To make a career in medical coding, one has to be a certified coder from AAPC and AHIMA. To clear the coding exam, the coder has to know in and out about medical coding and billing. Since the last decade, the number of certified medical coders has increased significantly. In India only, if we see there has been number of coders being certified every year. In US also, the number of certified medical coders has increased significantly. The first and basic exam to clear for medical coder is Certified Profession Coder (CPC) exam. I being a certified medical coder would like to share here my experience how to prepare and clear CPC exam.
Always stick to coding guidelines
ICD 9 coding guidelines are very important to follow to clear CPC exam. To prepare for CPC exam, coder has to always follow the ICD 9 coding guidelines. Just to save time during CPC exam, do highlight the complex thing, which are not easy to find out. When I was preparing for CPC, I used to highlight the codes for sepsis, Poisoning, diabetes and pregnancy codes. Since, these conditions require two or more codes so it would be easy to find them during CPC exam. In CPT book, I used to highlight notes written below CPT codes for using additional procedure codes. Finally, I would say coders should know the coding books as their best friend so that they can search anything within seconds.
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Things to remember while CPC exam
CPC exam have MCQ (multiple-choice questions). There are 150 questions in CPC exam. Each question has 4 options to answer. The time duration for CPC is 5 hours and 30 minutes. There are no negative marking for wrong answer. Now, here is a thing to remember not to leave any question unanswered. I have seen some of my friends not clearing the CPC exam with 1 or 2 percent, because they have not attempted few questions. So always, attempt all the questions of CPC exam. I think 5 hours and 40 minutes will be enough to attempt all the questions. I know everyone will not know all the answers, but still we can guess the answers, who knows you might choose the correct answer. When I was preparing for the CPC, I was always told by my seniors not to leave any question unanswered. During CPC exam, even I have confusion in solving few questions but somehow I answered the entire paper at the end. I was little conscious about passing the exam but my seniors told if you have attempted all the question there are more chances to pass the exam. So, finally, the result came and I cleared the exam, my exam score was with 70 to 80 percent. To clear the exam we need equal or more than 70 %. So, I think few of my guess answered helped me to clear to CPC exam. So always, be positive while giving CPC exam.
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Always manage time during CPC exam
As we know, time never waits for anyone; you will experience this during CPC exam. For CPC we have 5 hour and 40 minutes to solve the whole paper. It all depends on how you manage your time during CPC exam. What I experienced during CPC exam is that, we have both complex and simple questions during CPC, so if we take a lot of time for complex questions we will lose time. So, I would suggest please keep a time limit for each question to solve, do not waste your time solving only one question. For example, when I was giving the exam, the question paper started with the surgery questions and the last section of paper have single line questions. So, solving surgery questions was taking too much time compared to one-line questions in last section. We should be prepared to save time during exam because sometimes we do not get time to attempt easy questions. So, it is very important to manage time during CPC exam.
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Clear CPC exam in First attempt
We know CPC exam has one extra free attempt to clear the exam. I would urge everyone to clear the exam in first attempt if possible. Just follow the above things you can clear the exam without hesitation. Many people do not clear it in first attempt and they wait for second attempt, which take again 3 to 4 months minimum. In second attempt, people are more stressed, since they think it is their last chance. So, be focused to clear CPC exam in first attempt and enjoy a successful career in medical coding.
Hope, you would have got few tips to clear CPC exam in future. Do share the article if you liked it. Also would like to know your experience during CPC exam in comment section.