Failed CPC exam- first attempt with 65%. Need advice.

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Hi everyone,

I am looking for advice on passing my CPC exam on my second attempt which is coming up in a few weeks. My problem with the first exam was with the amount of time given to us. How could anyone answer 150 questions within such a short amount of time? I utilized all of the official CPC practice exams and performed extremely well (and quickly) on those. If anyone has advice on getting through the CPC exam faster, please share it with me! I am perfectly capable of answering these questions- the problem is the amount of time it takes to look up the necessary information.
 

jmccalla

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The best advice that I can give Catherine, is to mark and skip those questions which are taking longer than they should or you just don't know the answer. Move on to the ones that you're sure of so that you don't lose those guaranteed points and come back to the problem questions later.

After you've reached the end, and as you now attack the problem questions, don't spend an exceptionally long time (I used the 1 minute rule). If you just don't know guess and mark it again for a return (never, ever leave a question blank).

You'll find (at least I did) that you'll begin to relax a bit once you've reach the end of the test and as you revisit the questions, sometimes they become clearer.

You can do it!! Good luck!!
 

Daisy29

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The things that helped me the most that I think will help you:

-Try marking your CPT book the way missokieok on YouTube suggests in her videos. I recommend watching all of her 2015 CPT videos. This will help you save time because you will be able to find your codes faster.

-Skip around on the exam. I went to the sections that were easier for me and did those first (ICD-CM coding, compliance). For me those sections were in the back. I did E&M last.

-Take a watch and keep track of time on your own.

I had to go back at the end and guess on quite a few questions because of time, but I think I still passed because I focused my time on the sections that were easy for me.

Good luck!
 

mhstrauss

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I agree with the above, and will add that instead of trying to "look up" each answer in the index (if that's what you meant), work backwards. I know this doesn't mimic real-world coding, but on this exam, that is the only way you will finish in time. Skip the bulk of any long questions, and get straight to what the actual question is. Narrow down the answers as much as possible--you can usually knock out 1 or 2 right away, and go straight to those codes in the body of the book.

HTH some, and good luck!
 

CodingKing

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1 column per hour w. skipping of tough questions until a second or 3rd pass. I had a majority of my answers in 3 hours (the last 2 columns go fast), 1 hour completing those i skipped. 3 Interventional radiology i spend an hour on before just guessing.

If you are reading the scenarios before looking at the answers, you wont make it through. Index should only be used as a a last resport. Yiur job is to pick the best of the 4 answers. Also do not read too much into the questions. Bubbling & hilighting + skipping are the main things that helped me. I also printed out all my practice exams and took them offline in a timed fashion just like the real exam using a scantron sheet then i pulled the practice tests up online and entered the answers. I also made sure i read all the rationals of all questions right or wrong just to make sure i got it correct for the right reason and not just luck.

You may want to try CCO.us Blitz, it will teach you all about the B&H method.
 

espressoguy

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Lots of good tips here.

Here's another way to look at this. You scored 65% which means you got 98 questions correct. In order to pass you need to answer 105 questions correctly. In other words you were 7 correct answers from passing.

You mentioned time was an issue. Did you run out of time and leave some questions unanswered? An unanswered question is always wrong. Statistically, a guess on a 4 answer multiple choice is right 25% of the time and 50% of the time on a true/false question. The point being, answer every question, even if you have to guess.

Don't obsess about any one question. You can miss 45 question and still pass.
 
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CPC Exam

Catherine,

I printed all the practice exams available to me and took them sitting at the dinning
room table and timed myself. I know it's several hours of your time but it is worth it.
 

honeybee

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One big tip I learned from my boot camp which was a huge time saver, for exam purposes at least with the surgery questions you generally don't have to read most of the actual op note. You almost always code your post op DX and the procedure is listed right there for you, so just look it up in the book. Attention to details in the wording is key and of course process of elimination, look for those key things like a modifier that doesnt belong or an add on code being coded as primary etc. Of course in the real world this isn't really true but the nice thing about the exam is CCI and things like payer rules don't matter. Also I did the surgery questions last and skipped around doing easier sections first like HCPCS, medicine and ICD-10. I also tabbed my book and added some notes (basic things like the trimesters of pregnancy, how many inches in a centimeter etc) but dont overmark/tab or you will spend too much time tying to find things in the books. I also bought one of those rubber thumbs to use for help turning pages. Bring snacks, a pillow for your bum whatever will help you be comfy during the long exam, I felt like I really needed that first test as a trial run to help me know what to expect. Good luck, Im sure you will pass this time knowing what it was like the first time around.
 

renuka88

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i do agree with Catherine that time limit too worst, questions are very big to read that it self it takes time.
 

lhoang01

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I failed the first time as well so please don't be surprise. After the failure, I bought the intensive review session from CCO.US (I know more money $$ but its worth). Here are some tips that I drew from my second exam:
1. Read the multiple choices first, underline the difference and then read the question to confirm
2. Bring your highlight (you are allowed to write on questions. Why not?)
3. Practice timing at home. (use stop watch or your phone to track 5 hours in total, 30 mins left for review or could be lesser)
4. Know your strength, for example: terminology, cardio etc. then finish these first in hand. Don't leave any anything unanswered, waste time follow page by page and struggle with your weak session.
5. If you struggle with any anatomy or terminology or places of services or even modifier, open your CPT books and check the first 10 pages. Its all in there (that why I called CPT book is your best friend)
6. Don't be nervous when people hand in their test before you. Pretend like you wear a headphone and don't care anybody
7. For Compliance part, try to write it in the back of CPT book - you are allowed to take note in your book before the test, proctor wouldn't mind to see your note there.
 

hperry10

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I started from the back of the exam and finished with almost an hour to spare. I realized during the practice exams that the questions at the beginning where much more difficult than the questions at the end.
 
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I too, had to take the CPC exam more than once, and knew I could pass if only I could finish. I read tips from other people, then I cherry picked the things I felt would work for me. The first thing I did differently, was get a great night's sleep. This sounds obvious, but I was super nervous the first two times I took the test, and I barely slept the nights before. Being well rested helped with my speed a great deal. To prepare, I spent more time studying where things were in my book, rather than taking more practice tests. As for the exam itself, I did all the super easy questions first, completely skipped the most difficult section (for me) and saved it for last, and skipped question that took more than a minute or two. This is harder than it sounds, since you'll have to resist the urge to spend a little more time (it's probably true that if you spent more time you could get the answer, but you don't have the extra minutes). So if you don't know it quickly, move on. Lastly, what worked great on the question with case studies, was going immediately to the codes instead of reading through the case study first, working backwards. I'd heard people say the test isn't like coding in real life, and I found this to be true for me. If you approach the questions the way you would code a medical record it will take too long. If you go to the codes first, you'll easily be able to eliminate all the "fluff" in the case study and your eye will go right to what they're asking. And lastly, remember, you've studied a lot of hours for this test. You can do it! Good luck! :D
 

Amontas

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If you go on Youtube and search for medicalcodinginstitutes. She really help pass my CPC exam
 

vibhu

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CPC Exam

Hi Catherine,

I have seen your question and I would like to say please Divide the time according to the section. like for Section A : 2 hrs (Per 10 Questions 20 Mins) , For Section B : 100 mins and for section c 30 mins.

Please try accordingly for time break ups .

All d best Catherine.

Vibhu
CPC-A
 

Riehen

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Hints

Take advantage of empty space in your books and write down the things you really have trouble with. Read/scan your ICD book, flag sections, and write definitions in the section. Take practice exams and time yourself with an egg timer. Get the easy questions usually in the back out of the way and when you encounter the questions that have a lot of codes in the answers look for the differences between the answers this will save you time and looking up each code. Good luck.
 

amityholland

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1st I recommend marking your book
2nd I recommend making notes in your book, you can write in anything at all that will help you on any blank section of any of your books. Put in codes that you struggle with, bundles, rules for insunce HIPPA or Medicaid, really anything at all that you think you might need.
3rd start at the back of the test, generally that has your anatomy and stuff you don't need the book for then go and do the sections you are strongest in first, if you rock at E&M start there and then go through the exam knocking out the sections you find easiest and then going back

I got a 45 on my first practice test and an 87 on the actual test, these methods really help especially the notes in your book

Hi everyone,

I am looking for advice on passing my CPC exam on my second attempt which is coming up in a few weeks. My problem with the first exam was with the amount of time given to us. How could anyone answer 150 questions within such a short amount of time? I utilized all of the official CPC practice exams and performed extremely well (and quickly) on those. If anyone has advice on getting through the CPC exam faster, please share it with me! I am perfectly capable of answering these questions- the problem is the amount of time it takes to look up the necessary information.
 
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MechaLoverXD

I just got my CPC Exam results and saw that I failed with 48%. :(Is it possible to add the 3 extra hours you would get if you had a doctors note so I could review and fix the answers for a better grade? I just did the 5 1/2 hour test as I wasn't able to get a doctors note in time.

I need 2 pass this exam as it is the only thing from getting me kicked out of the house. And I do not have the option or the money to pay to retake the entire test!

Please Help!:eek:
 
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keywords on 1-2 line for correct answer

Hi Catherine,

I recently passed the CPC test. when I was practicing for the test these are some important things I learned and used the knowledge to answer quickly.

it is not about picking the right answer but it is about eliminating the wrong ones. you will end up at the right one.
sometimes multiple choices do not give you the exact correct code for an answer, eliminate the obvious wrong one.
try doing AAPC practice test but this time eliminate the wrong ones


1. keywords for correct answer is mostly in top 2 lines.
2. when you have full page question, read the answers 1st. most of the choices given will be on same or across pages so easy to compare and try to figure out what they are looking for and then try to look for those words given in answers as your search of key words. for example all choices are giving you code for tumor removal with different site of brain so start looking for the site in question and pick your answer accordingly.
3. most of the time there are 2 obvious choices to eliminate. so you need to choose the correct one from the rest 2 or eliminate the wrong one.
4. Icd 10 should be faster to finish as well as there are obvious questions on diabetes(E08-E13), heart failure(I50), HIV(B20-Z21), MI ( I21-I22).certain guidelines on which can be PDX.

TAB the books on diagram which can help for Terminology questions.
HCPCS book has better detailed diagrams so if you can use that.
Hope it helps.
Good Luck for next test.
 
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Hi everyone,

I am looking for advice on passing my CPC exam on my second attempt which is coming up in a few weeks. My problem with the first exam was with the amount of time given to us. How could anyone answer 150 questions within such a short amount of time? I utilized all of the official CPC practice exams and performed extremely well (and quickly) on those. If anyone has advice on getting through the CPC exam faster, please share it with me! I am perfectly capable of answering these questions- the problem is the amount of time it takes to look up the necessary information.
I failed it 5x
I had all tools
It’s nerve recking
 

Pathos

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I don’t know what to do?
I have to pass
That sounds rough!

My suggestions are as follows:

1) Decide if this is the path you still want to follow.

2) If yes, then go full steam ahead! Try really hard to figure out which areas are your weakest, but do not neglect the other areas either. Go to your Local Chapter Meetings and network for help. There are some REALLY good resources among other AAPC members, and perhaps some could mentor you there as well. I LOVED my study guide, and really pounded down on it. Consider getting the practice exams (if you haven't already), and practice, practice, practice.
Continue to reach out to us here at the forum with specific questions. Flash cards can be helpful. Re-read the guidelines in the CPT and ICD-10 books, as they dictate when codes can and cannot be used.

3) If no, then consider what other fields you excel at, and pursue those. Medical Coding is not for everyone, but can be a very rewarding career (not just monetary).

4) At any rate, failing is not the end unless you make it so. Most successful people did not become successful without failing first, but they kept going and with enough grit finally reached their goal. Find your goal and chase it!


Good luck!
 
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