CPC (Certified Professional Coder) is an exam of 5 hours 40 minutes. This exam is conducted by AAPC (American Academy of Professional Coders). AHIMA also conduct some medical coding certification exams. CPC certification exam decides your future career in Medical coding. However, you have two attempts to clear CPC exam, but I would suggest clearing the exam in First attempt. The preparation for CPC exam is already being discussed in my previous post. We are here to learn few techniques to apply during CPC exam, which should help you in clearing the exam. I myself being a CPC certified coder, have few CPC exam tips to share from my experience. These tips have helped me to pass CPC exam and if you like them do follow them. Therefore, we will just checkout one by one these CPC exam tips which will help you to prepare and pass this exam.
CPC Exam tips 1 :Use of Manual or Codebooks
During CPC, Manual or codebooks are used for answering the questions. So, always edit your Manual or Codebooks of ICD 9 or 10 CM, CPT-4 and HCPCS books in such a way that we are able to find answers easily. I would share my experience; I have highlighted all the important CPT ,ICD, E-codes, modifiers and instructions notes or guidelines using a colour pen. This helped me find these important texts easily in the codebook. To save time and to find correct answer, we have to use few techniques during CPC exam. This has to be done during preparation of CPC exam. We know that there will be one question from a particular topic, so just highlight the important note or guideline about that topic. You will surely find that this technique will help you get correct answer for the question and save your precious time. You can get the best sample CPC exam guide here which will surely help in clearing this exam.
CPC Exam tips 2: Find Answer from Answers
Here, I mean to say it is not necessary to go in manual or codebooks and check index for each and every code. The 4 optional answers sometimes will help you to find a correct answer. The questions sometimes have answers, which are very different from each other. For example, if a biopsy is done and there is ultrasound guidance is used and the option has 76942 and 76937. So, we know the vascular ultrasound 76937 is not used for biopsy, so finally the answer will be 76942 with biopsy CPT Code. So, here without searching the index and searching the codebook we can get the correct answer from 4 optional answers. This strategy will save lot of time and we can invest more time of surgery questions. One more example I would like to share. Sometimes the answer will have a CPT codes that cannot be coded together. If you directly search that CPT code, you can eliminate that option and look for other option. This is very frequently done in CPC questions, so do read the notes below CPT codes before coding the codes together.
CPC Exam tips 3: Attempt the easy questions first
First of all, there are no easy questions here. The questions, which have direct answers in codebook and do not have coding scenario are considered here as easy questions. So, first we should attempt all the one or two liners question to answer them fast. This will help in attempting as many questions and saving time for big surgery section. As you start the answering CPC question, keep a time limit for each question, if you are crossing the time limit, leave that question. If you are able to answer a question within a time limit, keep on attempting those questions. There are around 60% questions, which can be answered within 2 hours, or less if, you know the coding guidelines very well. The remaining 40% involves questions from surgery and other section, which takes more time to find a correct answer.
CPC Exam tips 4: Attempt all the Questions
In CPC exam, there are no negative markings for wrong answer. Hope, you would have understood my point. The key to success here is answering all the questions. Remember if do not answer a question you get zero (0) marks but if you attempt, you have a chance of getting 25% of the mark. One of my friends did not clear the exam just because he did not attempt all the questions. So, understand the situation and act according, if you are feeling you are unable to find a correct answer just go for any one option of your choice. Never leave any question unanswered. This is your chance to become a CPC certified coder, do not do such an error while giving the CPC exam. Always go with a positive attitude and answer all the questions in the paper. There will be hope at the end, that you have answered all the question and have the possibility of clearing the exam. If you do not attempt those questions, there will not be any hope either, of clearing the exam.
CPC Exam tips 5: Time Management
This is very important point to remember during CPC exam. You would have seen above how I have shared few techinques, which will surely save you time during CPC exam. We have to manage your time for each section while answering the questions. I always tell people to try to finish the paper within 5 hours so that we can go again recheck your answers. There are few section where do not require more time, so the time save will be used for difficult section like surgery. So, always carry a watch with you and checkout the time at regular interval. Try to crosscheck number of questions you have answered within stipulated time. If you answer, fewer questions in more time try to adjust it next hour, so that you are able to attempt all the questions. Always remember Time never waits for anyone.
Hope, the above CPC exam tips and techniques will help you in preparing and clearing CPC exam. If you have followed, any techniques for CPC exam do share below in the comment box.