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Thread: Tips to Pass CPC Exam

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2007

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    Last edited by dyj; 10-09-2012 at 01:20 PM.

  2. #2


    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.

  3. #3


    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!

  4. #4


    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!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2007


    thank you and congratulations on passing CPC exam!!

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

  6. #6


    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.

  7. #7

    Default 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?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2007


    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.

  9. #9

    Thumbs up

    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!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Dover Seacoast New Hampshire


    Quote Originally Posted by pattison.kris@gmail.com View Post
    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!
    Pam Brooks, MHA, CPC, PCS, COC
    Coding Manager
    Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
    Dover, NH 03820

    If you can dream it, you can do it. Walt Disney

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