Even if you have some time before you graduate from your nurse practitioner program, the national certification exam has probably crossed your mind. How should you study? What is the most sure method of passing the exam? Having taken the exam myself, I have experienced how anxiety-provoking the national certification experience can be. Your ability to practice as an NP rides on your results therefore it is essential to prepare adequately, but how do you start?
Hands down, the best way to study for the nurse practitioner certification exam is to do practice questions. In my attempt to study for the exam myself, I went back through text books, reviewed my old notes and also purchased a few books containing practice questions. I found that my old notes and text books were unhelpful in my preparation. They contained so much information that they caused my stress level to go through the roof. I was so overwhelmed by the amount of information I was supposed to have learned and couldn’t remember that my study time was spent memorizing material that did not appear on the exam at all.
So, what helped me the most in my preparation? Practice questions! I would recommend this as the only necessary method of study for the AANP and ANCC certification exams. Somehow, authors of these study books have unbelievable insight as to what will appear on the exam. In fact, many questions in my exam appeared almost exactly in my study books. NP certification study books contain loads of practice questions prompting you to review the exact information you need. Which books helped me the most?
I am a family nurse practitioner and therefore used study books geared toward this specialty. My favorite NP certification study books include Margaret Fitzgerald’s Nurse Practitioner Certification Examination and Practice Preparation and Hollier and Wirfs’ Family Nurse Practitioner Certification Prep Exams. Fitzgerald’s book contains case-studies, discussion and the all-important practice questions to effectively guide your study sessions. If you are not studying for the FNP certification exam, the book is also offered for multiple other specialties. Hollier and Wirf’s book is an excellent supplement as is provides hundreds of practice questions to get you up-to-speed. Although I did not use Barkley and Associates’ materials to study for my exam, I have heard they offer excellent NP certification study materials as well.
If you are disciplined and will do practice questions and review on your own, I do not think it is necessary to attend a live review course. I have heard many nurse practitioner students say that in live courses, instructors tell you what topics are most important to study for the exam, but you are still left review and learn the material on your own. NP students often feel their time would have been better spent studying a review book rather than paying hundreds of dollars to attend a live review session. My advice? Complete 20-50 practice questions each day depending on how much time you have before your exam. When you get a question wrong, review the material you have learned covering that topic to familiarize yourself. We look forward you officially joining the nurse practitioner community soon!
If you are a nurse practitioner, do you have any advice for NP students on effective methods for certification review?