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How to Apply for the Physician Assistant Exam

In most cases, the logistics of applying for the Physician Assistant Exam tests are straightforward. If your situation is different — for example, if you’re not a recent graduate from a PA program — consult the PANCE pages on the website for the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

Before you can take the PANCE, you need to graduate from an accredited PA program. About 3 months before you graduate, go online and apply to take the test. Create an online account. Then follow the directions for registering and pay the $475 fee.

Your school’s PA program confirms your eligibility. After NCCPA gets your application and your money, you receive an acknowledgment in about 3 to 5 business days. That acknowledgment includes instructions for scheduling your test at a Pearson VUE test center. You choose the test date and the location. You can first take the test as soon as 7 days after you graduate or up to 6 months later.

If you’re already a physician assistant, you need to take and pass the PANRE before your 6-year PA certification expires. You can take the test in year 5 or 6. You have four chances to pass — two per year. The process is the same for the PANCE — apply online to take the test and pay the $350 fee. Soon after, you can choose a test date and test center location.

If you’re a recertifying PA, don’t wait too long in your 6th year to apply. If you apply less than 45 days before your certification expires, you’ll have to do extra work, such as submitting the application manually and getting a waiver (written permission) from NCCPA.

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