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Updated: May 25, 2022

I’ll be the first to admit it- my study schedule was NOT the best for the PNP-PC exam.

In the middle of studying for my exam, I was also going to work at the hospital more (peak COVID) than when I was in school. Then Eric & eloped end of June right when I was originally planning on starting my studying. Best decision ever, by the way! Picture below of me & Eric after we DID THE THANG and became husband & wife on a private dock in Tahoe. But it did throw off my study plans. In a perfect world, I would have been studying mid-June, but instead I was planning to elope.

So, needless to say, I was a little rushed & stressed when trying to study. After we eloped, I was so happy and excited. And then the DREAD of studying for another exam hit. I will be the first to admit there was LOTS of crying and therapy sessions. I was PRETTY burnt out on the school front and the hospital front. I was often stressed I would bring COVID home to Eric after taking care of patients in the hospital. It made it difficult to study. If you haven’t taken the exam yet, don’t rush like me! Here is my study schedule and then more importantly what I WISH I had done.

June 27: eloped.

July 17: Able to schedule the exam.

Aug 7: Exam day.

That means that I HARD CORE, pedal to the metal studied for 3 weeks. I worked 3 days at the hospital w/ 4 days off. So, 12 full days of studying total.

Did I pass? Yes. Do I recommend this? No.


1. Plan at LEAST 4 weeks of studying, if not more- sign up for the exam so you can have a test date to motivate you.

2. Build a solid foundation: none of this info should be new to you. Review throughout your last semester & look into taking the NAPNAP review course!

3. Start researching your study materials early (Click here to see my blog post and previous insta post on what study materials I liked best)

4. Set aside designated study times in the day to review each topic by order of importance (PNCB lists in order the most important topics to the least important). Spend the most time on the subjects the test creator prioritizes. You can find that exam content outline here.

5. Start each study session by getting in the zone & blocking out all other distractions. For example, I took a 15 question BoardVitals or PocketPrep quiz to start out my study day. Then, I reviewed my study materials on Dermatology (reading, highlighting, underlining) & then took a focused BoardVitals and PocketPrep quiz on that subject to see what I knew.

6. When studying, max out the time of sitting down and studying for 1 hr of studying max and then take a 15- minute break (use the bathroom, check your phone, grab a snack)- then do it again.

7. Turn your phone on Airplane mode- If you can, turn off phone and applewatch notifications. Lock yourself in your room/office, turn on some study music (Search Spotify: No words, Just Vibes /Studying … my favorite playlist), and set a timer for 1hr. For 1hr focus on the task at hand. Don’t scroll Facebook, don’t respond to texts, don’t glance at workout notifications on your Apple watch, give your studying your undivided attention for 1hr.

Let's Go Micro- Here's a little bit of what my daily and weekly study schedule looked like.

“Items that address a specific condition will be represented within the exam, by volume, according to the following prioritized listing:”

Clinical Problem

1 Head, Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat

2 Dermatology

3 Allergy

4 Gastroenterology

5 Developmental/Behavioral/Mental Health

6 Pulmonology

7 Musculoskeletal8Nutrition

9 Infectious Disease

10 Urology/Nephrology

11 Neurology

12 GYN, Reproductive Health, Sexual Identity

13 Cardiology

14 Endocrinology

15 Pain

16 Hematology/Oncology

17 Environmental Health/Toxicology

18 Immunology/Rheumatology

19 Genetics

How To Split This Up To Make a Study Schedule

So, there are 19 subjects. If you give yourself 4 weeks to study you can use 3 weeks to review each subject (19/3=6 subjects a week), and 1 full week of test prep/memorizing/reviewing difficult topics. I broke up my studying by making sure I touched on the subjects at the top of the list FIRST. 6 topics a week is a LOT- so if this seems overwhelming for you, increase the amount of time you need to take the exam.

(Note: I say 4 weeks as someone with no kids and a very helpful spouse, minimal responsibilities, working 3 days a week during a global pandemic- that means my study days, were STUDY days and there was not much else to do in my free time because of the pandemic. If you KNOW you don’t have that much free time, definitely take that into account when planning how far out to schedule your exam. You know yourself and your study habits best!)

Make Time To Review Commonly Missed Test Questions

While I was studying the topics above, I made a list of common test questions I often missed to make sure I reviewed those every day. Each day I studied, I spent about 4-8hrs reviewing my study materials and ended my study day by taking a BoardVitals or PocketPrep test on those subjects. Remember, I took almost every BoardVitals and PocketPrep question (about 1250 + 500 questions total). Don’t forget to read the EXPLANATIONS! And if you MISS a certain type of question multiple times, make a list and figure out WHY you’re missing those types of questions (for example- I always mixed up the developmental stages, so I made sure to review those every day and take quizzes on them every day).

The Week Before The Exam

The last week leading up to the exam, I made sure I REALLY knew #1-9 on the list above, since those were listed as a priority to the test creators. By that time, I had studied everything and had a master list of weak subjects to home in on. I took as many practice exams as I could- focusing on timed test since the test is timed.

My next post will be tips on the day before the exam and the day of the exam!

PNP and FNP students and new grad NPs LOVE my clinical cheat sheets! Check them out here

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1 Comment

Jul 01, 2021

I am currently studying for my boards. Did you find anything helpful to study the allergy section further. It is top of the list but not included in any of my study materials.

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