Advice for someone who has failed the CPC exam twice.

pweidert

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Hello,

Ive taken the CPC twice and failed it both times (The first time I scored a 66% and this last time I scored a 61%). Money is an issue for my wife and I dont know yet if I will be spending another $380 to retake the test again. I have a 9 month online certificate from Carrington College in Medical Coding and also work as a receptionist and referrals coordinator at a Neurology office. Needless to say, I dont understand why Im struggling with this so much.

Im thinking about quitting my membership to AAPC and switching to AHIMA to obtain the CCS certification. I have a friend who codes for a local hospital that has the CCS so I figure it might be worth the shot. It also looks like the membership fee to AHIMA and test fee for the CCS exam are also slightly cheaper.

My question is should I save up and retake the CPC again, or should I try a different angle by enrolling in AHIMA and taking the CCS exam?
 

OmkarT

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CPC can be done with appropriate training and practice, be confident.

Please contact me through omlux856@yahoo.com for more information along guidance and steps to prepare for CPC exam. I am also offering special crash course for first time and second time filed individuals. If you are interested in taking the challenge again it's correct to become a part of my new training team starting on 29th May'18. Also I'll help you to take test again with corporate membership where you can reduce cost for CPC exam.
 

tsmith65

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It is so easy to become discouraged but....

I have participated and been a member in both AHIMA & AAPC and in my opinion AAPC is not only more widely accepted, they do a better job of preparing you not only for the exam, but can make you a better, more marketable coder. In all honesty, the CPC exam is less about coding and more about test taking. I passed on the first attempt after working in billing for about 12 years but I would not have passed without the course work & practice materials provided by AAPC. To me, it was about studying the material and retaining as much as possible then going into the exam with a time management plan. You can do it, especially now that you have taken the test twice. I would be happy to help if you need it because it is so difficult and we should all be supporting each other!
 

czumbrun

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Passing the exam

As a member of both AAPC and AHIMA, I have not found AHIMA to be cheaper when it comes to either membership or testing. Also their test fee only allows for one attempt.

As a coding instructor, I have my students purchase the Official CPC Certification Study Guide and work through it as well as purchasing the practice exam bundles from AAPC. I advise the students to take the practice exams multiple times until they are consistently scoring in the 80's on those. There is also a practice exam in the back of the study guide. I also have them take the three practice exams together multiple times to give them a better feeling of the timing. Also, knowledge of the coding guidelines can help you to eliminate answers from the choices that you know cannot be correct. This has helped my students.

Don't walk away from AAPC--they are an amazing organization! You can do this!
 
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CPC Exam

Hello,
I just recently took the CPC exam and I am still waiting the results. The question I have is how many of you used the Official CPC Certification Study Guide 2018? If you did, did you find it close to the exam? I wondered how close it was because I have some questions about the book. One is, the test referred to Tuberculosis. I did not remember covering the material concerning the question and could not find it in the Icd-10 or CPT, HCPCS. When I got home I looked in the study guide in the index in the back of the book. Tuberculosis is listed and refers you to Page 68 and 136. When I turn to the pages, Page 68 talks about Z codes and Page 136 talks about sinuses. So I was at a lost and had to google the answer. Unfortunately I got the question wrong. It made me wonder how much was accurate in the index. I did not find the test straight forward and I am still waiting the results. Dreading the outcome::confused:
Sherri Lennon
 

SusanC

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My tips

This is my first post but I have been using the AAPC forum like crazy to get tips for the CPC exam. I just got my results yesterday and passed with a pretty nice score. I have to say I was very nervous as I came down with an illness days before the exam and went into it with 2 hrs of sleep! Major nerves.
The tips that worked for me were: (1) get a timer (that does not make noise) and allow one hour for each column. Mark the ones that you know will give you problems and just skip them. At the end of the hour move onto the next column. At the end you will have 40 min to go back and do the ones you skipped. When I went back, I was much more relaxed as I knew I now had time to really read the questions. Most were not as bad as I thought they were when I first read them and freaked out
(2) Practice exams are huge. I bought the pkg from the AAPC website. I originally wasn't wanting to spend the money, but those practice test really highlighted my weaknesses and helped me focus on what my biggest issues were (time management being the biggest)
(3) I found some practice test on Amazon that could be downloaded to kindle and were very cheap. Some of the codes were outdated but for the price they were a nice compliment for practice. The AAPC ones are better but if you are in a financial bind, these would work.
(4) Take a really good course to learn all of this. I used CareerStep and was very happy with my education from them. I graduated with honors but I don't feel I would have done as well on the exam if I had not done all the practice test and used the time management tips
(5) Make tons of notes in your books. Codes that give you problems, make notes. Use the illustrations to make anatomy notes, digestive system, bones, etc were noted in my books. Anything that tends to stump me, I had notes. I highlighted areas in the guidelines as well as highlighting the codes in the book that had slight differences and could be easily missed or confused. Again, the practice exams helped me with this.
(6) Make notes in the exam booklet. Underline or circle things that you know are relevant when looking up the code. Cross out anything that isn't relevant to the question and can be distracting. Then eliminate answers and mark through them. Usually you can narrow it down to two answers. Find the difference in those two and make your decision.
(6) I had to realize that the stuff that was just challenging to me, make my best guess and move on. Stick with the time management plan and don't leave anything blank at all.
Thank you to everyone that has posted tips. You all helped me more than you know! I hope I can pay if forward a little with my tips. Now I just need to find a job!! :)
 
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Strategy rather than skill

I agree with tsmith65. The test is more so about strategy rather than skill (which Im not a fan of, btw). How you can use the process of elimination with multiple choice questions, in order to meet the time requirements of the test.

The first time I took the test, I failed miserably. I didn't even make it halfway through the test before the time was almost up. I went about each question the same way I was taught. Read the notes, do the research, write down the codes.

The second time I took the test, I used the process of elimination and passed. I hope it works out for you the next time around! :)
 
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I agree with the practice exams. Take as many as possible &, most importantly, Make Sure They Are Timed.
Aim for 30/hr as that will give you 40m to go back and do any you didn't answer.
Like has been said before, process of elimination is your friend but only so long as you know enough to
know what to rule out. If this is you're third time taking the exam, I'd be very careful about immediately
crossing out answers, however. Also, make sure you have a grasp on terms & guidelines.
 
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Failed on more than 4 attempts

Hi, I am wondering if I may be better off sitting for a different exam maybe through AHIMA, I have attempted the CPC exam multiple times and each time I get around the same score which is a 60 to 63 percent I don't understand at this point in time what I am missing and now I am facing yet again to have to purchase this exam package once more, $380.00 dollars may not be a lot for some but for me it's a lot of money. The fact that I can't see what I am missing makes it even harder I am not stupid and I have the ability to be taught but for the life of me can not seem to get past this exam. I am not completely convinced that the test is even 100 percent accurate because there are a couple questions where the book answer DOES NOT MATCH the exam answer and one may ask how I would know this and all I can say is after quadruple attempts at this exam I can about recite the question and Every time it shows up on the exam I fumble over the answer. I would love for any suggestions because I am at a loss as to what I should do my self esteem has been squashed like a bug no one wants in their house. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
 
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SydneyO

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Keep your chin up

I failed my exam the first time around, and what helped me to pass it the second time was taking advantage of the Study Guide and practice exams that I had purchased. Before I didn't have time to really dig into it so I relied on the training I got in community college. But I have to say, studying those and practicing really helped. The exam does use questions (or variations at least) from the study guide and practice exams so that's a great way to prepare.

Best of luck!
 

REGINALD068

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Not passing the exam can be quite discouraging. Try one of the Boot Camps. Perhaps you're retaking the exam too soon. Regardless if you stay with AAPC or move over to AHIMA, you will still sit for the exam. Take a break, get your confidence level back up, take the Boot Camp Course, ask your Employer if they're willing to pay for the exam, and go for it!!!

All the best
 
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I understand...I am in the exact same position you are in. I have taken all the advice given by study guides from using the process of elimination to start in the sections you know best. This does not seem to help me and I feel as discouraged as you do. I am not stupid myself, I do hold a college degree and I have had to take this test 4 times as well. I am currently looking into other options. If you are or have found out anything do you mind sharing? I cannot keep affording the membership and tests so often either, as I am a single parent putting in all the effort I can for my child and this exam. So do not feel alone out there.
 

cgaston

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I don't know if it will help or not, but I think you can find what you're looking for in a note if you think about it as trying to "tell the story" of the visit. So look for the unique things about the visit --

why are they here? (this should lead you to your diagnosis)

Who is conducting the exam (MD? NP? PA? Will you be billing "incident to")

Do they have any chronic problems that will need to be taken into consideration when determining treatment? (think HTN, DM, etc.)

Is this visit affected by other treatments? (Is it in a global period of something else? -24 modifier / Are they doing some kind of treatment today? -25 modifier)

If I can think of anything else I will add to it :)
 
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This advice is helpful, thank you. I have not had it in me to attempt the test yet again, but have been putting hours into studying and applying to other positions in the medical field that are closer to where I ultimately want to be in order to gain more knowledge so maybe my next attempt will be more successful. I've put your advice to work also, I take all advice I'm given and I do appreciate your giving it.
 

jgately

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Don't give up!!! I've been a CPC for about 13 years and the benefits are so rewarding. I was a lucky one who passed on my first go round however, I struggled. Its all about timing and time maintenance.

Take the suggestions provided in this forum. Get a timer and take the practice exams. Granted they are not the same as the test but you can get an idea of how to manage your time and concentrate on the ones you don't know after you completed the ones you are able to answer first.

Best of Luck to you!!!
 

NovaNew1

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3rd times a charm

It took me 3 times to pass, on the third try I took the exam backwards as I noticed the harder questions were at the back so by the time I was getting tired I was at the easier front questions. I don't know if that was just my opinion on the questions getting harder but it worked for me.
I asked my company to pay and they did so maybe try that as well? Good Luck
 
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cpc doesn't show your score , so how do you know what is is,

hello,

ive taken the cpc twice and failed it both times (the first time i scored a 66% and this last time i scored a 61%). Money is an issue for my wife and i dont know yet if i will be spending another $380 to retake the test again. I have a 9 month online certificate from carrington college in medical coding and also work as a receptionist and referrals coordinator at a neurology office. Needless to say, i dont understand why im struggling with this so much.

Im thinking about quitting my membership to aapc and switching to ahima to obtain the ccs certification. I have a friend who codes for a local hospital that has the ccs so i figure it might be worth the shot. It also looks like the membership fee to ahima and test fee for the ccs exam are also slightly cheaper.

My question is should i save up and retake the cpc again, or should i try a different angle by enrolling in ahima and taking the ccs exam?
it doesnt show your score did youadd them up and divide , are the question weighted evenly, doesnt seem like that would be the case
 

gehanne69

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I took my exam yesterday

So i just took my exam yesterday, im not sure i will pas it, because i did not work through it well, i was concentrate in amswering every question and did not answer the one that i know first. Time mangement was my biggest issue, there is 10 questions i had to use the Ti TA TO Methode for them. The study guides help me the most and i only went through it in 2 days one day i finish the ICD10 review which was layout beautifully. And the second day i did CPT and HCPCs. I was able to eliminate the code that does not belong and the trap one (do not use together or with modifier 51) Now if I failed i'm confident that the study guides will give me the passing score the next time.... yesterday i was laughing about the all thing, but today i wake up and started to review my book like my life depend on it. If i pass OH GREAT !!! But in case I do not ! My next plan is already in motion!!!!
 

candice499

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So i just took my exam yesterday, im not sure i will pas it, because i did not work through it well, i was concentrate in amswering every question and did not answer the one that i know first. Time mangement was my biggest issue, there is 10 questions i had to use the Ti TA TO Methode for them. The study guides help me the most and i only went through it in 2 days one day i finish the ICD10 review which was layout beautifully. And the second day i did CPT and HCPCs. I was able to eliminate the code that does not belong and the trap one (do not use together or with modifier 51) Now if I failed i'm confident that the study guides will give me the passing score the next time.... yesterday i was laughing about the all thing, but today i wake up and started to review my book like my life depend on it. If i pass OH GREAT !!! But in case I do not ! My next plan is already in motion!!!!
I just took mine on Saturday on the 16th of February as well! I took mine in Dallas. I can say it was the hardest test I have ever done. I am hoping I passed.
 
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Is the exam the same if you have already taken it?

I have already taken the exam and did not pass with a 65%. Is the test exactly the same with the same questions and answers?
 

Mayzoo

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Highly unlikely. I have been certified in different fields, and in the other fields they had numerous different tests so people sitting near each other would not be able to cheat off their neighbor. I have done the research, but I cannot imagine them giving everyone the same test.
 
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Is the exam the same if you have already taken it?

Perfect thank you for your info! I have done my studying I am hoping I pass with flying colors.
 
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Keep your chin up

I failed my exam the first time around, and what helped me to pass it the second time was taking advantage of the Study Guide and practice exams that I had purchased. Before I didn't have time to really dig into it so I relied on the training I got in community college. But I have to say, studying those and practicing really helped. The exam does use questions (or variations at least) from the study guide and practice exams so that's a great way to prepare.

Best of luck!
Hello,

Question were the 1st attemp and the 2nd attempt the same questions or were they different?
 

Pathos

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Hello,

Question were the 1st attemp and the 2nd attempt the same questions or were they different?
I don't think so. The exams have different alphabetic and numeric versions to avoid duplicate questions. At most, I would think a couple of questions might be similar, but I wouldn't count on it. When you are preparing for the retake, I would focus on the areas you missed (you can see your scores in your exam section), but also refresh on topics you did good/fine at. I have seen and heard stories of people who only studied on the topics they failed on, and did poorly on the topics they previously did well on and resulted in another Fail.

Good luck on your retake!
 

Nukegirl13

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Passing the exam

As a member of both AAPC and AHIMA, I have not found AHIMA to be cheaper when it comes to either membership or testing. Also their test fee only allows for one attempt.

As a coding instructor, I have my students purchase the Official CPC Certification Study Guide and work through it as well as purchasing the practice exam bundles from AAPC. I advise the students to take the practice exams multiple times until they are consistently scoring in the 80's on those. There is also a practice exam in the back of the study guide. I also have them take the three practice exams together multiple times to give them a better feeling of the timing. Also, knowledge of the coding guidelines can help you to eliminate answers from the choices that you know cannot be correct. This has helped my students.

Don't walk away from AAPC--they are an amazing organization! You can do this!
Hi there-Is the official CPC certification study guide part of the AAPC student Medical Coding Certification Course-If not, where can I purchase the official study guide for when I am completed?
 

Pathos

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Hi there-Is the official CPC certification study guide part of the AAPC student Medical Coding Certification Course-If not, where can I purchase the official study guide for when I am completed?
I haven't done the CPC certification course, but passed the CPC test by using the CPT, ICD-10 and HCPCS coding books, along with the CPC Study Guide. I had some additional coding/medical/hard science background so this route worked for me. I would still recommend taking the course, especially if you are new to the coding/medical field (which you do want some kind of medical office/coding background to get your first job).

That being said, I do not believe that the CPC study guide is included in the CPC course, unless is states this explicitly in the description. They usually have bundles that include the study guide, the actual CPC exam and online practice exams. Or you could go a' la carte and buy the book separately.

Here is the link for the Study Guide:

https://www.aapc.com/training/cpc-study-guide.aspx

Good luck!
 
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