If you are interested in becoming a CPC, or Certified Professional Coder, you will be required to pass the medical coding certification exam. This exam is sponsored by the American Academy of Professional Coders, or AAPC.
There are several areas and concepts that you will need to familiarize yourself with in order to make sure that you do well on them. You may feel a bit overwhelmed at first, but taking the time to review the content in a structured way is going to be helpful in preparing you and making sure you do well on the exam.
Getting Prepared for the Exam
A simple internet search will show you that there are several internet sites that provide resources that will help you prepare for the exam. You can use study guides and practice quizzes to familiarize yourself with the content included and the layout of the exam. You might want to consider joining a study group to provide you with some feedback from others who are also preparing for the exam.
Start practicing the identifying codes and don’t use encoders. Take the time to study notes that you’ve taken in your coding classes for the ICD-9-CM and CPT to figure out what areas you need to spend most of your time studying.
Tips for Reviewing Information
In addition to taking time to do some of the online tests, you should also consider creating flashcards to test yourself.
When you write down the material and repeat it aloud, you will be able to remember it better and you will have the confidence to take the exam. Create flashcards that cover medical terminology, reporting guidelines, HIPAA concepts, coding guidelines, reporting guidelines, and reimbursement methodologies.
Spend one day for each topic. Since different people benefit from different learning techniques, you might also consider purchasing an audio recording to help you review the concepts.
How to Approach the CPC Exam
If you have spent enough time studying each section of the exam before you take it, you are going to be much more relaxed when you go in. In addition, you might want to consider coming up with a few strategies to help you relax, just in case you do end up having some difficulties during the test.
For example, if you happen to encounter a question on the exam that you’re not sure of the answer, simply move on to the next one.
You can always circle back to it- and you may encounter another question on the exam that might jog your memory about the one you’re not clear on. Don’t waste your time trying to figure out the answer to a question that you don’t know- that is counterproductive and can have a negative effect on your overall focus.
CPC Exam Information
You must be aware that the CPC exam is made up of 150 multiple choice questions and you are given a little over 5 hours to complete it. The questions are divided into two sections.
The first section is Medical Coding Concepts. This section includes questions that cover anatomy terms, medical terms, ICD-9-CM coding concepts, and HCPCS Level II coding concepts.
The second section on the CPC exam covers Reimbursement Methodologies. This section includes questions that cover inpatient payment systems, health insurance, outpatient payment systems, and physician reimbursement.
You can’t just show up at the venue to take the test- you must schedule it in advance. You can do this by going to the website and find out when the next test date in your area is or you can contact your local AAPC chapter.
Before you take the exam, you must be aware of how is the CPC exam graded– and you must know that you have to make a 70 percent or more in order to pass. Each of the questions on the exam are worth the same amount.
As long as you take the time to prepare yourself and spend plenty of time reviewing the material, you should not have a problem taking the exam. Plus, once you take it and pass it- you can rest assured that you’ll never have to take it again, as long as you complete 36 CEUs every 2 years and submit them to the AAPC.