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Wiki Tips to Pass CPC Exam

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Tips to Pass CPC Exam

To pass the CPC® exam, you have to score 70 percent, overall. Therefore, of 150 questions, total, you may miss 45 answers. This test is not about knowing all the codes by memorization. It's about knowing how to find the best correct answer.

Preparing For Your Exam:

• Electronic devices with an on/off switch (cell phones, smart phones, tablets, etc.) are not allowed into the examination room. Failure to comply with this policy may result in disqualification of your exam.

• Verify the start time and examination address at least two days prior to your test date. If you are unfamiliar with the exam site, consider mapping your driving directions in advance. Factor potential construction, traffic, or possible inclement weather during your commute and arrive 10 to 15 minutes early.

• Confirm what exam materials are allowed during the examination. Gather these items several days prior to the examination (Photo ID, Member ID, plenty of #2 pencils, and an eraser along with the appropriate coding manuals.)

• Most examinees have found that they perform better after a good night of sleep. We believe a late evening study session the night before your exam is not very useful.

• Eat a healthy breakfast (nothing too heavy) and bring light snacks and water to keep you energized during the exam. Peppermint or lemon candy generally keeps you alert.

• If you are sensitive to noise, bring earplugs to eliminate distractions during the exam.

• Layer your clothing in case the room temperature fluctuates.

• Successful examinees have well-thumbed code books. Become familiar with all parts of your CPT, ICD-10 and HCPCS code books. Learn how to quickly locate the codes, guidelines, tables, and instructions within them. This may be the most important tip we can give you.

What To Do During The Test:

• Listen carefully while the proctor reads the instructions. Ask questions before the examination begins if you do not understand the instructions given.

• Be especially careful about marking your answer sheet. Be sure to correctly fill in your selected bubble on the test grid. Exams are machine graded. To ensure an accurate score, bubbles must be filled out as shown on the example on your test grid.

• Scan the entire test when you are instructed to begin. Answer the easiest, shortest questions first – this gives you the experience of succeeding and stimulates associations.

• Remember to pace yourself. You have an average of 2 minutes and 15 seconds to answer each question. Stay relaxed and do not panic. You will be able to finish.

• Read each question carefully. Note such words in the question as "not, except, most, least and greatest." These words are often crucial in determining the correct answer. However, there are no "trick" questions on the exam, so don't worry about hidden words or meanings.

• Answer every question. If you do not know the right answer, eliminate as many wrong answers as possible, then select among the remaining answers. If you don't have a clue – guess. A guess is better than a blank response.

• If you finish with some additional time, use that time to go back and review any questions you were not fully sure you had the correct answer. Use the code books again to confirm.

• Some people find it helpful to look at the possible multiple-choice answers (not the question), first. That way, you can see the sections of CPT®/ICD-10 or HCPCS that you’ll need to reference to answer the question. Next, look at the question carefully to rule out your incorrect answers. Typically you can rule out one or two possible answers, quickly.

Here are some additional, general tips to keep you determined and dedicated to pass the exam:

• Passing the exam should be a priority. Do not watch TV, use your cell phone, etc., until you have studied for the day or week.

• Plan your day to include quality study time. Quality is more important than quantity. If your schedule is hectic, include short bursts of 15-minute study sessions throughout the day instead of planning two-hour study sessions that are not productive due to fatigue, distractions, etc.

• Believe you can pass the exam. You won’t pass the exam if you have doubts. Recite positive reaffirmations.

• Remember: Most employers are interested in the credential(s) you possess, not the length of time and number of exams it took you to earn them.
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Thank you very much for taking the time and posting all these hints! I will be taking my exam next month, and I appreciate the time and energy you put into this, I have found it very useful.:)
 
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Congrats on passing your test!! Thanks for being nice and passing on your strategies:). I have a question....if you do well on the practice exams, will you do well on the test? Thanks again and good luck with your career!
 
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Yay I just learned I passed my CPC exam on my first try with an 86!! I recommend all of the tips mentioned above! Number one tip..KNOW ALL YOUR GUIDELINES AND BE EXTREMELY FAMILIAR WITH YOUR BOOKS!! Good luck to all of you who will be testing!!
 

dyj

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thank you and congratulations on passing CPC exam!!

i hope these tips will help every one who is appearing for the exam
 

cbp

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congratulations thanks for the valuable tips. I am taking the exam in August.
I am not sure what you meant by looking at the answers first, how would that help?
You just glance at the answers or look in the cpt book for the description & then read the questions.
 
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CPC exam

someone had mentioned that the exam is split in 3 sections and that you need 70% from each section? Is this a good strategy for working each section instead one section completely and then to the next section?
 

KathyJohnson

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I have also heard that you have to pass each test with a 70% or better but don't see that in the test information area.
 

genjer712

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I also just recently passed the exam in August.

You are able to miss 49 out of 150 questions and still pass. That comes out to be about 67%. The test is not necessarily broken down in 3 sections. There are multiple sections starting from front to back of the CPT manual that have about 10-15 questions each. Each section you work on is a section in the book (anesthesia, muscular, E/M, radiology, coding guidelines, ICD-9, etc.) So I would not say it is 70% from each section that is required to pass. It is a cumulative score.

As far as looking at the answers first....what I did was read the question, then look up each answer that was already given. That helps to narrow down the search by being able to eliminate answers right away. Also, some questions have the multiple CPT's/ICD-9 codes. It is best if you mark out the ones that show in each answer (because obviously they are right) that way you can focus on what is left.

If there are ICD-9 that go along with the answers, you can eliminate answers that way as well. That will save you time because you don't even need to review the CPT's if you can eliminate 3 of 4 answers or even 2of 4.

Good luck!
 

Pam Brooks

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someone had mentioned that the exam is split in 3 sections and that you need 70% from each section? Is this a good strategy for working each section instead one section completely and then to the next section?
That used to be how the exams were set up. Now you have to score 70% overall. So for 150 questions, you may miss only 45, not 49, unless it's changed since last year.

Someone asked how looking at the answers first can help. This is a strategy I used to pass my CPC-H last year, and it worked like a charm. If you look briefly at the answers, you can see the section of CPT/ICD-9 or HCPCS you need to reference in order to answer the question. This way, you're right where you need to be--then look at the question carefully to rule out your incorrect answers. If you read the question first, go to your sections....you likely will have to re-read the question, which wastes valuable time.

This test is not about knowing all the codes by memorization. It's about knowing how to find the best correct answer.

Tab your books, particularly HCPCS, which has alot of helpful references. Think outside the box when looking for answers. There was a terminology question that I was unfamilar with, so I looked the word up in the back of CPT, and lo and behold! There was the code to the related surgery. By looking at the CPT code description, I was able to learn the meaning of the word.

Some people suggest using markers or different colored pens to highlight. I didn't feel like I had time to open and close markers, so I only used my pencil. You can underline words, but since you work only one question at a time, you really don't need all the color-coordination.

I also worked from #1 numerically through #150. I did not skip around, because I didn't want to lose my place and screw up my answer key. I did, however, mark the ones I was particularly unsure about, circled in my best guess, and then went back later to take more time to review the correct answer carefully.

Another tip I found helpful was to ignore the suggestions to bring snacks into the exam room. Besides having the potential to disturb your fellow test-takers as you unwrap Tasty Cakes, you only have 5.75 hours, and every single moment counts. I did bring water, but then had to wonder if I'd have to leave to use the restroom (I didn't). I was so shocked to actually see people bringing in coolers to the exam and then setting up what looked to me like a buffet. I would find that too distracting---It's a test, not a safari! If you have a medical reason to need to eat, I'd keep the snacks simple and quiet. I would, however suggest an adult beverage afterwards!
 

AB87

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One thing that helped me out the Best was start in the back of the book. The questions are Shorter and gives you more Time to tackle the hard ones
 

ladyd103

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I am confused about how the test is scored, is it 70% overall or 70% per section? I cant find anythin on the website about this. Thanks:confused:
 
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correct tips for passing CPC

Hi,

Very nice to here that you cleared your CPC exam, Share more tips with everyone those who is going to appea.

;);)

Rr




Hi!!

i gave my CPC exam first attempt on 06/16/2012 and passed with 94% Hooray!!

i would like to share the helpful tips i searched for the exam with all of you who are going to take or re-take the exam
following is a gist of what i found given by Laureen, Brandi Tadlock, Angie and few are my suggestions
i would say there are two steps: one is preparing yourself and the other is preparing your books for the exam
1 Preparing yourself :
-please invest in study guide and exam sample papers, those are worth buying, if not both please buy sample papers
-solve sample papers again and again by setting a timer
-now when you solve the exam paper and look the rationale, look for each questions and not just the wrong ones, and look not the correct answer but see 'how you reached to the correct answer' and you will realize how to 'eliminate' wrong answers
-for the exam, the best tip i would suggest is 30 questions in one hour
when you are given the exam booklet mark a line after 30, 60, 90, and 120th question
and start solving your paper from 120th question(this will help your brain to 'relate' to the question - answer and eventually increase your pace) .
- solve 30 questions (120-150, 90-120 like that) in an hour, if you don't know the answer mark that question in exam booklet and go ahead, don't waste your time (i would even suggest to mark your 'guess' tentatively instead of leaving it blank, later on you can erase and workout the right answer for that if your time permits, this will reduce chances of 'missing' the bubble and marking wrong bubbles in rest of the other questions or leaving the answer 'blank' if you run out of time)
-IN the exam: while solving the coding questions, don't first read the question, just go to answers given so that you understand what to 'expect' from the question
now 'read' the question, by reading the question i am not saying go on reading all those surgical descriptions but 'read' and underline the 'keywords' in the questions leading you to the code, for example if approach is laproscopic underline that and this will automatically eliminate two options of open procedures or say in fracture case, if treatment given is open, will eliminate two closed reduction options
-likewise some questions be answered by choosing right modifiers as post surgical complications, staged procedure, discontinued procedure etc
-if you are in doubt for procedure code, some will be eliminated by ICD diagnosis code also
-for ICD, directly go to 'tabular' list, know your coding conventions thoroughly for sepsis, HIV, Poisoning, Adverse effect,Late effects, Neoplasm and Radiation treatment, Infections caused by various organisms, Diabetes, Hypertension and CKD, maternal and foetal codes will always be first and no code from maternal side is on newborn record or vice a versa etc, this will help you to eliminate the wrong sequence of answers in exam
-for E/M codes, know your 3/3 or 2/3 key components rule in deciding the code, know your 'consultations' 'critical care' and 'neonatal critical care' guidelines thoroughly, know your vaccination coding
-also read in parenthesis, there are instructions for use and not use the code with another code, add on codes given with mod 51 etc will help you to automatically eliminate wrong options


now coming to the second part which is most likely be ignored by students and what in my opinion is the very important part: Prepare your Books for the Exam:
ICD
-take a highlighter and highlight all the coding conventions for ICD and correspondingly write in 'tabular' section the sequencing of code like for sepsis, HIV,Poisoning, etc
-buy color 'post it' sticky page markers and mark the page for Neoplasm table, Hypertension table, Poison and Drug table, Ecodes in aalpahabetic list
-mark the page for diabetes, CKD, Heart failure, Pregnancy complications, Foetal weight issues, E code 849 place, Burn, Sepsis in tabular list and know your V codes and coding conventions thoroughly

CPT
-take a highlighter and highlight all the guidelines of use and not use of modifiers, like mod 53 in colonoscopy, mod 59 in skin repair, medicine sections modifier guidelines, mod 62 in spinal surgery use and no use like for instrumentation and bone graft, etc
-highlight your skin sections as per all the same segments like 'trunk arms legs' 'scalp neck hands feet' in every procedure
-highlight Xray, CT, MRI of various body parts in radiology section
-know your skin section thoroughly

Hope these tips will help you in passing the exam, most importantly don't panic, stay calm in the exam

best of luck!!
 

meganmcg

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Pam, thank you so much for your post and to the original poster for sharing! I've scoured the internet for exam tips, but I don't think anything compares to actual people who've successfully passed it. I, too, have wondered about using up valuable time going to the restroom. Nearly 6 hrs is a long time!!
 

margiemed117

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test tips

I think you nailed it right on the head as far as all your tips go! I really do think that I will be using a lot of what you suggest, although I do have to familiarize myself with the guidelines and all that stuff. It figures....the most important stuff is usually the stuff I forget. I go this Saturday and I am a nervous wreck. I finished school in December but I feel like I forgot everything I learned, I did purchase the practice exams and I've been doing those and not doing as good as I had hoped but I'm gonna keep trying!! I hope to remain calm, know my books and remember what's important, and keep a steady and swift pace because I tend to take a bit too long. That is my fear.....running out of time!:eek:
 

leonisoto

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wish me luck

I take my exam Saturday. First time taking it. All thesee comments are very helpfull. I'm nervous, but not trying to freak out. Yes, i would definitely treat my self to a adult drink. :)

Wish me luck :eek:
 

mcornell

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CPC Exam tips

Thanks so much for this info. This is the best advise I've read and right on the path of what I'm doing, learning the books, marking them well and studying smarter. Thanks so much. Wish me luck Saturday.

:)
 
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passing the cpc

Hi everyone,

As I was preparing for my CPC exam I was reading all of the posts. I promised myself I would post after I passed...and I did, on my first try!
I took all of the AAPC recommended classes. Medical Terminology/Anatomy/Prep course & study guide. I also purchased all 3 practice tests!
During medical terminology/anatomy I made flash cards and used them religiously. DONT THROW THEM OUT WHEN YOU ARE DONE!!!
For the prep course I had limited time so I did all of the tests, review chapters etc. I did not watch the lectures, I read through the print out highlighted the few codes they were speaking about, & made notes in my book. If you work better with hearing the lecture and reading along, do whatever works for you.


I WROTE ALL OVER MY BOOK. the little hints and information I felt I would find useful I noted. I did separate each individual code category by drawling a square around the code & its sub section, during the test this helps you locate the sub categories to the main one quicker. Also highlight main words, example with any code where it has the location (11420-highlight scalp,neck,hands,feet, genitalia...in a different color highlight benign lesion) I did this for all of the codes I felt necessary. When under pressure they seem confusing.

label your book as much as you can. I put in labels in my CPT HCPCS AND ICD-9 this way it is so much easier if you need to look things up. I saw a few with out labels and just seeing that gave me anxiety for them. KNOW YOUR BOOK WELL.

Once you have completed the courses you should have a general knowledge of procedures, I did write a few notes on procedures in my book If I felt it was necessary. Remember you are under pressure during test so every reminder counts.

When It was about 2 weeks before my test and I was finished the courses, I took the 3 practice tests. I took and retook and retook. I reviewed the answers I got wrong and right. the ones that I got wrong a few times, I made a note in my book on what I did wrong...or what not to do/what I should look at next time. "don't confuse with code..." After I felt comfortable with my time I watched a few videos online. Just tips here and there, and I read threads like this one! There are a bunch of great simple reviews on YouTube.

DONT STUDY THE DAY BEFORE YOUR TEST. (I got my hair/nails/toes/massage...etc pamper yourself you deserve it after all this hard work.)

Things to remember:

do the easy questions first
if you don't know it skip it & come back to it. (mark it with a x or a circle ON THE BOOKLET not the bubble sheet)
you have 45 questions to get wrong-if your stuck on one, suck it up and count it as one of the 45
make sure you are always filling in the bubble for the question number you are answering (when jumping around it gets difficult to keep track, just make sure you are)
with medical terminology- be aware of it. if there is something you don't know, you can always go to ICD-9 look it up and see what it says, maybe it will help you narrow down your answers
IT IS ALL ABOUT NARROWING DOWN YOUR ANSWERS..Pick the best one for the question. Your not coding for perfection. cross off the ones you know it is not.
Go straight to the answer in your book don't look it up through index, will kill your time. your 4 answers are there, pick best one. (*THIS IS ONLY FOR THE TEST, WHEN CODING FOR A JOB LOOK UP INDEX AND CODES TO SEE)

don't talk to anyone when you get there, try not to at least. When I went I was about 20 years younger then every one there, which I didn't care about, but they were a "study group" and they tried to tell me I would fail the first time because this is their 2-3 time etc...nothing wrong with taking it a few times, just don't let the negative attitude get you down. BRING EAR PLUGS--don't bring a cell phone and dress warm!!!

Any further questions let me know!!

Megan O CPC, CDC
 

nakeishap

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Thanks for those great tips for the CPC exam. I definitely will used them on my 2nd try with the CPC exam.

Is it best to start at back of the book or front? I started at the front and didn't get a chance to complete all the questions at the back.
 

lupita30

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Quote:
Now you have to score 70% overall. So for 150 questions, you may miss only 45, not 49 questions.

Does anyone know what is the passing score for the CPB certification exam which has 200 questions. I see that most exams which have 150 questions pass with a 70%.

Thanks,
 
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Reply

As I was doing my practice exams and reviewing I noted my strongest points.(example: anesthesia, HCPCS, ICD-9, MEDICAL TERMINOLOGY....) And did them in that order. They were the questions I answered quickly which gave me more time to spend on the other questions. But if you don't know the answer, move on and go back to it. don't waste 5 minutes on a question you may get wrong in the end, get the ones you know for sure you will get right done then go back.

70% is passing for all sections combined. You can miss 45 questions :)
 
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How do you know when you've passed the test?

I just took the test last Friday. I was curious to know what the status is, so I logged onto the AAPC website. It just said "Exam Results" and then it gave the date, and it said "CPC" beside it. Does that mean that they have not graded it yet? It did not say "pending" or anything else. Just curious.
 
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Hi Carla,

Is there a credential listed behind your name at the top when you log in? If you click on the link, it should take you to a page that tells you if you passed or not. If it pending or in transit, it should say that. Good luck!
 

erjones147

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I recently took the CFPC in the same room with 10 other people who were taking their CPC, and here's what I noticed (unfortunately):

1) several people did not even bother to bring pencils. Bring AT LEAST 10 pre-sharpened pencils with a separate eraser that's fresh

2) remember that you CANNOT bring audit cards, dictionaries, drug references, etc. Just your 3 books

3) you will not need scratch paper. Plenty of room for notes within the test booklet itself

4) Umm, yes, the test is 150 multiple choice on PAPER. It is not computer-based like the CCA

In addition, the following things helped me pass my CPC and CFPC with a minimum of fuss:

5) Use your rule-outs. Try to knock the possible answers down to 2 if you can't figure it out during your normal progression

6) Read the answers first. What if one of the answers had a 99216 to try and trip you up? That's one you could eliminate in 2 milliseconds. Anyone who reads all the questions first is doomed to run out of time

7) I recommend putting your best guess down for every question and then flagging it in your test book with an asterisk. Better to erase if you have to (with your fresh eraser!) than to forget that you skipped a question and have to erase multiple answers

8) Generally, if you don't know the answer and can't figure it out in 2 minutes, you aren't going to get any smarter in 4 hours. Just pull the damn trigger and move on

9) be thoughtful with your snacks. Bring some complex carbs that aren't messy or crunchy, and bring a drink with some electrolytes. Highly recommend against fresh celery with peanut butter and six cokes during the test ;)

10) last but not least, practice good ergonomics. You are going to be sitting for 340 minutes and moving your head and neck at least 500 times whilst checking your 3 coding books. Protect your back, neck, and eyes as best you can. The CPC is the most PHYSICALLY exhausting test I have ever taken
 

yodi1224

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CPC exam

Great tips, Coder's. I will also be taking the CPC exam and we appreciate all of the tips your sharing with us. I currently hold a CCA, I also passed this exam on the first attempt through Ahima. I'm praying the CPC test is similar to what I've learned, so I can ace this test as well. Best wishes to all of us, continuing our education for a successful career.
 

TeddiBell

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I agree with Pam about the snacks. I did bring a few with me, but never even got into them. I was also concerned with drinking water, then having to take time out of my test to use the restroom. If you DO bring snacks, be sure they are quiet and in quiet packages, so as to not disturb the rest of the group.
 

sbgill

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Time Management

All the tips I've read on this thread are good, but I wanted to share a time management tip with everyone. You have five hours and forty minutes to answer 150 questions. Your scantron will have five columns. Take one hour for each column of thirty. Don't spend too much time on any one question. If you're unsure how to answer a question, skip it and come back to it in the last forty minutes. This will give you the best chance of getting through all the questions.

Remember to start with the answers. Determine the difference between them. Only after doing this should you read the question. This test is intense! Good luck to everyone!
 

LOKESH28

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Tips to pass CPC Exam

I think you guys study well and also solve question paper well enough to score 70% overall. The only thing which you do the mistake is filling of OMR sheet. Some have the habit of filling OMR sheet at the end of solving the paper which is totally wrong because our eyes sometimes made a mistake in darkening of circles if we darken all circles at once in less time.

My tip is to darken circle after each question. Just fill the OMR as and when you solves questions. Please try this.
 

laurenortho

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Calculator?

Hello!

Do you know if we are allowed to bring in a calculator to the CPB exam since there are math questions involved?

Thanks!
 

laarni.cana

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tips to Pass CPC Exam

I read your tips or advice to Pass CPC Exam, you said has a lot of helpful references in HCPS. "Think outside the box when looking for answers", what does it mean?and also you mentioned that there was a terminology that not familiar to you so look up at your the word of your CPT book, can you explain that to me and I appreciated your help. Thanks!

Laarni
 
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My tips on passing the first time.

I passed the exam on my first attempt! It is a difficult exam. Time management was the most important factor for me. Here are my 2 keys to passing the exam on the first attempt:

Time management: Similar to an athletic event, I divided the test into 3 portions (50 questions). Before the test I ate heartily without filling my stomach. After the first 50 questions I took a 3 minute break, went to the restroom, and popped open my red bull. Through the next 50 questions I would drink my red bull and eat 2 bananas. I felt great through the first 100 questions. After 100 questions I took a 5-minute break, went to the restroom, got a good stretch and stepped outside to take in some fresh air and sunshine. I came back in for my final 50 questions fully refreshed. The final 50 questions were a breeze, especially since it was the first time we stepped away from the CPT. I had just enough time to comfortably take my time answering the questions I missed. (I used every minute of the 5:40hr given)

Coding: Instead of reading the question first, I would look up the multiple choice answers and quickly read the descriptions first. Then, after reading the question I already had a good idea on what the answer was.

These two factors played the biggest role in my successful exam. I had no experience coding, only a Coding Certification Course. I hope this helps and I hope you're successful!
 
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Testing for CPC

Thanks so much Myles! It's encouraging to hear that you passed on the first try and like me, you do not have prior experience in coding.

I passed the exam on my first attempt! It is a difficult exam. Time management was the most important factor for me. Here are my 2 keys to passing the exam on the first attempt:

Time management: Similar to an athletic event, I divided the test into 3 portions (50 questions). Before the test I ate heartily without filling my stomach. After the first 50 questions I took a 3 minute break, went to the restroom, and popped open my red bull. Through the next 50 questions I would drink my red bull and eat 2 bananas. I felt great through the first 100 questions. After 100 questions I took a 5-minute break, went to the restroom, got a good stretch and stepped outside to take in some fresh air and sunshine. I came back in for my final 50 questions fully refreshed. The final 50 questions were a breeze, especially since it was the first time we stepped away from the CPT. I had just enough time to comfortably take my time answering the questions I missed. (I used every minute of the 5:40hr given)

Coding: Instead of reading the question first, I would look up the multiple choice answers and quickly read the descriptions first. Then, after reading the question I already had a good idea on what the answer was.

These two factors played the biggest role in my successful exam. I had no experience coding, only a Coding Certification Course. I hope this helps and I hope you're successful!
 
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Tips for Passing

Thanks everyone! All the tips were very helpful - especially the time management and searching for and reading the answers first before reading the questions.:D
 

ColleenD

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I am taking the test for the 4th time this Saturday. Finishing the test on time was a problem twice for me. The last time I took the test I was off by two points. I am hoping this time I will pass it. It is a grueling test no doubt. Any words of encouragement or test taking strategies will help. Thanks !!!
 

Lworsley

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Thank You

Thank you for posting the tips to pass the text. My test is on Saturday. This was very helpful.
 
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