rate than that of the ANCC FNP exam You can reasonably conclude that the AANP exam is less difficult than the ANCC exam based on the pass rate.

Do employers prefer AANP or ANCC?

Because ANCC certification has been around longer, some employers favor it. You have to find out what job prefers. AANP exam is strictly clinical multiple choice questions. ANCC is a mix between clinical, delegation, research and leadership questions – at least 60% of the questions are clinical

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