Exams for Physician Assistants

Physician Assistants serve in a vital role in the treatment of patients. They may perform a wide spectrum of duties like drug prescriptions, surgical assistance, and patient management. To ensure that all Physician Assistants possess the necessary skills and knowledge to perform these duties at the highest possible standards, the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants has instituted a comprehensive examination that all prospective Physician Assistants must pass to practice. This exam is called the Physician Assistant National Certification Exam (PANCE).

Only graduates of Physician Assistant degree programs certified by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) are eligible to take the PANCE. Furthermore, graduates of PA programs must have completed the program within six years of taking the exam. Applications to take the PANCE are only accepted within 90 days of graduation from a PA program.

PANCE is a computer based exam with 300 multiple choice questions. There are five blocks of 60 questions each, with an hour allotted to the completion of each block. Test takers are also permitted a total of 45 minutes between the sections.

You may schedule the exam at almost any time throughout the year. The fee for this exam is $475 and the test may be taken at any Pearson VUE testing center. Applicants may reschedule the exam if their graduation time table is disrupted or some unexpected delay necessitates it, but a rescheduling fee may be required. If the applicant fails a test, they may retake the exam after 90 days up to three times within a single year. Physician assistants are, however, limited to six test attempts within six years following graduation; then they lose eligibility and must re-enroll in a PA program and graduate to obtain eligibility.

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