Preparing for the NP Clinical Skills Assessment

Preparing for the NP Clinical Skills Assessment

Becoming a nurse practitioner isn’t a one way street — there are lots of twists and turns to prepare you for whatever comes your way down the road in your career. 

One major step along the way is the NP Clinical Skills Assessment. This is where your clinical competence gets its time in the spotlight to determine if you're ready to provide top-notch patient care. 

Though it may seem a bit nerve-racking, with the right approach and prep, you can tackle it with confidence. 👍🏾

What is the Assessment? 

  • The assessment components are made up of… 
    • History-taking 
    • Physical examinations 
    • Patient interactions
    • Treatment planning
  • It plays an important role in ensuring that you have the knowledge and skills to provide safe, effective, and patient-centered care.
  • There are specific expectations for each component, such as the depth of history-taking, the thoroughness of physical exams, and the quality of patient interactions.

How to Prepare

  • Do a deep dive into your clinical knowledge by revisiting… 
    • Coursework
    • Clinical Experiences 
    • New Medical Guidelines
  • Develop a detailed study guide (like this example from one of the Exam Solutions courses) or checklist. Organize it by body systems or clinical scenarios. 

What to Prioritize 

  • Practice managing your time efficiently during each station or case. Since time is limited, develop strategies to help you complete all necessary tasks within the allocated time.
  • Create a study schedule that follows the time constraints of the assessment. 
  • Learn to prioritize tasks during assessments, and identify the most critical components to address first.

How to Succeed 

  • Engage in practice sessions that are as close to real clinical situations as possible — and pay specific attention to your ability to communicate effectively with patients. 
  • Work with a study partner, mentor, or standardized patients to replicate the assessment environment.
  • Hone your clinical decision-making skills — particularly in situations where time is limited. 

Utilize Pre Tests

  • Seek out resources that offer practice scenarios, including standardized patient interactions. 
  • Try out mock assessments to become familiar with the format and expectations of the actual assessment. Try to replicate the assessment conditions as closely as possible.
  • After mock assessments, host feedback sessions with mentors or peers. 


  • After each practice session or mock assessment, engage in a candid self-evaluation and assess... 
    • The thoroughness of your physical examinations 
    • The effectiveness of your patient communication
    • Your overall performance
  • Remind yourself of your dedicated preparation and your ability to meet the challenges of the assessment with confidence. Self-assurance can be a powerful asset.
  • Practice mental readiness techniques to stay calm and focused during the assessment, such as visualization and positive affirmations.

Tackling the Assessment 

The NP Clinical Skills Assessment is a big check mark on your journey to becoming a nurse practitioner. By really understanding what the assessment is all about and what to do to prepare for it — the better you’ll feel going into it. 

Approach this assessment as a platform to showcase your clinical skills and knowledge, and feel confident doing so!

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