AAPC’s Certified Professional Coder (CPC) credential is the gold standard for medical coding in physician office settings and held by more than 60,000 coding professionals. CPC’s are critical to compliant and profitable medical practices and typically earn 20% more than non-certified coders. The CPC increases your chances of being hired and retained in a competitive job market.
Tips to pass CPC exam
Remember this is an open book exam and all answers are available in the books. Those who appear for the exam should know thoroughly on how to use ICD 9 CM, CPT-4 and HCPCS books.
Know the complete guidelines – Read front pages of each chapters in ICD 9 and CPT books which we do not do it often.
You don't have to memorize all the guidelines but need to know where it is in the book. For example Medical terminology are located in the CPT book just before the E/M section; Common abbreviations are listed on the back cover of the CPT book; Modifiers are located on the front cover of the CPT book.
Prior to the test, go through your CPT book and highlight the necessary informations / guidelines. Do each in a different color highlighter, when taking the test the highlighted notes will stand out and jog your memory. You may also highlight the Coding Tip if you are using AMA's Professional Edition CPT Book.
For Example: In AMA CPT Book Professional Edition under 'Excision benign lesion' you may highlight "For excision performed in conjunction with adjacent tissue transfer report only the adjacent tissue transfer code (14000 - 14302). Excision of lesion (11400 - 11446) is not separately reportable with adjacent tissue transfer. This would help you in eleminating the answer that contains codes for both adjacent tissue transfer and excision of lesion. Also add notes like 'this applies for Excision malignant lesion (11600 - 11646) also'.
You may also add working notes, meaning you can add little notations. Example: Guidelines for E codes - see page no:xxx and you may also add additional information which may not available in Books. For example: PHI refers to Personal health information, Benefit of electronic claims submission is for Timely submission of claims, The HIPAA Privacy Rule does not apply Workers Comp etc.
Do as much as possible practice exams, by checking the Rationale (clues) would help you in narrowing the answers.
Be punctual and right on time on the day of your exam
Attend the easiest sections in which you are most knowledgeable, you could start answering the sections from the center or last section of the exam whichever is easier.
Skip the question that is very long or that is not easily understandable.
Medical Terminology – If you are not sure on the answers tag the medical term in ICD book, this would greatly help you in finding the answers
Review the question and answers carefully and eliminate any answer right away that doesn't work. Don't waste your time in re-checking those incorrect answers in books. Knowing the modifiers would also help you in narrowing or eliminating the answers.
If any two of the answers are eliminated then proceed with checking of codes directly in the tabular list by skipping the index list.
Do not keep a time frame for each question as two minutes, this is only an average time to complete the exam, one question may take more than two minutes whereas other would take only seconds. Therefore rather keeping a time frame for each question you may keep a time frame for each section.
Give your mind a rest, get a good night's sleep, eat a good meal beforehand as you may asked to be present even one hour before the exam for inspection of books.
CPC sample Questions
All the best!