How Do I Study for the CPC Exam?
Laureen: The next question, our ever-popular, how do I study for the CPC exam? You can probably actually say, “How do I study for the fill-in-the blank exam?” We have a proven process that we like to share. Let me find it on our site here.
Alicia: This proven process has been vetted. We feel that if you take all the steps that we’ve given you that you’re going to do very, very well. We provide all the tools to actually work through the proven process, which is helpful as well.
Laureen: If you’ve started it with someone else’s program, you still can plug in. This is how it works. You can come to this page here. We have a little video from Alicia talking about it. Basically step one is a good course. Whatever your credential of choice is, find a school that has a good reputation, that has good support. Listen to what others are saying about that type of support. You know what kind of learner you are and what kind of support that you need. That’s step one.
For our step one, if you take a course with us, we have a welcome call. We do active coaching. We really want to make sure you finish the course. Here’s an example of some of our full courses. That’s step one. A good course has textbook reading, textbook exercises, workbook exercises. You’re really working with the material.
Step two, we call this the Blitz, the Review Blitz. Basically a Review Blitz is still comprehensive but it’s the highlights. For the CPC exam for example, what are the competencies that the AAPC is saying they’re going to test you on? We make sure we talk about every single test competency and that you’re prepared to take that test. Our Blitzes are normally a live event that is recorded and then we share that, or we do a little pre-recording and we share it that way.
Alicia: This is where the BHAT™ technique comes in. It helps you really get to know your manuals. That’s probably the number one thing that I think people get out of it. Another point to mention is that if you’ve taken a program someplace else but you don’t feel like you’re ready, you can jump in on step two. That’s where you would start. Jump in on step two.
Laureen: It really dovetails. We have a lot of instructors that actually recommend their students get our Blitzes because it supplements what they do. It’s not a competition. It dovetails nicely with what they’re doing. Maybe they’re going to be lecturing on the digestive system next week. You, as a Blitz customer, can watch that lecture, go to your class. You’ll have your book all marked up and your classmates are going to be very jealous.
Alicia: I’ve had students that I taught at the college because that’s kind of how I found Laureen and we were talking about it. This is what you need to do and they have since come back to us and we’ve got two of them getting additional credentials now. It’s very exciting.
Laureen: The third step and this is very key and a lot of people skip this. They don’t give it as much weight as they should. That’s doing timed practice exams. It’s not just practice exams. It’s timed practice exams. You want to follow the techniques especially one that we call the art of skipping. We share that in our Blitz programs. You want to master how to take the exam. Students that do the art of skipping without doing any extra study have increased their scores by 10 to 15 points. Maybe they were getting a 60. Now they’re getting a 70, 75. That’s passing now. They didn’t do any more study and they just changed the way they took the exam. That’s all part of that practice with the exams.
Alicia: We hear a lot “I got a 68.” It’s just things like that. In fact, I took the CPC twice because I went in and winged it. I thought I would “I’m a coder. I can pass this test.” The next time I went back and did it because I actually went back before this proven process was set up that kind of went through these steps. It was fine the second time.
Laureen: For those that are on a total budget, what I recommend that you do, if you can’t afford the Blitz, is go to the AAPC site, find the credential that you’re going after. I’ll show you what we did. Chandra and I recently took the CDEO. That’s the Certified Documentation Expert for Outpatient. There was no materials to train. There was no study guide or anything. We just basically came here. We went to CDEO. Normally it tells you the exam breakdown. That’s what you’re after. They’ll let you know what the exam covers.
What I would do, what we did is we kind of made like a type of slide deck for each of these points. Eight questions is going to be on these four points. We took those four points. We discussed it. We went out. We found different information on different websites. The next one, provider communication. There’s 15 questions. Make sure that you feel comfortable with each of the bullets that they’re saying the exam covers. That’s the poor man’s way of preparing for the exam if you can’t afford the extra study materials. Start googling it. Google these things. If it’s something like OIG, that’s a CMS type website thing. Look for official sources that way. There’s lots of YouTube videos out there. Not on all of these topics, but on some. But I would start with the more official websites like CMS and things like that. That’s where you can find a lot of it.
Alicia: Remember we have a YouTube site free. If you subscribe to us, you will find out every time new videos are in there. But you can go in and search a specific topic. Laureen’s going there now. Let’s say you want to look at something about hypertension. Just go to the little looking glass, the little magnifying glass and you can type in hypertension or the abbreviation “htn”. Everything that we’ve done on hypertension will be listed. We’ve got stuff going back several years in ICD-9. Diabetes, maybe it’s CKD and diabetes. Take advantage of that.
Also, if you do do that and you subscribe, see the little red at the top that says Subscribe, go ahead and click on that. That’s very important to go ahead and do that. When you watch one of these, like that top one, the DM coding, you watch it, go ahead and like it because then we know that you want more content like this and we’ll be able to provide that. If you make a comment, we’ll come back and read that. We do track these comments. Oh, you’re muted. There you go.
Laureen: Sorry, guys. At 5:15, the house is a little loud. It’s not like the kids are at bed when we do the Q&A webinar. So I’m trying. With all of these videos that are on YouTube, we have a blog component where there is the transcript too. What I do for myself, anytime a student has a question on something, I’m like “I know we did that.” I just type in whatever it is, diabetes, and I do site: cco.us. You can do that with hypertension, anything that you want to know to see if we’ve talked about it, if we’ve done it on Live with Laureen or Did You Know with Chandra or the Q&A webinars or support call and we shared that on the blog in the public area, this will be the list. Here’s one where we’re talking about E&M with diabetes. You can just click on that.
Alicia: You can see the date. That was November 2016. You know that it’s a current. We may have five things in there, but that’s the most recent that we mentioned.
Laureen: Here’s the video. It’s on YouTube but we found it here. What’s nice is you can watch it and then read the transcript below it. That’s kind of neat to do it that way too. That’s how you prepare for the CPC exam. You want to focus on the competencies that they’re going to be testing you on and go through those steps. Make sure you had a course or some really good real-world coding experience. If you worked in a multi-surgery center, you might not need a course. You could go to our site and do a free practice exam to see what your baseline score is.
To know how much studying you need to do, if you get a 40 or a 50, basically you bummed the test. You need a course. But if you got a 60, 65, you probably could do just the Blitz and go over the key points and do timed practice exams until you’re scoring an 85 percent.
That’s normally what I recommend to people that schedule a 20-minute consultation call with me. Do a baseline. How do you get to that? You go to up here, Freebies. Click on Freebies. You scroll down and it’s one of our subheadings, Free Practice Exams. We now have one for the CPC, ICD-10, the COC, the CPB, and the CRC. Our goal is to try and create one free practice exam for every credential that we try and help people get certified in. That’s our way of giving back to the community. It’s also a tool that people can kind of see where they’re at. They can see our quality of practice exams.
I want to take this opportunity to share. We’re doing a roadmap for the products that we want to offer for the year. We figured out to create one 60-question practice exam with really good thorough rationales about $5000 cost. Just be thoughtful. I’m sure the AAPC and other companies that create these practice exams spend as much. Don’t share logins. Don’t print and give them away. This is a lot of work and we have to maintain them every year. This is how we earn our living. If you’re going to use the free ones, don’t give them away. Let people come and give us their email address so we can see if they’re interested in some of our paid products. That’s just kind of a pet peeve of mine, sharing logins and things like that. It just really is not at the goal. It’s not a good thing to do.
Alicia: I talked to a person today who had taken training, but it was back in ICD-9. She had taken the test. She didn’t pass. Then she kind of put it off and life happened. She said, “I just need something in ICD-10.” I told her “Go take the ICD-10 free practice exam. See where you’re at. Can you do self-study or do you really need a course because we have a course in ICD-10?” That’s what she’s going to do. Ultimately it could save her a lot of money compared to having to take a full course in just ICD-10 or being able to do the Blitz or being able to get the books that we have in our bookstore for ICD-10 that we use and being able to do it on their own. That gave her three options by just taking a free practice exam.
Laureen: Lori had shared in the Facebook chat because she works on the helpdesk, so she’s used to answering this. She put an FAQ up, how to search the CCO site easier. If you heard “How did she do that site thing again?” This is definitely something worth saving. I learned about it back in the day when I did all of my website stuff. You just learn how to do these searches. I do it just to find stuff in our own site. It’s very, very powerful. I use it a lot with the CMS website and the AAPC website and other sites that I consider authoritative.
This segment “How Do I Study for the CPC Exam?” originally aired on Live with Laureen #014 on January 12th, 2017.