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mhoyt

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I have taken the CPC exam twice and failed twice. I completed an associates for medical billing and code through a school, but feel the program didn't prepare us for the test. Nobody, in my graduating class has passed the exam. I'm not willing to just give up but I could use some idea/advice. Should I take the classes through this AAPC website and do you think they might better prepare me so I can pass? Does anyone know of anyone to tutors privatly...? I'm in Kansas city, though, so do you think my local chapter might beable to help me with a tutor? I just don't know...where to go from this point. I've spent a lot of time on this and don't want to just give up...I am working for a family practice doing ICD-9-CM coding, with a bit of CPT and HCPCS coding and I really enjoy my job but I need to pass the test...sooooo any ideas...on how I can get some help.

Thanks
Marlo Hoyt
 

kllevine

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I think that your idea of contacting your local AAPC chapter is a good one. Start going to all of the meetings and listening to the speakers. Ask the Chapter president or secretary if they know of anyone who will tutor you for a small hourly fee. You can meet at the library. You can also find coding exercises online with the CMS wesite, and there are 20 questions every month on the Coders Edge on this website. I would not give up whatsoever, because you already have a coding job, and those are hard to come by. Also, consider taking the AHIMA test. You might pass that one. Good luck.
 
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mhoyt

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I didn't know I could attend the meeting with out being CPC first. So, I can go to the meeting even though I'm not CPC? If that the cass, I'll start making it at least one meeting a month. Thx.... Yep, I'll check with local chapter see if they know of anyone. I may call my school back too.
 

btadlock1

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I have taken the CPC exam twice and failed twice. I completed an associates for medical billing and code through a school, but feel the program didn't prepare us for the test. Nobody, in my graduating class has passed the exam. I'm not willing to just give up but I could use some idea/advice. Should I take the classes through this AAPC website and do you think they might better prepare me so I can pass? Does anyone know of anyone to tutors privatly...? I'm in Kansas city, though, so do you think my local chapter might beable to help me with a tutor? I just don't know...where to go from this point. I've spent a lot of time on this and don't want to just give up...I am working for a family practice doing ICD-9-CM coding, with a bit of CPT and HCPCS coding and I really enjoy my job but I need to pass the test...sooooo any ideas...on how I can get some help.

Thanks
Marlo Hoyt

2 questions:
1. Do you make it all the way through the test, or are you rushing through some at the end? And

2. Do you get intimidated by the really long operative note questions?

(If you answered 'no', then none of the following will be very helpful to you...but, my guess is that at least one of those is a yes)

Time management is a common pitfall that people encounter. They get freaked out by the sight of really long questions (or get bogged down reading them), and either put them off until the end, or struggle to understand what they're reading until they run out of time. Or, they spend entirely too much time on questions that look easy, and aren't. (If all of the code descriptions start to run together and sound the same, you have entered the 'psych-out zone':eek:)

This advice won't help you become a better coder, but if you want to pass the test, try to do the following:

(*Remember this very important note: Short questions are not always easy, and Long questions are not always hard - in fact, most of the time, it’s the other way around. Never judge a question by its length!*)

When you start the test, skim through every question, and pick out the ones that you can see the answer to immediately (Like medical terminology, insurance/HIPAA questions, and stuff like that) – I’m talking about the really, really simple ones you don’t even have to open your book to answer.

After you’ve done that, you should give every question a shot – start at the front of the test, and work your way to the back.

If you try to look up an answer, and it takes more than a minute or two for you to feel confident about picking one, make a note of what you think it is (or isn’t), put a star on it, and move on. (A kitchen timer is really helpful for that) I realize it’s hard to 'give up' when you’re frustrated (and SO close to getting the answer!), but you have to force yourself to come back to it later.
• Don’t view it as ‘giving up’ on the question – you’re just ‘taking a break’ from it.
• Or, look at it as ‘I’ve already missed this one’…This sounds harsh, but the reality of the matter is: if you’re having a hard time making a confident decision, you’re probably going to end up missing it anyways (some of the questions seriously are just really hard - but there aren’t a lot like that – they’re randomly scattered throughout the test.)
• Don’t waste valuable time that you could be using to answer 5-10 other questions right, trying to answer one you might end up missing anyways; you can always come back to it and give it another shot after you’ve answered everything else.

I can’t stress this enough (especially for the CPT questions like the ones attached):
DO NOT READ THE QUESTION UNTIL YOU’VE CHECKED OUT ALL OF THE ANSWERS FIRST!!!

I know that’s counter-intuitive – you’re hard-wired to read the questions first, from years of taking tests in school - going all the way back to grade school…(Remember standardized reading tests?)
Trust me on this: you really have to make a conscious effort to NOT do that. Here’s why (I learned this from my own experiences):

1. You’ll waste a ton of time reading irrelevant filler that's put in there, just to screw with you.
2. All of the jargon (especially on the surgeries) is overwhelming, and you’ll get hung up on words that don’t matter.
3. Many of the questions can be answered without reading the note at all (I’ve given examples on the stuff I attached) – reading the note makes it harder than it needs to be.

With CPT coding in particular, your goal is to answer questions through the process of elimination, by looking for the similarities and differences between the choices, and then looking for keywords in the question to narrow down your choices, or pick the right answer.

I gave a couple of examples to show how easy these questions can be, if you look at them the right way. At the end of the day, it's a multiple-choice test, and all muliple-choice tests boil down to having good test-taking skills (and not so much really knowing the material, although it definitely helps...).

(In case you're wondering, I made this for the co-workers I'm tutoring - today, actually - I don't usually just have this stuff handy waiting for someone to need it:p)
 

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ajs

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Wow Brandi that is a very thorough and helpful explanation for all those test takers out there, especially the ones who have taken the test and failed!! Send that in to the Coding Edge!!
 

btadlock1

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Wow Brandi that is a very thorough and helpful explanation for all those test takers out there, especially the ones who have taken the test and failed!! Send that in to the Coding Edge!!

Ha! It seems like it would be a 'dirty little secret'...I don't know how they'd feel about me telling everyone! :D
 

ckblount

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...Should I take the classes through this AAPC website and do you think they might better prepare me so I can pass?...
Thanks
Marlo Hoyt

Marlo,

I do recommend the AAPC training and certification course. I have been involved in medical billing/coding for 25 years, and I have noticed that most school programs just don't seem to prepare you for the real world of coding. (Heck, I've seen graduates of these programs that had never even heard of ICD and CPT!!)

If you do decide to sign up for the AAPC training, you will have a great resource/study guide right here on the website.

Whatever you decide, good luck to you!

Cindy Blount, CPC-D
 

1mack

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Brandi,

I just want to say thank you for the tips. I sit for my CPC exam next Saturday and I am really nervous but after reading your tips i feel alot more comfortable. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.
 

btadlock1

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Brandi,

I just want to say thank you for the tips. I sit for my CPC exam next Saturday and I am really nervous but after reading your tips i feel alot more comfortable. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Glad I could help! Good luck! :D
 

rthames052006

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2 questions:
1. Do you make it all the way through the test, or are you rushing through some at the end? And

2. Do you get intimidated by the really long operative note questions?

(If you answered 'no', then none of the following will be very helpful to you...but, my guess is that at least one of those is a yes)

Time management is a common pitfall that people encounter. They get freaked out by the sight of really long questions (or get bogged down reading them), and either put them off until the end, or struggle to understand what they're reading until they run out of time. Or, they spend entirely too much time on questions that look easy, and aren't. (If all of the code descriptions start to run together and sound the same, you have entered the 'psych-out zone':eek:)

This advice won't help you become a better coder, but if you want to pass the test, try to do the following:

(*Remember this very important note: Short questions are not always easy, and Long questions are not always hard - in fact, most of the time, it's the other way around. Never judge a question by its length!*)

When you start the test, skim through every question, and pick out the ones that you can see the answer to immediately (Like medical terminology, insurance/HIPAA questions, and stuff like that) – I'm talking about the really, really simple ones you don't even have to open your book to answer.

After you've done that, you should give every question a shot – start at the front of the test, and work your way to the back.

If you try to look up an answer, and it takes more than a minute or two for you to feel confident about picking one, make a note of what you think it is (or isn't), put a star on it, and move on. (A kitchen timer is really helpful for that) I realize it's hard to 'give up' when you're frustrated (and SO close to getting the answer!), but you have to force yourself to come back to it later.
• Don't view it as ‘giving up' on the question – you're just ‘taking a break' from it.
• Or, look at it as ‘I've already missed this one'…This sounds harsh, but the reality of the matter is: if you're having a hard time making a confident decision, you're probably going to end up missing it anyways (some of the questions seriously are just really hard - but there aren't a lot like that – they're randomly scattered throughout the test.)
• Don't waste valuable time that you could be using to answer 5-10 other questions right, trying to answer one you might end up missing anyways; you can always come back to it and give it another shot after you've answered everything else.

I can't stress this enough (especially for the CPT questions like the ones attached):
DO NOT READ THE QUESTION UNTIL YOU'VE CHECKED OUT ALL OF THE ANSWERS FIRST!!!

I know that's counter-intuitive – you're hard-wired to read the questions first, from years of taking tests in school - going all the way back to grade school…(Remember standardized reading tests?)
Trust me on this: you really have to make a conscious effort to NOT do that. Here's why (I learned this from my own experiences):

1. You'll waste a ton of time reading irrelevant filler that's put in there, just to screw with you.
2. All of the jargon (especially on the surgeries) is overwhelming, and you'll get hung up on words that don't matter.
3. Many of the questions can be answered without reading the note at all (I've given examples on the stuff I attached) – reading the note makes it harder than it needs to be.

With CPT coding in particular, your goal is to answer questions through the process of elimination, by looking for the similarities and differences between the choices, and then looking for keywords in the question to narrow down your choices, or pick the right answer.

I gave a couple of examples to show how easy these questions can be, if you look at them the right way. At the end of the day, it's a multiple-choice test, and all muliple-choice tests boil down to having good test-taking skills (and not so much really knowing the material, although it definitely helps...).

(In case you're wondering, I made this for the co-workers I'm tutoring - today, actually - I don't usually just have this stuff handy waiting for someone to need it:p)

Awesome, awesome,awesome! Too bad you weren't around or I didn't know of you when i was sitting for my CPC in 2005.

This is awesome work, have you ever thought about being an instructor? If not you really should consider it.

I'm wondering if you'd be so kind as to post the attachments on the YORK AAPC facebook page if/when you have time? I think we have members and people who frequent the page that would greatly appreciate and enjoy what you've done here with this.

Also tell your friends about our page as well. I know we've gotten alot of hits from other coders outside of my local chapter and that is what I was hoping for. One thing I'd like to start seeing is people asking coding questions on the page. I currently post any job leads I get for remote or local coding.

Have a great day all!!!!
 

ajs

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Your insights are great would you mine sending me the attachment mentioned in this forum.

Thanks

Lora Cherry

If you scroll down a few posts and find where Brandi originally posted her wonderful response with great test taking tips, you will see the "thumbnails" at the bottom of her original post that you can click on and download. They don't transfer you have to find them and click them for download.
 

dclawson

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You need to order the Carol S Buck CPC Examination Study Guide. It comes with a CD that has a pre-test, post-test and final examination so that you can take a test similar to the CPC and it also has time to let you know how you are doing. It is available on Amazon and well worth the money. Read you ICD-9 and CPT books sounds crazy but it works. Also may consider getting the Clinical COding Workbook from AHIMA also.
 

sholder1090

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Thanks!

Thanks so much for the tips....every bit counts,I really wanna pass the second time around.I came close but I think nerves and becoming burned out right at the end played apart.
 

Sandyj

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Excellent tips, Brandi, and thank you! I sit for my exam this Saturday as well; your suggestions make it seem less daunting.
 

nazcoder

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my advice is to invest in what you are about to do. This exam means there has to be some discipline involved and sacrifice if you are not too familiar with the concepts of coding. If you are employed already in a family practice, take advantage of all the material at your disposal. I used to volunteer my time at work and used this time to take advantage of all resources available to me (within HIPAA standards). If you are absolute in making this a career, then you should be able to understand the need to sacrifice by purchasing most products available through AAPC - I would have never made it without the online exams, study guides, and even books purchased through Amazon. Take advantage f your position where you are at - ask questions to the coders in your billing dept, talk with your supervisors on exam reimbursement; utilize the books available - anything, but GET INVOLVED. This will probably take away some needless anxiety and make you feel confident and excited about taking the exam - 2 key factors that never fail about challenges. Keep it simple and be patient. Discipline yourself. I have a family so there should not be an excuse, only a committment. I traveled 250 miles round trip and left 3:30 in the morning to take this exam and I was determined. I love what I do and the challenges continue. You will pass....
 
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