The PANCE test, formally known as the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam, is a challenging and comprehensive assessment for men and women who wish to enter this exciting and rewarding field of health care. Developed by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, the exam is administered by computer and consists of 360 multiple-choice questions.

Questions are administered in one-hour blocks of 60 questions each. The questions in each block may be answered in any order. Candidates are also given 45 minutes of break time to use during the test day.

The content of the PANCE test can be categorized by task areas: history taking and physical examinations; use of laboratory and diagnostic studies; formulation of a most-likely diagnosis; health maintenance; clinical intervention; pharmaceutical therapeutics; and application of basic science concepts. The content of the test also can be broken down by organ system: cardiovascular; pulmonary; endocrine; eyes, ears, nose, and throat; gastrointestinal and nutritional; genitourinary; musculoskeletal; reproductive; neurologic; psychiatry and behavioral; dermatologic; hematologic; and infectious diseases.

Raw scores (reflecting the number of questions answered correctly) are placed on a scale according to the relative difficulty of the test version. The vast majority of scores fall between 200 and 800. Exam scores are available approximately two weeks after the PANCE test date.

PANCE Test Practice Questions

1. A P.A. is instructing a patient about the warning signs of (Digitalis) side effects. Which of the following side effects should the P.A. tell the patient are sometimes associated with excessive levels of Digitalis?

A: Seizures
B: Muscle weakness
C: Depression
D: Anxiety

2. A P.A. is assessing a patient’s right lower extremity. The extremity is warm to touch, red and swollen. The patient is also running a low fever. Which of the following conditions would be the most likely cause of the patient’s condition?

A: Herpes
B: Scleroderma
C: Dermatitis
D: Cellulitis

3. A P.A. is assessing a patient’s breath sounds. The patient has had a pneumonectomy to the right lung performed 48 hours ago. Which of the following conditions most likely exists?

A: Decreased breath sound volume
B: Elevated tidal volume
C: Elevated respiratory capacity
D: Wheezing

4. A P.A. is assessing a patient in the ICU. The patient has the following signs: weak pulse, quick respiration, acetone breath, and nausea. Which of the following conditions is most likely occurring?

A: Hypoglycemic patient
B: Hyperglycemic patient
C: Cardiac arrest
D: End-stage renal failure

5. Medical records indicate a patient has developed a condition of respiratory alkalosis. Which of the following clinical signs would not apply to a condition of respiratory alkalosis?

A: Muscle tetany
B: Syncope
C: Numbness
D: Anxiety


1. (B) Palpitations and muscle weakness are found with excessive levels of Digitalis.

2. (D) Inflammation of cellular tissue associated with a fever most likely indicates cellulitis.

3. (A) Breath sounds would be softer.

4. (B) All of the clinical signs indicate a hyperglycemic condition.

5. (D) Anxiety is a clinical sign associated with respiratory acidosis.

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