About the PANCE: Summary of Exam Facts

medical students in lecture

Congratulations! You’ve made it through PA school and are just about ready to graduate. Next comes another major life milestone: certification! Are you excited? Well, you should be because you have a bright and fulfilling future ahead of you. Soon you’ll pass the PANCE and become a certified superhero (PA for short), after which the world is yours save. But first, the exam that unlocks your superpowers is upon you, which is why we’ve put together a summary of facts about the PANCE to help prepare you for what to expect.

1. PANCE Certification

Since you’ll be graduating from a U.S. PA program accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), you may now take the Physician Assistant National Certification Exam (PANCE). After you pass the PANCE, the NCCPA will issue your NCCPA certification, granting you the PA-C designation until the certification expiration date, which is about two years.

2. PANCE Eligibility

Each PA school graduate will have six years and/or six attempts to take the exam and become certified. You may take the PANCE up to a maximum of six times within the six-year period following your graduation. If you fail the exam after six attempts, or if you don’t take and pass the exam before your six-year window has lapsed, you will no longer be eligible to take it. 

After that, the only way to become eligible to retake the PANCE is to re-enroll and complete another full PA program at an accredited PA school. Let’s be honest: no one who’s already completed PA school wants to go through the journey once more. To avoid that fate, we highly recommend trying out our new PANCE | PANRE online learning tool to prepare for the exam so you can pass the certification exam with flying colors on your first try.

3. PANCE Registration

The following are the requirements to register for the PANCE:

  • Submit an application and make a $500 payment in advance to the NCCPA
  • Apply to take the PANCE only within 90 days of the date all requirements for graduation are completed (as determined by your program)
  • Schedule your exam anytime (depending on testing center availability) within the 180-day timeframe established for you based on your expected graduation date and the successful submission of all required materials to the NCCPA
  • The earliest date you’ll be able to test is seven days after your program completion date, which will be reflected in your exam application acknowledgment e-mail
  • You may only take the PANCE once in any 90-day period or three times in a calendar year

4. PANCE Resources

The following additional resources will give you an even deeper understanding of the PANCE exam and the NCCPA’s requirements for you as you prepare to transition from PA student to certified, practicing PA, so feel free to explore them at your convenience.  

If you are a PA student prepping for an upcoming PANCE exam and want to optimize your chances of success, click here for your FREE trial of our PANCE QBank. We’ll have you ready to ace the PANCE on exam day.