The Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) and Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam (PANRE) are computer-based exams offered through Pearson VUE testing centers on a rolling basis throughout the year. The exams are made up of multiple-choice questions, focused on assessing core medical and surgical knowledge.

You may schedule the exam date most convenient for you based on testing center availability.

PANCE: Initial Certification for Physician Assistants

To register for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) you must apply online through the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). NCCPA will accept your application as early as 90 days prior to your expected program completion date, and you can take PANCE as early as 7 days after your program completion. After processing your application, NCCPA will send you instructions for scheduling your exam.

Once you have successfully submitted all your required materials, you will have 180 days to take PANCE. For complete guidelines, you can download the NCCPA’s PANCE policies and procedures from their website.

PANRE: Certification Maintenance for Physician Assistants

To register for the Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam (PANRE) you must apply online through NCCPA. We’ve provided additional information on PA certification maintenance requirements.

In 2014, certification requirements changed. Physician Assistants who certified prior to 2014 will remain on a 6-year certification cycle; those who certified after 2014 will be transitioned to a 10-year certification cycle. Depending on your recertification cycle, you may register for PANRE if:

  • You are in the 5th or 6th year of the PA-C certification maintenance cycle

OR

  • You are in the 9th or 10th year of the PA-C certification maintenance cycle

You will have 180 days after successfully submitting all your required materials to take PANRE. You may take PANRE only once in any 90-day period, except in your 5th and 6th years or 9th and 10th years , when you can take PANRE only twice each year. For complete guidelines, you can download the NCCPA’s PANRE policies and procedures.

What to Expect the Day of the Exam

  • Plan to arrive 30 minutes early for registration and ID verification.
  • You cannot bring study materials or personal items (e.g., mobile phones, pagers, watches, purses, bags, books, etc.) into the exam room.
  • There may be several other exams being administered along with PANCE/PANRE. If you feel that the noise from other test takers will be a distraction for you, the testing center can provide you with earplugs or headphones.
  • The exam is broken out into sections, or “blocks.” Once each section of the exam is complete (or the allotted time has ended) you may not go back to that section.
  • Tutorial: before the exam begins, you will have 15 minutes to complete the PANCE/PANRE tutorial to familiarize you with the testing process.

PANCE: Managing Your Time During the Exam

The Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) is a 5-hour exam comprised of 300 multiple-choice questions. Each of the five sections contains 60 questions; you have 60 minutes to complete each exam block. You will be allotted a total of 45 minutes of breaks during the exam. You may follow the scheduled breaks or opt for unscheduled break times; however, you must manage your own break time.

PANRE: Managing Your Time During the Exam

The Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam (PANRE) is a 4-hour exam comprised of 240 multiple-choice questions. Each of the four sections contains 60 questions; you have 60 minutes to complete each exam block. You will be allotted a total of 45 minutes of breaks during the exam. You may follow the scheduled breaks or opt for unscheduled break times; however, you must manage your own break time.

Learn more about taking a PANCE/PANRE Review Course to prepare.