NCCPA's Information Service Representatives are available to answer your questions Mon - Fri, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (EST). To contact them please call  678-417-8100  or email them at NCCPA@nccpa.net

For a short period of time (less than 10 business days), PAs were unable to schedule exam administrations with Pearson VUE.  However, effective April 1 Pearson VUE opened up test delivery for PAs, as essential medical service providers, at a subset of Pearson VUE test centers across the United States. You will find information on this when you go to the NCCPA page for exam scheduling exam on the Pearson VUE web site.  As situations progress, more test centers open and some may need to close due to factors such as local government guidance, business operations, staff availability, and the supply of cleaning and disinfectant materials. Your health and safety are paramount for both NCCPA and Pearson VUE alike and more test centers will be available as soon as feasible based on the factors above.

Pearson VUE’s test centers are following government guidelines for social distancing and limiting the number of individuals, including staff, in the test center at any time. As a result of these measures, appointment availability will be extremely limited. Also, because the situation rapidly changes as this pandemic impacts different areas of our country, the list of open test centers may be revised as additional centers are added or as others close. Please continue to check for appointment availability often as Pearson VUE works to increase availability as quickly as possible. 

Yes, we are working closely with Pearson VUE to provide as many opportunities as possible for PAs to test in all centers that are open and able to provide the required security and standardization of testing experiences, as well as comply with requirements for candidate safety due to the COVID-19 crisis.  In the past, only the Pearson-owned and operated test centers were used to administer NCCPA’s exams.  We have collaborated with Pearson VUE to also add additional centers that contract with Pearson VUE to administer exams without compromising on standardized administrations or exam security.  When you search for a test center option, all available test centers will be displayed.

To find an available center, go to pearsonvue.com and log in to your account. Only open centers will appear in your search.  Not all test centers are immediately open due to factors such as local government guidance, business operations, staff availability and the sufficient supply of cleaning and disinfectant materials. Pearson VUE’s priority is to provide test delivery in as safe of an environment as possible, and more test centers will be available as soon as feasible based on staff availability, cleaning and disinfectant supplies, and local government guidance.

Some states have implemented rules that all but essential business must close. As an enabling business for essential service workers, Pearson VUE is trying to open more test centers.  In order for a test center to be operational, there are additional factors such as staff availability and the sufficient supply of cleaning and disinfectant materials. More centers will be opened as soon as possible based on volunteer staff, solving supply logistics and navigating government guidelines.

Some centers that were open have had to close or it may be that your center had to reschedule candidates due to the social distancing requirements for candidate safety.  Instead of canceling your exam, Pearson VUE has assigned it to a date 30 days out from your original date and at temporary placeholder test center.  If you receive this notice from Pearson VUE, please take action as soon as possible.  You will need to reschedule your appointment for the date and center of your preference before those 30 days expire. 

Pearson VUE makes every attempt to reach out to candidates are impacted by changes at test centers.  However, we strongly advise you to refer to the Coronavirus Update Page of Pearson VUE’s web site frequently and to log into your personal record at Pearson VUE to check on any potential changes to your exam.  You should also try to call your test center a couple of days before testing to confirm that the center is open and whether there are any additional requirements for testing. Doing this prior to your testing day may help avoid unnecessary issues or surprises for you at the test center. 

Some accommodations requests, like time extensions for shorter exams, can be completed via our website. However, if you require a separate room, a third-party resource or physical equipment for your appointment, you need to contact our accommodations team to schedule a new appointment. Candidates in the U.S., Canada, and South America should call 1-800-466-0450. Candidates in the rest of the world should send an email to apacaccommodations@pearson.com with the following information: Candidate ID, test program name, preferred test center and test date. Please allow 2-3 business days for a response.

You are absolutely correct!  Situations can still change rapidly depending on state and local government requirements and Pearson VUE’s ability to provide adequate staff and sanitation for test centers.  Please be sure to check your emails frequently and pay close attention to all messages you receive from Pearson VUE and NCCPA, as they may contain important and time sensitive information about your scheduled exam. 

YEScandidates are required to wear facial masks at all Pearson VUE test centers. You must bring a mask with you at your scheduled exam appointment or you will not be able to test. Please note, candidates will be asked to briefly remove the mask during the check-in process to verify identity and take a photo. 

 

In addition, Pearson VUE’s test centers are following government guidelines for social distancing and limiting the number of individuals, including staff, in the test center at any time.  They are cleaning and disinfecting the open test centers, including objects that candidates interact with, such as scanners, keyboards, and locker fobs with increased frequency and between each test taker.  You are also allowed to wear protective gloves during your exam appointment, if you wish to do so.   

Pearson VUE makes every attempt to reach out to candidates who may be impacted by changes as they occur.  However, we strongly advise you to refer to the Coronavirus Update Page of Pearson VUE’s web site frequently, especially as your exam day approaches, to look for any pertinent information that may apply to you.  Also, please log into your personal record at Pearson VUE to check on any updates that may be posted regarding your exam administration. You should also try to call your test center a couple of days before your scheduled date to confirm that the center is open and whether there are any additional requirements for testing. Doing this prior to your testing day may help avoid unnecessary issues or surprises for you at the test center.   

 

You will need to contact the accommodations services at Pearson VUE directly to schedule or reschedule your exam appointment, and you  will need to provide your candidate ID, the name of the exam you are registered for (PANCE or PANRE), and your preferred test date and center.  For exams in the U.S., Canada, and South American the number for these services is 1-800-466-0450.  Candidates in the rest of the world should send an email to apacaccommodations@pearson.com. Please allow 2-3 business days for a response.

The foundational principles on which the Pilot format and system were developed were specifically relevant to the purpose of a longitudinal recertification process designed to help PAs demonstrate medical knowledge, identify knowledge gaps, and hopefully help close those gaps over the period in which the assessment is administered.  It is considered an “assessment for learning,” unlike PANCE that is considered an “assessment of learning.”  Upon graduation, PAs sit for PANCE to demonstrate that they have acquired the knowledge and skills deemed necessary for entry to PA practice.

In addition to these foundational differences, the PANCE questions have not been developed for the Pilot-type administration, and any exam content administered in the online, at-home format is considered to be exposed and would not be used again on exams administered at test centers. Lastly, extensive revisions would be needed to the technology system in order for it be re-purposed for other uses.

The foundational principles on which the Pilot format and system were developed were specifically relevant to the purpose of a longitudinal recertification process designed to help PAs demonstrate medical knowledge, identify knowledge gaps, and hopefully help close those gaps over the period in which the assessment is administered.  At the end of each quarter, analyses are conducted, comments PAs provide on any items are reviewed, and work is needed to queue up the unique set of questions that will be administered to each individual PA in the following quarter.  There is a small window of time between the end of one quarter and published start date of the next to ensure that all of these processes are performed with appropriate quality assurance verifications.  In addition, as part of the accreditation process with the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, NCCPA was required to provide detailed information on how the Pilot would be administered. Modifying the processes and system to allow PAs to complete the remaining questions for the year would not be consistent with the principles of the longitudinal process, would make it impossible to conduct the analyses needed to make the Pilot as meaningful for PAs as possible, and would not be in compliance with information reported to the NCCA for our national accreditation.

We understand that personal and professional circumstances may impede your ability to focus on competing demands, at this time. As we’ve shared, PILOT is a time sensitive program that terminates at the end of this year and will help inform the Board’s thinking about PANRE after PILOT. Consequently, it is essential that we open each quarter on schedule and complete the Pilot in 2020. We encourage you to please do your best to complete as many questions as possible each quarter, as soon as possible. Please don’t wait until the last minute. PAs have been making great progress on this quarter’s Pilot questions, and the NCCPA staff will continue to monitor participation as the quarter progresses.  Last quarter, one week was added to the deadline, and we will keep you informed if this quarter’s deadline is extended due to the unusual circumstances many PAs are experiencing due to the COVID-19 crisis.

NCCPA considers exceptions to Policy (ETP) based on extenuating circumstances. If you have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and are unable to meet requirements outside of what NCCPA has already provided, you may submit an ETP. Please note, it is at NCCPA’s discretion to grant or deny requests and submitting an ETP does not guarantee approval. Supporting documentation will be required in order to consider an ETP. For detailed information on submitting an ETP, click here.

Due to the limited number of test centers that have reopened and the limited number of testing appointments available, the current plan is to maintain the September administration of the CAQs for this year and go back to the Spring and Fall administrations next year.  If you applied for the Spring 2020 administration and have not requested a transfer of your application to the September administration, you may do so by sending an email to examadmin@nccpa.net or specialty CAQ@nccpa.net.

Our Board of Directors and staff are closely monitoring this rapidly changing situation and the impact on Certified PAs. Many CME providers are offering opportunities to earn CME credits through online resources and virtual conferences.  Some providers are postponing conferences for dates later this year. Please continue to  research opportunities to earn CME credits from your education providers and   continue to check our website for news and announcements related to COVID-19.

NCCPA considers exceptions to policy (ETP) based on extenuating circumstances. If you have been directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and are unable to meet requirements outside of what NCCPA has already provided, you may submit an ETP. Please note, it is at NCCPA’s discretion to grant or deny requests and submitting an ETP does not guarantee approval. Supporting documentation will be required in order to consider an ETP. For detailed information on submitting an ETP, click here.

PA practice is regulated by licensing boards in each state. (PAs in the military undergo a federal privilege process.) In most states, PA licenses are issued through the medical board; although in some states, PAs are licensed through osteopathic and physician assistant licensing boards. Each state determines the requirements needed to obtain and maintain licensure for that state.  You may contact the state in which you plan to obtain licensure to obtain information about their licensure requirements.

NCCPA has been informed that some states grant temporary licenses for PAs.  Requirements for PA licenses, including provision and temporary licenses, are regulated by each state licensing board. Current situations surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic may have also caused states to revise their requirements for licensure. You should contact your state licensing board directly for more detailed information on licensure requirements, particularly during the national emergency.

You can read additional information here.

Although we understand your desire as a new graduate to obtain certification as soon as possible after graduation, that is not possible without passing PANCE.  Pearson VUE’s decision to close test centers was based on concern for the safety and well-being of candidates who test at their centers and the recent requirements and recommendations by federal, state, and local governments. This decision was made in light of the current health care pandemic, which has temporarily impacted PAs’ ability to sit for PANCE at least until April 16 and potentially longer.  NCCPA is working with Pearson to reinstate testing as soon as possible.  It is likely that any initial test center re-openings would be on a limited scale, and we will keep PAs informed of any new development.

NCCPA staff and Board of Directors appreciate PAs’ concerns with the delay and the shared desire of recent graduates to become licensed as soon as possible after completing their PA programs. Presently, there are no alternatives available until the centers reopen.  As a national certification body responsible for the integrity of the examination programs for the PA profession it is important to maintain the standardization and security that the Pearson centers provide for all PANCE administrations.  Demonstrating a baseline of medical knowledge by passing an exam that has been developed and administered in compliance with industry standards is the basis for earning initial PA certification.

Medical licensure and regulation are governed at the state level. We have been informed that some states issue temporary licenses or limited permits, under certain conditions, especially in situations like the one we are currently experiencing, with the federal and many state governments having declared a state of emergency. We recommend that any PAs seeking licensure should contact the licensing body in their respective state to find out if there are options available.  You can find additional information on state licensure and temporary licenses on the AAPA website.

Due to the COVID- 19 pandemic, NCCPA may be able to approve a PA’s request for an Exception to Policy (ETP) for certification to be reinstated, without taking PANRE to regain certification, if the certification expired on January 31, 2020, for not logging CME credits and/or remitting a fee.  NOTE: If certification expired due to not passing PANRE, PAs must regain certification by taking and passing PANRE. For detailed information on submitting an ETP, click here.  

Although we commend your desire to help with the current crisis, we cannot reinstate your certification until you meet the requirements, which would include earning/logging Continuing Medical Education credits and passing PANRE. 

Medical licensure and regulation are governed at the state level. We have been informed that some states issue temporary licenses or limited permits, under certain conditions, especially in situations like the one we are currently experiencing, with the federal and many state governments having declared a state of emergency. We recommend that any PAs seeking to regain certification so that they can apply for licensure should contact the licensing body in their respective state to find out if there are options available, such as a temporary license or limited permit.

NCCPA is unable to reinstate certification following a non-permanent revocation without re-establishing eligibility for NCCPA certification. We appreciate and understand your desire to help during this national emergency. However, in order to re-establish eligibility for NCCPA certification, you must meet the requirements and submit an application for re-establishment. Click here and visit Section II. D. for more detailed information regarding the requirements for re-establishment.

The passing rate for PAs who participated in the Pilot for the full eight quarters was slightly over 97%. Approximately 98% of the PAs who started the Pilot remained in the process for the full two years.

A panel of PAs from a variety of practice settings, specialties, geographic and other demographic characteristics were convened to develop a recommendation for the passing score. This process ensures that the passing standard is based on input from your professional peers and reflective of PA practice. The panel’s recommendation was approved by the NCCPA Board of Directors. As with all other NCCPA exams, the passing standard is not set on a curve with some predetermined percent of PAs to pass or fail.

Although information was provided to you for your performance in each quarter, you are not required to be above the passing standard for each quarter. The pass/fail decision is based on your cumulative performance for all quarters.

PAs participating in the Pilot had access to the questions and critiques throughout the entire two-year Pilot period. When the scores were processed, access to the Pilot questions and critiques was removed. This was done to provide a level of consistency in the feedback for all candidates taking a recertification exam, regardless of whether it was PANRE or the Pilot. The performance reports for all NCCPA exams, including the Pilot, provide candidates with keyword feedback on questions that were answered incorrectly.

Congratulations! You have met the recertification requirement for this cycle.  Please log into your personal certification record to determine if you have any other certification maintenance requirements (like CME or fees) that are outstanding. Your personal certification record will also tell you when your next recertification exam will be due.

If you were enrolled in the Pilot at the end of the final quarter but did not pass, your NCCPA certification will be extended through December 31, 2021. In order to remain certified, you must take and pass PANRE and fulfill any additional certification maintenance requirements prior to your certification expiration date. Your personal certification record will provide information on specific requirements, and you may also want to visit NCCPA’s web page for additional information on PANRE at www.nccpa.net/panre-eligibility.

Breaches of NCCPA’s Code of Conduct may be cause for disciplinary review. Disciplinary actions taken at the conclusion of that review may include a letter of concern, formal censures, permanent and non-permanent revocation of certification and/or eligibility for certification, or revocation of PA-C Emeritus designation or eligibility for the designation, and/or other actions deemed appropriate by NCCPA, including, but not limited to, administrative suspension, order the PA to retake an exam at a time and place and in a format determined by NCCPA, removal from participation in the Alternative to PANRE Pilot, refuse to release exam scores, deny an application for certification, recertification, or Certificate of Added Qualification, revoke a Certification of Added Qualification, recommend to NCCPA’s Board of Directors that legal action be taken.

Disciplinary actions such as censures and revocations will be reported to the Federation of State Medical Boards and any state licensing authority or the federal government. They may also be reported to the PA’s employer, and other interested parties, including individuals seeking information about the PA’s certification or PA-C Emeritus designation, as solely determined by the NCCPA and in compliance with NCCPA’s Information Disclosure policy.

NCCPA retains the right to impose discipline under its Policies and Procedures for PA Disciplinary Matters even if the PA’s certification expires or the PA retires from practice, provided that the violation triggering the disciplinary proceeding occurred when the PA was certified, seeking certification, or applying for or holding the PA-C Emeritus designation.

Certified PAs, PAs seeking certification, and PAs with the PA-C Emeritus designation may be subject to disciplinary action for matters stemming from irregular behavior; fraudulent credentials; legal, regulatory and credentialing actions; or violation of the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants(NCCPA) Code of Conduct for Certified and Certifying PAs and PAs with the PA-C Emeritus Designation (the "Code of Conduct). These matters may be related or unrelated to physician assistant practice.

In accordance with NCCPA’s Policies and Procedures for PA Disciplinary Matters, PA’s are required to report to NCCPA any adverse regulatory or credentialing actions, within 30 days of issuance and any adverse legal actions within 30 days of conviction of any felony or misdemeanor, including a guilty plea or no contest plea. For more information, refer to section I.A.3 of NCCPA’s disciplinary policy.

While we provide confirmation of the receipt of a complaint, NCCPA has the sole discretion to determine which complaints should be pursued, how they should be pursued, and what action, if any, should be taken, in accordance with NCCPA’s Policies and Procedures for PA Disciplinary Matters. The outcome of NCCPA's review of a complaint may or may not be made public.

If your certification has been revoked non-permanently, you may request reestablishment of your eligibility for NCCPA certification if you meet the requirements for reestablishment outlined in Section II.D. of NCCPA’s Policies and Procedures for PA Disciplinary Matters.

The PA-C and Physician Assistant-Certified marks are legally protected and can only be used by PA’s who are currently certified by NCCPA. It the responsibility of the PA to discontinue use of this designation if they have lost certification and inform their state medical board, employer, and other interested parties that they are no longer certified. Students graduating from a PA Program but have not yet passed PANCE are not eligible to use this designation until such time that they have obtained NCCPA certification. Use of these marks when not certified may result in disciplinary and/or legal action by NCCPA.

If NCCPA determines that a reportable disciplinary action should be taken the Notice of Adverse Decision shall inform the PA that the PA may accept the disciplinary action or submit a timely Request for Review in accordance with NCCPA’s Review and Appeal Policies and Procedures.

You do not need to report actions/incidents that have been previously viewed by NCCPA. Although you may receive the background questions during each renewal, you will only be required to report new incidents to NCCPA not those previously reviewed.

You are not required to report any incidents that occurred and were resolved prior to your entry into the PA Program. It is suggested that those incidents be reported directly to your PA Program.

In accordance with the policies for CAQ, NCCPA may revoke a CAQ when probation or other terms and conditions are placed on a PAs state license or ability to practice. To become eligible for a CAQ and remain eligible, you must hold a current and unencumbered PA license.

You may use the Verify PA Certification page to verify the current status of a PA’s certification. If you find that a PAs certification has been revoked, you may submit a request for additional information. Requests for additional information will be processed in compliance with NCCPA’s Information Disclosure Policy.

A PA must possess either (1) a valid, unrestricted license to practice as a PA in at least one jurisdiction in the United States or its territories or (2) unrestricted privileges to practice as a PA for a government agency. Further, if more than one PA license or government agency privilege is held, all of them must be valid and unrestricted. These requirements are described in greater detail in the eligibility section of the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program.

PAs must submit the required information for any and all state licenses and/or government agency privileges that they hold. Further, if they have more than one PA license or government agency privilege, all of them must be valid and unrestricted. If NCCPA determines that a PA has submitted incomplete or inaccurate information regarding state licenses and/or government agency privilege, the PA may be subject to disciplinary review.

Physician assistants must provide information on all licenses and federal privileges to practice that are held by the physician assistant, and the licenses and federal privileges must be in compliance with the criteria listed in the eligibility section of the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program. The status of all licenses and federal privileges to practice will be verified by NCCPA. A physician assistant registering for the CAQ process agrees to provide NCCPA with any and all requested information and the authority to request and receive further information to verify the license and/or federal privilege status. If, for any reason, the license and/or federal privilege to practice cannot be verified by NCCPA, the physician assistant may be deemed ineligible for the CAQ program. This information must be provided using the Licenses/Privileges link on their online record.

PAs must also attest to the statement, “I certify that my state license is active, unencumbered, and unrestricted and that the information above is true and correct."

PAs must provide information on all licenses and federal privileges to practice that are held by the PA, and the licenses and federal privileges must be in compliance with the criteria listed in the eligibility section of the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications ProgramThe status of all licenses and federal privileges to practice will be verified by NCCPA. A PA registering for the CAQ process agrees to provide NCCPA with any and all requested information and the authority to request and receive further information to verify the license and/or federal privilege status. If, for any reason, the license and/or federal privilege to practice cannot be verified by NCCPA, the PA may be deemed ineligible for the CAQ program. This information is entered through the Licenses/Privileges link on the CAQ section of their online record.

PAs must also attest that the federal/government privilege provided is active, unencumbered, and unrestricted and that the information is true and correct and that they acknowledge that their employer or previous employer must provide proof of the privilege by supplying documentation to NCCPA.'


In addition, PAs must request that the government agency provide NCCPA with verification of the privilege status.

PAs can download a template from our web site to be completed by the government agency and returned to NCCPA as verification of the government agency privilege.

Yes. CME credits that have been logged for a PA's PA-C certification maintenance may also be used for earning and maintaining a CAQ, if they also meet the CAQ CME requirements.

For the initial CAQ, PAs must log 150 credits of Category 1 CME that is focused on their specialty and earned within six years prior to when they apply for the CAQ exam, and at least 50 of those credits must have been earned within two years of applying for the exam. Each specialty also has specific CME requirements and recommendations. These requirements are listed in the Appendix section of the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program.

For meeting the CME requirement to earn the initial CAQ, the 75 credits of Category 1 CME must have been earned within six years prior to applying for the CAQ exam, and 25 of those credits must have been earned within two years of applying for the exam.

For CAQ maintenance, the 125 CME credits must be earned within the current ten-year CAQ cycle.

These requirements are listed in the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program.

No. The exam does not qualify as a CME activity.

Preparing for a CAQ exam can be logged on an hour-for-hour basis as Category 2 CME for maintaining PA-C certification. Category 2 credits are not required or accepted for maintenance of the CAQ.

No. The pilot application registration window closed on June 30, 2018. There are no eligibility exceptions.

Requests for exceptions to the eligibility and/or participation requirements for Pilot are not considered, even if there are extenuating circumstances. However, those who are withdrawn from the Pilot due to their inability to meet the requirements, will be given a one-year extension to take the traditional PANRE.

You must graduate from a PA program accredited by ARC-PA or one of its predecessors in order to become eligible to sit for the initial certifying exam, PANCE. NCCPA does not entertain requests for exceptions to this policy as an ETP.

Requests for recertification extensions may be submitted as early as January of your recertification year. Requests for extensions of PANCE Eligibility must be submitted after all attempts or years have been exhausted, whichever occurs sooner. All other requests may be submitted and considered at any time.

As provided in NCCPA’s policy for ETP’s, financial hardship does not qualify as an extenuating circumstance; unless it is related to an extenuating circumstance.

You may request a second extension if you are experiencing a new circumstance not already considered or if your extenuating circumstance continues to be an obstacle or has worsened since the previous extension was granted.

Submitting medical records are not required and are discouraged. Supporting documentation for a medical issue may be provided through a letter from a treating provider.

Note: All circumstances must be supported with the submission of verifiable supporting documentation. The circumstance must have occurred during the timeframe in question and must have impacted your ability to complete one or more of NCCPA’s requirements. 

You may refer to the policies and procedures for ETPs for more detailed information on submission of ETP requests and supporting documents.

Successfully graduate from an academic program accredited by ARC-PA or one of its predecessors. Today, there's no other way to gain PANCE eligibility.

You can take PANCE once in a 90-day period or three times a year, whichever is fewer - this applies to all applicants.

Individuals who graduated from an ARC-PA accredited physician assistant program on or after January 1, 2003, are eligible to take PANCE for up to six years after completing the requirements for graduation from that program. During that six-year period, the examination may be taken a maximum of six times. When either the six attempts or six years is exhausted, whichever occurs sooner, the individual loses eligibility to take PANCE. The only way to establish new eligibility to take PANCE is to enter into and complete an unabridged ARC-PA accredited physician assistant educational program.

There is a 90-day waiting period between retakes of the same examination.

To request an eligibility letter, sign in to your online record and choose Certification Info Release from the left-hand menu bar, email us your request (including your name, NCCPA ID number and to whom it should be sent) or fax or mail your request.

Within 3 – 5 days after your application is processed and completed, you'll receive an exam acknowledgement email from NCCPA with instructions on how to schedule your exam.


A list of available exam dates will not be available until you have received your exam acknowledgement email. However, a list of Pearson VUE exam locations is available at http://www.pearsonvue.com/nccpa/

Yes, the normal labs value for healthy adults comes up in a separate screen when the examinee clicks “Lab Values”. Some questions may contain laboratory values that are not included in the separate “Lab Values” screen. In those cases, the appropriate normal range is provided in parentheses within the text of the question.

The generic name of a drug is always provided. The trade name is provided in parenthesis after the generic name of the drug only if it is deemed necessary by NCCPA.

No, K questions are no longer on the exam.

You will be notified by email when the results are posted to your online record (approximately two weeks after your exam date). 

No. You must graduate from a PA program accredited by ARC-PA or one of its predecessors.

**Even if you have earned a medical degree from another country, you must still graduate from an accredited PA program to take PANCE.

Details for the experience requirement are provided in the Appendix of the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program. The number of experience hours required varies by specialty and was developed with input from PAs and physicians working in the specialty. The experience hours must have been acquired during the six-year period prior to when the PA provides their attestation of the experience to NCCPA. Volunteer work and clinical experience gained in a post-graduate training program may also be counted for this requirement. The hours do not have to be congruent, but they must have occurred within the six-year period prior to your attestation. PAs selected for an audit will be required to provide documentation of their experience.

Please refer to the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program for more detailed information on this requirement.

To fulfill the experience requirement, PAs must sign in to their online record at www.nccpa.net, and pay the $100 registration fee (if they have not already done so). Then they will need to read the attestation statement regarding the experience requirement and click on the button to attest that they have earned the required hours of experience within the previous six years.

The experience requirement for each specialty was developed based on recommendations from physicians and PAs practicing in each specialty.

The new 10-year certification maintenance cycle will include five, two-year CME cycles. Every two-year cycle, you will need to earn and log 100 CME credits, including 50 Category 1 credits. You will need pass PANRE by the end of your 10th year instead of the 6th year. You will have the option to take it year early in the 9th year.

Your CME credits should be earned and logged by 11:59 p.m. PT, December 31 of your certification expiration year along with submitting the certification maintenance fee. Sign in to your personal certification record to view any outstanding requirements and upcoming deadlines.

NCCPA accepts Category 1 CME credit for activities designated by the AMA PRA Category 1 Credit from organizations accredited by the ACCME. Acceptable supporting documentation for Category 1 credits includes certificates,  a hospital-generated list or transcript of CME activities attended,  or written verification of attendance of credits earned from the accredited provider. The documentation should indicate the PA’s name,  name of the accredited ACCME organization, title and date of the CME activity, and the number of credits designated for Category 1 Credit. If the documentation does not state this information, the CME activity should be logged as Category 2 CME.

Sign into your personal record and follow these steps. 

CME credits cannot be transferred from a closed cycle to a new cycle. If there is a special circumstance requiring the transfer of credits between cycles, a request must be sent to cme@nccpa.net.

Credits earned on or after May 1 of your current certification expiration year can be transferred to the next cycle, if both of the following conditions exist:

  1. Both cycles are currently open, and
  2. CME credits were completed on or after May 1st of the current year. (For example, a PA who expires December 31, 2021 can log for both 2019 – 2021 and 2021 – 2023 cycles on and after May 1st of 2021.)

Taking an NCCPA exam does not qualify for Category 1 CME credit. However, you may claim your studying, preparation, and reading time for Category 2 CME credit.

Simply log the exact number of credits earned according to your certificate with up to two decimal places (i.e., 1.75, 2.5, etc).

The maximum number of Category 1 credits that you can earn as an instructor is included in the list of certification programs. However, you may only log those instructor credits once each year (or twice per logging cycle) regardless of how many times you actually teach the course. Additional, duplicative instructing activities may be logged for Category 2 credit based on the number of hours spent preparing for and teaching the course.

The ATLS course does count for Category 1 (Preapproved) CME credit even though you did not receive a card or certificate for completing the course. You should have received a "letter of audit" indicating that you attended the course. If you are audited by NCCPA, the letter of audit (with a date listed) from the CME provider will be sufficient documentation of the activity.

You can earn Category 1 credit for delivering lectures to PA students or other medical professionals if the attendees receive documentation that the activity is approved for Category 1 credit. If the lecture was not preapproved for Category 1 credit, you can log time spent preparing for and delivering the lecture as Category 2 credit. Category 2 CME is earned on an hour-for-hour basis.

There are no maximums on the number of credits that you can earn for any Category 2 activity. All Category 2 credits are earned on an hour-for-hour basis.

The activity start and end dates are the dates the provider list on documentation as the date the activity began and ended.

Category 2 CME is any medically related activity that enhances the role of a PA (including journal reading). If you serve on committees at the local, state or national level that meet those qualifications, you may log the time you spend on committee work for Category 2 credit.

CME earning windows always open on May 1. You can begin earning and logging CME credits for your next cycle on May 1 during the certification expiration year of your current cycle.

Sign in to your online portal at www.nccpa.net/sign-in. Select the CME menu. Under the CME Details tab, select the appropriate CME Cycle Year to view the transcript. If you desire to print the transcript, select the Print button.

NCCPA provides the option to upload Category 1 CME documentation during the logging process; however, you should keep your Category 1 CME documentation for your current CME cycle and your last CME cycle in case you are audited and additional information is needed. For example, if you are currently on the 2019-2021 CME cycle, you need to keep that documentation and the 2017-2019 CME cycle documentation. NCCPA does not audit Category 2 CME.

Check with your state medical board regarding their individual auditing and documentation requirements.

Acceptable supporting documentation includes certificates received upon completion of an activity from the CME provider, a hospital-generated list of programs attended, or written verification of attendance or credits earned from the provider of a CME activity. Other documentation may be considered at the discretion of NCCPA. Acceptable documentation for Category 1 credits should state that the activity has been approved by one of our four CME sponsors (AMA, AAPA, AAFP, AOA, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC), the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), or the Physician Assistant Certification Council of Canada (PACCC)). There should also be a statement indicating the number of Category 1 credits awarded for the individual activity. If the documentation you have for a Category 1 activity does not state this information, the activity cannot be considered Category 1 CME.

NCCPA will accept a copy of the card you received, a certificate of attendance or written verification of attendance or credits earned from the provider of the certificate program.

In instances where the certificate shows the credits earned as “contact hours” or “CEU” credit, the certificate of completion accreditation statement will be thoroughly reviewed to determine Category 1 CME credit eligibility.

Please note: In most cases, NCCPA does not accept Category 1 CME credit for activities that award contact hours or CEU credit. However, these activities are approved for Category 2 CME credit.

Details for the procedures/patient case requirement are provided in the Appendix of the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program. The procedure/patient case requirement varies by specialty and was developed with input from PAs and physicians working in the specialty. In support of this requirement, PAs must provide an attestation from a physician, lead/senior physician assistant, or physician/physician assistant post graduate program director who works in the specialty and is familiar with the PA's practice and experience. The attestation of knowledge and skills must indicate that the PA has performed the procedures and patient management relevant to the practice setting and/or understands how and when the procedures should be performed.

Please refer to the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program for more detailed information on this requirement.

To submit the procedure/patient case requirement, PAs must sign in to their online record and pay the $100 registration fee (if they have not already done so). Then they will need to read the attestation statement regarding the procedure/patient case requirement and click on the button to attest that they have satisfied the requirement.

PAs will then need to acknowledge that they must also provide an attestation from a physician, lead/senior physician assistant, or physician/physician assistant post graduate program director who works in the specialty and is familiar with their practice and experience. The attestation of knowledge and skills must indicate that the PA has performed the procedures and patient management relevant to the practice setting and/or understands how and when the procedures should be performed. PAs can print a form to present to their by clicking here. The attestation  of knowledge and skills must be submitted to NCCPA.

To ensure the accuracy and professionalism of CME logging and to strengthen the value of the PA-C, NCCPA randomly audits the Category 1 CME credits of certified PAs. To complete the CME audit, randomly selected PAs must submit supporting documentation for at least 50 Category 1 credits logged during the cycle for which they are being audited.

PAs being audited are selected by a completely random process. There is nothing that you did or didn't do that "caused" you to be selected for the audit.

NCCPA audits PAs for a two-year certification maintenance cycle. PAs chosen to be audited will be notified during the year after the PAs previous cycle has ended. A PA could be selected for the audit for up to an entire year after their previous cycle has ended. It is very important for PAs to keep their Category 1 documentation for at least one full year after their two-year certification maintenance cycle has ended. For example: PAs who were audited for the 2013-2015 cycle are notified in 2016.

PAs selected for the NCCPA CME Audit will be notified by the email address and the physical address that we have in your record. Please log into your PA Portal at nccpa.net to ensure that your contact information is accurate.

NCCPA will provide you with a CME Audit Transcript that will list all Category 1 activities logged for the cycle being audited. This transcript will be included in the emailed and mailed notifications sent to you.

Six weeks is the standard amount of time allotted to submit your documentation for the audit. Your exact deadline will be listed in both the emailed and mailed notification correspondence sent to you and will be posted under your "CME" tab, which you can access by signing in to your personal certification record at our website, www.nccpa.net.

If you have a severe and extenuating circumstance which has prohibited you from providing the requested documentation in support of your Category 1 credits, you may request an extension to submit your documentation. NCCPA can grant a one-time only 30-day extension of your original audit deadline. Extensions for longer periods of time cannot be granted. To request an extension of your audit deadline, please submit a written request within the six-week period given to respond to the audit explaining your situation and include any supporting documentation you may have concerning your severe and extenuating circumstance. Requests must be received before the six-week deadline passes. This request can be mailed, faxed (678.417.8135) or emailed to audit@nccpa.net. Be sure to include your name and NCCPA identification number on the request.

If NCCPA has a valid email address on record, you will receive an official letter via email. If we do not have a valid email address on record, an official letter will be sent via postal mail to the mailing address we have on record for you. The letter will state your new audit deadline date.

Acceptable supporting documentation includes certificates received upon completion of an activity from the CME provider, a hospital-generated list of programs attended, or written verification of attendance or credits earned from the provider of a CME activity. Other documentation may be considered at the discretion of NCCPA. Acceptable documentation for Category 1 credits should state that the activity has been approved by one of our four CME sponsors (AMA, AAPA, AAFP, AOA, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC), the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), or the Physician Assistant Certification Council of Canada (PACCC)). There should also be a statement indicating the number of Category 1 credits awarded for the individual activity. If the documentation you have for a Category 1 activity does not state this information, the activity cannot be considered Category 1 CME.

NCCPA will accept a copy of the card you received, a certificate of attendance or written verification of attendance or credits earned from the provider of the certificate program.

In instances where the certificate shows the credits earned as “contact hours” or “CEU” credit, the certificate of completion accreditation statement will be thoroughly reviewed to determine Category 1 CME credit eligibility.

Please note: In most cases, NCCPA does not accept Category 1 CME credit for activities that award contact hours or CEU credit. However, these activities are approved for Category 2 CME credit.

"Confirmed" credits are Category 1 credits that NCCPA has received documentation for or Category 1 credits logged through the Conference Logging System. Since these credits have already been confirmed as Category 1, no additional supporting documentation is required.

Supporting documentation can be mailed (12000 Findley Road, Suite 100, Johns Creek, GA 30097), faxed (678.417.8135) or emailed to audit@nccpa.net. Be sure to include your name and NCCPA identification number on all materials.

It takes approximately 7-10 business days for NCCPA to complete an audit. Once your documentation has been reviewed, if we cannot verify at least 50 Category 1 credits, we will notify you via email (or telephone, if you do not have a valid email address on record). NOTE: It is strictly the PAs responsibility to check the status of their audit to ensure NCCPA has received the appropriate documentation.

Sign in to your personal certification record at www.nccpa.net and click on "CME" in the left-hand menu bar then choose "CME Audit Information".

Yes. Additional Category 1 CME credits can be submitted to meet the audit requirements as long as the credits have not been previously logged to meet certification maintenance requirements and the credits were earned within the earning window of the cycle that is being audited. Acceptable documentation will have to be submitted in order to have these credits applied to the audited cycle.

PAs who are unable to submit supporting documentation for at least 50 Category 1 credits will fail the CME audit. Review the CME Audit policy here.

NCCPA will send an official email to you once your audit has been completed. If we do not have a valid email address, an official letter will be mailed to the address we have on record for you.

PAs who fail the audit because they reported Category 1 CME credits that could not be substantiated, that were erroneously reported as Category 1 activities, or that were incorrectly categorized as self-assessment or performance improvement CME will retain certification but will be audited again during the next two-year certification maintenance cycle and will be subject to the following additional requirements which must be completed prior to the expiration of their current two-year NCCPA certification including:

  1. Any Category 1 credits that could not be substantiated must be replaced with valid, appropriately-documented Category 1 credits.

  2. A Re-audit Fee must be paid.

In the second audit, PAs are required to submit appropriate documentation to NCCPA as they log their Category 1 and 2 CME credits. This documentation includes certificates of completion (for Category 1 CME credits), and all CME must be logged on an NCCPA paper logging form. If all required CME credits (including replacement credits) are not earned, logged and documented before the end of the certification expiration year, certification will lapse.

PAs who successfully maintain certification during the second audit, including completing the requirements specified above for the failed audit, will also be subject to an additional audit of their Category 1 credits in at least one of their next three certification maintenance cycles.

The CAQ exams consist of 120 questions. PAs are provided with two hours of exam time, 15 minutes of break time and 15 minutes to take the tutorial.

The exam is currently offered twice a year. Information regarding exam administrations is available on the Specialty CAQ page of our web site.

Just like the PANCE and PANRE, the CAQ exams will be offered at Pearson VUE centers that are located throughout the U.S. and in select other countries. PAs can take the exam at a Pearson VUE location of their choice, based on availability.

The examination consists of 120 multiple-choice questions related to the specific specialty and targeted for PAs who have experience in the practice of that specialty. Content blueprints for each exam were developed using data gathered from NCCPA's most recent practice analysis. PAs can access the blueprints on NCCPA's Web site by clicking on the following link and then selecting the specialty of their choice.

If a PA fails the exam, he/she can apply for the next exam administration. Information regarding CAQ exam administrations is available at www.nccpa.net/Specialty-CAQs. Currently there are no limits on the number of times a PA can take the CAQ exam. However, the PA must pass the exam within six years of initiating the CAQ process or he/she will be required to start the process anew. Unsuccessful examinees may apply for a subsequent exam but must continue to meet the Certificate of Added Qualifications eligibility requirements described above at the time of their next application.

The CAQ exams are offered twice a year. If a PA fails the exam, he/she may register to take the next administration. Information regarding CAQ administrations is available at www.nccpa.net/Specialty-CAQs.

Yes, we offer Practice Exams for all CAQs. To read about Practice Exams, click here.

After your exam application has been processed and completed, you will receive an acknowledgement email providing details for scheduling the exam with Pearson VUE.

Specialty CME and the experience requirements must be met prior to applying for and taking the CAQ exam. In addition, PAs must also meet the basic requirements for licensure and have a current PA-C status. The procedures/patient case can be submitted up to 90 days after taking the exam.

In most cases, you would have to wait until the next administration to take the exam. However, if such a situation occurs, NCCPA may offer a make-up exam date depending on the extenuating circumstance and the number of PAs affected.

Yes. To maintain a CAQ, PAs must continue to meet the current PA-C and licensure and/or government agency requirements, earn and log at least 125 credits of Category 1 CME focused on the specialty over the ten-year cycle, and pass the CAQ exam prior to the expiration of their current ten-year cycle. (The CME hours may also be used to satisfy the PA-C requirements.)

No, the CAQ exam does not replace the requirement of taking and passing the recertification exam (PANRE) and meeting the PA-C CME requirement to maintain NCCPA certification (PA-C).

No. NCCPA does not recommend specific study guides or review courses.

NCCPA will conduct analysis and validation activities before the scores are released. Therefore, scores will be released approximately eight weeks after the exam administration.

To maintain a CAQ, PAs must continue to meet the current PA-C and licensure and/or government agency requirements, earn and log at least 125 credits of Category 1 CME focused on the specialty over the ten-year cycle, and pass the CAQ exam prior to the expiration of their current ten-year cycle. (The CME hours may also be used to satisfy the PA-C maintenance requirements for CME.) For more information, please refer to the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program.

PAs may take the exam to maintain their CAQ three times prior to their CAQ expiration date. However, there are a maximum of two opportunities to sit for a CAQ exam in a given calendar year. For more information, please refer to the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program.

PAs may take the CAQ maintenance exam at any point during their 10-year cycle. However, it is important to remember that the CAQ ten-year cycle will be reset based on the year the maintenance exam is passed if it occurs prior to the tenth year of the cycle. For more information, please refer to the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program.

125 Category 1 CME credits focused on the specialty must be earned and logged prior to applying for the CAQ maintenance exam, and PAs are required to attest they have met the CME requirement as part of the exam application process. PAs may log these CME credits just as they do CME credits that are used to maintain NCCPA certification, and the credits logged may count for both the CAQ and the PA-C maintenance. There is no additional fee to log CME credits for the CAQ.

PAs who are taking the exam to maintain their CAQ have two options: (1) they may take the same exam that is offered for earning a CAQ at a Pearson VUE test center, or (2) they may take the maintenance exam that is administered online. Additional details on each option are provided below:

Pearson VUE Test Center Delivery Option

  • The in-person exam consists of 120 questions, and PAs are provided two hours of exam time, 15 minutes of break time and 15 minutes to take the tutorial.
  • Just like the PANCE and PANRE, the in-person CAQ exams are offered at Pearson VUE test centers located throughout the U.S. and in select other countries. PAs can take the exam at a Pearson VUE location of their choice, based on availability.
  • The dates for the exam administrations can be found on NCCPA’s website.
  • After the exam application has been processed and completed, NCCPA will send the PA an acknowledgement email providing details for scheduling the exam with Pearson VUE.

Online Delivery Option

  • The online exam consists of 120 questions, and PAs will have five (5) minutes to answer each question. PAs will not be able to return to a question after it has been answered or after the time allocated for the question has expired.
  • PAs may answer the online exam questions at their convenience, during the administration window that is open approximately six weeks. After answering each question, PAs will have the option to continue with more questions or end their session and come back later to answer more questions. PAs have the flexibility to decide how many questions they answer each time they log into the exam. When the administration window ends, PAs will no longer be able to access or answer questions.
  • PAs may consult reference materials, such as books or online journals, as time permits during their exam. However, they may not consult with other individuals for assistance when completing their exam.
  • PAs should always take the exam in a location where they have a strong, reliable internet connection to avoid potential issues with the exam.
  • The exam questions are confidential, and it is very important that PAs understand they may not distribute, disclose, show or share any of the exam content with others. In addition, PAs may not copy, save, screen capture, memorize, or reproduce any of the exam content before, during, or after completing their exam.

There are some similarities but also some differences. The Pilot was administered over a two-year period, and PAs were required to complete questions each quarter. The CAQ maintenance exam must be completed within a testing window that is approximately 6 weeks long. Also, PAs were provided with critiques and immediate feedback on their responses with the Pilot. These features are not available for the CAQ maintenance exam.

  • The exam can be accessed online through all major web browsers and is PC and Mac compatible.
  • PAs are strongly advised to run a system check on the device(s) they plan to use when completing the exam to ensure their device is compatible with the exam delivery system and to help minimize potential technology issues.
  • PAs should always take the exam in a location where they have a strong, reliable internet connection to avoid potential issues with the exam.

PAs may perform a system check on their device by clicking here.

For both the in-person Pearson VUE test center and online delivery options, results from the exam will not be released until all scoring and quality assurance processes have been completed after the close of the exam. It is anticipated that results will be available approximately eight weeks after the close of each administration window, and PAs will be notified by email when their results have been posted to their personal certification record.

The CAQ cycle will be updated for ten years based on the year in which the maintenance exam is passed. Keep in mind that PAs must continue to meet the licensure/government privilege requirements and maintain their PA-C certification for the CAQ to remain valid.

If the CAQ maintenance requirements are not met before the CAQ expiration date, the CAQ will expire. PAs who want to re-earn a CAQ after it expires must begin the process anew by meeting the eligibility requirements for initial CAQ, including passing the CAQ examination. For more information, please refer to the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program.

Detailed information regarding when you are due to take a recertification exam is available on the dashboard of your online record at www.nccpa.net.

You can apply for the recertification exam by signing in to your online record and selecting the "Apply Now " link in the Recertifying Exam Status section of your dashboard.

Within 3 – 5 days after your application is processed and completed, you'll receive an exam acknowledgement email from NCCPA with instructions on how to schedule your exam.

 Yes, the normal labs value for healthy adults comes up in a separate screen when the examinee clicks “Lab Values”. Some questions may contain laboratory values that are not included in the separate “Lab Values” screen. In those cases, the appropriate normal range is provided in parentheses within the text of the question.

The generic name of a drug is always provided. The trade name is provided in parenthesis after the generic name of the drug only if it is deemed necessary by NCCPA.

No, K questions are no longer on the exam.

You will be notified by email when the results are posted to your online record (approximately two weeks after your exam date). 

You must pass by the end of the tenth year, but you may take PANRE up to two times in the ninth and tenth years of your recertification cycle and up to three times in the tenth year of your recertification cycle, with a maximum of four total attempts. 

There is a 90-day waiting period between retakes of the same examination. 

The 90-day waiting period on PANRE attempts will be waived when (1) there are fewer than 90 days left in the last year of your recertification cycle (2) you have not already exhausted all PANRE attempts available for the year. In such cases, one final attempt to pass the exam will be permitted. 

No. However, any past due fees must be paid before you can test.

The Practice Exams are designed for PAs who are eligible for an NCCPA examination. PAs should use the practice exam as a tool to assess their relative strengths and weaknesses, and to familiarize themselves with the types of questions they'll see on the actual examinations. Practice exams are available for PANCE, PANRE and each of the CAQ specialty exams.

The NCCPA Practice Exams are provided for educational purposes only. They are not intended to predict your performance on PANCE, PANRE or a CAQ, and you should not interpret your results as a prediction of your performance. The results may assist you in identifying possible strengths or weaknesses in the various content areas that make up the exams content blueprints. The content blueprints are used as a guideline when questions are selected for the Practice Exams. However, because the Practice Exam has fewer questions than PANCE, PANRE and CAQ exams, the content areas contain a smaller number of questions than on PANCE, PANRE and CAQ exams. For example, approximately 3% of the PANCE content blueprint is comprised of hematology questions. Thus, on the 120-question Practice Exam, there would be only 3 to 4 questions in this content area. It is important to keep in mind that  performance on a small number of questions is less reliable than with a larger number of questions. Your performance is based on the limited number of items sampled in the Practice Exam and should not be interpreted as a predictor of actual performance on PANCE, PANRE or a CAQ exam.

The content of the Practice Exams is based on the content blueprint for PANCE, PANRE or applicable CAQ exam. However, there may be some differences in the exact percentages covered in the content areas on the specific Practice Exam form.

Each PANCE or PANRE Practice Exam includes 120 multiple-choice questions divided into two sections of 60 questions each. PAs can choose time intervals based on their needs. Without special accommodations, PAs have 60 minutes to complete each section for a total of two hours of exam time.

The CAQ Practice Exams include 60 questions per CAQ exam with 60 minutes to complete the practice exam.

A special accommodations option of time and a half or double time is available for all Practice Exams.

Like PANCE, PANRE, and the CAQ Exams, the Practice Exams provide approximately one minute per question, if special accommodations are not indicated. With special accommodations, the PA would have one and one-half or two minutes per question, dependent on the special accommodations selected.

Yes, these are questions that were used on previous administrations of PANCE and PANRE. However, keep in mind that exam questions used on Practice Exams will no longer appear on PANCE and PANRE.

Each Practice Exam costs $50, which must be paid by credit card when you apply.

PAs can access the Practice Exam application online by signing in to their online record 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Once registered, PAs will have 180 days to complete the Practice Exam online.

When you access the Practice Exam application from your online record, select "Perform System Check". If you see a green check next to each requirement, your computer will support the Practice Exam program. If you see a red "X" next to any of the requirements, your computer, as it is currently configured, will not support the Practice Exam program; and we recommend you contact your system administrator. Note: MAC computers can be used with Mozilla Firefox.

No. Unlike the actual PANCE, PANRE and CAQ exams, the Practice Exam allows you to stop working on the Practice Exam and return later. You will not lose any time; and when you log back into the Practice Exam, you'll be returned to the last question that you had previously accessed. All responses are saved when you access the next question, so taking a break will not cause you to lose any answers you've already entered. It is important to note that you should not select "Complete" on a Practice Exam if you have not completed the exam and plan to return at another time to finish the exam.

No. The Practice Exams are designed to provide participants with feedback about their relative strengths and weaknesses in the content areas on the exam. Specific information for why an answer is correct or incorrect is not provided.

As soon as you complete the Practice Exam a performance profile, which graphically displays your relative strengths and weaknesses in the content areas that make up the examination content blueprint, will be available online in your online record.

Click here to view a sample performance profile.

You'll always be able to access your performance profile from the Practice Exam overview page in your online record.

PAs who are eligible to take an NCCPA examination may take as many Practice Exams as there are available, and may repurchase exams if they want to take them more than once.

Once your Practice Exam has been scored, you CANNOT review the questions or your answers. However, while you are working within each section, you can change answers or mark them for review. When you exit a section, your responses have been saved and submitted making your answers final. You can review and print your performance profile at any time after completing the Practice Exam.

The system records all answers each time you access a question and provide an answer. If you are disconnected from the Internet or logged out of the Practice Exam program, you will re-start the Practice Exam on the same exam question that was last seen when you sign back into the Practice Exam.

No. The Practice Exams are designed to mirror the exam environment and timing constraints of an actual exam. If you need to take a break during the Practice Exam, you have the convenience of being able to log out of the Practice Exam without losing any of your time. When you log back in, you have the same amount of time remaining to finish the block of questions. However, keep in mind that this is not the same for PANCE, PANRE or CAQ Exams. For the actual PANCE, PANRE or CAQ Exams, you are not able to take any breaks within a section of the exam. If you anticipate qualifying for special accommodations, you are encouraged to take the Practice Exam with the appropriate special accommodations timing parameters.

No. The only part of the Practice Exam that you'll be able to print will be your performance profile that is available after completing the exam.

No, NCCPA's Practice Exams are not preapproved for Category 1 CME credit. However, the Practice Exam can be submitted for Category 2 CME credit.

Earning a CAQ allows PAs to achieve recognition for their specialty experience, skills and knowledge. The CAQ offers PAs a credential to effectively document their specialty experience and expertise. Over time, we expect this will help PAs remain competitive in environments where credentials are increasingly important.

The CAQ reflects the fact that PAs are grounded first in primary care or generalist practice, a base of training and knowledge that is augmented but not replaced through specialization. The CAQ is something that PAs earn above and beyond the PA-C, which remains the foundational credential for the PA profession.

Further, while NCCPA hopes that PAs practicing in specialties will choose to participate in the CAQ program, we wanted to take every measure possible to ensure that it was a voluntary credential. We believe the CAQ is less likely to trigger automatic changes in credentialing or privileging requirements in many hospital settings.

The NCCPA Board of Directors chose the specialties based on information about the need for specialty credentials that NCCPA received from PAs practicing in these specialty areas and from leaders of the specialty organizations serving those PAs. We also considered a host of other factors, including the number of PAs practicing in the specialty, mobility trends into and out of the specialty, the criticality of the patient population served, and the degree to which the specialty is hospital-based.

PAs may register for a CAQ in the following specialties:

•  Cardiovascular/Thoracic Surgery
•  Emergency Medicine
•  Hospital Medicine
•  Nephrology
•  Orthopaedic Surgery
•  Pediatrics
•  Psychiatry

The total cost is $350. There are two fees associated with earning the CAQ. The $100 registration fee is due when you submit your first non-exam requirement (specialty CME, experience, and procedures/patient cases). When you apply for the exam, you will need to submit the $250 exam fee. (Note: PAs who fail the exam and are still within the six-year eligibility period for completing their CAQ will only need to submit the exam application fee when retaking the exam.)

Yes. Having a current PA-C status is one of the two basic eligibility requirements for earning and maintaining a CAQ. For additional information on all the requirements, please refer to the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program.

Yes, PAs can register for, and earn, more than one specialty CAQ at a time. However, they must meet the specific requirements for each specialty CAQ.

Before PAs can apply to take the CAQ exam, they must first meet the two basic eligibility requirements: valid unrestricted licensure and current PA-C status. In addition, they must also have completed two other core requirements (specialty CME and experience ). The procedures/patient cases attestation must be submitted within 90 days after receiving a CAQ score. For additional information on these requirements, please refer to the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program.

From the time PAs submit their $100 registration fee and satisfy the first requirement, they have six years within which they must complete the CAQ process. However, if they have been working in the specialty and can complete all the non-exam requirements together, they may submit all of those requirements at once and then apply for the exam when the CAQ exam application period opens.

Yes. If PAs meet the PA-C and licensure requirements but are under disciplinary review by NCCPA, they will be allowed to participate in the CAQ process and will be allowed to apply and take the CAQ exam. However, the exam score, if applicable, will not be released and the CAQ, if applicable, will not be issued until a final decision has been made by NCCPA which satisfactorily resolves the disciplinary issue to NCCPA's satisfaction.

Please refer to the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program for more detailed information on this requirement.

Yes. If a PA loses his/her valid unrestricted licensure or current PA-C or government agency privileges for any reason, he/she will lose any CAQ that has been achieved. Once the valid unrestricted licensure or current PA-C or government agency privileges has been restored, the PA must begin the CAQ process anew by meeting the eligibility requirements for the initial CAQ, including passing the CAQ examination.

PAs will be able to print documentation of their progress from the CAQ Status section by signing in to their online record at www.nccpa.net.

If a PA loses a CAQ for any reason, he/she must begin the CAQ process anew by meeting the eligibility requirements for the initial CAQ, including passing the CAQ examination.

Upon successful completion of all requirements, PAs will be granted a CAQ that is valid for ten years, based on their continuing to meet the current PA-C and licensure requirements. The CAQ will expire on December 31 of the tenth year.

The two processes are independent of each other. The only time a PA's initial ten-year cycle will coincide with the PA-C cycle is when the PA passes the CAQ exam during the tenth year of his or her PA-C cycle.

As with the audit processes for the PA-C credential, PAs will be randomly selected for the CAQ audit.

Since PAs are selected randomly for audits, it is possible for their PA-C certification maintenance requirements and CAQ requirements to be audited at the same time.

If an applicant loses his or her eligibility for a CAQ or CAQ maintenance after submitting the respective application and fees or if, at any time, it is determined that a PA provided incorrect eligibility information on any NCCPA application, the PA shall forfeit all fees.

If your request to be withdrawn is received by NCCPA in writing within 30 days of registration, NCCPA will issue a full refund. If the request is not received in writing within 30 days of registering for the program, all fees paid to NCCPA for the CAQ will be forfeited; and you will have to submit another $100 registration fee when you re-apply for a future CAQ.

Because the CAQ is a Certificate of Added Qualifications and not a certification, a designation such as PA-C will not be issued. However, the PA will be issued a certificate for display.

Yes. NCCPA complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other applicable laws and provides reasonable and appropriate accommodations for examinees with documented disabilities and for other examinees with qualifying medical conditions that may be temporary or are not otherwise covered by the ADA. 

For detailed information please review the Policies and Procedures for Examination Accommodations which is available by clicking here.

For PANCE, PANRE and CAQ administrations, accommodations that have been made include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • extending exam time

  • frequent breaks

  • separate (individual) exam room

  • reader

  • medical device not on the approved medical/comfort aids list

For detailed information please review the Policies and Procedures for Examination Accommodations which is available by clicking here.

Information regarding special exam accommodations can be found at https://www.nccpa.net/SpecialAccommodations. In addition, detailed information regarding requesting accommodations and the required documentation is provided in the Policies and Procedures for Examination Accommodations document which is available by clicking here. You may also want to view the special accommodations request process flowchart which provides an overview of the steps in the process.

Your request for special exam accommodations must be submitted when applying for an examination. However, you may want to review the Policies and Procedures for Examination Accommodations which is available by clicking here prior to applying for the examination.

Documentation of a disability or qualifying medical condition from a qualified medical provider must be provided to NCCPA. The documentation must include specific accommodations required and how they would compensate your limitations. The accommodation requested or recommended by the qualified medical provider should not be based on preferences but on disability-driven reasons, nor should it over-accommodate the exam taker.

Detailed information regarding the required documentation can be found in the Policies and Procedures for Examination Accommodations document which is available by clicking here.



Yes. You must submit your request in writing to have your current application withdrawn, which will cancel your scheduled exam date if you have one. You will have to re-apply and choose the request for accommodations and submit required documentation.

Accommodation needs can change over time; a prior history of diagnosis and accommodation, without demonstration of a current need, does not in and of itself warrant the provision of an accommodation. Approval of an accommodation request will not automatically be based on the same accommodation previously approved.  For every examination application, the Special Accommodations Request Form, which is available during the exam application process, must be completed and submitted to NCCPA at the time of application.  

If previous documentation has been submitted, NCCPA will review that documentation along with the new accommodations request form. Depending on the amount of time since the previous special accommodation request, the date of the documentation and any changes in the nature or extent of the disability and accommodation request, additional documentation may be required.  

For detailed information see the Application for Subsequent Exam Accommodations section of the Policies and Procedures for Examination Accommodations document which is available by clicking here.

No. While documentation of prior approved accommodation(s) in an educational or academic institution or other testing organization will be considered, approval of such does not in and of itself guarantee approval of the requested accommodation(s) by NCCPA.

From the time all the required documentation is received to notification of a decision is approximately 3-5 business days.

Yes. You will need to submit your request in writing. Your current application will be withdrawn and transferred to a new application window without special accommodations. Note: If you have scheduled an exam date it will be CANCELLED.

Yes. Access to the documentation is restricted to the exam administration staff assigned to your Special Accommodations request.

Click here for a list of comfort and medical aids that do not require a pre-approved special accommodations request.

No, there are no flags or indicators on your score report, certificate, or credentialing verification to third party requestors that an examinee had received special accommodations.

This site uses the latest technologies. For optimum performance, the website and web-based applications provided by NCCPA require a current Web browser. 

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Web browsers that are fully compatible with these browsers and older versions of these browsers may also be suitable, but NCCPA does not design, maintain, or test for browsers that are not listed above.

We strongly encourage your use of a browser that communicates securely (over https) using TLS 1.1 or 1.2.

NCCPA will implement minimum browser restrictions later this year, and will no longer allow secure connections (over https to secure areas of our website) that do not leverage TLS 1.1 or TLS 1.2. This change may impact your ability to access secure areas of our website.

To ensure your continued access to these areas, click here to verify your browser’s compatibility. Click here for information on compatible browsers and what to do if you aren't currently using one.

NCCPA maintains PCI Compliance. For more information about this security standard, click here.

This does NOT include NCCPA's practice exams. To view the browser requirements for our practice exams, click here.

If you have problems accessing secure areas of the website, please contact NCCPA at 678-417-8100.

We use the best encryption technology available - the same software used by all Fortune 500 companies who conduct e-commerce. The credit card data you provide to us on our Web site can only be interpreted here at our office.

To print a receipt for any payments made to NCCPA since 2004, sign in to your personal certification record at www.nccpa.net and click the "Payment" link in the left-hand column, then follow the on-screen instructions.

You have 30 days from the date the payment was received to request a refund. You can request a refund in writing with a signature by fax (678-417-8135) or mail (NCCPA, 12000 Findley Road, Suite 100, Johns Creek, GA 30097)

*NCCPA exams and Practice Exams have unique refund policies. Please review the specific refund policy in the policies section when applying for an exam or Practice Exam.

We can provide verification of certification over the phone (678.417.8100), but we need to receive requests for the release of scores online or in writing. You can sign in to your personal record and choose Certification Info Release, email us your request (including your name, NCCPA ID number and to whom it should be sent) or fax or mail your request.

To make name changes, sign in to your personal certification record, click on the "My Account" link, and follow the instructions from there. A name change is not final until NCCPA receives a copy of your valid drivers license or passport. Or you can scan and email (namechanges@nccpa.net) or fax (678-417-8135) a copy of your valid drivers license or passport requesting the change and one of our staff members will update your record within 1 to 2 business days. 

Sign in to your personal certification record, click on the "My Account" link, and follow the simple instructions from there. Or, email the new information to nccpa@nccpa.net; be sure to include your name and NCCPA ID number.

NCCPA primarily communicates with PAs and PA students via email and in some cases, US mail. NCCPA does not correspond with PAs or PA students via text message under any circumstances.

For optimum performance when using the NCCPA app, you will want to use one of the supported devices listed below:

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  • IPad with IOS 10.3 and up

 

Other devices may be suitable for accessing the app, but some functions may not perform as expected or at all, and NCCPA does not design, maintain, or test for devices that are not listed above.

PAs who have let their certification lapse may regain it by fulfilling CME requirements and pass the PANRE.

To be eligible to apply for PANRE to regain certification, you must first log at least 100 Category 1 CME credits earned within the two-year period ending on the date your PANRE application is submitted to NCCPA.

For example, if you plan on applying for PANRE on June 1, 2017, your CME earning window will be June 1, 2015 - June 1, 2017. You can apply any CME credits that you have previously earned within the timeframe mentioned above.

You will be eligible to apply for PANRE as soon as you meet the CME requirement (100 Category 1 CME earned within the two-year period ending on the date your PANRE application is received).

PAs may take PANRE only one time in any single 90-day period. 

There is no limit on the number of attempts to take PANRE for regaining certification.  However, the 100 Category 1 CME credits earned within the two-year period ending on the date your PANRE application requirement must be met for each exam application.

When you sign in to your online record, you will need to submit your projected exam application date. You will receive your CME earning window based on that projected application date. As you enter your CME credits, the system will calculate your credits and your dashboard will show the amount you have logged and how many are needed.

If you have met the CME requirement, the exam application link will be provided in your dashboard.