Although it has been a couple of years since I took the PANCE, I remember pretty well what study tactics were effective and what I wish I would have done differently!
So, let my experience and mistakes help you be well prepared and pass your PANCE on the first attempt!
1. Plan Ahead
While this sounds basic, it is easy to allow the PANCE to go to the back burner when you are first getting adjusted to both didactic and clinical years. With the stress surrounding a new environment, arduous course load and possibly moving and a completely new city/area it is easy to do.
While going through clinical education I urge you to keep a notebook of any “clinical pearls” that lecturers may note or you come across in your studies. Keep these buzz words, phrases and points all in a book that you can use at a future date for quick study points to hit!
Low amount of time and high yield return for these!
In addition, while going through didactic year use a PANCE study guide to help you pick out and really drive home the important points for your exam!
2. Create a Timeline
This is very individual. I recommend setting small goals in a quarterly fashion (aka every 3 months)
During didactic year if your program moves in a linear fashion by body system (like the PANCE) make it a point to create study guides for yourself based off of what you need to know for each disease. This is TIME CONSUMING (I did it) but, the pay off was really great as I studied both through school and for the PANCE.
Set small goals and hold yourself accountable. I find that when I create daily, weekly and monthly goals and write down what I need to do in order to accomplish them it really keeps me on track and my behaviors and choices in line with my actions.
Creating a timeline also sets you up for success to not “cram” for the exam. The more prepared you feel leading up to the exam, the higher your confidence the lower your stress. If you are relaxed and confident going into the exam you are far more likely to crush it!
3. Practice Makes Permanent!
Do as many practice questions as you can get your hands on!
Whenever you sit down to take a full practice exam, emulate test day as much as possible.
What does this mean?
If you are taking the exam at 8:30 in the morning make sure that you wake up to begin your practice exam at this time. Set a timer for each of the sections and a timer for your breaks as well.
The more “real” you make the setting, again the more familiar and comfortable you will feel on your actual test day!
There are tons of resources out there to practice questions– there are even previous PAKRAT’s available (if you have yet to take the PAKRAT or do not know what it is it is basically a practice version of the PANCE)
- 4. Relax!
When it comes to actual test day remember that you have spent the last two years training and preparing for this day! Even if you have stumbled along the way and had to remediate a test or a practical– YOU PASSED PA SCHOOL. Your program is confident in sending you to represent their institution and pass on your first attempt!
Relax, be confident!