You’ve made it past didactic, rotations, end of rotation exams, OSCE’s, finals..phew! Now, onto the biggest exam of your...*gulp*..LIFE! Relax, it’s really not that bad. You’ve been preparing for this exam from day 1 of PA school.
In this blog: I answer FAQs & give some tips on worked for me. I tend to be more on the organized, type A side..so if you're reading this & you're like "WTF..this is giving me anxiety"...take what you need! Know that there isn't only one way to successfully prep for the PANCE, mine is just ONE of many
When did you take the exam? How soon after graduation? Was it enough prep time?
I graduated in late May and scheduled my exam 4 weeks after. This wasn’t by choice. I initially
wanted to take it as soon as I could (days after graduation) but the exams dates were all booked
when I tried to sign up. Procrastination much? Lesson learned: sign up early if you know you want to take it by a certain date! For some, waiting 4 weeks to take the PANCE after graduation might feel like torture. I thought it would make me feel antsy, but it worked out well. I had to factor in moving between NorCal to SoCal & settling in back home, so four weeks gave me a nice pace to go through all of the material.
When did you start studying?
I scheduled my exam 4 weeks after graduation, but I gave myself 8 weeks to get through all the PANCE blueprint topics & enough time to get through sample practice exams.
Weeks 1-4: I was still in summative course, so after a day of lectures (approx 8 am-5 pm), I
would go home & go through the planned material for the day. My schedule these weeks slightly differed because I was in school for a good majority of the day.
Weeks 5-7: I committed to 8-10 hours of studying a day, with Saturdays as a catch up day &
ROSH practice exam questions. Falling behind on material was something that happened to me regularly. Having Saturdays to catch up was mentally reassuring. Sundays were always off. Yoga/dinners/study breaks were also scheduled in!
Week 8: Very little reading, mainly questions the entire week
How do you recommend scheduling your study plan?
Which planner did YOU use?
I used Passion Planner, which lays out your day from 6 am - 10:30 pm in 30 min intervals. Some people dislike having this much info, I love it. If you're like me, I just printed out the free PDF sheets for 8 weeks. Found here: passionplanner.com/free-downloads/
Where did you study?
Library, coffee shops. Basically anywhere that wasn’t home & could set up my laptop and not be
distracted for hours at a time. I’m usually a home studier, but found myself getting distracted by
the comfy couch, ouuu Netflix, or my cats. Can’t say what will work for you, but just make sure
you have a space specifically for studying & one space for relaxing. Going out and studying
somewhere put me in the mindset of making sure I accomplish most things on my to-do list. It
also made it easy to come home & just relax at the end of the day.
Do you recommend question banks or just studying/reading?
Extra tip: I had a notebook specifically for questions I answered incorrectly on ROSH review. Trust me, I nearly filled up the whole notebook by the end.
Things to remember:
Resources I loved: There’s a billion resource guides and must haves out there. These 5 worked
for me & stuck to them. At the beginning I would be using too many & it just became hectic. Links included
Resources I DID NOT like (take these with a grain of salt)
Finding a testing center:
Location: My exam center was in Orange County, about 1.5 hours away from my home. I knew that I would not want to take a chance on commuting that distance on the morning of my test. I booked a hotel 2 min away from the testing center & stayed there the weekend before my exam. If you will have a long commute the morning of test day, consider this option. Happy I did this!
What did you eat? I know this sounds like a silly question, but I had this same question. So if I had it, others might too. I had a simple but pretty heavy meal--eggs, tofu, avocado toast, fruit, coffee. You want to eat enough to power you through a couple hours, but also don't want to eat so much that it gives you a stomach ache or drink so much coffee that you constantly have to get up to go. I generally have this same meal before a long hike. In many ways, PANCE felt like a long hike with a beautiful destination (PA-C!).
Things I brought with me on test day:
How long was the exam?
After test day:
If you need the PANCE blueprint content: