Practice Tests, Which Ones and How Many?
So here’s a question that I get all of the time at our PA board review events. What PANCE practice tests should I take? Which ones do you recommend? How many practice questions should I do?
Let me start with this; too many questions are a bad thing. If the only thing you are doing is practice questions….STOP…. once more….STOP! Simply doing test questions does not adequately prepare you for the PANCE. Now that comes with a bit of a caveat. Most people look at review questions incorrectly. If you answer tons of questions, there’s a good chance that you guess a few right (20-25% chance at guessing, right?). Once you get an answer right, you think you know it and do not delve deep into the questions to make sure you know what is really being asked.
Now the correct way to look at a questions is to look at the answers, or distractors and try to find out what body system they are looking at. Say it is a cardiology question, and they are talking about CHF. There are a few things you want to be sure you can answer.
- How would a patient with CHF (or insert anything here) present?
- What would be the clinical findings?
- How would you fix the patient?
Now if this is how you are doing questions, great. If not, this is how you should start doing them!
On to the next part of this complicated answer, what tests should I take? If you are preparing for your PANCE or you are getting ready to attend a PANCE Review Course, here are a couple musts.
- If you are taking your PANCE, take the Packrat. As a student, you are the only ones who can take this. Someone preparing for the PANRE is unable to take this test, so be sure to relish this opportunity. A little side note for those who do not know much about the Packrat. It is designed by the PAEA (Physician Assistant Education Association) and has been proven to have a direct correlation to the PANCE. So, how good (or bad) you do on the Packrat should indicate how well (or poorly) you do on the PANCE.
- Take the NCCPA practice exams. Here is a link to them https://www.nccpa.net/PracticeExams. Now there are 2 pretests that you are able to take (2 PANCE and 2 PANRE) and they consist of old board questions. You can’t get close to anything that would resemble the PANCE better than from the NCCPA. This is better than any test you could take at any board review and that is why I strongly recommend it.
After you finish these practice exams, you will get a report on how well you did on each system, along with how well the practice exam thinks you will do on the PANCE. I have attached my pre-test and my PANRE score and there is no denying that there is a correlation between the two.
Once you have an idea of where you are strong and where you are weak (and whether you would pass or not) you can start to develop a solid study plan.
So lets wrap up this blog with a quick recap.
- Do not do a bunch of questions, if you do, be sure to do them right.
- Take the Packrat (if available).
- Take the NCCPA practice exams.
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