PANCE | PANRE

The New PANCE Content Blueprint

pa checking girl patient

The Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam, known simply as the PANCE, is an exam PA students must pass to become certified clinicians. As thousands of PA students will be preparing for this exam in 2020, let’s review how the PANCE changed in 2019 and what this means for the foreseeable future of PA certification. So, what’s new about the exam? Well, let’s examine the latest PANCE content blueprint to find out.

The Content Blueprint

According to the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), effective January 2019, there is a new content blueprint for the PANCE. This content blueprint serves as the official guide for topics and concepts tested on the PANCE and is organized into two categories:

  1. Knowledge of the diseases and disorders PAs encounter; and
  2. Knowledge and skills related to tasks PAs perform when treating patients.

The NCCPA emphasizes that the blueprint is only meant to give examples of the content that students may see on the PANCE as not all topics can be covered in a single exam. Likewise, students may encounter questions on the PANCE that are not on the content blueprint.

This PANCE content blueprint update is consistent with the NCCPA’s practice of updating the blueprint regularly to keep up with the ever-evolving medical practice field. You may read the complete 2019 NCCPA PANCE Content Blueprint here.

Decreased PANCE Pass Rates

With this update, the PANCE passing standard increased, meaning that the exam has become relatively more challenging. However, over time, as test-takers become more acclimated with the new content blueprint and adjust their preparation accordingly, passing rates should return to historical thresholds.

Degree of Difficulty

After examining the NCCPA’s announcements about the changes to the content blueprint, with an increased passing standard, it may be fair to say that passing the PANCE has become more difficult. This development means that it will be even more critical for PA graduates to prepare thoroughly for the PANCE.

What It Means for You

In our view, this increase in the passing standard means it may be more important than ever for PA graduates to prepare not just to barely pass the PANCE. It will be equally important to demonstrate better concept mastery. This attitude toward exam prep is at the core of our approach to preparing students for high-stakes exams, where we prepare you to master the concepts tested.

Ultimately, by adjusting your preparation from a pass/fail mindset to an active-learning approach where you focus on understanding the concepts more than you would have otherwise under the old content blueprint, you should have no problem passing the PANCE.

And with UWorld now preparing PA students to not only pass the PANCE but to become better clinicians with our brand new PANCE | PANRE Exam Prep, PA students have more reason to remain confident in their ability to succeed on the exam.


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.