Passing the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner certification exam is the key to entering practice if you’re graduating from your ACAGNP program this year. It’s standing between you and employment (i.e. a paycheck)…no pressure. If you haven’t already, odds are at some point, you’ll have a stressful thought or two about which exam to take and whether you’ll actually pass. What do the stats say about your decision?

Adult Gerontology Acute Care NPs must choose between two certifying bodies: 

  1. American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) – The ANCC awards the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified credential (AGACNP-BC). 
  2. American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) – The AACN awards the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certified – Adult Gerontology credential (ACNPC-AG).

In practice and as far as employment is concerned, it doesn’t make a difference which exam you take. Pass either, and you’re a certified Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner ready to apply for your license to practice. The initials behind your name may be a bit different depending on the certifying organization, but this difference simply reflects the board through which you’re certified, not a difference in scope of practice or ability.

So how do these two acute care certification exams compare and which exam are AGACNPs more likely to pass?

2018 Adult Gerontology Acute Care Certification Pass Rates

Test takers fare much better on the ANCC’s version of the Adult Gerontology NP certification exam, something to consider as you’re signing up to take the test. While pass rate is a consideration in selecting your certifying body, the information below will provide some additional context to help you out.


For the AACN exam, candidates who are also members of the AACN can take the test for $255; however non-members must pay $360 to take the test.

The cost to take the exam through the ANCC also depends on the candidate’s membership status, through the ANCC offers discounts for memberships with multiple entities as well. For non- members, the cost is $395; but for members of other recognized organizations, the cost ranges from $290 – $340.

Test Content & Length

The ACNPC-AG exam through the AACN consists of 175 multiple choice questions; of which only 150 are scored. 73% of the questions are based on clinical judgment related to nursing care of the adult-gerontology patient population. The remaining questions test candidates on non-clinical judgment knowledge with three major content dimensions including patient care problems, skills and procedures and validated competencies. Candidates have three and a half hours to complete the ACNPC-AG exam.

The AGACNP-BC certification exam through the ANCC is a bit more lengthy; comprised of 175 scored questions and 25 pretest questions. Candidates have four hours to answer all 200 questions. Only 46% of the ANCC exam is based on clinical practice. In addition, candidates are also tested on three other domains of practice like APRN core competencies, role-professional responsibility and health care systems.

Renewal Requirements

Both certifications are valid for five years, however their renewal requirements differ slightly. ACNPC-AGs have the option to renew in one of three ways; through practice hours and CE points, through practice hours, an exam, plus Pharmacology CE, or through CE points and an exam.

AGACNP-BCs are required to complete 75 continuing education hours (of which 25 hours must be for pharmacotherapeutics) as well as at least one of eight renewal categories as specified in the ANCC’s renewal requirement handbook in order to be eligible to renew their certification.

Which acute care nurse practitioner certification exam will you choose? 


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2 thoughts on “What’s the Pass Rate for the Acute Care NP Certification Exam?”

  • I recently passed the ANCC exam- honestly the easiest exam I have ever taken. I highly recommend the Barkley review. My exam was mostly the first 3 sections of his review book with quite a few neuro questions and pharmacology. Good luck!!

  • I took the ANCC exam- 2/2018 and was baffled by some of the questions. I could’ve been those “25 sample questions” but it was made to throw you off. Thankfully, Barkley was my saving grace. I hate to be biased and like for people to choose their own paths to make their own mistake but there was NO WAY I was going to pass my boards without help from his CD’s, online audio or $600 review course- with booklet. I did all 3 because I did not know better. Hopefully, my opinion can help others. All in all I passed and I am AGACNP-BC! c/o 2017

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