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    How to Study for the PANCE and PANRE

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    Look at the Content Blueprint for the PANCE and PANRE

    The first thing we need to do is look at what is being tested.

    Most of the PANCE and PANRE are very much the same. If you go to the NCCPA website, you’ll notice the content blueprint is the same for both exams.

    The PANRE has an option to focus 40% of the exam on adult medicine (no pediatrics), surgery, or primary care (this options is essentially the same as the PANCE). The first 60% will still be primary care focused.

    This is why most review courses cover the same material.

    Next, look at the topics being tested. Right off the bat you’ll notice the big 4:

    a. Cardiology (16%)
    b. Pulmonology (12%)
    c. Musculoskeletal and Rheumatology (10%)
    d. Gastroenterology (10%)

    These 4 organ systems make up 48% of the exam.

    So, if you know these, you’ll have a rock solid base.

    Here’s something else which might be of relief. Only 10% of the exam falls under “applying basic science concepts”. This includes: anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, microbiology, and biochemistry.

    Therefore, you don’t need to kill yourself learning the minutia of each concept. Know the basics. Remember, the goal here is to pass the exam.

    I’ve put together free cheat sheets which you can download to help consolidate all the high yield information for over 350 diseases.

    Take a Practice Exam (Packrat or NCCPA practice exam)

    Once you’ve taken a look at the content, I recommend you take a practice exam.

    If you are still in school, then the packrat will serve this purpose. If not, then I suggest you take a practice exam by NCCPA.

    This way, you will be able to see which areas you are deficient in. Remember, you want to excel in the big 4. This will increase the likelihood of passing.

    The questions on the NCCPA exam are retired questions. Meaning, they might be outdated.

    Therefore, take the score with a grain of salt (so long as you are completely deficient in one area). But, this also means, they were on the actual exam at some point.

    This is beneficial as it exposes you to how questions are formatted.

    You need to be careful with what the questions are asking:

    “What is the most accurate test?”
    “What would you do next?”
    “What is the most likely diagnosis?”
    “What is the most common etiology?”

    Students typically answer what they think they are being asked – not necessarily what is being asked.

    But, as you’ll notice above, these are very different. The ultrasound might be the next best step – but the CT might be the most accurate.

    If both options are available, make sure you are answering what is being asked.

    Not sure how to go through all the information? Our free high yield cheat sheets are a great way to start.

    Create a Study Schedule

    The majority will do great with 4 weeks of review. Here’s a sample study schedule I’ve created to help you:

    Week 1:

    Day 1: Cardiology (16%)
    Day 2: Cardiology (16%)
    Day 3: Urology (6%)
    Day 4: Psychiatry (6%)
    Day 5: Questions

    Week 2:

    Day 1: Pulmonology (12%)
    Day 2: Pulmonology (12%)
    Day 3: Reproductive (8%)
    Day 4: EENT (9%)
    Day 5: Questions

    Week 3:

    Day 1: Gastroenterology (10%)
    Day 2: Endocrinology (6%)
    Day 3: Infectious Disease (3%)
    Day 4: Dermatology (5%)

    Week 4:

    Day 1: Musculoskeletal and Rheumatology (10%)
    Day 2: Musculoskeletal and Rheumatology (10%)
    Day 3: Neurology (6%)
    Day 4: Hematology (3%)
    Day 5: Questions

    I’ve divided each of the big 4 into their own week and gave them two days of dedicated time. This way, we are really focusing on what is most important.

    How much should you be studying each day? I’d say no more than 4 hours at a time. If you are a student, you aren’t really learning anything new – you are simply reviewing (hopefully).

    You’ve been studying for this exam for 2-3 years. This one month schedule, is to review all that you’ve learned in that time; the goal is to pass the PANCE – to pass the PANRE.

    Also, notice day 5 of each week is focused on review questions. This is to help you learn to pace yourself and to practice answering what they are asking:

    i.e. What is the most accurate test vs what’s the next best test?

    The most common reason students fail, is not due to a lack of knowledge. It’s because students don’t know how to answer the question.

    Want a leg up?

    Get our high yield cheat sheets, covering all organ systems, free…


    Study High Yield Information

    So many students/clinicians studying for the boards tend to focus on things that don’t matter.

    Let me explain…

    The minutiae of each disease is not high yield and there’s a high likelihood it won’t be tested. The problem? As a student, everything seems important! 

    I get countless of emails from students who are unsure how far they need to dig. For example, how much do you really need to know about atrial fibrillation? 

    Are we expected to know how to rate control? Yes.

    You need to know that beta blockers and the non-dihydropyridines (verapamil and diltiazem) are first line. You should probably know that digoxin is occasionally used as an adjunctive medication.

    But, you most likely don’t need to know the mechanism of action for digoxin in regards to rate control. 

    Now, I’m not saying these things aren’t important – what I’m saying is that if you want the best possible chance of passing, then you need to focus your attention on understanding the bread and butter of each disease process. 

    Think of the details as the icing on the cake.

    Once you understand the basics of what you are expected to know, THEN you can dive deeper. That is the time to turn your attention to the minutia. 

    Studying essentially serves two purposes:

    • to pass your exams
    • to help patients

    You need to ensure you pass first. Without passing, you will never get the opportunity to help your patients. It’s not a matter of ignoring the latter; its simply a matter of prioritizing.

    This is exactly what our board review course does.

    We focus on high yield information, to ensure you pass your exams.

    Not sure how to get started?

    Download our free pance/panre cheat sheets: