HOW I PREPARED FOR THE PANCE (and passed)
Preparing for the PANCE is honestly the 2.5 years of schooling you receive from your PA program + long nights spent studying for the hundreds of exams alllllll packed into a 3+ hour exam.
First of all, let’s acknowledge the fact that the courses or methods we choose to prepare weeks before our scheduled PANCE date will only help us PASS the exam, not ACE it- but who cares as long as it gives you that ‘C’ behind your name, right?
In retrospect + as an average test taker, did I think that the PANCE questions or score I received (aside from passing) reflected all of the long and hard hours I dedicated myself to everyday? No. But did these courses give me the confidencewhen taking the biggest exam of my life? Absolutely.
TEST TAKING CONFIDENCE is the #1 reason why I went a little overboard and booked not just one review course, but TWO. As someone who struggles with test anxiety & is far from the smartest person among her PA cohorts, I wanted to do everything I possibly could to assure I would pass this exam - and I did!
This is how I chose to tackle the PANCE….but first I’ll include the timeline leading up to my exam to give some perspective:
October-November 28th: on my final rotation with Hematology / Oncology: Yes this helped me learn Heme big time- but, was I preparing for the PANCE entirely? Absolutely not. I was too focused on the EOR (End of Rotation exam)
Every EOR prior I would focus on studying for that specific EOR, I didn’t worry about studying for the entirety of the PANCE unless I was in my Fam Med or Internal Med rotation!
December 1-13: Continue out the last of our schooling with final exams, lectures reviewing content, & prepping for family to arrive for graduation weekend.
December 14-16: GRADUATION weekend
December 17-19: CME Educators Online 3 day PANCE review course
December 20-26: Attend a friend’s wedding & head home to FL for the holidays.
Not much studying occurred these days- just focused on enjoying the holidays with family & friends!
December 27th: Drive back to TN to begin studying HARD for the PANCE. Listening to podcasts on my 10+ hr drives (for podcasts recommendations, check out my favs on my IG highlights… link: https://www.instagram.com/withashleykay/)
Jan 2-9: ALL-DAY PANCE PREP BEGINS. Hours were typically 7am-5pm & sometimes practice questions later in the evening if I could manage it.
Jan 10-14: Fly to Chicago for CME Resources 3-day in person course& fly back!
Jan 15: LAST DAY OF STUDYING
Jan 16: Day of rest, gather test day snacks (fruit, nuts, water, etc.)
Jan 17: TAKE THE PANCE!
So… as you can see toward the end of your program, life gets a bit hectic to actually sit down & close the world out to study! All in all I took about a month after graduation to give myself time to study for the exam, but only about 15 days were actually spent with focused studying.
PROS & CONS ABOUT THE REVIEW COURSES I USED:
Please keep in mind the following is simply my opinion based on my personal experience; experiences may vary & I am not sponsored or partial toward either course.
The 1st course I took was by CME Educators:
This review was their CetMedEd Webiconference online review course/webinar provided with a supplemental binder for note-taking. Typically this company primarily offers in-person courses reviews which isn’t what I chose for convenience sake, but from my knowledge covers the same material.
Cost: $212+ 100% money back guarantee (higher cost for already certified PA’s)
Available materials: one Pre-test, one Post-review test with answers + 3 days of class from 6:30am -- roughly 4pm
- Inexpensive in comparison to other course reviews I’ve seen available.
- Online, so very convenient to stay at home and review.
- Covers Cardio & Pulm in great detail & definitely helped on the exam.
- Supplemental binder is previously made with 3-6 slides per page so plenty of space to write in your own notes as the instructor covers the subject. Having all of the information condensed to one binder was definitely helpful!
- Quizzes in between topics to help with material retention
- This is a LIVE conference so there’s no pausing it if you have to run to the bathroom & no rewinding if you think you missed something important.
o Side note: the instructors DO give you bathroom breaks
- Chance of technical difficulties may arise - & did when I took the Webiconference, so this was a distraction.
- Takes more self-control to sit down without distractions in an environment without others focusing on the same material.
- Very broad overview, not enough detail in comparison to other courses or level of the PANCE
- Did not cover Pharmacology for the Webiconference but material was included in the binder to cover at our own convenience.
The 2nd course I took was by CME Resources – The Chicago Course 3-day in person course:
I would recommend this course to everyone & their mom who needs to take the PANCE/PANRE.
I chose to attend the 3-day Chicago course due to the convenience in the dates offered and I also wanted to venture through the city (def would recommend if you’re flying out for it). The Chicago course is actually located in suburb of Chicago, about a 45 min-1 hour drive out, so if you don’t plan to see the city before or after- you definitely won’t have enough time during the course!
- Flight: roughly $350 for direct flights non-stop round trip from Knoxville to Chicago.
- Food: Breakfast + Lunch is included for the 3 days of the course. All additional meals will be your responsibility.
- Travel/Uber/Lyft: about $15-30to & from the airport depending on the hour
- Course costs $350+ 100% money back guarantee. However, a lot of programs gift this to their students for free (not in my case)
Schedule of topics reviewed:
7-8:15 Cardio I
8:25-9:40 Cardio II
10:45- 11:45 Endocrinology
11:45-12:25 LUNCH (provided within cost of course & actually really great food!)
12:25-1:25 Cardio III
1:35-2:35 Cardio IV
* Every night included an optional take home test * (def a highlight of this course as painful as it was to do a 2 hour exam after sitting through lectures all day. Definitely would take advantage of this if you take the course!)
9:10-10:55 Infectious Disease
12:05- 12:45 LUNCH
2:25- 4:25 Gastroenterology
4:35- 5:20 Hematology
5:30- 6:15 Ophthalmology
* opt take home test *
7:00- 8:00 Neurology
12:10- 2:10 Women’s Health
2:20- 3:05 Urology
3:15- 4:15 Dermatology
- Honestly if I paid all of these fees & only received this Cardiology lecture, I’d be satisfied. It was that good.
o I felt like I learned SO much with simply the cardio review. Not to discount the other lectured
topics, but this lecture surpassed any cardio review I’ve had yet.
- Having 300 people in the SAME ROOM as you, all focusing on the material being discussed is motivating! (at least in my opinion)
- One thing I loved about these lectures is that if anyone had questions they would answer it before/after the lecture. No hand raising/questions during the lecture to disrupt the flow of learning (as opposed to many of our PA school classroom settings)
- Provides all of the information condensed into one binder for notetaking.
- Covers topics in GREAT detail.
- These speakers were honestly some of the best lectures I’ve sat through, you definitely get your money back through the quality of material & how it’s presented to you.
- Practice tests EVERY NIGHT & analyzed via scantron the next day to give you an idea of where you fall on the curve with the other students taking the exam. This was another key factor I loved about the course- they give you a score everyday which allows you to see which topics you’re weak/strong in.
- Notice from the schedule above the beginning of each day covers the topics of highest percentage based on the blueprint to the least toward the end of the day.
- Some of the pharmacology taught wasn’t aligned with the “book” medicine that we were taught for the PANCE- but instead based on current research & data. (which we all know the PANCE is a little behind on due to getting approval for pilot questions, national requirements always changing, etc) This was a bit confusing to sort through.
- Both courses I took were still teaching based on the 2018 NCCPA blueprint- I was about to take the brand new 2019 blueprint which no one in the country had taken yet. Understandably this would be hard to accommodate so early in the year, but it was definitely a bit of a disadvantage that was worth considering. However, by the time you read this it’s likely both courses may have changed their subject focus- worth emailing them about if you’re considering either!
Other options I’ve heard friends utilizing who also passed their PANCE:
PANCE Prep Pearls: The holy grail. Some friends just studied this book & never looked back. Brave people & you know I love this resource, but wasn’t enough for me to feel confident with the actual test day.
The Lange Q&A Physician Assistant Examination book: includes online practice tests with purchase of the text
Rutgers PANCE Review Course: a webinar styled review course that allows you to play at your own pace.
Here are some photos of how we chose to spend out first day in Chicago before the studying madness began! We chose to check out the Museum of Art, the Willis Tower Sky deck, even got to check out what the hype about the Bean was all about!
Have any questions or comments about information I include or didn’t include? Please comment below & let me know! I’d love to hear any feedback <3