The utilization of standardized testing as a recognized educational strategy to measure pre-professional readiness in Advanced Practice Nursing (APN) graduate programs has increased. Research supports such use for predicting licensure success for undergraduate education, however when related to the use in graduate nursing education, it is limited. Teaching and learning practices of APN faculty and students have not been comprehensively explored. This study examined the use of standardized testing results by faculty and students in APN graduate education that contributes to student national certification success. The Reconceptualization of Vygotsky’s Theory of Zone of Proximal Development (RVZPD) underpins the study. An original descriptive correlational research design was implemented with a sample from a multi-state APN graduate program. Low participant response yielded insufficient data. An amendment to the original study was approved and a qualitative study was implemented to better understand the participants’ perspectives on their use of standardized test results.

Responses from participants were categorized into four themes: Concurring, Divergent, Student, and Faculty-specific. Standardized testing is a tool to measure new knowledge and skills was a concurring theme. Students agreed test results reflect their knowledge, while faculty disagreed they reflect their teaching. Advanced Practice Education Associates (APEA) predictor test results informed students of areas of weakness to focus on for test success, while informing faculty of areas needing in-depth teaching. This qualitative data from graduate nursing students and faculty indicate that standardized testing has potential to serve as a meaningful educational component for both teaching and learning practices that lead to APN national certification success.

Date of publication

Summer 7-14-2021

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Drs. Barbara McAlister, Amy Roberts, and Pamela Willson


PhD in Nursing