Chapter 5: How to Interpret FNP Practice Questions

You’ve gained an incredible wealth of knowledge over years of education and experience. Learning how to interpret ANCC and AANP certification exam practice questions will help you understand how to apply that knowledge successfully on test day.*

In this chapter of the Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner, we’ll show you:

  • How to increase your test score by analyzing FNP exam questions
  • Sample FNP certification exam questions, answers, and rationale
  • Where to find quality AANPCB and ANCC practice exams

What to Expect on the FNP Certification Exams

Both the ANCC FNP exam and the AANPCB FNP exam will effectively measure whether your breadth of knowledge and skills is sufficient to prepare you to safely begin an entry-level role as a family nurse practitioner.

However, there are some differences in length and question format between the two tests.

  • AANP Exam Questions

    The AANP FNP exam consists of 150 questions, with 135 being scored. The limit for this test is 3 hours.*

    Questions for the AANP exam are all multiple choice with one answer being correct.*

  • ANCC Exam Questions

    The ANCC exam consists of 175 questions, 150 of which are scored, with a time limit of 3.5 hours.

    There are four different types of questions in the ANCC exam:

    • Multiple choice questions: Select one option from many
    • Multiple answer questions: Select all the options that apply
    • Hot-spot questions: Mark a certain area of an image
    • Drag-and-drop

Analyzing FNP Exam Questions

The importance of learning how to dissect and analyze FNP test questions cannot be overstated. This level of critical thinking will enable you to pare down answers and find accurate responses.

  • Basic Questions

    Exam questions are written on a variety of levels. The simplest of these levels involves questions that are fact-based and require the test taker to simply recall a piece of information that they’ve memorized.

    Here’s an example of a basic comprehension question that you might find in an FNP certification exam:

    A person with Bell palsy has paralysis
    of cranial nerve:
    A. V C. VII
    B. VI D. VIII

    To answer this question correctly, you will need to recall that Bell palsy is a condition in which cranial nerve VII is affected. No dissection or analysis is required.

  • Application Questions

    You’ll see a few comprehension questions while taking your FNP certification boards. The rest will be more complex, with good reason.

    The NP certification examinations assess the broad base of knowledge and the critical thinking skills necessary for entry-level NP practice. The largest proportion family nurse practitioner certification exam questions focus on assessment and treatment of the health problems common to family practice.

Each exam also contains items that require the examinee to select the appropriate diagnostic studies and screening tests for given clinical scenarios, as well as interpret subsequent findings and evaluate response to care.

  • Key Strategy: Analyze the information

    The most common type of ANCC and AANP practice questions, are application questions.*

    In this kind of question, you must analyze information in order to decide what is pertinent to the given situation. Look for key words in the stem (the question itself) that help set a priority. These include words such as first, initially, or most important action.

    With questions at this level, often more than one answer is correct, but only one answer is the best response given the clinical information presented.

    If you are having difficulty ascertaining which action should be done first, particularly when the question poses many plausible actions, you should ask yourself, “What is the greatest risk in this situation?” This will enable you to choose the best possible answer for both ANCC and AANP certification questions.*

  • Example 1:

    Here’s an example using an FNP sample question:

    • You are seeing Ms. Thomas, a 53-year-old woman who presents for a health exam. She smokes cigarettes, with a 35 pack-year history, and has a strong family history of premature heart disease. The most important part of her assessment is:

    • A. Chest x-ray
      B. Auscultation for extra heart sounds
      C. Blood pressure measurement
      D. Cervical examination with Pap testing

    Like the majority of ANCC and AANP board questions you’ll encounter, this one has more than one answer that could be objectively correct.*

    When looking at this question, you might be struck by the fact that you would certainly perform a cardiac exam and Pap test, and perhaps a chest x-ray if clinically indicated, as part of Ms. Thomas' assessment.

    So, how do you determine what is the most important part of the assessment? Start by teasing out the facts and assumptions.

    Facts include two risk factors for cardiovascular disease: cigarette smoking and family history of premature heart disease. In addition, heart disease is the leading cause of death in American women.

    Assume she is postmenopausal, since the average woman reaches this by age 50. This gives her an additional cardiovascular risk factor. Thus, the stage is set for her to be at high risk for cardiovascular disease.

    Another assumption is that the best evaluation is one that picks up early disease. Now, look at the answers offered and think what you can expect for results.

    In assessing Ms. Thomas, a chest x-ray could reveal lung cancer or smoking- related lung disease. However, such changes will not be evident on chest x-ray until these diseases are rather advanced.

    As a result, while periodic low-dose thoracic computed tomography is recommended for select patients with considerable lung cancer risk, chest x-ray is not recommended for this purpose.

    The presence of extra heart sounds would likely indicate systolic and/or diastolic cardiac dysfunction, again a marker of significant, usually advanced cardiac problems.

    However, blood pressure measurement is critical, as it can detect hypertension in its asymptomatic, earliest state, and early hypertension would increase Ms. Thomas’ risk of heart disease.

    While screening for cervical neoplasia is important, intervening in hypertension would be more likely to improve this woman’s shorter-term health.

    The answer is C.

    In this scenario, because there are multiple “correct” answers and the question uses the phrase “most important”. You should expect that both the ANCC or AANP test questions will assess clinical assessment and intervention skills critical to NP practice.*

  • Example 2:

    In this question, you’ll need to choose from several responses that all seem acceptable.

    • A 65-year-old man presents with a chief complaint of “having no pep for the past few months.” You start the interview by asking:

    • A. Exactly when did this start?
      B. Tell me what you mean by having “no pep.”
      C. Are you taking any medications?
      D. Have you had this problem in the past?

    In this case, the question is determining your knowledge of when and why to use different types of history-taking questions, an area of the AANPCB or ANCC FNP exam outline.

    The answer is B.

    Choice B is an example of an open-ended question. This question usually starts with a statement such as “Tell me...”. The benefit of asking a question this way is that you hear the patient’s perception of the problem.

    Responses A, C, and D are closed-ended questions that ask the patient to provide a specific response, providing you with focused information. Patient responses to such questions are usually short and precise.

    If the examiner only asks closed-ended questions in a clinical scenario, the patient information will be limited to quantifiable measures, such as location, severity, and duration of a problem. What will be missed is the impact of the problem on the person’s life as well as the patient’s hunch about what has contributed to or caused the problem.

Finding Quality FNP Practice Questions

Once you have completed your review, simulated AANPCB and ANCC certification practice questions are tools to help you gauge any areas that may need more study and especially to help you learn the nuances and context of family nurse practitioner board exam questions.

Because they’re helpful, prospective test-takers are often searching for free FNP predictor exams, free ANCC and AANP practice questions, and free family nurse practitioner test banks.*

When searching for ANCC and AANP sample exams and FNP review questions online, do your best to determine whether or not it’s high-quality certification prep material.* Some signs of quality are:

  • A reputable source, such as well-known ANCC or AANPCB exam prep review providers
  • Text indicating that the questions have been recently updated to align with current test content outlines and authoritative references

The Fitzgerald Pass Guarantee

Students who use Fitzgerald FNP Certification Courses and Prep Packages have a 99%+ pass rate, plus the course is backed by our Pass Guarantee.

The Fitzgerald Pass Guarantee ensures free online course access if a student needs to retake the exam, plus free remediation guided by NP Certification Experts.

Our ample, cutting-edge FNP practice tests and FNP sample questions are a huge part of the success our students achieve on test day. Plus, they’re included in our family nurse practitioner certification exam review courses.

We offer flexible certification prep packages as well as standalone supplemental resources that help the next generation of FNPs pass their exams quickly and feel prepared for the next phase of their careers.

If you have questions, please visit our website or reach out to our highly-rated customer service personnel.

*AANP is often used as shorthand for AANPCB (the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board).