When you have completed your medical coding coursework the last step before you receive your long awaited certification would be to complete the medical coding exam.
What Is On The Exam?
The medical coding certification exam will test you on your knowledge and skills and on the practical experience you would have received from either your internship/externship or your hands on experience in class.
In order to pass the medical coding certification exam you will need to be thoroughly prepared and should have an understanding of the importance of the medical coding field, the management and monitoring of large amounts of sensitive patient medical data and other procedures. Unless you are able to have a complete understanding of the information provided to you throughout the course and with attention to detail it may prove to be more difficult to pass the exam and find an employer.
Medical Coding Exam Preparation
As a perspective medical coding professional, you will have a number of options available to you for preparing for you exam. These options will vary from choosing the proper medical coding program or school to start with. Unlike exams that are more traditional in the medical field, the medical coding exam will score you, not only on your ability. In order for you to become a qualified and competent medical coder that an employer would be proud to add to their medical team, you will need to prove that you have the proper skill set. This type of skill set can only be developed under proper professional guidance.
The best place to start your test preparation is the AAPC website. The test has undergone a variety of changes over the years and the best place you would be able to go to get the latest information on these changes is via the website mentioned above. So if you are ready, below you will be able to find tips on preparing and taking the CPC exam.
Tip #1 Start Your Plan of Attack
You must know what information is covered on the CPC examination so that you will know where to start your test preparation efforts. The following topics will be covered on the exam:
Medical Terminology, Pathology, Integumentary, Anesthesia, Radiology, Medicine, HCPCS Level II, Coding Guidelines, Mediastinum & Diaphragm, Practice Management, Male/Female Genital, Hemic, Lymphatic, Maternity, Delivery, Eye & Ocular Adnexa, Respiratory, Laboratory, Nervous, Endocrine, Digestive, Urinary, Musculoskeletal, Evaluation and Management, Anatomy and Physiology, ICD-9-CM
Now this may seem like quite a bit to remember, it is because it is. You should expect to see approximately 5-10 questions that will cover each of the topics listed above. As you begin to get a handle on the list of topics above, you should start with the topic you know the least about. For example, if you’re coding specialties do not require you to do much evaluation and management then this is the area you would want to brush up on. Once you have made it through the topics you are not too sure on then you can take the time to review areas you are more knowledgeable on.
The CPC exam in its entirety is split into 3 different sections, Surgery and Modifiers, Medical Concepts and Remaining CPT codes.
Tip #2 Taking an Open Book Exam
Yes, that is right the CPC exam is an open book exam, however, there are only approved manuals allowed to be used for the exam. According to the AAPC the following manuals are allowed (only certain editions are allowed):
- CPT Books
- HCPCS Level II
The reason that some editions are not allowed is because some of them may contain too much information.
Tip #3 Tabbing
Those that have taken the exam have found that it helps to tab parts of the manuals that they may not necessarily use on a daily basis. For example, once you have reached the terminology and anatomy portion of your exam then have a tab in ICD-9-CM manual bookmark the neoplasm table.
Basic Test Preparation Tips
The CPC exam time lasts approximately 5 hours and 40 minutes and is available all year round. During the exam no food or drink is permitted so having a good breakfast the morning of the exam and plenty of sleep the night before can be crucial to passing the examination. However, depending on where the exam is taken some areas will permit quiet snacks are allowed, no pop rocks, potato chips, etc.