PANCE Exam Registration, Cost, and Eligibility Requirements

You’ve decided that becoming a physician assistant is the right career for you. Great! Before you can obtain your coveted PA-C designation, you must take and pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants® (NCCPA®). This comes with several eligibility and registration requirements that we’ll outline in this guide. We’ll also discuss the cost of the PANCE to ensure you have a full picture of what you need.

PANCE Exam Eligibility

Before you can take the PANCE, you will need to graduate from a physician assistant program accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). There are currently around 300 accredited programs. To fulfill this PANCE education requirement, your program must have been accredited at the time of matriculation.

How soon after graduation can I take the PANCE?

The earliest you can apply to take the PANCE is 180 days prior to your expected program completion date, as provided by your program director. The earliest date you can take the exam is seven days after program completion. You will receive confirmation of this date in your exam application acknowledgement email. Also in this email will be your 180-day time frame to take the exam. You can only take the PANCE once in a 90-day period, and three times in a calendar year.

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Six-years-six-attempts rule

If you graduated from an ARC-PA accredited PA program on or after January 1, 2003, and have never been certified, you are subject to the six-years-six-attempts rule. The rule states that your eligibility to take the PANCE is active for up to six years after completing your program’s graduation requirements. However, you can only take the PANCE a total of six times during that period. If either the six years or six attempts are exhausted, you will lose your eligibility to take the exam. To gain new eligibility, you must complete another unabridged ARC-PA accredited PA program.

Submitting a request for an extension of PANCE eligibility

If you need to extend your PANCE eligibility time frame, you can submit a request any time through your online record. Before submitting an Exception to Policy (ETP) request, we encourage you to consider the following:

  • “Financial hardship” does not qualify as an extenuating circumstance unless it is related to an approved extenuating circumstance.
  • You may not receive an exemption from taking a NCCPA exam.
  • You may submit a second extension request if a new extenuating circumstance arises, or if your original extenuating circumstance has remained problematic or worsened.

PANCE Registration

To complete PANCE registration, you must first submit an application to the NCCPA with a $550 payment. After you graduate from an ARC-PA-accredited PA program, you have 180 days to take the exam. You can schedule it whenever you want, as long as the testing center is open. Be sure to submit all required materials to the NCCPA, as ineligible individuals who take the exam will either not receive a score or have their score rescinded. You can only be registered for one exam at a time.

Can I cancel my PANCE registration?

We encourage students to take the PANCE shortly after graduation so that the content they learned in their didactics and clinicals is still fresh in their minds. Unfortunately, situations may arise where you need to wait or cancel your previously-scheduled exam. You can reschedule or cancel your PANCE registration during your 180-day time frame indicated in your exam-acknowledgement documentation through Pearson VUE. This must be done at least one business day prior to your scheduled exam date. Failure to do so will result in the loss of your exam fee, meaning you will need to reapply and pay again for the exam.

How to Schedule Your PANCE Exam Date With Pearson VUE

The NCCPA PANCE is administered at Pearson VUE testing centers. If you are a first-time test taker, you will need to create a Pearson VUE account. To create your account and schedule your exam, you will need your NCCPA ID number. This and other information on how to schedule your PANCE examination date will be provided in your exam-acknowledgement documentation. Be advised that updating your contact information in Pearson VUE will not update your NCCPA contact information.

Once your exam date is scheduled, Pearson VUE will send a confirmation letter with your testing date, time, and address. You will also receive your testing center’s phone number and directions to the facility. Please note that Pearson VUE has the right to modify admission and examinee conduct requirements for their testing centers. You will be expected to abide by any updated requirements.

Can I take my test in a different state/jurisdiction?

Yes, you do not need to take the PANCE in the state you wish to practice in. Because the PA-C designation is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, and not individual state boards, you can take the PANCE from your nearest Pearson VUE testing center. However, you will still need to get licensed in the state where you want to practice in. Visit your state board website to learn about the specific licensure requirements in your state.

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How Much Does the PANCE Exam Cost?

The application fee and any test-prep services you use are the two main costs of the PANCE. As of 2022, the application fee is $550 (to be submitted during registration). This fee is subject to change and can be verified on the NCCPA’s website. Test prep costs can vary and depend on the resources included. Most PANCE review tools range between $200 - $550.

At UWorld Medical, we offer an industry-leading QBank with PANCE-style practice questions based on the latest NCCPA blueprint. You can sign up for a free PANCE trial here. Students who use our PANCE prep services are more prepared for the exam and real-world practice.

How do I pay for my PANCE exam?

The cost of your PANCE exam is paid with your application. All fees must be paid in U.S. dollars. Your application will not be processed until you have paid the full amount, and you will not receive final approval until any outstanding fees have been paid.

Refunds and fee forfeiture

If you fail to show up on your scheduled exam day or do not provide all required registration information, you will forfeit your exam fee and need to pay again to retake the exam. To cancel or reschedule your exam date without paying additional fees, you must contact your testing center prior to one business day of your exam. If you wish to withdraw from your exam-acknowledgement time frame, notice must be received in writing by the NCCPA on or before the last day of your time frame, or prior to one business day of a scheduled exam. If you begin your exam, you cannot cancel it, reschedule it, or receive a refund.

Read More About the PANCE

Discover the ins and outs of the PANCE, from how it’s structured to what it covers. Read advice from our in-house PAs on how to pass it.
Learn time-tested strategies, plans, and schedules when preparing for the PANCE from our experts who have “been there and done that.”
Enhance your study strategy by understanding how the PANCE is scored. See historical pass rates and learn about when you can view your score.
Review the latest NCCPA blueprint to find out what medical content and task categories are being tested, as well as how they’re allocated.
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