The CPC exam is hard on purpose.
It examines a candidates medical coding, anatomy and medical terminology skills in a strict test environment, asking the candidate to answer 150 multiple choice questions related to the aforementioned topic areas in just under 6 hours.
6 hours is a long time to be sitting, answering exam questions, even if they are multiple choice questions. Now please don’t get the wrong idea as most people do when they hear the term ‘Multiple Choice’ believing it’s going to be A) really easy or B) they have a 50 / 50 chance of guessing the right answer! You get 2.4 minutes per question to determine your answer and although that sounds like an age right now – believe you me, sitting the CPC exam staring at that question – it isn’t long enough!
So how exactly should a person study for the exam? What content should they focus on and what areas should they only skim over?
Lets take a look at the particulars of this exam and determine how one should tackle the problems the test poses.
The questions may involve understanding of anatomy, physiology, the digestive system, the endocrine system, various medicine related questions, radiology, anesthesia or a number of other topics. The test will often use scenarios and ask the candidate to find the best suited answer to the question. (Bang goes the first minute just reading and trying to comprehend the scenario being laid out for you!)
And it’s precisely because the CPC Exam covers so much information that candidates should start to prepare as well in advance as possible. While two years experience using medical codes is required to take the exam, a person would need far more experience to take the exam without studying. The vast amount of information needed says that work experience alone will not help you pass the exam. However, it should be noted that those who are coding patients and assisting on a daily basis will likely as not have a much easier time with the CPC exam.
Candidates need to be very familiar with the official coding guidelines. It’s these guidelines that help anyone to fully understand when to use which code in certain situations. (Here’s a useful tip! You can and should try to use practice exams as well as study guides to assist with preparing for the CPC exam.)
The exam covers many different areas and as such has many different books and study guides available on the market. The problem with so many guides is that they feature on one specific area and only dip into any other areas – leaving you woefully unprepared for the full range of topics the exam will delve into. Its therefore not our recommendation to only look at one guide and then feel prepared. Each guide highlights certain areas of the test in different ways. So your main concern should be digesting information and retaining it for later use from as many topic areas as possible.
The good news though is that you do not have to remember all the codes. That would be nigh on impossible! Instead the CPC allows for you to bring your code books with you to the test. The practice is a bit overvalued though, as most will only occasionally need the code book.
The bulk of the test assumes the candidate has worked in a coding environment. For this reason, many of the questions ask the candidate to deduce the right way to proceed. By using study guides and CPC books, a candidate can prepare to take this arduous exam and fly through the content with an excellent score.
The best CPC study guide that we’ve been able to locate is actually a collection of CPC based topics across different styles of presentation. What this means to you is that you can choose the approach, topics method of delivery best suited for you. This then saves you time AND money whilst helping you to prepare a wealth of CPC knowledge – we like that idea!