Content Blueprint for PANCE

(effective January 2019)

Beginning in 2019, there was a new content blueprint released for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). The content blueprint provides guidance on the information assessed on the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). The examination is categorized in two dimensions:

  1. Knowledge of the diseases and disorders physician assistants encounter; and

  2. Knowledge and skills related to tasks physician assistants perform when treating patients.

The detailed listings provided under each of these two categories represent examples of the material that may be covered on PANCE. It is not possible to include all topics on a single exam, and it may be possible that some questions on the exam cover content that is not listed in the examples. 

The content blueprint for PANCE is based on information provided from certified physician assistants who participate in profession-wide practice analysis studies.  Certified PAs are involved throughout the exam development process, including:  reviewing results of the practice analysis, writing questions that appear on PANCE, reviewing exams before they are administered, reviewing performance data for exam questions, and developing recommendations for the passing standard.  Certified PAs work with NCCPA to continuously review the content included on PANCE to ensure it is relevant and current, as the practice of medicine changes and treatment guidelines are revised or new ones introduced.  

Medical Content Categories

Percent Allocation*

Cardiovascular System


Dermatologic System


Endocrine System


Eyes, Ears, Nose, and Throat


Gastrointestinal System/Nutrition


Genitourinary System (Male and Female)


Hematologic System


Infectious Diseases


Musculoskeletal System


Neurologic System


Psychiatry/Behavioral Science


Pulmonary System


Renal System


Reproductive System (Male and Female)


Task Categories

Percent Allocation*

History Taking and Performing Physical Examination


Using Diagnostic and Laboratory Studies


Formulating Most Likely Diagnosis


Managing Patients


     Health Maintenance, Patient Education,
     and Preventive Measures


     Clinical Intervention


     Pharmaceutical Therapeutics


Applying Basic Scientific Concepts


Professional Practice


*Medical content comprises 95% of the exam. All medical content questions are also coded to one of the task areas, with the exception of the professional practice task category. Questions related to professional practice issues comprise 5% of the exam. In addition, up to 20% of the exam may be related to general surgical topics. The specific percentage allocations may vary slightly on exams.

New - PANCE Content Blueprint (effective for all PANCE administrations beginning in January 2019)

Sample NCCPA Questions

PAs preparing for PANCE 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.