Exam Security

The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) is a certifying organization committed to developing and administering exams and programs that are relevant and meaningful to the PA profession. Its exams are intended to reflect standards for clinical knowledge, clinical reasoning, and other medical skills and professional behaviors required upon entry into practice and throughout the careers of PAs. Additionally, NCCPA is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), which promotes high standards for certifying programs and organizations to help ensure the health, welfare, and safety of the public. As such, NCCPA considers exam validity, and by extension, exam security, to be a matter of paramount importance. This means delivering fair and valid exams that assess the knowledge, skills, and behaviors of each candidate or PA. The NCCPA utilizes several industry-standard tools and techniques to detect and deter exam security issues and irregular test-taker behaviors, including data forensics, web patrolling, and reviewing video and audio monitoring at proctored test centers.

  • Proctored Exams (PANCE, PANRE, CAQs)

Examinations administered at Pearson VUE testing centers comply with security measures to verify the examinee’s identity and to ensure copywritten exam content is protected and no examinee is given an unfair advantage by accessing proprietary exam content. All testing centers utilize live proctoring, video surveillance, digital fingerprint, and/or palm vein scanning.

  • Online Exams (PANRE-LA, CAQ Maintenance)

Examinations administered outside of a proctored testing center employ a variety of measures to ensure copywritten exam content is protected and no examinee is given an unfair advantage by accessing proprietary exam content. NCCPA collects and uses data collected from the exam software (e.g., response data, IP address) from existing information (i.e., information collected through an individual’s interactions with NCCPA), and information received from third parties to prevent, detect, investigate, and remediate exam-related misconduct, such as cheating, fraud, deception, or collusion among examinees.

Any investigation of irregular behavior that undermines or threatens the integrity or validity of the assessment may result in disciplinary actions as described in NCCPA’s Disciplinary Policy. NCCPA’s Code of Conduct for Certified and Certifying PAs and PAs with the PA-C Emeritus Designation outlines principles that all such individuals are expected to uphold. If a Board Certified PA learns of behavior that may be considered irregular or unethical, they should follow the Process for Submitting a Complaint Against a Board Certifying PA or a PA-C Designee.


Additional Information 

Terminology on Board Certification and Title Change

Please review the full announcement here. and the Board Certification and Title Change FAQ sheet.

  1. Board Certified and board certification:

Certified PAs may use the term “board certified” to convey or describe board certification by NCCPA as a generalist qualification. As provided in NCCPA’s Code of Conduct, certified PAs must not use the term “board certified” to convey or describe that they hold specialty certification or acquiesce in that use by others.

  1. Test, exam and examination:

Include PANCE, PANRE, CAQ examinations, the Alternative to PANRE Pilot, and the longitudinal PANRE-LA, see NCCPA’s Policies and Procedures for PA Disciplinary Matters

  1. Physician assistant,” “physician associate,” and “PA” titles:

NCCPA recognizes that the titles used by our profession have evolved and continue to evolve and that our profession’s authorization to practice medicine and legally permitted titles are governed by each jurisdiction’s practice acts and by federal regulations. Therefore, NCCPA shall regard the titles “physician assistant,” “physician associate,” and “PA” as equivalent and synonymous. NCCPA policies and published guidance that use the terms “physician assistant,” “physician associate,” and/or “PA” shall apply to any certified or certifying PA, regardless of that individual PA’s preferred or assigned title.