Hi, Jane here…I’ve finally passed my CPC exam on my second try and would like to share some tips with you…
First of all, timing is crucial, many medical coders have failed not because they can’t answer the questions, but they couldn’t finish in time…
The CPC exam has 150 questions to be completed in 5 hours and 40 minutes, that gives about 2 minutes per question.
So time yourself to spend not more than 2 minutes per question, if you can’t solve it within 2 minutes, mark the question and skip to the next. You can always come back later after you’ve answered all the other questions that you’re sure of. Many medical coders have also shared that they “bumped” across the answers for some questions in other questions of the exam. So do keep a lookout.
Also, a good strategy may be to start at the back of the paper, where the questions may seem shorter and simpler.
Secondly, make sure you answer ALL questions. Towards the last 10 minutes if you’re running out of time, go back to all those questions that you’ve skipped and just pick an answer randomly. There’s still a 25% chance of getting the answer correct even if you guessed the answer.
Thirdly, as the CPC exam is an open book exam, take advantage of this and make notes and highlight your coding books to make it easier and faster to search for the codes. You are allowed to have handwritten notes, highlights, and colorful tabs to mark the pages, but you can’t have any loose papers in your books.
Fourthly, practice on past year and CPC mock exam questions as much as you can. This really helped me alot. Also, time yourself to finish all 150 questions within 5 hours and 40 minutes. You will learn alot from marking and reviewing your answers with the full rationale provided along with these CPC practice exam packages. I bought a few CPC practice exams, I recommend practicing the 150 question mock exam that’s most similar in format to the actual CPC exam.
It cost me only $37 for the whole 150 questions (some practice exams only have 50 questions), all questions come with full rationale answers to explain which is the correct answer, and why the other 3 answers are incorrect, and where in your coding books to locate the answer. Another bonus is that this practice exam package also came with a free CPC Exam Study Guide 2013 version which includes the Common Anatomy Terminology Handouts, Common Medical Terminology Prefix, Root Word, and Suffix Handouts which helped me organize my studying. One tip, read the guidelines and handouts very carefully.
Lastly, master your terminology and anatomy, CPT and ICD-9 Guidelines. Because I did encounter many questions based on it, and these questions tend to be quite straight forward and easy to score if you’ve mastered your medical anatomy and terminology.
The passing mark is 70% for the overall CPC exam, they used to mark by sections but they calculate the overall marks now.
One good tip I got from another medical coder was When answering a question, look at the ICD-9 codes first. You’ll be able to eliminate 1 or 2 answer options just by doing so. Also, jot down all the vocab that you’re unsure of in your coding book, especially the colors. Do pay special attention to the guidelines of the anesthesia and E/M sections. Knowing your guidelines do make a world of difference.
That’s all for now, I’ll be adding more tips on how to pass the CPC exam at http://www.medical-coder-certification.com
I’ll also be updating on ICD-10 especially on ICD-10-CM coding. I’d like to wish all my fellow medical coders out there all the best and have a great day ahead!