General CPC Exam Tips – You need to understand that this is not a specialty exam. This is a core coding credential. They are testing you on your general understanding of medical coding principles. They say that really, you can figure out everything from your manuals. It's nothing where you have to have it memorized, but obviously if you're familiar with the guidelines, you're going to know where to go to look at and verify it. So, it's a broad base of knowledge.
How many are afraid VIR coding, vascular stuff? Normally, I mention that up, “Oh! Those are so hard.” There's 10 questions on the 30,000 series which is one of the few that are shared by two anatomical sections – Respiratory and Cardio. They are not going to have 10 VIR questions. They might have one and it's going to be broad. It's not going to be nitty-gritty detail where you need to know the Vascular and Anatomy like the back of your hand. So, relax a little bit on that. You don't need to know the nitty-gritty detail of the entire CPT and ICD manual.
If you're currently involved in billing — how many are involved in billing right now? You are going to have to try and divorce yourself from that billing and reimbursement knowledge because it's going to throw you off track. The board exam pictures you in the perfect coding world, no one mess with the rules. If you play Monopoly, don't all families kind of change the Monopoly rules a little bit? They have printed rules. So, you're being tested on the printed Monopoly rules. Now your family might say, “Oh the money goes in the middle. If you land on free parking, you get the money in the middle.” That's not the rules, but… So, the payers will come along and change things. That might become your new family rules or whatever, but what you're being tested on are the printed rules. So, always go to the books, go to the manual. It's the guidelines that you're being tested on. Okay?
CPC Exam Tips – Video
An example is with the colonoscopies. In the CPT book, it says choose modifier 53. If you can't complete the colonoscopy because the prep wasn't done right, or whatever. In the real world, most payers will tell you, “Well code as far as you got.” Because colonoscopy goes all the way up, over and down; so the whole shebang. They've also got proctosig which only go part way up the colon. So they will say, that's as far as you got; go to proctosig. But, in CPT, it doesn't say that. We need to go by what CPT says, not by what you might be experiencing in the real world. That's why I like teaching because I can stand in the perfect coding world.
The last one is very key (confidence and time management). I had a chat with someone about this recently that your inner self-talk, I feel is probably 75% of you succeeding on this exam. I really believe that. Part of going to a review class and all the studying is really to increase your confidence. Yes, your knowledge, but it's really more your confidence. You feel well prepared. I don't know if you all believe in that, but I really do believe. Like the athletes. They talk all the time about visualizing your moves. The pole vaulters, they visualize it over and over. They are not pole vaulting all day. When they're not pole vaulting, they're rehearsing it in their head.
If you could change that inner dialogue to instead of “I'm not a good test taker, I'm not a good test taker” to “I’m really prepared well for this. I'm ready for this. I know it's going to be challenging but I can do it.” It really does work. When you go and take that exam, you're going to have an advantage than if you've been beating yourself up and that negative self-talk.
To help that confidence, you need to have time management. Time management comes from learning a technique, but then practicing the technique. You can learn techniques, but unless you've actually had to put them through their paces, it doesn't become a part of your habit of how to do things. So, picture this, “You know what, surprise, instead of the Review Blitz you actually are going to be taking the exam.” And you have no preparation whatsoever. I put the exam in front of you, you're going to start with question one, and you're going to have no feeling for how fast this should be going because it's five hours. You're like, “Okay, five hours, that's a lot.” You kind of go slow. You methodically, you really want to make sure you get that first one right in. That's what kind of happens. Then all of a sudden the proctor says, “Okay, you have 30 minutes left.” You’re like, “What???” And you're halfway through the exam.
By having time management and having a system “Okay. I'm going to give myself one hour per column, one hour per 30 questions, and I'm going to have a little timer.” I recommend you bring a timer with you. Unfortunately, I always use my cellphone for a timer, but they're not going to let you have a cellphone now because you could maybe look up something. But, if you have a good old fashion digital kitchen timer than can count down, I would do that. Try to find out that's kind of quiet so you don’t upset your neighbors.
I used to tell people ask your proctor, but apparently, they're refusing to do it. Because they get involved in their little side conversations, and it's a long day for them too and they're volunteering to be there. If you bring your own little timer that counts down and put it on the table so you can see that hour counting down, you'll get that adrenaline going, you’ll get going. You need that.
After you go through this review, I highly recommend you do practice exams. I will share with you — I'll create slides at the break but I'll also email everyone my recommended practice exams. My number one recommendation is the AAPC practice exams. They have three 50 question-practice exams. They call them version A, B, and C. Okay?
I would give yourself a 110 minutes, two minutes per question to get used to that speed. Do them one at a time and then see how you did, score yourself on the first one. Maybe you got a 60, that's okay. Go over the ones you got wrong and even the ones you got right because it gives you rationales. Give yourself some time, maybe study a little bit more on the weak areas. Then do practice exam B and then C.
If you get the CPC Study Guide, they've got a little practice exam in there as well. What I feel is truly most like the real exam is the practice exams that they sell on their website A, B, and C. We have a 150 cpc exam questions printable PDF. You just print it and it has a little bubble form you can practice filling out. It’s $37, but I would do that one last because that you would want to sit down, if you could at all, possibly you can five hours in a row to really simulate the exam. The goal is, you want to be getting an 85%; then you're ready for the real exam.
I've had many people call me, “Laureen, I didn't pass.” I do one-on-one sessions with them and I'll say, “OK. What were you getting on your practice exams?” “I don't know. I kind of took them, I did okay.” So they didn't do it in a timed way, they didn't score themselves. If they score themselves, they said they did; I said, what was your score? They give me the numbers and I said, “That's a 60. You need a 70 to pass the real exam. If you're only getting a 60 on a practice exam how could you honestly expect to pass the real exam?” So, the practice exams would really help you a lot, so make that a key part of your strategy for passing this exam.
More Related CPC Exam Tips
- CPC Exam Practice
- How to Pass the CPC Exam — Tips & Strategies
- Free Medical Coding Related Guides and Tools
- AAPC – Advice for taking the CPC Exam
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