NCCPA Blueprint Content Areas


The list of tasks below include knowledge and skill areas that were identified as important to physician assistant practice through an intensive practice analysis. Many of these knowledge areas and cognitive skills are covered on NCCPA’s examinations.

Each question you encounter will address an organ system and a task area from the table below.

Tasks % of Exam
History Taking & Performing Physical Examinations 16
Using Laboratory & Diagnostic Studies 14
Formulating Most Likely Diagnosis 18
Health Maintenance 10
Clinical Intervention 14
Pharmaceutical Therapeutics 18
Applying Basic Science Concepts 10
Total: 100%



Knowledge of:

Pertinent historical information associated with selected medical conditions
Risk factors for development of selected medical conditions
Signs and symptoms of selected medical conditions
Physical examination techniques
Physical examination findings associated with selected medical conditions
Appropriate physical examination directed to selected medical conditions
Differential diagnosis associated with presenting symptoms or physical findings
Cognitive skills in:

Conducting comprehensive and focused interviews
Identifying pertinent historical information
Performing comprehensive and focused physical examinations
Associating current complaint with presented history
Identifying pertinent physical examination information

Knowledge of:

Indications for initial and subsequent diagnostic or laboratory studies
Cost effectiveness of diagnostic studies or procedures
Relevance of common screening tests for selected medical conditions
Normal and abnormal diagnostic ranges
Risks associated with diagnostic studies or procedures
Appropriate patient education related to laboratory or diagnostic studies
Cognitive skills in:

Using diagnostic equipment safely and appropriately
Selecting appropriate diagnostic or laboratory studies
Collecting diagnostic or laboratory specimens
Interpreting diagnostic or laboratory studies results



Knowledge of:

Significance of history as it relates to differential diagnosis
Significance of physical findings as they relate to diagnosis
Significance of diagnostic and laboratory studies as they relate to diagnosis
Cognitive skills in:

Correlating normal and abnormal diagnostic data
Formulating differential diagnosis
Selecting the most likely diagnosis in light of presented data

Knowledge of:

Epidemiology of selected medical conditions
Early detection and prevention of selected medical conditions
Relative value of common screening tests
Appropriate patient education regarding preventable conditions or lifestyle modifications
Healthy lifestyles
Prevention of communicable diseases
Immunization schedules and recommendations for infants, children, adults and foreign travelers
Risks and benefits of immunization
Human growth and development
Human sexuality
Occupational and environmental exposure
Impact of stress on health
Psychological manifestations of illness and injury
Effects of aging and changing family roles on health maintenance and disease prevention
Signs of abuse and neglect
Barriers to care
Cognitive skills in:

Using counseling and patient education techniques
Communicating effectively with patients to enhance health maintenance
Adapting health maintenance to the patient’s context
Using informational databases

Knowledge of:

Management and treatment of selected medical conditions
Indications, contraindications, complications, risks, benefits and techniques for selected procedures
Standard precautions and special isolation conditions
Sterile technique
Follow-up and monitoring of therapeutic regimens
Conditions that constitute medical emergencies
Indications for admission to or discharge from hospitals or other facilities
Discharge planning
Available community resources
Appropriate community resources
Appropriate patient education
Roles of other health professionals
End-of-life issues
Risks and benefits of alternative medicine
Cognitive skills in:

Formulating and implementing treatment plans
Recognizing and initiating treatment for life-threatening emergencies
Demonstrating technical expertise related to performing specific procedures
Communicating effectively
Using counseling techniques
Facilitating patient adherence and active participation in treatment
Interacting effectively in multidisciplinary teams



Knowledge of:

Mechanism of action
Indications for use
Side effects
Adverse reactions
Follow-up and monitoring of pharmacologic regimens
Risks for drug interactions
Clinical presentation of drug interactions
Treatment of drug interactions
Drug toxicity
Methods to reduce medication errors
Cross reactivity of similar medications
Recognition and treatment of allergic reactions
Cognitive skills in:

Selecting appropriate pharmacologic therapy for selected medical conditions
Monitoring pharmacologic regimens and adjusting as appropriate
Evaluating and reporting adverse drug reactions


Knowledge of:

Human anatomy and physiology
Underlying pathophysiology
Microbiology and biochemistry
Cognitive skills in:

Recognizing normal and abnormal anatomy and physiology
Relating pathophysiologic principles to specific disease processes
Correlating abnormal physical examination findings to a given disease process
Correlating abnormal results of diagnostic tests to a given disease process