PANRE and Pathway II
Physician Assistants who currently hold NCCPA certification must pass a recertification exam before the expiration of their certificates, which occurs at the end of the sixth year of the certification maintenance cycle. The exam may be taken as early as year five. There are two different choices of recertifying exams offered, the Physician Assistant National Recertifying Examination (PANRE) and the Pathway II examination. The fee is the same for taking either, but the exams do differ in several important ways. PANRE is administered at Sylvan Prometric Centers, while the Pathway II exam is a take-home examination. PANRE is composed of 300 multiple choice questions and is given on computer, whereas Pathway II is a 300 item paper exam with answers recorded on grid sheet. PANRE examinees may not use any reference materials, while Pathway II examinees are free to use any reference materials they like on this "open-book" style exam. PANRE examinees must complete the exam within 5 hours, while Pathway II examinees may take 6 weeks to complete it.
The final, and crucial, difference between the two types of recertifying exams is that to qualify to take the Pathway II exam, examinees must submit documentation that they have accumulated 100 points by completing various activities of an educational or experiential nature. This requirement is also known as the elective component. Once the component has been submitted and approved by the NCCPA, individuals can register for the Pathway II exam.