Managing Test Day

Taking the PANCE is NOT the make-or-break day of your life, nor is it a test of your intelligence. It's just one more step on your path to becoming a licensed physician assistant. So keep it in perspective. If you have prepared carefully and practiced with questions, you can approach this exam in a methodical way, dealing with each question as it comes, making your choice, and then moving on.

No matter how well you have prepared, however, you should expect to miss some questions. Unlike school exams, standardized licensure exams are designed so that everyone will miss at least some items. It is important to record an answer to every question because there is no guessing penalty, so you will score higher by never leaving an item blank.

Test Day Tips

  1. Plan to arrive at the Pearson VUE testing center at least 30 minutes ahead of time.
    If you are unfamiliar with its location, look at a map or scout out the location before your test date so that you won't have to worry about getting lost or find a place to park.
  2. Use your break time wisely.
    Using the restroom, grabbing a quick snack, or simply stretching your legs will help you stay comfortable and better able to focus during each 60-minute testing period.
  3. Don't change answers unless you realize that you have misread something that directly affects the meaning of the question or a choice.
    Initial choices tend to be correct ones, and everyone feels tempted to change when dealing with items assessing weaker topics. Most answer changes move from one wrong answer to another wrong answer, so stick with your first decision and don't obsess.
  4. Monitor your time so you won't have to rush through final questions in a block.
    Time use is displayed on the testing screen, so check the time remaining at questions 15, 30, and 45. These 1/4-, 1/2-, and 3/4-point checkpoints will allow you to adjust your speed if necessarily, without allowing you to lose thinking time by too frequent glances at the clock.
  5. With each question, focus on what you DO know rather than mentally berating yourself when you encounter unfamiliar terms or other elements in questions.
    Ask yourself what more general principle or concept the question is assessing, and then reason from that more general knowledge to eliminate choices and to select an answer more likely to be correct. Giving up too soon and marking your favorite letter should be a final resort option used only when you are truly clueless about what's being asked.
  6. Remember that the correct answer will be the only choice that fits ALL the information given in the question.
    If a choice fits most, but not all, the clues, then it is incorrect and should be ruled out.