Passing National Board Exams for Medical Billing

As a medical coding and billing instructor of many years, I am frequently asked for tips for passing national board exams (that are available through organization like AAPC) for medical billing. There is much written on this subject. Aside from having had good career training and self-study materials in medical billing or medical coding, it is important to relax.

I had one student that had taken a¬†national board exam multiple times. She came close to passing each time but would run out of time with 30-40 questions left unanswered.¬† She was sure that she needed more time on the exam and obtained an¬†American with Disabilities Act exam accommodation from the state¬†board.¬†¬†They allowed her an additional 2 hours. She went in for¬†her next attempt and only used 30 minutes of her extra time. To me this¬†illustrates that her actual problem¬†was “stressing out” over the time issue and therefore it held her back from realizing her full potential. When she knew she had an extra¬†2 hours, she completely relaxed and really only needed a short amount of extra time for completion.

There are many study techniques and testing techniques that have been¬†discussed in these blogs. However, one thing that has never really been mentioned is to make¬†HUGE use of your¬†coding¬†guidelines section in your ICD-9 manual.¬†¬†Many people will tab where the coding guidelines are, but do not tab the guidelines themselves.¬† An example would be using tabs for the HIV, Diabetes, Hypertension, and SIRS guidelines, and then highlighting and making notes on those pages. Additionally, for the medical billing board exam, you are allowed to have your coding manuals as a resource. Make USE of the manuals.¬†Find blank pages and write notes in them and tab them.¬†¬†For example, if you get confused between what constitutes fraud vs’ abuse, you can notate that in your manual.

Great medical billing and coding training, excellent self-study materials, having a test-taking strategy, using your manuals to your fullest potential, and having a relaxed attitude are all key to passing any national board exam for medical billing.


By: Dawn Moreno, PhD, CBCS, CMAA, MTC. Dawn lives in the beautiful Southwest and has been a medical coding and billing instructor for over 7 years. Her joy is teaching adults new career skills.  Interested in quality medical billing training?   

More State Board Exams for Medical Billing Information:

AAPC Certification Exam Locations

6 thoughts on “Passing National Board Exams for Medical Billing”

    • For the AAPC exams, you are not required to take any particular courses or attend any special schools although it is recommended you do some studying! When you pass the exam if you don’t meet the two-year experience requirement they add an “A” to your credential – i.e.. CPC-A, COC-A, etc.. That indicates you are in apprentice status. If you attend a course like our PBC course and get a letter of successful completion they will waive one year of the experience requirement. Why don’t you reach out to the Help Desk so we can go over your options.


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