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Types of Questions You Can Expect to Find on the Physician Assistant Exam

Physician Assistant Exam (PANCE or PANRE) questions cover about 18 topics, depending on how you classify them. The approximate mix of questions on the test is well-documented. Some subject areas require more preparation because the test includes more questions about them. You need understanding and knowledge in these two broad categories:

  • Body organ systems: Know the disorders of the major organ systems, including causative factors, significant labs, and treatment.

  • Task areas: Know the general tasks common in working with all body organ systems, including history, examination, and best imaging.

Here is a summary of the percentage and number of questions per body organ system on the PANCE. Although the PANRE is still a general test covering the same 18 topics, PANRE questions are a little different in that the mix of topics varies, depending on which content concentration you chose: adult medicine, surgery, or primary care.

Body Organ System Percentage of Questions Approximate Number of PANCE Questions
Cardiology 16 48
Pulmonary 12 36
Musculoskeletal 10 30
Gastrointestinal (GI) 10 30
Eyes, ears, nose, throat 9 27
Reproductive* 8 24
Endocrine 6 18
Genitourinary (GU) 6 18
Psychology/Behavioral 6 18
Neurology 6 18
Dermatology 5 15
Hematology 3 9
Infectious diseases (ID) 3 9
*Reproductive encompasses all women’s health issues.

Here is a summary of the percentage of questions within each body organ system asked about each task area.

Task Area Percentage of Questions
Formulating the most likely diagnosis 18
Pharmaceutical treatments 18
Health history and performing physical examinations 16
Clinical intervention 14
Employing laboratory and diagnostic information 14
Health maintenance 10
Applying basic science concepts 10
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