Certified Professional Coder CPC® Certification Exam

Launch Your Career With the CPC Exam

The Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam is the conclusive step to attaining CPC certification—renowned throughout the world of healthcare as the gold standard for physician-based medical coding. By passing the CPC exam and earning the right to append the CPC acronym to your name, you become a healthcare business professional recognized for reliable mastery of professional-fee medical coding.

Who Should Take the CPC Exam?

After you’ve trained with AAPC to become a medical coder — or if you have substantial medical coding experience — you should take the opportunity to gain certification by registering for the CPC test. Passing the CPC exam elevates your earning potential by more than $25,000 above annual salaries for persons without AAPC's medical coding certification. And CPC salaries, averaging $58,055 in 2022, maintain a 6% annual increase. What’s more, the demand for certified medical coders continues to grow.

CPC exam dates and locations near you.

What Is the CPC Exam?

The CPC exam is a test of medical coding proficiency consisting of 100 multiple-choice questions that assess 17 areas of knowledge. Most questions present a coding scenario to test proper application of CPT® procedure codes, HCPCS Level II supply codes, and ICD-10-CM diagnosis codes—all of which medical providers use to submit claims to payers. During the test, you will reference approved coding books — the AMA's CPT® Professional Edition, as well as your choice of ICD-10-CM and HCPCS Level II code manuals. You must complete the CPC exam within 4 hours and answer 70% of the questions correctly to pass.

How Do I Prepare for the CPC Exam?

Get Ready for the CPC Test by Starting With the Essentials

New & Apprentice Coders

Education

The surest way to prepare for the CPC exam is to train with AAPC by enrolling in the CPC® Preparation Course. This program, designed by the creators of the CPC exam, will ensure you receive an effective and comprehensive education covering proper use of all medical code sets you'll encounter on the exam.

Looking for an exam preparation course?

Experienced Coders

Supplementary Courses

If your history hasn’t reinforced knowledge of anatomy and physiology, as well as medical terminology, you’ll want to study in these areas or enroll in the respective classes we’ve designed exclusively for healthcare business professionals.

Businesses & Employers

Practice Exams

Those who have earned their CPC credential accredit their success to taking practice exams once they began approaching the end of their studies. AAPC’s practice exams will take your training from book knowledge to working knowledge—giving you assurance that you know the material, as well as confidence needed to perform optimally on your exam.

CPC Exam is Now Available to Take Electronically

AAPC recognizes the challenges that traveling to a physical location poses for our CPC exam candidates, which is why we are also offering the opportunity to take your CPC exam electronically.

Our CPC electronic exam will consist of a 4 hour exam held in one sitting that will be proctored by Examity®. After purchasing or transferring your current exam voucher you will be emailed instructions on how to schedule the exam through Meazure Learning®.

On the day of the exam session, you will connect with your proctor through Examity to complete a security check and take your exam. Your results and areas of study will be posted within 7 - 10 business days from the date on which you complete your exam.

Click here to watch a comprehensive video detailing electronic exam requirements, processes, and tips to maneuver through the test.

Online Proctored Physical Location Proctored
Required Equipment
(Excluding optional materials)
  • Photo ID
  • Reliable Internet connection
  • External webcam
  • Keyboard
  • Photo ID
  • Member ID
  • #2 pencils
  • Erasers
  • Calculator
Location Taken at home in a quiet, private location. Taken at a Local Chapter or Licensed Instructor
Exam format Answers are recorded electronically (online). Answers are hand written and recorded on paper.
Time Allowed / # of Questions 4 hours with *100 questions
(*CPPM® and CPB® exams, also set to four hours but with 135 questions.)
4 hours with *100 questions
(*CPPM® and CPB® exams, also set to four hours but with 135 questions.)
Proctor to Examinee ratio 1 to 2 1 to 25
Cancellation fee No fee charged if cancelled 24 hours in advance, $25 service charge if within 24 hours. Must be canceled 21 days prior exam date, service charge of $100.
Reschedule fee No fee charged if rescheduled 24 hours in advance, $25 service charge if within 24 hours. Must be canceled 21 days prior exam date, service charge of $100.
No Show Policy Voucher will be cancelled and a new voucher will need to be purchased prior to scheduling. $100
Availability Schedule 24 hours in advance of any time available. Seats are limited and availability varies by date, time and exam location.

Learn from the Creators of the CPC Exam & Double Your Chances of Passing

AAPC's CPC® Preparation Course will take you from ground zero to industry ready. Whether you need a refresher or a complete education, we’ll prepare you for the CPC test and your medical coding career.

Why Do Employers Look for the CPC Credential?

Medical coding accuracy is key to optimal, ethical reimbursement, which makes medical coders integral to the financial resources of every healthcare organization providing treatment and services to patients. For more than three decades, CPCs have established an unwavering reputation of excellence. The title of Certified Professional Coder therefore comes with high expectations, trust, and respect.

Passing the CPC exam unequivocally demonstrates to employers that you possess:

  • Expertise in assigning accurate medical codes for diagnoses, procedures, and services performed by physicians and other qualified healthcare providers in the office, as well as professional-fee coding as it pertains to facility settings (e.g., inpatient hospital)
  • Sound knowledge of coding guidelines and regulations to meet compliance requirements, such as establishing medical necessity, using modifiers appropriately, and observing bundling rules
  • Proficiency across a wide range of services, including E/M, anesthesia, surgery, radiology, pathology, and medicine
  • Thorough grasp of anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology to comprehend clinical documentation and code descriptors
  • Understanding of how to integrate medical coding and payment policy changes into a practice's reimbursement processes

The CPC Exam Breakdown

Passing the CPC exam requires you to correctly answer a minimum of 70 questions from the series below. The exam questions, however, will not be identified or sorted by the series to which they pertain. The CPC test will rely on a level of understanding that enables you to identify the series.

10,000 Series CPT®

The 10,000 Series CPT® part of the exam will consists of six questions related to surgical procedures performed on the integumentary system, which includes skin, subcutaneous, and accessory structures, as well as nails, pilonidal cysts, repairs, destruction, and breast.

20,000 Series CPT®

The six questions in the 20000 Series CPT® will home in on surgical procedures performed on the musculoskeletal system from head to toe. Specifically, these areas include the head, neck, back and flank, spine, abdomen, shoulder, arm, hand and fingers, pelvis and hip, leg, foot and toes.

30,000 Series CPT®

Six questions covering the 30000 Series CPT® focus on surgical procedures performed on the respiratory system, surgical procedures performed on the cardiovascular system, surgical procedures performed on the hemic and lymphatic systems, and surgical procedures performed on the mediastinum and diaphragm.

40,000 Series CPT®

Your knowledge of the 40000 Series CPT® will be tested with six questions targeting surgical procedures performed on the digestive system, which will focus on these areas: lips, mouth, palate and uvula, salivary gland and ducts, pharynx, adenoids, and tonsils, esophagus, stomach, intestines, appendix, rectum, anus, liver, biliary tract, pancreas, abdomen, peritoneum, and omentum.

50,000 Series CPT®

The CPC exam will assess your knowledge of the 50000 Series CPT®with six questions pertaining to surgical procedures performed on the urinary system, surgical procedures performed on the male reproductive system, surgical procedures performed on the female reproductive system, including maternity and delivery, and surgical procedures performed on the endocrine system.

60,000 Series CPT®

Six questions directed at the 60000 Series® involve surgical procedures performed on the nervous system and will include codes pertaining to the skull, meninges, brain, spine, spinal cord, extracranial nerves, peripheral nerves, autonomic nervous system.

Evaluation and Management

Six E/M questions will assess your coding proficiency related to place and level of services, such as office/other outpatient, hospital observation, hospital inpatient, consultations, emergency department, critical care, nursing facility, domiciliary and rest homes, and home services. It will also include questions directed at preventive medicine, non-face-to-face services, neonatal and pediatric critical care, intensive care, prolonged services, chronic care, transitional care, case management, and care plan oversight.

Anesthesia

Four questions related to anesthesia will pertain to time reporting, qualifying circumstances, physical status modifiers, anesthesia for surgical, diagnostic and obstetric services.

Radiology

The six questions in this section of the CPC test will focus on both diagnostic and interventional radiology, including diagnostic ultrasound, radiologic guidance, mammography, bone and joint studies, radiation oncology, and nuclear medicine.

Laboratory / Pathology

Six path/lab questions will determine your knowledge of organ and disease panels, drug testing, therapeutic drug assays, evocation/suppression testing, consultations, urinalysis, molecular pathology, MAAA, chemistry, hematology and coagulation, immunology, transfusions, microbiology, anatomic pathology, cytopathology, cytogenetic studies, surgical pathology, in vivo and reproductive.

Medicine

Six questions will cover numerous specialty-specific coding scenarios, as well as immunizations, biofeedback, dialysis, central nervous system assessments, health and behavior assessments, hydration, medical nutrition, therapeutic and diagnostic administration, chemotherapy administration, photodynamic therapy, osteopathic manipulative treatment, patient education and training, non-face-to-face nonphysician services, and moderate sedation.

Medical Terminology

Medical terminology for all systems in the human body will be assessed in four questions.

Anatomy

Anatomy for all systems in the human body will be assessed in four questions.

ICD-10-CM/Diagnosis

Five questions will require proficiency in diagnosis for all the chapters included in ICD-10-CM, as well as thorough knowledge of the ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting. Additionally, diagnosis questions will appear in other sections of the exam from the CPT® categories.

HCPCS Level II

Three questions on the CPC exam will pertain to HCPCS Level II coding and include questions focusing on modifiers, supplies, medications, and professional services for Medicare patients.

Coding Guidelines

This section of the CPC test will involve seven questions addressing the ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting, CPT® coding guidelines and parenthetical notes, and modifier use.

Compliance and Regulatory

Three questions testing your knowledge of compliance and regulations will pertain to services covered under Medicare Parts A, B, C and D; applying coding to payment policy, place of service reporting, fraud and abuse, NCCI edits, NCD/LCD, HIPAA, ABNs, and RVUs.

(Note: New Section) Cases

Ten cases with one multiple choice question per case will test your ability to accurately code medical record documentation using CPT®, ICD-10-CM, and HCPCS Level II. The cases will cover 10000 series, 20000 series, 30000 series, 40000 series, 50000 series, 60000 series, medicine, anesthesia, radiology, pathology and laboratory, and evaluation and management services. Medical terminology, anatomy, compliance, and regulatory information may also be tested in the cases.

CPC Exam Certification FAQs

You need only to purchase the test to register for the CPC exam. You may then log into your account to schedule your exam when you're ready to take it. Note that for in-person exams, you must register three weeks prior to the exam date.

A certified professional coder reviews clinical documentation and translates medical procedures, diagnosis, supplies, and services into codes that are submitted on a medical claim to payers for reimbursement. CPCs need a good grasp on medical terminology and anatomy to understand medical charts and abstract important information. They serve a vital role in the financial wellbeing of their employing organization and indirectly influence patient outcomes through accurate medical coding.

Unless you have two years of medical coding experience prior to taking the CPC exam, you will receive the CPC-A credential when you pass. The “A” indicates apprenticeship status, which requires two years of experience to graduate from the designation. Upon submitting proof of two years of coding experience, your apprentice status will be dropped from your credential.

Practicode and Project Xtern both provide medical coding experience that AAPC will apply to your apprenticeship requirement, reducing your apprenticeship period by one year.

CPC's make between $20 and $30 per hour, which varies by location, experience, and additional credentialing.

Sitting for the CPC exam costs $349 ($325 AAPC Students) for one attempt and $449 ($425 AAPC Students) for two attempts. Additional expenses vary, depending on the coursework, books, and practice exams you select to successfully prep for the exam.

The first step to passing the CPC exam is—take the courses! And that includes the medical terminology and anatomy courses because this knowledge is essential to CPCs. Each course is a valuable investment that will profit you many times over. Our interactive lectures, reading assignments, timed assessments, and practical application are strategically designed to impart everything you need to know to earn your certification—including tips for taking the exam, such as:

7 Best Tips to Prepare for the CPC Certification Exam

Tip 1—Spend enough time in your code books to ensure you can navigate them quickly, including the essential appendices.

Tip 2—Though you may not attach additional information into your code books, you can—and should—write notes in the margins.

Tip 3—Because the CPC exam focuses on CPT® coding, invest extra time learning your way around this manual.

Tip 4—Use tabs to mark and quickly reference important pages and sections of your code books.

Tip 5—When taking the test, answer easy questions first. Be sure to return to skipped questions. Do not leave a question blank—a one-in-four chance of getting the answer correct is better than a zero chance.

Tip 6—You have approximately 2 minutes to answer each question, so hone your focus and save time by reading the possible answers before reading the question.

Tip 7—Lastly, do not panic. Breathe. Relax and focus.

Most people complete the coursework and pass the exam in 6 to 12 months.

AAPC's CPC certification is renowned globally by physicians, payers, and government agencies. There are other certifications, as well—all of which home in on a medical specialty or a specific business of medicine role. You can find a list of these on our website.

To pass the CPC exam, you need to achieve a passing rate of 70 percent or higher. That means you must answer at least 70 questions correctly.

More CPC Exam FAQs

Exam Book Bundle 2022 (CPT®, HCPCS, ICD-10-CM)

AMA CPT® Professional 2022 - Now Shipping
HCPCS Level II Expert 2022 - Now Shipping
ICD-10-CM Complete Code Set 2022 - Now Shipping
Retail: $359.99   Save: $130.00 (36%)
Non-Member: $259.99
Member: $229.99

Exam Bundle includes the AMA CPT® Professional, ICD-10-CM Expert, and HCPCS Level II Expert — all code books students will need for nearly every AAPC exam, including AAPC’s Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam.

Approved Code Books for Use During the CPC Exam

Code sets are updated annually, so it’s essential to use the current calendar year's code books when taking the CPC certification exam.

Any officially published errata for the above code books may also be used.

Confirm what reference materials are allowed during the CPC certification exam.

Note:

Electronic devices with an on/off switch (cell phones, smart phones, tablets, etc.) are not allowed into the examination room. Failure to comply with this policy may result in disqualification of your exam.

Medical Coding Certification Requirements

Please note that the CPC exam is rigorous and not intended for individuals lacking CPC training or equivalent coding experience.

Additional Requirements

  • Maintain annual AAPC membership
    • If you haven’t become an AAPC member, you must do so prior to scheduling your CPC exam.
    • Renewing members must have a current membership at the time of exam application.
  • Earning the CPC designation requires two years — or the equivalent — medical coding experience. If you have not submitted proof of 2 years’ experience, a CPC-A designation will be awarded.
  • Certified coders are required to complete 36 Continuing Education Units (CEU's) every two years. For CEU requirements, please see our CEU Information page.

Note:

An overall score of 70% or higher is required to pass the certification exam. If you don’t pass, you will be notified of the categories/areas of study with sub-scores of 65% or less to help your prepare for retesting. The areas of study reported reflect scores based on the number of questions in each category/section of the exam.

All AAPC certification exams exclusively measure proficiencies relating to the one credential named in the exam. To earn additional medical coding credentials will require you to pass additional certification exams.

CPC® Apprentice

When you pass the CPC exam, you receive your CPC-A credential, which signifies apprenticeship standing. You remain an apprentice until you fulfill the 2-year experience requirement, at which time you will submit proof of meeting the requirement, and your A will be removed.

Options for Meeting the 2-Year Experience Required for Full CPC Standing

  • 1.
    Two years of on-the-job experience using the CPT®, ICD-10-CM, or HCPCS Level II code sets.

    To show proof, you must obtain and submit two letters of recommendation verifying two years of on-the-job experience using the specified code sets.

    • One of the two letters must be from your employer on company letterhead.
    • The second letter may come from a colleague or a previous employer.

    Your experience, as well, can include time you have coded for a previous employer, or prior to certification.

    Download our apprentice removal template for easier submission. Letterhead and signatures are still required when using this template.

  • 2.
    Completion of at least 80 contact hours of a coding preparation course equates with one year of coding experience.

    Submitting proof of your participation in an 80-hour medical coding course deducts one year from the two years of experience required to graduate from CPC-A to CPC.

    Proof of education can take the form of a letter from an instructor on school letterhead stating you have  completed  80 or more contact hours, a certificate/diploma stating at least 80 contact hours, or an  unofficial  school transcript.

  • 3.
    Completion of the CPC-A Practicode online program — which consists of three modules, each containing 200 cases — equates with one year of coding experience.

    Submitting proof of completing the CPC-A Practicode module deducts one year from the two years of experience required to graduate from CPC-A to CPC. This program may be completed while training for your certification exam or after.

    Proof of 80 contact hours of a medical coding preparation course may be combined with the completion of CPC-A Practicode to fulfill the two years of experience required to graduate to CPC. As well, either of these may be combined with one year of on-the-job experience, verified by one signed letter from your employer on letterhead.

Proof of education or experience should be submitted (via scanned email attachment or fax) only once  ALL  apprentice removal requirements have been met. Please allow 2-4 weeks for processing.

Email: apprenticeremovals@aapc.com

View sample CPC test questions.

Tips for CPC Exam

  • It is all about the guidelines: In preparation for the exam, review all coding guidelines and understand how they are applied. This pertains to all codebooks (CPT®, ICD-10-CM, HCPCS Level II). Coding conventions and guidelines for ICD-10-CM are found in the front of the codebook. CPT® guidelines are found in the introductory sections and throughout the codebook in selected subsections.
  • Get your materials organized: Well-marked codebooks can be extremely helpful during the exam. Because coding guidelines contain instructions for what can be reported and what cannot be reported, use different colored highlighters to quickly distinguish between the two.
  • Sequencing matters: Follow sequencing rules in coding guidelines and coding conventions. Example: A urine culture confirms the patient’s diagnosis of a UTI caused by E. coli. The correct codes and sequence are: N39.0, B96.20. There is a note instructing you to use an additional code (B95-B97), to identify the infectious agent. This is the Escherichia coli (E. coli). If there are code options with the same codes in a different sequence, pay close attention to the coding conventions and guidelines to guide you in the right selection.
  • Parenthetical notes provide valuable information: Paying close attention to information in the CPT® parenthetical notes prevents you from making coding errors. Example: There is a parenthetical note following code 10030 which states "Do not report 10030 in conjunction with 75989, 76942, 77002, 77003, 77012, 77021. This alerts the coder that imaging guidance cannot be reported with the surgical procedure code.
  • Know your modifiers: Review the proper use for each modifier. Understand when each should be appended.
    Example: Modifier 26 is appended to codes with a professional and technical component to indicate the provider you are coding for only performed the professional component. If the question/scenario indicates the procedure is performed in the hospital setting, the coder will be alerted that modifier 26 should be appended to radiology procedures and medicine procedures that apply. If the code description includes professional component (e.g. 93010), you would not append modifier 26.
  • Tips for Online CPC Exam

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