Taking the CPC Exam

Take the CPC Exam and become a Certified Professional Coder. Save up to 56% through Feb 28th

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. Medical providers use all of these 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.

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. Salaries for CPC salaries continue to climb, currently averaging $57,201. What’s more, the demand for certified medical coders continues to grow, with a 22% rise in jobs projected by 2022.

What to Expect on Exam Day

The exam has a total of 100 questions with a minimum of 70 to be answered in 4 hours. People often wonder if the CPC exam is hard. We'll say this: If you have taken the training course, studied, and are familiar with your CPT®, ICD-10-CM and HCPCS code books, the test will be demanding, but not difficult.

Here's a quick overview of what you can expect:

Before you begin the test, take a moment, and breathe. You have prepared for this. You have your well-marked code books by your side. This is your opportunity to demonstrate your coding expertise.

You'll have 4 hours to finish the exam, giving you approximately 2.4 minutes to answer each of the 100 multiple-choice questions. You can save time by reading the possible answers before reading each question and by saving the more difficult questions for last. It’s important to answer every question, even if you aren’t sure. Your best guess is better than no answer at all.

The questions assess 17 areas of knowledge, most of which are presented as coding scenarios to test application of CPT® procedure codes, HCPCS Level II supply codes, and ICD-10-CM diagnosis codes. The end of the exam has 10 cases that tests the ability to read and accurately code the medical record.

You will be able to reference approved medical code books during the exam — the AMA's CPT® Professional Edition, as well as your choice of ICD-10-CM and HCPCS Level II code books. To be clear, these are the only code books you are allowed to use.

For In-Person Exams

When you register for the CPC exam, you will be given detailed instructions on where the test will be taken, what time you should arrive and what you need to bring.

You should arrive at your exam location 30 minutes early. Be sure to bring all necessary items (photo ID, #2 pencils, an eraser, coding books, etc.) and listen carefully as the proctor provides instructions. You will then have the chance to ask any questions. If you are confused or concerned about anything, it’s important to clarify. After all, someone else might be wondering the same thing.

Location: Local chapter or Licensed Instructor

Exam format: 100 multiple choice questions taken in its entirety

Time allowed: 4 hours

Proctor to Examinee ratio: 1 to 25

Cancellation fee: Must be canceled 21 days prior exam date, service charge of $100.

Reschedule fee: Must be canceled 21 days prior exam date, service charge of $100.

No show fee: $100

Availability: Find in person exam. Seats are limited.

For Electronic Exams

Our electronic exam is a 4 hour live remote proctored examination completed in one sitting and proctored by Examity®. After purchasing or transferring your current exam voucher, you’ll receive a Notice to Schedule from our partner Meazure Learning (formerly Scantron) and will be able to schedule your exam for a date and time convenient to you.

On the day of the exam, you will log into your Meazure Learning account, then connect with your Examity proctor to complete a security check and take your exam. Your results will be posted within 7-10 business days from the date you complete your exam.

Watch a video detailing online exam requirements, processes, and tips to maneuver through the test.

Equipment required: Reliable Internet connection and an external webcam that can be positioned to show your face, hands, keyboard, and the area around the keyboard (about 10 inches)

Location: Taken at home in a quiet, private location

Exam format: 100 multiple-choice questions delivered in one sitting

Time allowed: 4 hours

Proctor to Examinee ratio: 1 to 2

Cancellation fee: No fee charged if cancelled 24 hours in advance

Reschedule fee: No fee charged if rescheduled 24 hours in advance

No show fee:If you do not show up to your scheduled exam OR you do not meet the requirements to take the exam, your exam voucher will be cancelled, and you will need to purchase a new voucher in order to take the exam.

Availability: Schedule now.

Passing Grades

An overall score of 70% or higher is required to pass the certification exam. For a passing score of 70%, you must get at least 70 questions correct. If you incorrectly answer more than 30 questions, you will not pass. 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.

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

Your results will be shared with you online in your Account Dashboard under Courses and Exams. You can expect the results within 7-10 business days after taking the exam. Once you have passed, your diploma will be sent to you in the mail.

Pass rate for CPC exam

Technical Requirements

There are no technical requirements for the in-person exam.

Electronic exams require a reliable Internet connection and an external webcam that can be positioned to show your face, hands, keyboard and the area around the keyboard (about 10 inches).

Materials Allowed on the Day of the Exam

Approved Code Books for Use During the CPC Exam:

Note: 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 updates (errata) for the above code books may also be used.

Calculator

Manual calculators are allowed on all exams (No smart phones, tabletssmart watches). For electronic exams, an online calculator will be included for use during the exam.

Book Notes

Handwritten notes are acceptable in the coding books only if they pertain to daily coding activities. Long passages of information are not permitted on the blank pages. Questions from the Study Guides, Practice Exams, or the Exam itself are prohibited. Altering, whiting out, painting, or printing over any pages within the code books (e.g., marketing pages, table of contents, reference pages, etc.) to supplement information is prohibited.

Book Tabs

Tabs may be inserted, taped, pasted, glued, or stapled in the manuals so long as the obvious intent of the tab is to earmark a page with words or numbers, not supplement information in the book.

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

Breakdown of the 100-Question CPC Exam

Passing the CPC exam requires you to correctly answer a minimum of 70 questions from the series below. The CPC test will rely on a level of understanding that enables you to identify the series.

  • 10,000 Series CPT (6 Questions)

    The 10,000 Series CPT® part of the exam relates 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 (6 Questions)

    The 20000 Series CPT® will hone 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 (6 Questions)

    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 (6 Questions)

    Your knowledge of the 40000 Series CPT® will be tested by 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 (6 Questions)

    The CPC exam will assess your knowledge of the 50000 Series CPT® 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 (6 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 (6 Questions)

    This 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 (4 Questions)

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

  • Radiology (6 Questions)

    These 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 (6 Questions)

    This will test 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 (6 Questions)

    This 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 (4 Questions)

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

  • Anatomy (4 Questions)

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

  • ICD-10-CM/Diagnosis (5 Questions)

    This will test 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 (3 Questions)

    This will test HCPCS Level II coding and include questions focusing on modifiers, supplies, medications, and professional services for Medicare patients.

  • Coding Guidelines (7 Questions)

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

  • Compliance and Regulatory (3 Questions)

    This will test 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 (10 Questions)

    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.

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