Updated: May 25
Here is PART 3 of How I studied for and passed the PNP Certification Exam- Study materials!
Welcome to part 3- I had so many tips and reviews about these study materials and I get TONS of questions, so I made this expanded blog post for you!
Here’s the REAL TEA- these resources are NOT free for you & added on top of the $385 cost for the exam plus $12 for transcripts, plus over $1,000 to apply for NP license, and paying for cap/gown etc… you will drop a stack of cash as you graduate! So, I included the prices so you can budget accordingly and decide what is right for you.
· Burns textbook 6th edition $120
· PNP Certification Guide by Silbert-Flagg and Sloand $70
· My personal study guide (blood, sweat & tears lol)
· PNCB Modules 1 & 2 ($50 x2=$100)
· NAPNAP Cert Review Course ($300 member/$375 non member)
· Question Banks: Boardvitals ($119-$229) and PocketPrep (free or $19/month)
· Barkley’s Curriculum Review (I accidentally bought the FNP one and PNP one, will explain in blog post why this wasn’t a good idea!) ($70-100)
That is about $780 in study materials people! But, I passed and it was WELL worth it! I used the textbook, Silbert-Flagg book and Barkley during school and 2/3 of those were required texts so my hospital paid for them.
NAPNAP has a review every year, so sign up for that through their website or my link in bio! If you followed me when I took it, you know I showed up to that in my pjs on my couch & I was totally cool with that.
Let’s go further in depth on these
The PNCB gives a giant list of resources/textbooks to base your studies off. I chose the Burns Pediatric Primary Care textbook because I already had it, we used it throughout grad school and all my PowerPoints, past notes and past exams were based on this book- so that’s what I stuck with. Pick ONE from the list that works best for you. I used it to refer back to if I wasn’t understanding a concept & based my personal study guide off of it while I was in school. I did NOT by any means study straight from this book for the exam. Note- I bought this book when the 6th edition was the most updated edition, so do your research to see what edition is the newest.
Click here to see the list of PNCB recommended resources.
PNP Certification Guide by Silbert-Flagg and Sloand $70
I love this review guide! HIGHLY recommend. I used it during school to study and review for exams and it came in handy when studying for my national certification. It is organized, to the point and goes over all the NEED TO KNOW information for the exam. There are tons of questions with thorough explanations after each chapter and for the price, it is a MUST HAVE. Click HERE to purchase.
My Personal Study Guide
During my master’s program, we had the option to write a thesis or take a comprehensive exam at the end of our 2-year program. I opted for the comprehensive exam. My personal study guide was created over a 15-week period in my last semester by gathering all of my PowerPoint presentations and notes from the previous two years and typing up the important topics into a Google Doc.
On the left is an example page from my personal study guide. A mix of typed up notes, written notes and highlighter! It was over 300 pages long.
I am very much a visual learner, and the act of reading my past notes, typing them up, printing it out and highlighting was crucial to me studying for and passing my comprehensive exam. (side note: I passed my comps exam!) It was a massive review for my certification exam and I loved that my university opted for this option. I took my comps end of April and my national certification exam beginning of August, but I felt like it set a solid foundation for me. If your school does not offer a comps exam, I highly recommend doing something like this or at least taking the time to review a major topic every week of your last semester of school to prepare for your future national certification. That way, you are already ahead of the study game and not cramming 2 years of knowledge into 4-5 weeks of studying.
PNCB Modules 1 & 2
The PNCB has two 75 question paid primary care modules on their website. They ARE the organization who creates the exam, so buying both of these was a no brainer! I took one module at the VERY beginning of my studying so I could gauge how much I remembered… full disclosure I think I got a 65%! The second module I took 1 week before my exam and I scored around 80%. The questions are timed and are laid out very similar to the ACTUAL exam, so these two are MUST HAVES! Their explanations are thorough and include citations (it was promising to see lots of Burns textbook cited in there too). $50 gives you access to these modules for 150 days!
NAPNAP Certification Review Course
NAPNAP is the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. Every year they hold a few 2-day review courses for the primary care and acute care national certification exams. I attended the Spring 2020 review course which was moved online due to COVID-19. At the time, it was $300 for members and $375 for non-members. After the 2-day review course, they also sent us a discount code for when we signed up for the PNCB exam, which was helpful.
No lie here, I absolutely had no problem with watching the review at home, if you followed me on Instagram back then, you know I rolled out of bed and watched on my couch in my pj’s! Eight-hour days of STRAIGHT review on a computer is ROUGH though. I wish it could have ben in-person, but their in-person review courses are all over the country so at least I saved lots of time and money. There is so much information but luckily they sent us a printed and bound booklet of all of their powerpoint slides, emailed out the recorded videos and made sure to answer all questions we had. The questions at the end of each section were great for review and the presenters did a good job at saying “You need to know this, circle/star/highlight this”. Below is a quick video I took on day 2 of the review course!
The hard part about this review course is they only have it 2 times a year. For me, it was in March 2020 and I graduated in May 2020, so the timing worked out well. The information may not be as fresh to you if the course doesn’t coordinate with your graduation date. I also used the information from this to study for my exams in school and it was an amazing overall, quick review before my comprehensive exam- during the COVID-19 pandemic they are offering this review course virtually which saves you time and money from not having to travel/book a hotel etc.
Question Bank: BoardVitals and PocketPrep
Using a question bank was VITAL for me (lol no pun intended @BOARDVITALS) because I had already seen the questions from my other study materials while studying for exams in school.
BOARDVITALS quick breakdown:
· PROS: I loved the AMOUNT of questions (1,250!), how I could create my own quizzes by category & keep track of what was my strong points. Their answer explanations included SO much good info/charts. Their easy to use App meant I could take it ANYWHERE on my phone or ipad or computer. The. App or desktop version allows for timed or untimed tests of any length and allows you to select any or all body system you want to be tested on .
· CONS: These questions range from easy/moderate/hard, and as a straight A student the HARD questions challenged me and at times and made me doubt myself. Some of the HARD questions were things that I never covered in school or seemed to be focused towards ACUTE CARE. I easily solved that problem by picking moderate/easy questions. The cost is also a factor, but I think the number of questions I went through was very valuable.
Another Question Bank source to check out is PocketPrep! They are a paid service, very similar to BoardVitals. It can be viewed on a phone/iPad. The thing about PocketPrep is that it does not allow to study by category or create your own exams by body system.
To the right is a picture of me studying and taking quizzes on my iPad with the BoardVitals app.
BoardVitals is best for: organizing questions by category or if you are taking ACUTE AND PRIMARY care because lots of acute care questions popped up. I did almost every single question (there is about 1,250 of them!)
They have TONS of different test banks! I do not get commission off this discount code, it’s for YOU all! Watch my PNP Cert highlight on my Instagram to see how I incorporated the question Bank into my study routine.
Full transparency: BoardVitals gave me a month of free access to the PNP question bank so I could use it to study & give you guys a review! Click here to check out their website.
This is an amazing free resource! And you 100% need to download it now. You can pay $20/month which I did closer to my test date. It will remind you daily to do a few questions and you can specificy the type of questions.
I like this app because it asks for the date of your exam (which you can estimate if you don't know the date yet) and it will give you a study plan. I liked to take the weakest subject quiz, the missed questions quiz, and practice the timed quizzes.
It has a bank of 500 questions and I did feel their questions were very similar format and difficulty that were on the exam. I used it on my ipad and my phone. I have two question banks listed here and honestly, you only need one. If you are taking acute care and primary, go with Board Vitals. If you are taking primary care, then PocketPrep is for you.
Barkley’s Curriculum Review
If there is one resource I would NOT buy or use again, it is this one. Unfortunately, I had already purchased the FNP Barkley review book (blue) because it was a required text as we took Barkley exams during my program for my Pathophysiology, Pharmacology and Pediatric lectures at the end of each semester.
I further wasted my money when a friend told me to purchase the Pediatric Barkley review book (pink). I didn’t do any research on that and soon realized the Blue Barkley FNP INCLUDES all the same information and questions as the Pink Barkley PNP book. So, don’t be me and purchase both!
The review books comes with short quizzes at the beginning of each chapter with explanations and an additional deeper dive on each body system. I’m not sure if I didn’t gain much from this book because I already had used SO many other resources and I was maxed out or if this was just not my favorite text.
Bringing It all Together
If you made it this far down this MASSIVE blog post, you are obviously invested in passing your PNP Certification Exam! I want to bring it all together for you and explain how I used all of these study materials.
1. I took the NAPNAP review course in March, it was an overall review in my final semester that I needed. It helped me study for my comprehensive exam. When it came time for the National Certification in July, I read through each Powerpoint presentation once and paid special attention to the areas I previously highlighted or wrote “know this”.
2. Every day I would cover a few topics from the NAPNAP review course and then I would check out my PNP Certification Guide by Silbert-Flagg and Sloand, read the corresponding section and take the quizzes at the end of the chapter (e.g. If I review cardiac PowerPoints from NAPNAP, I would review the Cardiac Section/Quizzes in Silbert-Flagg). I also used Silbert-Flagg book throughout grad school to study for my exams!
3. Like I said previously, I took the PNCB modules- one at the beginning of my studying and one a week before the exam. I printed out my results and read through ALL of my explanations. If I missed a question, I referred back to my personal Study Guide or Burns book to make sure I understood the concept and why I missed the question.
4. The BoardVitals and PocketPrep question banks I bought about 3.5 weeks before test date. Every day I would start my studying by taking a 10-15 question quiz to get my brain and mindset in the right frame of mind and put it away. Then, after reviewing the NAPNAP PowerPoints and covering the corresponding section in Silbert-Flagg, I would create a 30-40 question timed quiz on Boardvitals or PocketPrep for that subject with easy/moderate/hard questions.
5. After ALL of that, any topic I noticed I was really struggling with or continuing to miss question on, I added to the end of my Personal Study Guide as something to review, research, memorize etc.
For those of you reading this, you are probably a little stressed about this exam. I totally understand that. But with the right test prep and study materials, you’re going to do great! This is the FINAL hurdle- I know I was personally a little burnt out after graduation. Make sure you take 1-2 weeks off after school with no work (if you can!) and just RELAX! Do not think about the exam, do not look at your study materials, just give yourself the opportunity to decompress without the “study guilt”. And then make a study plan and get to it!
To the left is a picture of me and Eric, the day after I passed my exam, jumping off a boat into the lake!
Want an idea of a timeline from application to test day and test prep info? See my previous two posts!
Feel free to shout out any other study materials in the comments below! Or share with a PNP classmate who needs to see this.
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