Okay future nurse practitioners, as you prepare for boards you first encounter having to decide which exam to take. This can be difficult when you do not know anything about either exam, but I want to assist you so that it does not have to be difficult.

Let’s discuss a few FAQ’s that I encounter with my review students.

  1. Is one test better than the other?
  2. Do jobs prefer one certifying body over the other?
  3. Is one harder than the other?
  4. Should I take both exams?

Is one test better than the other?

The answer is NO! You are equally certified with either exam. They are just two separate certifying bodies providing the exam. After passing the ANCC exam, your credentials will be written -BC (board certified). For example, FNP-BC. Whereas your credentials will be written -C after passing the AANP (FNP-C).

Do jobs prefer one certifying body over the other?

No. You are equally certified with either exam. Some organizations may have a personal preference, but you can still apply as you are equally qualified.

Is one exam harder than the other?

I always teach my review students to select the exam that meets your learning style. Let me explain… Both exams are structured differently, but the content is the same. It may appear more difficult when taking the exam that does not meet your learning style.

Let’s get into this a bit more.


  • 175 questions
  • 3.5 hours allotted.
  • A variety of questions types: multiple choice, drag and drop, select the best two or three, images, and hotspot questions.
  • Covers all systems, but is 60% non clinical content.


  • 150 questions
  • 3 hours allotted.
  • Multiple choice questions only.
  • Covers all systems.

When considering how you learn, it can make deciding upon which exam to take easier.

For example, visual learners may benefit from taking the ANCC as there are images, hotspot, and drag drop questions. Whereas the AANP is multiple choice only.

I recommend taking a moment and researching the blueprints to both exams to help with your decision. You can find these on the ANCC and AANP website.

Should I take both exams?

This is truly up to you. Having dual certifications may be a personal goal, but is not mandatory. It also does not change your status. One tip I tell my review students is that when you have dual certifications, remember you have to maintain two certifications. Meaning all requirements and payments will be required for both. Consider if this is something that you would like to maintain, if so, go for it.

Leave me a message in the comments if you have any questions and let me know if you found this helpful.