Friday, December 2, 2016

Comprehensive PANCE Resource Review

Comprehensive PANCE Resource Review
Updated: 12/02/2016
If you are reading this review, please understand that I wrote this with the intention of being informative, not discriminatory, chastising, or undermining. All of these resources have no doubt been the result of many long nights and lots of collaboration amongst writers, editors, and publishers and I fully respect that. That said, I hope that this review provides a comprehensive review of resources available online and print for students to use as a guide during clinical rotations, studying for the PANCE, or reviewing for the PANRE. Best of luck to you all and let me know if you have any comments to add below! Thanks for reading!
Online Vs. Print Reviews

Online Resources
Print (Book) Resources
  • Interactive
  • Provide personal performance feedback
  • Most provide videos, podcasts and other multimedia to enhance experience
  • Most include x-rays, EKGs, and colored images in high definition
  • Easy to take with you “on the go”
  • Never have to worry about internet connection
  • One-time purchase
  • Most contain great outlines, tables, or images
  • Cheaper costs
  • May have to repurchase subscription
  • Can be very costly upfront
  • Could require internet access

  • Info will likely be outdated by the time you recertify
  • Will often lack color images, often helpful for dermatology
  • Low resolution for x-rays

  • PANCE Review Books
    In my personal opinion, all of these resources have their pros and cons. The perfect book would not only follow the NCCPA format but would be in order of highest percentage covered on the PANCE to least. Knowing that there are sections on the rotation exams and PANCE in surgery, emergency medicine, pediatrics, and infectious disease, I would definitely like my review to include these sections - something to consider before you decide on a purchase. No book is perfect and I hope that this review is somewhat comprehensive, giving you better insight into each as you make the decision of where to place your money. Ultimately, my goal is not to praise or critique one book over another, but to offer suggestions for improvement and highlight the best aspects of each.
    Please keep in mind that these are meant to be REVIEW books and are not fully comprehensive (nor all inclusive). There may be topics on rotation exams, PACKRAT, and PANCE/PANRE that are not covered in these books. Most of these are great resources for rotation exams, but you should definitely supplement your studying with class notes, CURRENT, Harrison’s, UpToDate, and other major resources during clinical rotations and didactic.

    Babcock O’Connell
    • $50 New
    • Outline format: contains separate sections for OB/GYN, pediatrics, and surgery
    • Contains “highlights” for most diseases, including most commons
    • 300 questions with explanations inside the book
    • 650 online pre- and post-test questions: good mix of first, second, and third order questions, although not as difficult as actual PANCE questions
    • Up to date and considered the “gold standard” for rotation exams, PACKRAT, PANCE, and PANRE

  • Not detailed, cut & dry to the bones
  • Could use more photos (especially in color) and x-rays for orthopedics, gastroenterology, and pulmonology
  • No section for emergency medicine, pharmacology, or
  • Online questions were redundant, but helpful
  • With online quiz: (a) cannot save your progress, (b) does not give you feedback on your performance for each category, (c) no sources for question answers and not all answers as thorough  
  • Not recommended as only source of information for PANCE or rotation exams
  • Not accessible online (no PDF, iPad version)
  • Dwayne A. Williams
    • $60 New
    • Comprehensive - covers more detail than the AAPA/PAEA book above, but sometimes it’s a little overwhelming
    • Follows the NCCPA blueprint well
    • Great resource for rotation exams, though difficult to get through for PANCE unless you allot yourself adequate time
    • Contains clinical pearls for most conditions, mnemonics, and tables that help you remember challenging information and helps visual learners retain content
    • Highlights lots of buzzwords seen on exams
    • Includes brief physiology and pathophysiology and introduction to most subjects, which is not found in other texts
    • Provides online pediatric chapter
    • Contains basic pharmacology: MOA, side effects, and contraindications

  • Lots of photos, but no colored photos; many images look faded and detail in x-rays hard to determine even with arrows
  • Missing details in some areas for some diseases (especially infectious disease section, some areas in pulmonology, etc.)
  • Some diseases don’t have “gold standards” or “first line” diagnostic tests mentioned
  • Lots of underlined words, tons of medical abbreviations (excessive), and typos throughout
  • Very few diseases have any mention of stepwise therapy, second line treatments, treatments for pregnancy, etc.
  • Few areas that have dosing information or detailed information on drug toxicity
  • No questions provided with PPP book; have to purchase separate question book
  • No index at end (only online, but searchable)
  • Overlapping information in some areas
  • Does not contain a section for emergency medicine, pediatrics, or surgery in the printed version
  • Overall, felt that neurology, infectious disease, dermatology, psychiatry, and OBGYN were subpar in content
  • Not accessible online (no PDF, iPad version)
  • James Van Rhee
    • $43 New, Kindle version available
    • Simple outline format and concise with test taking techniques and multiple useful tables for studying
    • Questions at the end of each chapter for review (though not sufficient)

  • Skimpy outline, not recommended to be used as primary source of study material
  • Requires supplemental question book
  • Extremely basic in content, lacking depth of coverage
  • David Paulk and Donna Agnew
    • $75 New
    • Only text with full color pages, photos, and illustrations
    • Includes over 1000+ review questions
    • System-based with sections in emergency medicine, oncology, infectious disease, pediatrics, women’s health, etc.
    • Great sections for EKG, pharmacology, radiology, and lab review
    • Breadth of topics unmatched and questions of varying length found to be appropriate

  • Not advised to use as primary resource
  • Not useful for students who wish to review quickly with limited time before an exam
  • Typos in questions and explanations
  • Morton A. Diamond
    • $46 New
    • Features more questions in the book and on an attached CD-ROM
    • Adequate to be sole source of review
    • Contains Q&A after each chapter with excellent rationale following each
    • Money back guarantee
    • Considered disorganized by some because it lacks structure - not organized by organ system, but bundles all systems together to “mimic PANCE format”
    Steven & Elizabeth Agabegi
    • $50 New
    • Great resource only for internal medicine
    • Concise, but complete
    • Very colorful and easy to annotate with lots of open space
    • Scattered with clinical pearls
    • Includes some CXRs, but not good coverage on EKGs, full color dermatology photos (though not abundant)

  • Specific for medical students - clerkship, shelf exams, and USMLE Step 2 Review
  • Not useful for OBGYN, psychiatry, pediatrics, family medicine, surgery, or emergency medicine; not detailed enough in these subject areas
  • Not meant to be sole review source
  • Not fully comprehensive of required PA student knowledge; should not be used as sole study/review guide
  • Does not include any information on drug dosing
  • Very long (about 500 pages) and difficult to finish cover-to-cover even in 8 weeks
  • Bullet point format
  • Lauren Russo
    • $23.99 New, Kindle version available
    • Good for a quick review before your exam without all of the nitty gritty details
    • Also good if you have limited time to review anything at all (though might not get you a passing score if used alone)
    • Includes oncology, infectious disease, and health maintenance section
    • Very dry and bare to the bones in content; not in enough depth required for PANCE or rotation exams
    • Not recommended as sole study resource
    • Bullet point format without radiographs, skin lesions, EKGs, etc.
    • Content not provided in blueprint format (most to least %)
    • Does not include references
    Patrick Auth
    • $76 New
    • Includes a chapter on preventative medicine
    • Includes 1,000+ practice questions
    • Content up to date and in great depth
    • Contains many typos and misinformation in the book
    • Kindle version does not give access to website with questions
    • Text in bullet point format and in some areas too dense
    Daniel Thibodeau
    Scott Plantz
    • $50 New
    • Includes 4,000+ review questions
    • Chapter on test taking strategies and health policy!
    • Review questions do not appropriately mimic PANCE style format
    • Not all questions are multiple choice and answers come in variable formats (lists, paragraphs, etc)
    • Answers to questions found immediately beneath questions - making it difficult not to look
    • Poor quality photos
    Mometrix Media
    • $44 New
    • Includes practice questions
    • Organized in charts and gives reader space for note taking in margins
    • Content covered by organ system and by task area, including a section in infectious disease
    • Very concise - covers material in <200 pages
    • Lacks pharmacology section, EKGs, X-ray reading, etc.
    • Lacking in depth of coverage
    • Not recommended as primary study source
    If there is one thing I learned about studying with additional resources, it’s that, too many can sometimes be hurtful rather than helpful. Stick with your budget and find the best resource you think will prepare you. I hope this review has served to better inform you of your available options.

    More to come on question banks and review courses… stay tuned!


    1. Do you think that it is necessary to buy the most recent edition of the "Comprehensive Review for the Certification and Recertification Examinations for Physician Assistants" book? There is a large price discrepancy between the newest edition and older editions, so if you think I can get away with an older edition I'd like to!

      1. I haven't seen the newest edition yet, but I'd imagine it has been updated to contain more/better information to guide you on your way to passing the PANCE or more questions included. I found it to extremely helpful for the PANCE and would recommend buying the most updated version, if available.


    Leave a comment with feedback, questions, or inquiries for Paul. He will try to respond within 1-2 weeks.