All of the questions in the CPMA exam are multiple choice format, covering auditing theory, legal and regulatory issues, NCCI, RAC audits, statistical sampling, coding concepts, and modifiers, etc. In addition, each test taker will need to audit approximately 18 cases.
After you’ve trained with AAPC to become a medical auditor — or if you have substantial medical coding and auditing experience — you should register for the CPMA exam.
Passing the CPMA exam elevates your earning potential. As this certification requires expertise in multiple payment systems, the CPMA is one of the highest paying certifications. If you're thinking about becoming a certified professional medical auditor, you can learn more about CPMA salaries in your area with our salary calculator.
The CPMA exam is open book with 100 multiple-choice questions (proctored) to be completed in four hours. Whether you take the exam online or in-person, you must complete the exam within four hours and answer 70% of the questions correctly to pass.
If you have taken the training course, studied, and are familiar with using the required 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 your code books by your side and you know how to use them. This is your opportunity to demonstrate your 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 several areas of knowledge, covering medical record standards and documentation guidelines, coding and documentation compliance, coding and reimbursement concepts, audit scope and statistical sampling methods, medical record audit abstraction, quality assurance, risk analysis, and communication.
A minimum of two years of coding experience is strongly suggested prior to taking this exam.
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. You can also use your choice of E/M audit worksheet. To be clear, these are the only code books you are allowed to use.
When you register for the 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, code 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 site
Exam format: 100 multiple-choice questions
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 rescheduled 21 days prior exam date, service charge of $100
No show fee: $100
Availability: Schedule now
Our electronic exam is a four-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.
*Electronic exams taken outside of the US will be proctored at a local Testing Center. Please refer to the Test Center FAQs or ask your Career Counselor for more information.
Technical requirements: 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. You will need to purchase a new voucher in order to take the exam.
Availability: Schedule now.
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 you 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 My AAPC Account Dashboard under My Exams. You can expect the results within 7-10 business days after taking the exam. Once you have passed, your certificate will be sent to you in the mail.
Approved code books
AMA's CPT® Professional Edition (current year)
ICD-10-CM (current year), any publisher
HCPCS Level II (current year), any publisher
Note: Code sets are updated annually, so it’s essential to use the current calendar year's code books when taking the CPMA certification exam.
Any officially published updates (errata) for the above code books may also be used.
Recommended references: E/M audit worksheet of your choice
Manual calculators are allowed on all exams (no smartphones, tablets, or smart watches). For electronic exams, an online calculator will be included for use during the exam.
Handwritten notes are acceptable in the code 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.
Tabs may be inserted, taped, pasted, glued, or stapled in the code books 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.
A majority of the questions are in multiple choice format covering auditing theory, legal and regulatory issues, NCCI, RAC audits, statistical sampling, coding concepts, and modifiers, etc. In addition, each test taker will need to audit approximately 18 cases. The exam covers the following domains:
The medical record
HIPAA privacy and release of medical record information
HIPAA privacy regulations
JCAHO documentation standards
The advance beneficiary notification
Legal requirements of the medical record
Analyzing the operative report
The compliance plan
Fraud and abuse
Civil Monetary Penalties Law
Federal False Claims Act
Types of audits
OIG regulations and Work Plan
National Correct Coding Initiative
CMS guidelines for E/M documentation
OIG imposed CIA (Corporate Integrity Agreements)
Recovery audits and other government programs
CPT® coding concepts
Diagnosis coding and medical necessity
Evaluation and management documentation guidelines
Coding guidelines versus payer guidelines
Validation of audit results
Analysis and report of audit findings
Communicating audit results
Evaluation and management