What is a CPC Exam

The Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam assesses the proficiency of individuals looking to establish a career in medical coding. The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) administers the CPC exam that validates a medical coder’s proficiency and expertise.

In this article, you will learn about:

  • The CPC exam
  • What medical coding is
  • How to prepare for the CPC exam
  • The CPC exam’s cost
  • The CPC practice exam

Before considering the importance of the CPC certificate and the CPC exam, one must understand medical coding and what medical coders do.

What is the medical coding

Medical coding is a critical function within the healthcare industry that involves translating healthcare diagnoses, procedures, medical services, and equipment into universal medical alphanumeric codes. These codes are used for billing, insurance claims processing, and data analysis efforts.

While medical coding helps the healthcare industry provide optimal healthcare services, medical coders are responsible for reviewing the medical records and assigning proper codes to services, procedures, diagnoses, treatments, and medications to ensure accurate reimbursement and proper documentation for analysis and research.

Why is the CPC exam important

The CPC exam assesses coders’ proficiency and level of expertise. It helps a coder get the CPC certificate, which is highly regarded because it recognizes a coder’s competence and ability to follow professional standards and guidelines in medical coding, billing, and insurance claims.

The benefits of passing the CPC exam and getting a CPC certification include providing credential recognition to the coders, higher chances of hiring by healthcare facilities and employers, a boost in earning potential, and career advancement for supervisory or managerial roles.

Aapc CPC exam format:

The CPC exam paper contains 100 multiple-choice questions (MCQs). Completing these questions takes 4 hours. Most questions consist of scenarios based on applying the CPT procedure codes, ICD-10-CM codes for different diagnoses, and HCPCS level I and II codes. These scenarios cover almost 17 areas of knowledge. To pass the exams, candidates must correctly attempt at least 70 questions and score a minimum of 70%.

How much is the CPC exam

According to the AAPC website, the cost of the exam according to the exam type is as follows:

CIRCC Exam Pricing:

For a single attempt: $400

For two attempts: $450

Specialty Exam Pricing:

For a single attempt: $299

For two attempts: $399

Student Exam Pricing:

For a single attempt: $375

For two attempts: $475


For a single attempt: $399

For two attempts: $499

Is the CPC exam hard

The exam requires a lot of practice and preparedness, but the difficulty level varies from person to person depending on their background knowledge and expertise in the medical field. Is the CPC exam hard? This question is frequently asked when the coders start preparing for the exam.

The fact that the CPC exam is highly regarded and that its standards and certification are updated and improved annually makes it very demanding and challenging.

As mentioned earlier, the certificate comes with several benefits, so thousands of people sit for the exam. With an increase in the number of applicants, the competition becomes more difficult.

The CPC exam is designed to be comprehensive to ensure that candidates possess the necessary skills and knowledge in medical coding. The difficulty level is intended to maintain the integrity and professional standards of the coding profession. However, cracking the AAPC CPC exam is not entirely unachievable. With an appropriate level of preparation that may take a few weeks or months and an adequate level of practice, one can easily qualify for the CPC certification by passing the CPC exam.

How to study for the CPC exam

  1. If you want to prepare for the CPC exam, you might consider the following options:
  2. Joining any online or classroom CPC preparation course
  3. Following the guidelines provided by AAPC and studying the local AAPC chapters
  4. Hiring a personal coach for the preparation of the CPC exam
  5. Attending webinars and training camps to get the latest coding and medical billing system information.
  6. Attempting CPC practice exams

Characteristics of a good CPC practice exam:

CPC practice exam

A good CPC practice exam helps the coder fully prepare for the actual exam. Solving the model Certified Professional Coder papers allows the coders to review their knowledge and assess their weaknesses and strengths in coding. The coder should treat the practice exams like real CPC exams.

The CPC practice exam requires the coder to study thoroughly for the expected and unexpected questions in the real exam, follow time constraints, and practice in the given time frame to prepare for the time management in the actual exam. The coder must also review the incorrect answers, retest, and repeat.

Following are some of the tips to prepare for the CPC exam:

  • Following the AAPC website and course:

The AAPC offers a detailed course outline and study resources for the CPC exam preparation. Candidates are advised to review these materials and allocate their study time effectively, recognizing that some areas, such as coding scenarios, may need more focused attention due to their complexity.

  • Using the AAPC CPC exam study guidelines:

The AAPC has published official guides for the CPC exam. The candidates must go through the guidelines while preparing for the exam.

  • Attempting CPC practice exam:

The key to cracking the real exam is practicing as much as possible before attempting the CPC exam. Many model papers are available online and on different coding websites to help the participants practice for the real exam, gain knowledge, and polish their time management skills.

  • Updating the information from different coding books and ebooks:

The participants must keep checking for updates in the standards for coding and revising the medical codes from their medical code books to retain maximum knowledge about codes and their usage.

  • Preparing a CPC exam cheat sheet:

Many participants make their own CPC exam cheat sheets while preparing for the exams. Some are readily available online for the coders’ convenience.

CPC exam training questions

Some of the examples of the questions in the CPC exam are as follows:

1. Which CPT code(s) should the physician report for a 25-year-old female patient suffering from third-degree burns on her left leg and arm covering 19 sq cm. The physician scrubs the burns to clean them, anesthetizes them, and makes three incisions with a #11 scale. He then re-dresses the burns in sterile gauze.

A. 97602

B. 97597

C. 16030, 16035, 16036 x2

D. 16035, 16036 x2

2. The physician suspects a gastric outlet obstruction. He performs a manometric study. Using nuclear medicine, he monitors the time food takes to move through the patient’s stomach, the time the stomach empties into the small intestine, and how fully it empties. Which of the following CPT code(s) should he report?

A. 91010, 91013

B. 91013

C. 91020

D. 91022

3. Which acts deal with the situations, including the intersection of health privacy and employer/employee relationships?

A. Americans with Disabilities Act

B. Affordable Care Act

C. No Surprises Act 2022

D. Humanity in Healthcare Act 2022

See Also

Free Medical Billing and Coding Courses

Medical Billing and Coding Salary

CPT Code 99222

20610 CPT Code

ICD-10 CAD Coding

ICD-10 Dysphagia

Current Version
October 2, 2023
Written By
Asher Ashfaq, OMPT, PT, CPC, CMP

1. American Academy of Professional Coders. Taking the CPC® exam. AAPC – Advancing the Business of Healthcare.

2. https://cpcpracticeexam.com/

3. What is the CPC exam? Medical Billing and Coding Certification. https://www.medicalbillingandcoding.org/what-is-the-cpc-exam/

4. Jitendra M.Sc CPC (2022, December 19). Model Questions and Answers for Medical Coding CPC Exam 2023. American Medical Coding.

5. How Hard Is It To Pass The Certified Professional Coder Exam?
Source: MedSIT Nexus
URL: https://medsitnexus.com/how-hard-is-it-to-pass-the-certified-professional-coder-exam

Follow us