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 looking into the importance of the CPC certificate and the CPC exam, one must know what medical coding is and what the medical coders do.
What is medical coding?
Medical coding is an essential component of the Healthcare industry. It helps in medical billing, filing insurance claims, and statistical analysis of medical services and procedures by translating them into alphanumeric codes recognized worldwide.
While medical coding helps the healthcare industry to provide optimal healthcare services, the medical coders are responsible for reviewing the medical records and assigning proper codes to the services, procedures, diagnoses, treatments, and medications to ensure accurate reimbursement of the services and proper documentation for the sake of 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. The certificate 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). The time to complete these questions is 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, scoring 70% minimum.
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
Core Exam Pricing (CPC, CIC, CRC, COC, CPMA, CPCO, CPMM, CDEO, CDEI, CPB):
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 the standards of the CPC exam and the certification are updated and improved annually makes it very demanding and challenging.
The certificate comes with several benefits, as mentioned earlier; as a result, thousands of people sit in the exam. The competition becomes more difficult with an increase in the number of applicants.
It compels AAPC to make the CPC exam tricky and complicated so that only those with adequate preparation can make it through. 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
- If you want to prepare for the CPC exam, you might consider the following options:
- Joining any online or classroom CPC preparation course
- Following the guidelines provided by AAPC and studying the local AAPC chapters
- Hiring a personal coach for the preparation of the CPC exam
- Attending webinars and training camps to get the latest information about the coding and medical billing system.
- 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 makes the coder study thoroughly for the expected and unexpected questions for the real exam, follow time constraints, and practice in the given time frame to prepare for the time management in the actual exam, 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 provides the course outline for the CPC exam. The participant must go through the course outline and designate time for each section accordingly, as all sections do not require equal time and struggle to prepare for, i.e., coding scenarios may require extra time and focus.
- 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 any updates in the standards for coding and keep 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 of the CPC exam cheat sheets are readily available online for the ease of the coders.
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.
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 of stomach emptying in the small intestine, and how fully it empties. Which of the following CPT code(s) should he report?
A. 91010, 91013
3. The situations, including the intersection of health privacy and employer/employee relationships, are dealt with under which of the following acts?
A. Americans with Disabilities Act
B. Affordable Care Act
C. No Surprises Act 2022
D. Humanity in Healthcare Act 2022
1. American Academy of Professional Coders. Taking the CPC® exam. AAPC – Advancing the Business of Healthcare.
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