The CPC Exam...scary...lol...

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I'm going to be taking the CPC Exam in a couple months and I'm sooo nervous about it. Any test taking tips from those of you who passed? Any pointers on how you survived the exam?

Also...did you find the exam to be hard? Was it better/worse than you thought it'd be?
 
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I'm going to be taking the CPC Exam in a couple months and I'm sooo nervous about it. Any test taking tips from those of you who passed? Any pointers on how you survived the exam?

Also...did you find the exam to be hard? Was it better/worse than you thought it'd be?
Katie, I have never been a great test taker, even though I always studied hard and knew my stuff. Try not to worry, if you can, and put your mind in a calm place.
As an instructor I can tell you this: the test is long and can be stressful if you allow it - BUT the AAPC does not throw trick questions at you. Read exactly what the questions ask - don't read into anything. If you are a biller, do NOT bring any insurance carrier rules into the exam room. Use the information from your CPT, ICD-9 and HCPCS books. You have 150 questions and need a 70% to pass. That means you can get 45 questions wrong and still pass. Of course, that is not what you are striving for, but it does ease the worries a little. Doesn't it?
If you do not pass the first time, you will know what to expect the second time.
The biggest hint I can give you for the exam is GUIDELINES. If the answer to the multiple choice question is not obvious, read the parenthetical notes in the CPT and the guidelines. Same goes with ICD-9. Refer to the guidelines. Pay close attention to words such as "add additional code", etc...
AAPC does offer online tests. If you really want to practice, purchase an exam or two. If nothing else, you will learn how the AAPC presents questions and you learn what to look for. You can take the exams over and over again. Good luck! I wish you the best.
 

Ggs9006

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Think like a winner

Hi Katie,
Don't be too nervous, it will block you from performing very well. Just think like a winner and you will be able to do it. Get very familar with all parts of the CPT book, make yourself comfortable with your speed and accuracy by self testing and if you need additional help, talk with other CPCs and get some tutoring from local chapers in your area. - Good luck, you can do it :)
Goldie
 

Jeaux35

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Test

Hi Katie. Good luck with your test.

I can tell you that it took longer than I thought it would. It took me 5 full hours. I used the rest of my time to go back over the questions I had marked that I was unsure of.

If you have the practice exams online, do them over and over. I did one of the 3 every night, took one night off, and then did them again. I did this for two weeks. It kept driving the information home. It especially drives home those "quirks" about coding. Like how pregnancy codes always come first in ICD-9. Stuff that I didn't know.

I'd go over the ICD-9 chapters and all the information that they give at the start of the chapter. There is a TON of information there that you want to have in your mind. I didn't read them in advance, so I had to take time during the test to read all that info looking for those helpful tidbits.

During the exam, be sure to look for the parentheticals. They help a lot. And they can make it really easy to get the correct answer. If it says (code xxxxx first), that makes it pretty easy to see which answer has that code.

Once you've eliminated an answer, cross it off. Usually two answers are nowhere near correct and can be eliminated right off the bat. Then just figure out which of the last two answers is correct.

Once you've narrowed it to two answers, as soon as you can eliminate one answer, choose the other and move on. If you try to look up every single CPT, ICD-9 or HCPCS code, you'll never finish.

Absolutes are a signal to watch for; All, Every, Never. They are usually not true.

If you're not sure of the correct answer, put something down, and mark that answer to go back and look at it again once you're done. That way if you don't have time, at least you didn't leave it blank.

There aren't "trick" questions. But be sure to not skim over the questions. It's really easy to read "laparotomy" when it's "laparoscopic" if you're rushing. Or to overlook "without" or "with".

Try not to get too worked up the night before, and get a good night's sleep. Might be easier said than done, but it really helps. You do NOT want to be tired during your test.

I will tell you that turning your brain on for 5+ hours is exhausting. I was brain-dead after my test. And as you go along, you start to slow down. But the end of the test is faster than the beginning, since you don't have to look up codes. So don't get freaked out if you're not at 75 when they call half of the exam time is gone. Just keep going and you'll be fine.

Good luck!! :)
 

KARLENE

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katie.. just keep calm and focus on the question, let no negative thoughts distract you, you are there to prove your knowledge... good luck!! stay positive.
 
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CPC Examination

I was told by my coding professors not to write in the CPT and ICD-9 reference books. Now, I discover that it is legal. What are the guidelines for this? I want to pass the exam. What are the rules?
 
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I was told that you could mark in your book. You just can't have any loose papers in your book. I just passed my test in Nov. 2011. Stay calm and don't panic when someone finishes the test and gets up and leaves. They will let you know when you have 30 minutes left to take the test.

If you have any practice test make you numerous copies to practice on. Take and retake these test.

Don't give up if you should happen not to pass. You may have a free retake. I did and I am glad that I took it and not gave up
 

Pam Brooks

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You can make brief notes in your book (not lengthy pages of information). You may also place tabs to mark the sections of your books.

You can't have any other loose pages or sticky notes.

Take the practice exams many times, within the time frame allotted to prepare yourself for a timed exam. If you consistently score in the high 80's, you're ready to sit. If not, spend some more time studying. I found the exam to be a tad easier than the practice exams, and the CPC-H was a bit easier than CPC (although I sat for the former after 21 years in the field....so it's hard to say).

Read and re-read the general guidelines in the front of all three books. Know what's in your Appendices. (tab these). Know how to sequence your ICD-9 codes. Know when to use modifiers. Be very familiar with antatomy & terminology, as there are very few lookup strategies for those unfamilar terms. You can sometimes check the CPT index, but not every term is represented in CPT. Also, there are general billing questions. If you're not familiar with the revenue cycle and the related terminology, brush up on that.


If you're more comfortable with HCPCS or ICD-9 than you are with CPT, sometimes you can eliminate answers by investigating those codes first. Then cross out any incorrect answers on your test, and focus on the remainder of the answers. Two of the four answers are clearly wrong. The other two are similar, with the difference being the correct answer. Sometimes it is one key word in the question that makes a difference, so I have some advice to keep you on track.....Read the answers first, go to that section in your CPT, ICD-9 or HCPCS books, then read the question. This way you're in the right area of your books before you start trying to figure out the question. If you do it the other way around, by the time you read the question, then get to the sections in your books, you have to go back and re-read the question. You've already wasted at least a minute here. Go to the answers first. I employed this approach, and finished with 35 minutes remaining.

Don't let yourself get distracted by others. I think that this is where a lot of people get themselves into trouble. I saw many other test takers bring in food and drinks, but I didn't find this necessary, and after all, it takes time to shove something into your mouth! Have a good breakfast, that should suffice. Some people suggest you bring colored markers, etc, but I didn't bring any of that...I just underlined key terms with my #2 pencil....changing pens/pencils is time consuming, and for me, unnecessary. The 5 hours and 40 minutes goes by fast, so you want to be judicious with every moment. The proctor will let you know when you have an hour left. We did not have a clock in the room, which was actually a good idea....I wasn't tempted to keep checking the clock, so I just kept working, and finished up with plenty of time to go back and re-reveiw the ones I was unsure of. You can't bring in i-Pads, smart phones, etc. where you could potentially look stuff up, and you have to shut off your cell phone. I don't know if this is a rumor, but I have heard that the proctor can dismiss you if your cell phone goes off during the exam. That would suck for everyone, believe me.

Above all, if you are prepared and focused, you will pass. Once you answer the first few questions, you will begin to relax. Take your time to read carefully because 5 hours and 40 minutes is more than enough if you are familiar with the material.

Good luck and think positively.
 

jrintrieri71

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I just took my exam on Saturday. I think that I did pretty good but I am not sure. does anyone know where to do to find out the grades.
 

Leandra

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When you log into AAPC the credentials will be after your name if you passed. There will also be a section for test results and you can check to see what percentage you got on the test. It took about four business days and I had my results when I logged in. Good luck to you!
 

Pam Brooks

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Okay, I'm not sure what you would consider a "trick question" but the practice exams I'm taking on AAPC are packed with what I would consider "trick questions."

Which is fine...AAPC wants to make sure you know your stuff...but saying there are no trick questions is completely inaccurate.
Can you give us an example of what you would consider a 'trick' question? I tend to agree that I've never seen what I would consider a trick question....certainly there are questions in both the practice and actual exams that require you to have your thinking cap on, but they all have reasonable answers and a reliable rationale.

Coding isn't clear cut, so a lot of the questions require you to choose the "best" answer. That's not a trick....that's the world of coding!
 
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rthames052006

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Are you sure Pam

Can you give us an example of what you would consider a 'trick' question? I tend to agree that I've never seen what I would consider a trick question....certainly there are questions in both the practice and actual exams that require you to have your thinking cap on, but they all have reasonable answers and a reliable rationale.

Coding isn't clear cut, so a lot of the questions require you to choose the "best" answer. That's not a trick....that's the world of coding!
Hey Pam :).

What in the world do you mean that "coding isn't clear cut", how'd you come to that conclusion? LOL

Happy Friday!
 

Pam Brooks

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It is an effective way to weed out the really good coders from the rest.
I tend to think of it as a way to weed out the really good test-takers. A really good coder is one who can figure this stuff out in the field, without the answer in front of them! :)

Have a good week.
 
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Yep

I must agree with this one 100%. You are so right! The final examination for Allied Buisness Schools Medical Coding course requires you to code straight from your books and there are no mulitple choice answers and you are timed. It was about 2 minutes per question.
 
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