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Thread: Pre-employment coding exam

  1. #1

    Question Pre-employment coding exam

    AAPC: Back to School
    I am in the process of doing interviews for a coding position. Do any of you have your applicants take a brief coding exam? I am from the midwest and we have a severe shortage of qualified coders. I would really like to test anyone who applies so I know thier current abilities or lack there of. Any help would be appreciated!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Albany, NY

    Default Northeast

    I have always created tests in-line with the work I would expect the coder to do after hire. It's an invaluable tool to measure not just level of coding expertise, but the time it takes to do it.

    I kept the test to 10 or 15 questions max and mixed both ICD-9 and CPT coding, focusing 2 or 3 questions on trickier coding such as those that involve multiple modifiers (for surgery) and for diagnosis coding, combination coding such as for diabetes which also tests 5th digit code assignment.

    Good luck!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Columbia, MO


    I absolutely agree! I was a consultant for a billing service and they hired coders with no way to know what their knowledge base was. I did some audits and told the owner she really needed to institute a pre-employment test as a tool to determine amount of pay and so forth. I then administered a test to those already employed focused on the area of coding the business was focused on, and the results were dismal, the highest score schieved was 30%. There were 12 questions and it took most of them 8 to 12 hours to answer them all. The biggest complaint was that it was not a multiple choice test.!

    Debra A. Mitchell, MSPH, CPC-H

  4. #4


    When a large cross section of people with various amounts of experience fail a test you can assume they are all not as good as you would like or maybe the test is in some way the problem. Coding is all too often not as cut and dried as we would all like to think. I'm a newly certified person who has zero experience and can do well on a test but my lack of experience is killing my prospects of landing a job. I wish all I had to do was pass a test to get in somewhere. testing is good but I don't think anything replaces experience. I have never worked in the medical field and passed the CPC with an 96 the first time I took it, but would you hire me based on doing well on a test or having impeccable work history.

    Peter Vason, CPC-A

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    Default pre-employment coding test

    I have had to take a coding test for both of my jobs and I have heard that it is a common practice. I feel a quick coding test that is your practice-specific is a good indicator. It might help weed out some applicants. I know one person who applied for a coding/medical records job and was given a quick test. She only had some medical records experience. She of course knew nothing of coding and she felt that the test showed her that the job wasn't for her. (She thought coding was just a 'piece of cake, anyone can do it!' If you're experienced, you shouldn't have a problem taking a test. If you get something wrong, it's a good chance to discuss why you may have coded something differently than the test giver--it can open the dialog.
    This is just my opinion though....
    Diann Do Bran CPC, CPC_H

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    WHills, CA

    Smile Testing is commonplace for every work environment

    I have found in the medical field that coders are not the only applicants tested. Doctors, pharmacists, radiation technologists, nurses are even tested before hire. This seems to be common place. What I don't agree with is the test. There are some really crappy tests out there that do not seem to measure objectively your skill in any given area. I believe the test needs to be SHORT with no more than 50 questions with multiple choice, T/F and coding from procedures and operatives combined. Anyone can be book smart, but the test needs to measure one's experience which is hard to do in this field because of the difference from geographical standpoint and payor POV deems it difficult to accurately measure one's experience since no one seems to be standardized in any specialty across the board or even across the nation. However, there can be tests which measure one's ability to do the job they are applying for by using applicable methods to distinguish one's skill.

    Have a great day!

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