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Prepare for the Adult-Gero Acute Care Certification Exam With an MSN

Graduating from a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) – Adult-Gero Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program opens many doors, but board certification is a crucial next step for entry-level NPs. The Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certification Exam allows you to demonstrate your professional development and commitment to the specialty. Here is what to expect and how to prepare for the exam.

What Is the Adult-Gero Acute Care NP Certification Exam?

The Adult-Gero Acute Care NP Certification Exam is for nurse practitioners with an interest in treating acute illnesses and worsening chronic conditions. It is administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and is designed to evaluate relevant clinical knowledge and skill sets. When you pass the exam, you are awarded the credential Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (AGACNP-BC), which is valid for five years.

Who Is Eligible for Testing?

In order to sit for the exam, you must:

  • Hold a current, active RN license
  • Have a master’s, postgraduate or doctoral degree from a nurse practitioner program with an adult-gero acute care concentration or focus
  • The degree program must be accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and include advanced coursework in:
    • Physiology and pathophysiology
    • Health assessments
    • Pharmacology
    • Preventive health
    • Disease management
  • Complete at least 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours pertaining to adult-gero acute care

You will also need to submit an application for testing and pay the exam fee. Pricing varies depending on your membership status. For example, student members of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) pay $290 while American Nurses Association (ANA) members pay $295. Those without any group affiliation may pay up to $395. Transcripts and a validation of education form signed by school faculty must also be submitted.

What Is Covered on the Adult-Gero Acute Care NP Exam?

The Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Exam is a computer-based, four-hour test. It consists of 200 questions — 25 pretest questions that are not scored and 175 scored questions. There are four main categories covered, including:

  1. APRN Core Competencies
    • 28 questions accounting for 16% of total questions
    • Covers aspects of physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology and physical assessment
  2. Clinical Practice
    • 80 questions accounting for 46% of total questions
    • Covers aspects of clinical decision-making and management as well as primary, secondary and tertiary health promotion and disease prevention strategies
  3. Role-Professional Responsibility
    • 58 questions accounting for 33% of total questions
    • Covers aspects of scope and standards of practice, research methodologies, evidence-based practice, patient education and nurse practitioner-patient relationship
  4. Healthcare Systems
    • Nine questions accounting for 5% of total questions
    • Covers aspects of healthcare policy and quality of healthcare practice

What Study Materials Are Available?

While an MSN program curriculum prepares students to pursue adult-gero acute care certification, there are several other resources available to hone your testing skills and knowledge. ANCC provides substantial study guide material free of charge, such as:

  • Test content outline
  • A test reference list containing published books and texts used to develop questions
  • Sample questions and answers

There are also study and review guides available for purchase from various organizations and independent publishers, which offer additional practice questions and rationales. BoardVitals, a medical specialty board certification preparation company, has compiled several study packages at different price points and each includes access to a question bank with more than 1,800 examples.

ANCC highly encourages those interested in certification to begin preparation six months prior to the exam. This allows you to study in smaller time increments, improving retention and recall while balancing your professional development with your other responsibilities.

Be Prepared

An MSN program with a focus on adult-gero acute care lays the foundation for career advancement following board certification. Those graduating from this specialized program are eligible to take ANCC’s Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Exam, which covers such complex topics as physiology, pharmacology and health assessments.

Learn more about NKU’s online MSN Adult-Gero Nurse Practitioner program.


American Nurses Credentialing Center: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certification (AGACNP-BC)

BoardVitals: ANCC AGACNP Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Board Review

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