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?   

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About the Author:

Dawn Moreno, PhD, CBCS, CMAA, MTC. Lives in the beautiful Southwest United States and has been an instructor for medical coding/billing for the past 7 years.


  1. Antoinette R. Minnich July 29, 2014 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    How do I get link into the 50 questions???

  2. crystal schoff December 26, 2015 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    How do you qualify to take the national coding and billing exam?

    • Laureen
      Laureen January 10, 2016 at 4:37 pm - Reply

      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 requirment. Feel free to schedule a call with me and I’d be happy to discuss your career goals and point you in the right direction.

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