NP Board Prep For Family Nurse Practitioner StudentsNov 17, 2022
You are so close to being a Nurse Practitioner. Graduation is on the horizon, and reality is starting to set in – boards are coming up. How do you prepare? What are your options? When should you start? We asked our Real World NP community, and we’ve got all the details on what worked for them – and what might work for you, too.
NP Board Prep Format Options
NP board prep courses are a top option, typically offered via web-based lectures or in-person conferences. There are benefits and drawbacks to each approach; with web-based board reviews, you have the convenience of watching at a time and place that works for you (and breaking it up into multiple sessions, if that works for you). In-person conferences can be a great way to focus on the material without distraction from your daily life, and some people prefer a live lecture and the opportunity for real-time interaction.
Review books are available as well; these tend to be organized by body system and can be a great study companion as you go through your clinical rotations and second-year coursework. Most review books include practice questions that will help to reinforce your learning or identify areas that need more support.
Question banks are another very popular review option. You can purchase access to these from popular review companies, and there are also many question bank apps available. These are great options for quick study sessions or to take along with you to clinical for additional on-the-fly review. What’s more, many of these apps let you customize the number of questions in each session (10 or 20 questions are great for a quick drill), or about specific clinical topics (need to focus just on cardiology?).
Many said that it worked well to start their board prep slow and early, with a question bank/app or a review book during the second year of school. This can be a great way to reinforce what you are learning in the classroom as well as in the clinic. Once graduation has happened, pick a test date not too far in the future – our community says that within two months of graduation worked well for them. This approach allows you to focus exclusively on studying for boards without having to juggle clinicals and coursework; you can also put an emphasis on getting enough rest (hard to do during the semester), which will serve you well for both studying as well as test day.
Let’s talk about the top options from our community about what worked for them and got them across the finish line: passing boards.
NP Board Prep Roundup - Your Top Results
Advance Practice Education Associates (APEA) is a favorite among budding Nurse Practitioners and members of the Real World NP community. They offer live review courses, web-based reviews, audio review (from a live course!) that you can listen to again and again. They prepare Nurse Practitioners who plan to take either the AANP or ANCC board exam. The lecturers – primarily Dr. Amelie Hollier, but there are others who join her – have a reputation for being quite engaging and breaking these complex topics down into pieces that are easy to retain. They have been doing this since 1997, and have a ton of satisfied, board-certified Nurse Practitioners who recommend them.
Among the positives that our respondents noted was that APEA strikes a balance between being succinct but also thorough. This can be an important element as board review comes at the end of a couple of exhausting years, when maintaining your momentum can be challenging. Our community also liked the option to complete the review online and watch the videos more than once.
The biggest drawback identified was the cost. The other feedback that came up was that some of their questions were harder than the questions that you saw on the actual board exam – but is that a problem, or a silver lining?
The Fitzgerald review was the most popular board review in our survey. They have been doing reviews for a long time (over 30 years), and their claims are impressive – that they have prepared over 140,000 NPs to pass their exams, with a 99%+ pass rate. They offer an online and in-person option; the in-person option also includes a prep book. Both options include flash cards, workbook, practice exam and practice questions, and more.
People liked that the review was thorough and that it felt very geared to the exam. The prep questions were also a popular feature among our community. On the flip side, respondents reported feeling overwhelmed by the amount of content and the length, with some mentioning that it felt very intense for a three-day review. Price also came up as a concern, though to be fair, all review courses are a financial investment.
The Sarah Michelle review course is a newer option that was very popular with our survey respondents. The Sarah Michelle review offers multiple options - focused reviews (diagnosis review, pharmacology review), along with a comprehensive option. The cost of the options are generally a monthly fee, and include study guides.
Our survey respondents liked that the Sarah Michelle NP Review has no fluff, a nice breakdown for daily studying, and a simple approach. Cons were that people felt a question bank should have been included, and that it was a limited time access. Cost was also a factor listed as a con for this, as well.
There are many, many options available for board prep, and we have some honorable mentions, as well. Maria Leik’s review book was popular; people liked that it was comprehensive and user-friendly. The FNP Mastery app was another favorite; people like that the questions also provided rationales that helped with understanding. The Cohen Review (offering live review, self-study, and more) was another honorable mention for its straight-forwardness and affordability.
Board Preparation Pearls
No matter which option our Real World NP community members chose, cost was frequently mentioned as a drawback. The prices change, and there are often promo codes or early bird specials available, so definitely review the websites to get the latest information. That being said, expect to pay in the neighborhood of $500-$800 for a review course (payment options are available, as well), and $100 or less for books or apps.
No matter which board preparation approach our community took, it worked for them – they are now on the other side of being licensed, practicing Nurse Practitioners. They had some great words of wisdom for you as you prepare to join them on the other side of taking boards; here are some highlights:
- Answer all of the practice questions that you can
- Don’t wait until graduation to study or take review course
- Setup scheduled study time and take at least one predictor exam to find weak areas
- Start studying about six months before graduating
- Get a review book and follow along throughout your program (well in advance of graduation)
- Devote full-time for a few weeks to prep for boards
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