Passing the CPC Exam the First Time You Take It

Passing the CPC Exam the First Time You Take It

The Certified Professional Coder- or CPC- exam is test that is overseen by the American Academy of Professional Coders to test the proficiency and certify medical coders. This exam is designed to test an individual’s understanding of the manuals used in billing and coding:

  • ICD- 9 (provides accurate diagnosis)
  • CPT (procedure & terminology codes)
  • HCPCS Level II (supply codes)

The exam has 150 multiple choice questions and you are given 5 hours 40 minutes to take it. You can bring some reference material into the exam room with you, including the above referenced manuals.

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The entry fees for the exam are $300 for those who are not a member of the AAPC, $120 for those who are members, and $70 for those who are student members.

Tips to Help You Pass the CPC Exam

This exam is well known for the rigorous nature and typically low passing rate. The course necessary for the exam is covered in about 6-18 months and contains lots of information requiring memorization of large amounts of material.

There is not really any particular grading rubric- it is a pass/fail exam with a score of at least 70% required to pass. Many candidates find that the exam is difficult to pass the first time around. Following you will find a few tips that will help you pass the first time you take it.

  • Obtain the official study guide for the CPC exam from the American Academy of Professional Coders. This s a reliable reference that will help ensure you don’t miss studying any material that will be included on the exam. In addition, it can help you avoid diving too deep into any particular topics that are not covered on the exam.
  • If at all possible, visit the venue to confirm and inspect it before the day that you are scheduled to take it. This will help to ease your stress level on the day of the exam and helps you to feel more prepared. If you end up arriving late or going to the wrong venue altogether on the day of the exam could mean that you are denied the opportunity to take it.
  • Spend some time going over the online practice exam, found on the AAPC’s website. This is a great way to ensure that you are adequately prepared for the main CPC exam. This will help you gain an understanding of what is on the CPC exam, any issues that you may have, and helps you understand how well-prepared you are in regard to studying/understanding the work.
  • Many candidates have adopted the strategy of starting the CPC exam in the back and working to the front instead of front to back. The exam questions near the end of the exam tend to be much more detailed than those in the front. Therefore, when you work from the back to the front, you can cover the ones that require the most concentration while you are alert. In addition, you won’t have to spend as much time on the easier ones than on the more difficult ones.
  • If you’re not sure about the answers to certain questions, the best thing to do is to mark them somehow and move on. Then, if you have time after you have answered everything you can, you can go back to them and see if you are able to determine the answer.
  • You must make sure that you properly manage your time. You should have around half of the questions answered by the time you reach the halfway point of the exam time.
  • Keep in mind that the CPC certification exam takes about 5 hours 40 minutes. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have a high protein, low fat breakfast. This will help ensure that your brain is nourished and you don’t feel sluggish, especially as you get toward the end of the exam. Another thing to remember is avoid going into the exam on an empty stomach. After all, empty stomach means low blood sugar, which means that your brain will not operate at its full capacity.

The CPC Exam is an exam covering an individual’s understanding of the manuals that are used in billing and coding. It consists of 150 questions and you will be given just under 6 hours to complete it. You are allowed to bring in some reference materials/manuals with you to the exam, but make sure you follow these tips for how to pass the CPC exam the first time.

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