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Your Guide to Applying to the NP Certification Exams

by South University
November 2, 2018 Find out what’s required and what you need to do for applying to sit for the AANP and ANCC nursing certification exams.
A photo of South University nursing students practicing patient care.

If you're nearing the end of your nurse practitioner graduate or post graduate program, your nurse practitioner (NP) certification is almost surely on your mind. As you likely know, there are two organizations through which you can complete an NP certification exam: the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) exam and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).*

Not familiar with the ANCC or AANP exams? Check out our recent blog 5 Things to Do Before Applying for Your NP Exams.

In fact, if you haven’t read that blog, go give it a look to make sure you’ve completed everything you need to do before starting your NP exam application. If you’re ready to go, read on for details on the AANP and ANCC application processes.

Important Information for All AANP and ANCC Exam Applicants

For both AANP and ANCC exams, you can start your application before finishing your program, but you will not receive approval to sit for an exam until you complete all required coursework and clinical practice hours in your program.

To avoid wasting time or money, check with the advisors at your university to see when they recommend you begin your application for your nursing boards. Once you start your application, watch the deadlines and work ahead to complete everything on time.

The AANP and ANCC Application Process

  1. Complete Your Application

    First, create a free account on the AANP or ANCC site. This will let you check your application status throughout the process. As you complete your application for your certification exam, keep your transcripts on hand. Several questions ask about specific classes taken, the credits they were worth, and when you completed them.

  2. Submit Nursing School Transcripts

    If you apply before graduating, send your unofficial transcripts first. After you graduate, request that your final official transcript be sent to AANP or ANCC using the address provided by the organization. Sending your final transcript is essential. Your exam scores will not be released until an official final transcript is received showing your program completion date and degree or certificate received.

    (South University students: You can request your final official transcripts in the Campus Common after entering graduate status. Your Career Services Advisor will email you when you’ve entered graduate status. To check your status, contact your Academic Counselor or Career Services Advisor.)

  3. Pay Your Exam Fee

    By joining the AANP or ANCC, you can receive a discounted fee on your exam. If you join as a student, you’ll pay less than you would if you join after graduating. A student membership fee plus the discounted exam fee is usually still less than the nonmember exam fee.

  4. Work with Your University on Additional Documents

    For the AANP: Once you submit your application, unofficial transcripts, and exam fee, you’ll receive an email saying that your official transcripts and a letter from the program director are needed. Connect with your program team or career services about sending these documents.

    (South University students: If you have submitted all of your clinical hours and met all program requirements, we will send the required letter to the AANP within 2-4 weeks after you graduate.)

    For the ANCC: Download the Verification of Education form, sometimes called the Validation Form. You’ll complete the Candidate Information Section and then your program director will complete the rest of the form. Ask your career services or program team about the best process for ensuring that your program director completes this form.

    (South University students: Please send your completed form to your Career Services advisor. We encourage you to do this within a few weeks of finishing your last class.)

What to Expect Next

A photo of a South University student speaking with an advisor.

After the AANP and ANCC receives all application materials (including your application, exam fee, required documents from your school, and transcripts showing that you met program requirements for clinical hours and coursework), you should receive approval to sit for the boards. For the AANP, this may take up to 6 weeks. The ANNC process may take a little longer.

Upon receiving authorization to test, you’ll have up to 4 months to schedule your AANP exam and up to 3 months to schedule your ANCC exam, giving you plenty of time to devote to studying before taking your boards.

When it comes to studying, know that you’ll have many options and tools available. In our next post on the NP boards, we’ll cover some of the top resources for studying for your nurse practitioner certification exams.

* South University does not guarantee third-party certification/licensure. Outside agencies control the requirements for taking and passing certification/licensing exams and are subject to change without notice to South University.

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