FAQs - AANPCB Certification Examination, Application, and Retake

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Q: What are the eligibility requirements to take the certification examination?

A: Certification is offered to NPs who completed a graduate or post-graduate Family or Adult-Gerontology nurse practitioner program from an accredited school in the U.S. or approved Canadian program. Additional requirements to process an application include:

Please note: Under certain circumstances, AANPCB may require additional information. A notification email will be sent to you if your application will need further documentation.

Q: How do I apply for the AANPCB certification exam?

A: You need to access or create your Online Profile to initiate an application. Please follow these steps:

Q: What name and email address do I use to apply for the exam?

A: It is important that you are consistent with your first and last name and email address used during the period of time you are applying to take the examination through testing and certification. Please be advised that student email addresses provided by universities are temporary. Therefore, AANPCB recommends that a permanent, personal email address be used for your certification application. Name and contact information changes may be made online in the applicant’s online profile. Candidates who wish to change their name are encouraged to change it after they have been certified to avoid problems with testing.

An applicant’s first and last name used to create an online Profile:

The email address used by an applicant to create an online Profile:

*** Please be advised that student email addresses provided by the university are temporary. Therefore, AANPCB recommends that a permanent, personal email address be used for your certification application.

Q:Why are AOL Recipients not receiving their Registration Confirmation Notice from PSI Services, LLC (PSI)?

A: Some older versions of AOL Desktop (6.0 or lower) will block emails coming from PSI servers. To receive emails from PSI, AOL recipients can perform the following task:

  1. Start your AOL Desktop, login to your account, and go to Mail Controls
  2. Once in Mail Controls, go to People and Places
  3. Select the option Allow email from all AOL members, email addresses, and domains
  4. Type in no-reply@psionline.com in the box and click add

This will add all PSI servers to be recognized as a safe sender and allow emails to be sent to you.

Q: How can I tell if my NP program is accredited?

A: To be eligible for AANPCB certification, applicants must complete a nurse practitioner program from a U.S. school accredited by either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Contact your Program Director or check the CCNE or ACEN websites for your NP program’s accreditation status. Canadian applicants must have completed an NP program that is approved by the Canadian Council of Registered Nurse Regulators.

Q: How soon before I graduate from my nurse practitioner program can I begin the application process?

A: MSN students may begin the application process as early as 6 months and DNP students may begin the application process as early as 1 year prior to completion of their program. Once you have established an Online Certification Profile and Account with us, you may initiate an application for the certification examination, upload required documents, follow your application’s progress, and view any notes/reminders we may send you regarding your application.

Q: I have not completed my program, yet. Can I submit my application without a final transcript?

A: Prior to your graduation, AANPCB will accept an official/unofficial transcript from your university showing the courses you have completed and academic "work-to-date". Your application can be processed and approved if the coursework on the transcript meets eligibility requirements. Candidates cannot sit for an examination until after they have completed all didactic courses and clinical practice hours required for their NP program. Examination scores will not be released until we have received your official final transcript or post-graduate (post-master’s) certificate (if applicable) showing completion date of the program and degree or certificate received.

Q: What is the difference between the "Program Completed" and "Degree Conferred" dates?

A: The Program Completion date is the date all courses and clinical hours in your NP Track are completed. The Degree Conferred date is the date you will be awarded the graduate degree or post-graduate certificate, whichever is applicable. Many students have the ability to complete their NP program (i.e.; didactic courses and clinical hours) before their scheduled graduation and degree conferral date (e.g.; DNP students).

When applying for Initial Certification, if the Program Completion and Degree Conferred dates are more than 30 days apart, AANPCB requires receipt of a letter from the NP Program Director or Academic Dean verifying the Program Completion date. Students are NOT eligible to test until all didactic and clinical course requirements for the NP program are completed. Without the faculty verification letter, applications will be processed based on the Degree Confer date. The letter can be emailed to Certification@aanpcert.org.

Q: What does a "complete" application mean?

A: Complete applications include the following:

Q: My state does not mail RN licenses anymore. How can I get a copy of my RN license?

A: You should first look on your State Board of Nursing's website. Most states provide an online verification for registered nursing licenses using your license number. Other resources are the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and Nursys.com

Q: I have an RN license in more than one state, which one should I use for my application?

A: Use the RN license of your home state. The current license needs to include:

Q: Are certified Nurse Practitioners required to maintain both a state RN license and an advanced practice NP license? My state has separate RN and APRN licenses, and NPs are not required to renew their RN licensure. Which is required for certification?

A: NPs certified by AANPCB will need to hold active professional nursing licensure in order to maintain their NP certification. The requirements for nursing licensure differs among the regulatory nursing boards. Some states have combined RN/NP licensure while others have separate RN and APRN licensure. AANPCB will accept either the RN or APRN state license for certification purposes.

Q: What is an official final transcript?

A: An official final transcript will have the university insignia and the degree conferred/award date. AANPCB must receive the official final transcript in a sealed envelope issued from the school registrar’s office or emailed from the registrar stating "Attached is an official transcript" or via a secured website by the registrar. If faxed, the coversheet needs to be from the registrar’s office stating the document attached is official. Any transcripts sent by the applicant electronically or by mail unsealed will be considered unofficial.

Q: After testing, how long do I have to send in my final transcript in order to complete my application?

A: Incomplete applications will be considered abandoned if AANPCB has not received a final official transcript showing the degree has been awarded. Examination scores cannot be released until the final official transcript is received.
The period of abandonment is:

Exceptions to this due to extenuating circumstances (e.g., delay in completing final DNP project) must be submitted in writing and is subject to approval).
Submission of a new application to sit for the National Certification Examination again, along with applicable fees, will be required after an incomplete application has been deemed abandoned regardless of whether the candidate initially passed the exam or not.

Q: Can transcripts be sent directly from my school?

A: Yes, they can be sent to transcripts@aanpcert.org. Some universities are able to send electronic official transcripts via a secured website (e.g. E-Script, National Student Clearinghouse, and Parchment). Otherwise, request that the university send your transcript directly to AANPCB in a sealed envelope.

Q: May I enclose my transcript with my application?

A: Yes, as long as it is in an envelope sealed by the university’s registrar, it will still be considered an official transcript. We will accept unofficial transcripts for processing and approval of an application but not for release of scores or certification notification.

Q: Do you expedite processing of certification applications?

A: AANPCB does not expedite processing of applications. Average processing time for an initial application takes 3 to 6 weeks. This will depend upon receipt of a complete application, with required documentation and fees paid. Submitting a complete application will assist in minimizing the amount of time to review the application.

Q: I am completing a post-graduate (post-master’s) certificate program. Do you still require a transcript from me?

A: Yes. To complete your application, we require your official final post-graduate transcript as well as a transcript showing conferral of your master’s degree. However, we can begin processing your application with a post-graduate transcript of "work-to-date". Once you have completed your NP program, we will need your official final post-graduate transcript to release your certification scores and AANPCB certificate. If your university does not print the date of program completion on your transcript we will require your post-graduate certificate or a letter from the university showing completion of an Adult, Family, or Adult-Gerontology post-graduate program before we can release your certification.

Q: How will I know the status of my application?

A: You will be notified by email if additional information is required for the completion of your application. This is an automatic process that occurs weekly after you submit your application. You will also be able to view your application status, as well as any missing information, through your online account.

Q: Why do I get weekly emails from AANPCB?

A: E-mails are sent weekly to candidates whose application is missing specific information necessary for completion of an application and/or release of scores. If you do not wish to receive these weekly email reminders, notify us in writing of this request.

Q: What is the process for approval of an application?

A:  Each application is reviewed for completeness and to determine that the requirements for eligibility have been met. All applications are reviewed by professional nurse reviewers who assess the candidate’s NP program information, didactic coursework, clinical experiences, clinical sites, preceptors, and RN licensure for completeness, appropriateness, and currency prior to approving a candidate to sit for the certification examination.

It is important to note that "Approval" of an application and "Eligibility to Test" indicate different steps in the application process.

Q: When will I be eligible to sit for the exam?

A: Candidates are not eligible to take the certification examination until after the required didactic and clinical coursework of the candidate’s NP portion of their program is complete. Applicants who apply prior to graduating will receive the Eligibility to Test email the week of their program completion date (i.e., the date both your didactic and clinical coursework are completed).

Q:What is considered an "acceptable form of identification" that I should take to the testing center?
A: Please refer to the Candidate Information Bulletin at www.psiexams.com for information regarding required, acceptable, and valid forms of identification at PSI Testing Centers.

Q: What if I have an appointment to take the exam and can’t make it?

A: PSI’s toll-free customer service number for AANPCB candidates is (833) 892-5438 to cancel and reschedule your appointment. You may cancel and reschedule a test appointment if your cancellation notice is received at least 2 days (48 hours) before the scheduled test date. (For example, for a Monday appointment, the cancellation notice would need to be received on the previous Saturday.)

If you do any of the following listed below, your testing eligibility registration with PSI will be invalid, you will not be able to take the test as scheduled, you will have to contact AANPCB to re-set your testing eligibility ID and pay all applicable fees to reschedule your exam with PSI.

If you:

Q: Can I request an extension?

A: Yes, extensions can be granted on a case by case basis with sufficient justification (e.g.; illness, accidents, etc.). Keep in mind, if you have scheduled an exam within your 120-day window, you must cancel the appointment at least 48 hours prior to your scheduled exam or risk losing your testing eligibility registration and will be responsible for applicable fees to re-set your testing eligibility ID.

If you are granted an extension, you will only receive a 60-day window to test. If you do not test during your new testing window of 60-days, your testing eligibility registration with PSI will be invalid, you will need to contact AANPCB to re-set the testing eligibility ID and pay all applicable fees in order to schedule your exam with PSI. AANPCB reserves the right to deny an extension without reasonable explanation or if requirements for requesting an extension are not met by the applicant.

Q: May I withdraw from taking the exam?

A: Yes. You must submit a written request to AANPCB to withdraw from the exam. As long as your request is received before the expiration of your 120-day testing window AND you have not scheduled your exam, you will receive a refund less a $120 USD processing fee.

Q: I failed the certification exam. What do I need to do to retake it?

A: Candidates who fail the exam are provided the opportunity to retest, must meet eligibility requirements, pay the required application fees, and complete additional educational preparation. To retake the examination, you must complete a minimum of 15 contact hours of advanced practice nursing continuing education that relates to the relative area of weakness in the practice domains as indicated on your score report.

The CEs and/or review course must be completed after the date you sat for your exam.

Apply online or use the Certification Retake Examination paper application. Note: You will not be able to apply to retake the exam until your current application is complete and released.

Q: If I failed, how soon can I apply to retake the exam?

A: If you tested after your Program Completion date, but prior to the Degree Awarded date, you will need to wait until (1) the degree is awarded, (2) we have received your final official transcript confirming degree awarded, and (3) we have released your test score before you can apply for a Retake Examination.

Q: How often can I retake the examination if I fail?

A: It is AANPCB policy to limit a candidate to two (2) testing attempts per calendar year (January to December).

Q: What should I do if I require special testing accommodations? 

A: All requests for Special Accommodations/Arrangements are processed by our testing vendor, PSI. Applicants with disabilities or those who would otherwise have difficulty taking the examination may request special examination arrangements at PSI testing centers. Information and requirements may be found under the Certification/ Non-Discrimination/Disability Tab.

Q: When can I expect to receive my scores?

A: When you finish your exam, you should receive a preliminary analysis of your examination responses before leaving the PSI testing center. This will indicate that you have either Passed or Not Passed. Some testing centers are able to provide you with a printout of that preliminary result. This printout is not an official document of certification and is NOT to be used for employment or licensure purposes.

AANPCB imports scores weekly from PSI and it may take up to 48 hours for us to process them for final release.

If all required paperwork, including a final official transcript showing your degree or post graduate certificate awarded, and fees have been received and processed, your score will be released; a printable wallet card will be available for download on your online profile; and an official score report and certificate will be mailed to you within 2-3 weeks.

Q: I am preparing to take the exam. In general, which clinical guidelines should I study?

A: In any given year, the certification examinations to be administered undergo a validation process using references and clinical guidelines that are currently available. For example, examinations offered in 2020, were developed in 2019 and further reviewed in mid-2019 by panels of clinical experts. All items were validated and referenced with clinical guidelines and other resources that were available at the time of exam preparation.

Q:How many questions are on the examination?

A: There are 150 questions on each examination. A candidate’s score is based solely on the 135 scored questions. Of the 150 questions, 15 are pretest questions, which are not scored. Pretest questions are included on each examination to obtain statistical information for possible use on future examinations. Pretest questions cannot be distinguished from those that are scored. A test-taker’s score on pretest questions does not affect a candidate’s final score.

Q:How long do I have to take the exam?
A: Candidates are allowed 3 hours (180 minutes) to complete the examination. Before starting the test, an introductory tutorial to the computer and keyboard is provided on the computer screen. The time spent on the tutorial DOES NOT count as part of your test time. Sample questions are included following the tutorial so that you may practice using the keyboard to answer questions, mark items to review, and review your answers. During the examination, the remaining time will be displayed at the top of the screen and updated as you record your answers.

Q: How do I sign my name once I become certified? Is there a standard way that is recommended?

A: Yes, there is a standard way to list credentials after your name. This is especially important because consumers, insurance companies, credentialing, and government officials or entities require or expect it. For personal and business communication, it is standard to list academic degrees first because they are earned and considered permanent. Nursing licensure and APRN designation, regulated by individual State Boards of Nursing, are usually listed next. National certifications are usually voluntary and listed last. When you become certified by AANPCB you are eligible to use the trademarked credential NP-C to indicate your certification status. The first letter of the population-focus of educational preparation and certification (i.e., adult, adult-gerontology, emergency, family, or gerontologic) preceding the credential is optional (e.g., ANP-C, A-GNP-C, ENP-C, FNP-C, GNP-C). In most cases, post-nominal credentials following a NPs name follow this order: