CPC Exam Tips — 20 Tips for Passing the CPC Exam


If you are preparing for a career in medical coding the certified professional coder exam is a must. To be a certified professional coder you must be well prepared for the exam and know your facts right. The CPC exam may seem hard, but it’s not that hard if you studied.

So what do you need to do? Follow these 20 CPC exam tips to guide you through — from preparing for the CPC exam, test taking strategies during the exam to passing the CPC exam on your first try!

How to Prepare for the CPC Exam — 10 Steps

Here's what American Academy of Professional Coders suggest:

#1. It is all about the guidelines: In preparation for the exam, review all coding guidelines and understand how they are applied. This pertains to all codebooks (CPT, ICD-9-CM, HCPCS Level II). Coding conventions and guidelines for ICD-9-CM are found in the front of the codebook. CPT guidelines are found in the introductory sections and throughout the codebook in selected subsections.

#2. Get your materials organized: Well-marked codebooks can be extremely helpful during the exam. Because coding guidelines contain instructions for what can be reported and what cannot be reported, use different colored highlighters to quickly distinguish between the two.

#3. Sequencing matters: Follow sequencing rules in coding guidelines and coding conventions. Example: A urine culture confirms the patient’s diagnosis of a UTI caused by E coli. The correct codes and sequence are: 599.0, 041.49.There is a note instructing you to use an additional code to identify the organism, such as Escherichia coli (E.coli). If there are code options with the same codes in a different sequence, pay close attention to the coding conventions and guidelines to guide you in the right selection.

#4. Parenthetical notes provide valuable information: Paying close attention to information in the CPT parenthetical notes prevents you from making coding errors.Example: There is a parenthetical note following code 10030 which states “Do not report 10030 in conjunction with 75989, 76942, 77002, 77003, 77012, 77021. This alerts the coder that imaging guidance cannot be reported with the surgical procedure code.

#5. Know your modifiers: Review the proper use for each modifier. Understand when each should be appended.Example: Modifier 26 is appended to codes with a professional and technical component to indicate the provider you are coding for only performed the professional component. If the question/scenario indicates the procedure is performed in the hospital setting, the coder will be alerted that modifier 26 should be appended to radiology procedures and medicine procedures that apply. If the code description includes professional component (eg 93010), you would not append modifier 26. Source: https://www.aapc.com/certification/cpc/

Here's also what MedAdvantage Resources has to say about how to prepare for the CPC Exam:

#1. Take a medical terminology and anatomy course. A strong understanding of these two is required for the Certified Professional Coder exam and if you fail this part, you fail the entire test.  Make sure to thoroughly study these areas because they are heavily tested. 

#2. While studying for those two, take a CPC preparation course either online or in a classroom, but make sure you attend one. You won’t get a Medical Coding Certification and you won’t pass the Certified Professional Coder exam without one.

#3. For the CPC exam, you must have great coding experience so don’t skip this part. If you are new or have less experience in this area, take a preparation course. After finishing it you can rest assure that you will pass this part of the exam. The course (online/in classroom) provides you with materials such as workbooks, textbooks and audio lectures to help prepare you to be a certified professional coder. Also a team of CPC certified coaches are there to assist you, so not doing this course is bad choice.

#4. Another useful thing to do before taking the Certified Professional Coder exam is to acquire the AAPC Official CPC Certification Study guide. This guide will help you prepare for the exam and lead you through every step of the exam. It is a review of all the parts of the exam and can help you understand what’s ahead of you.

$5. The last thing you should do is take an online practice exam. The questions there help you get familiar with the upcoming exam and it’s highly recommended.

In order to pass the Certified Professional Coder exam you must go through all these steps and get prepared for each one. Don’t skip any if your goal is to pass the exam and become a certified professional coder. Source: http://www.medadvantageresources.com/what-you-need-to-know-to-pass-the-new-2015-certified-professional-coder-cpc-exam/

10 CPC Test Taking Tips (During The Exam)

  1. If possible, locate and examine the venue where the test will be held the day before the exam is scheduled.
  2. Take the online practice exam which is accessible on the AAPC site OR grab our CPC online practice exam here at Certification Coaching Organization.
  3. A procedure that has been embraced by a great deal of hopefuls is to begin the CPC exam from back to front.
  4. On the off chance that you are uncertain about the responses to a portion of the questions, the best system is to skip and imprint them, and afterward return to them after you have addressed the inquiries that you know.
  5. Finishing the test in the assigned time is essential. As an unpleasant rule, you should have addressed 50% of every last one of inquiries half of the way to the time when the test will be finished.
  6. Skip the inquiries that seem as though they will take quite a while.
  7. Move rapidly, yet give careful consideration to essential words in the situations that change code choice.
  8. Do not arrive late for your exam.
  9. The simplest areas will be those in which you are most educated. You could begin the test in the middle segment or even in the last, whichever is the least demanding.
  10. Medical Terminology – If you are not certain of the answers tag the restorative term in the ICD book. Doing this will greatly help you in figuring out the correct answer.

Source: http://www.outstandingcolleges.com/25-resources-to-help-you-pass-the-cpc-exam/

CPC Certification – What's on the CPC Exam? — VIDEO

Sample CPC Exam Questions and Answers

1. Jill is a 29-year-old patient of Dr. Marks. She is seen by Dr. Marks for a cough with wheezing and yellow-colored mucus of three days’ duration, as well as four days of external bleeding hemorrhoids and diarrhea. Dr. Marks gives Jill Amoxicillin for acute viral bronchitis, instructions for care of external hemorrhoids, and a diet plan to assist with the diarrhea. What diagnoses should Dr. Marks use for this encounter?

a. 466.0, 455.5, 787.91

b. 787.91, 466.11, 455.5

c. 466.11, 787.91, 455.2

d. 466.0, 455.8, 787.91

2. What HCPCS Level II code describes Ensure HN therapy with an enteral infusion pump with alarm?

a. B4150, B9002

b. B4152, B9000

c. B4150

d. None of the above

3. Which types of joints are considered synovial?

a. Suture joint, medial joint, and articulation joint

b. Ball-and-socket joint, hinge joint, and saddle joint

c. Pivot joint, talus joint, and cranial joint

d. Ball-and socket joint, nasal joint, and elevation joint

4. A physician applied a cast and also provided all of the subsequent fracture care. The same physician may report the application of the cast separately from the fracture care.

a. True

b. False

5. Immediately prior to inserting a permanent pacemaker and placing an electrode in the ventricle, the same physician surgically created a pocket to hold the pulse generator. How should the physician report the creation of the pocket?

a. Skin pocket is included

b. 33222

c. 33222, 33215-51

d. 33233

Answers to sample test questions for the CPC exam

1. “a” Hemorrhoids are external with bleeding and the bronchitis is not specific to the type of virus.

2. “a” Report both the supplement and the pump.

3. “b” There are six types of freely moving or synovial joints: ball-andsocket, hinge, pivot, condyloid, saddle, and gilding joints.

4. “b” When a physician applies the initial cast and assumes all of the subsequent fracture care, the physician cannot report the application of the cast separately because it is included in the treatment of the fracture.

5. “a” This procedure is included with insertion of the pacemaker.

Source: For more sample CPC Exam questions and answers at http://hcpro.com/content/61715.pdf

Certification Coaching Organization members have access to a 150-question practice exam, just like the real CPC exam. For more details, click here: CPC Practice Exam – 150 Questions

CPC Exam Questions

The CPC exam is a 150 question exam—all multiple choice. You have 5 ½ hours to complete it. Open code books (manuals) with one free retake. Source: http://www.careerstep.com/blog/coding-and-billing/certified-professional-coder-cpc-exam-frequently-asked-questions

What Kinds of Questions Are On The Exam?

About 70% of the questions are coding scenarios and the rest consists of questions regarding the correct application of CPT, HCPCS Level II procedure and supply codes and ICD-9-CM diagnosis codes used for billing professional medical services to insurance companies. Examinees must also demonstrate knowledge on proper modifier use, coding guidelines and regulatory rules.

The CPC exam thoroughly covers:

  • 10,000 Series CPT®
  • 20,000 Series CPT®
  • 30,000 Series CPT®
  • 40,000 Series CPT®
  • 50,000 Series CPT®
  • 60,000 Series CPT®
  • Evaluation and Management
  • Anesthesia
  • Radiology
  • Laboratory / Pathology
  • Medicine
  • Medical Terminology
  • Anatomy
  • ICD-9-CM Volumes 1 & 2
  • HCPCS Level II
  • Coding Guidelines
  • Compliance and Regulatory

 Source: https://www.aapc.com/certification/cpc/

CPC Exam Fees

You must be a member of AAPC to take the CPC exam. The CPC exam costs $300 and membership costs $125.

CPC Exam Dates 2015 and CPC Exam Locations

You take the CPC exam in person at a local testing center. To locate an exam site for the CPC:

  • Visit http://www.aapc.com/certification/cpc/
  • Click Locate/Schedule an Exam.
  • Select your state.
  • Select an exam location and date. 

Source: https://www.aapc.com/certification/cpc/

CPC Exam Passing Score

An overall score of 70% is a passing score on the CPC exam. Exam results are provided to you within 7-10 days following the exam date. Source: http://www.careerstep.com/blog/coding-and-billing/certified-professional-coder-cpc-exam-frequently-asked-questions

More CPC Exam Tips & Resources:

CPC Exam Tips — 20 Tips for Passing the CPC Exam

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