How To Pass The CPC Exam The First Time

How to Pass the CPC Exam the First Time | CCO Medical CodingHow To Pass The CPC Exam The First Time

Is it your first time taking the CPC exam? Ready for it? No? … Well, that’s ok, nobody ever really feels completely ready. It’s true that a big part of pre-exam anxiety is the “unknown,” but if you knew exactly what’s on the exam, it wouldn’t really be a test now would it?

Yes, indeed you will be searching for correct codes to assign based on the information you are given, but, the circumstances are vastly different. You see, it doesn’t have to be that hard. You don’t need to stress. After all, the exam is open book right? You just need to get organized, focus on whats important to pass the test… and don’t sweat the small stuff! All these circumstances will be as simple as counting 1,2,3 if you have a defined strategy. Here are some tips for you on how to pass the CPC exam the first time:

Step 1: Build your OWN strategy
There are thousands of test taking strategies out there—some are actually good. Building your own strategy is important because what works for you will likely not work for everyone else—we all process information differently. Focus on building strategies that are comfortable and effective for you and that you can turn into habits through repetitive practice. That’s right, habits. This part is important because good habits and effective practice pay off the most during stressful situations—like a timed exam.

Source: The CPC Exam Is About Strategy

Step 2: Open book!
You will have your books with you! Focus your study on learning guidelines, and familiarize yourself with the layout of the books, especially CPT. Don’t try to memorize. There is way too much info to spend time on memorization. Instead, focus your time on using your books. Learn where the guidelines are for the different sections and subsections in the CPT book and know where the modifiers can be found.

Source: The CPC Exam Is About Strategy

Step 3: Sign up for a medical coding course and review blitz videos
As first time takers, it is highly recommended that you have to have had a course or some sort of real-world experience, like you did your work at a multi-specialty surgery center, OR something where you don’t necessarily have to go back to basics.

Sign up for a medical coding review blitz videosThis is both a review of the subject matter and a guide to doing well on the exam. You will not only have an exhaustive review of all the various diagnostic and therapeutic procedures covered on the exam, the program will also demonstrate ways to go through the process of taking the exam in the most efficient manner, making best use of the time allowed.

Step 4: It’s multiple choice after all!
The CPC exam is comprised of 150 multiple-choice questions and so the answer is right in front of you! This should be an important part of your strategy. This means that you can save time by skipping the indexing process. Rather than indexing codes, it is more efficient during the CPC to use the codes given to you in the multiple choice options and go straight to the numerical section. This strategy saves time and allows you to focus on the keywords and detail in both the code descriptions and the scenarios you are given. It also allows you to eliminate incorrect choices very quickly.

Source: General Preparation and Test Strategies for CPC Exam

Step 5: Go get some timed practice exams
Since one of the biggest challenges of the CPC is the 5 hour and 40 minute time limit, it is imperative that you get some timed practice. With timed practice exams, you’re going to learn how to do the process of elimination, how to move quicker, and you get that almost pressured feeling and you have to practice that.

So be sure to take advantage of as many CPC practice exams as you can. Treat these exams like real tests: study extensively for them, time yourself as you take them, and then note which questions, and more importantly what type of questions, you regularly get wrong. On your first test, did you struggle with the Anesthesia codes? Go back over that section. Were you sloppy with your ICD-9-CM codes? Review the ICD-9-CM manual. A number of private companies have practice CPC exams, but the AAPC’s practice exams are probably your best bet.

Don’t treat practice exams as formalities or wastes of time. Many practice exams can be easier than the actual exam, but you should still take them seriously. You should try and score at least an 80% on a practice exam before you take the real CPC exam.

Source: General Preparation and Test Strategies for CPC Exam

Step 6: Learn the BHAT® Method

Many test takers find it helpful to bubble and highlight or underline keywords and details within the scenarios as they read through them. Laureen Jandroep’s BHAT® technique has been a trademarked of hers and CCOs and its licensees. To learn more about how this bubble and highlighting technique is done, please watch the video training/tutorial below:

CPT Manual BHAT® Technique Explained
YouTube video

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