Content Blueprint

Content Blueprint for PANCE & PANRE

The material on NCCPA's certification and recertification exams can be organized in two dimensions:

  1. Organ systems and the diseases, disorders and medical assessments physician assistants encounter within those systems; and

  2. The knowledge and skills physician assistants should exhibit when confronted with those diseases, disorders and assessments.

Please note that while the subject matter covered on the certification and recertification exams is the same, there is some difference in the nature of the questions on those exams. Generally, the questions on the initial certification exam are more specific, while questions on the recertification exam tend to address broader clinical issues. This difference is most apparent in the questions related to applying basic science concepts and reflects the different functions of the two exams.

Note: Because of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) publication, NCCPA will adapt its content blueprints, disease and disorder lists, and psychiatry-related terminology within test questions to conform to DSM-5 classifications and diagnostic criteria for all of our examinations beginning in 2015.

In NCCPA examinations, psychiatry-related terminology within test questions will include the DSM-5 terminology followed by the DSM-IV-TR terminology in parentheses. Example: illness anxiety disorder (hypochondriasis)

Based on delays in implementation of DSM-5 guidelines within the field of psychiatry, NCCPA will continue to present psychiatry-related terminology within test questions in the manner outlined above until further notice.

Click here for a pdf of the content blueprint.

ample NCCPA Questions & Critiques

PAs preparing for NCCPA's initial and recertifying exams have often asked the NCCPA about how the exam items are developed and should be answered. To help address that request, NCCPA has taken items removed from the item pool and created a tool for PAs. In the PDF document below, PAs can review sample NCCPA items and critiques written by NCCPA test committee members.

To review sample NCCPA questions and explanations regarding why the correct answer is correct and why the other answer choices are incorrect, please click here.

Practice Exams

Another tool to help you prepare for the NCCPA certifying and recertifying exams are the NCCPA practice exams. The online, 120-question practice exams allow PAs the opportunity to assess their relative strengths and weaknesses, to direct their study efforts and to familiarize themselves with the format and timing of the actual certifying examination. For more information about NCCPA practice exams, sign in to your personal certification record or click here to read our frequently asked questions about the practice exams.