CPC Exam FAQs
If you’ve scheduled your CPC certification exam or are considering setting a date, you probably have loads of questions. We lay out answers to the most common questions in the two sections below — the first section pertaining to the in-person CPC exam and the other dedicated to the online CPC exam.
In-Person CPC Exam FAQs
How long does the CPC exam take?
You will be given 4 hours to complete the exam and will be notified when 30 minutes of test time is remaining. If you finish your exam early, you may leave.
What type of questions will be on the CPC exam?
The CPC examination consists of 100 multiple-choice questions and tests your knowledge of a broad range of coding-related topics.
Questions based on the CPT® code book include:
10,000 Series CPT®: Surgical procedures performed on the integumentary system (6 questions)
20,000 Series CPT®: Surgical procedures performed on the musculoskeletal system (6 questions)
30,000 Series CPT®: Surgical procedures performed on the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, hemic and lymphatic systems, and the mediastinum and diaphragm (6 questions)
40,000 Series CPT®: Surgical procedures performed on the digestive system (6 questions)
50,000 Series CPT®: Surgical procedures performed on the urinary system, male and female reproductive systems (including maternity and delivery), and endocrine system (6 questions)
60,000 Series CPT®: Surgical procedures performed on the nervous system (6 questions)
E/M services (6 questions)
Anesthesia, including time reporting and qualifying circumstances (4 questions)
Radiology (6 questions)
Laboratory and pathology (6 questions)
Medicine (6 questions)
The exam also covers relevant coding topics beyond the CPT® code book, including:
Medical terminology (4 questions)
Anatomy (4 questions)
ICD-10-CM code application, and the ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting (5 questions)
HCPCS Level II, including modifiers (3 questions)
Coding guidelines, including modifier use (7 questions)
Compliance and regulatory — Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D; place of service (POS) codes; National Correct Coding Initiative (NCCI) edits; HIPAA, and other regulations (3 questions).
The CPC exam will test your ability to pull everything together in medical cases requiring you to accurately code from clinical record documentation.
Ten cases with multiple choice answers involving CPT®, ICD-10-CM, and/or HCPCS Level II will cover 10000 series, 20000 series, 30000 series, 40000 series, 50000 series, 60000 series, medicine, anesthesia, radiology, pathology and laboratory, and evaluation and management services. Medical terminology, anatomy, compliance, and regulatory information may also be tested in the cases.
What code books do I need for my CPC certification exam?
AMA CPT® Professional Edition. No other publisher is allowed for your CPT®
Your choice of ICD-10-CM code book.
You may also bring a printed copy of the ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines.
Highlighting, underlining and brief notations needed for day-to-day coding is permitted on the printed side of the page. Long passages of information are not permitted on the blank pages of the printout.
Your choice of HCPCS Level II code book.
What is allowed in our books?
Handwritten notes are acceptable in the coding books only if they pertain to daily coding activities. Questions from the Study Guides, Practice Exams, or the Exam itself are prohibited. Tabs may be inserted, taped, pasted, glued, or stapled in the manuals so long as the obvious intent of the tab is to earmark a page with words or numbers, not supplement information in the book. Altering, whiting out, painting, or printing over any pages within the code books (e.g., marketing pages, table of contents, reference pages, etc.) to supplement information is prohibited.
No materials (other than tab dividers) may be inserted, taped, pasted, glued, or stapled in the manuals.
What year's code books should I use during my certification exam?
Because certification exams are based on the current calendar year's code sets, it’s essential for coders to reference the current year’s code books to ensure optimal performance. We strongly suggest using the current year's books. You may use the previous calendar year’s books during your certification exam, but doing so would put you at a disadvantage.
Can I bring my cell phone to the exam?
Electronic devices with an on/off switch (smartphones, smart watches, tablets, Fitbits, etc.) are not permitted in the examination room. Failure to comply with this policy will result in disqualification of your exam. Do not bring them as there is no place to stow them.
Can I ask the proctor to explain a question if I don’t understand it?
Proctors may not offer any assistance during the CPC exam, including clarifying a test question.
What score is required to pass the CPC exam?
You need a minimum score of 70% to pass the CPC exam.
How early should I arrive at the exam location?
If you are not at the location 30 minutes prior to the exam start time you are considered tardy, late entrances will not be allowed.
When should I expect to view my results?
Exam results are normally released within 7 to 10 business days after the exam has taken place. Please do not call AAPC in reference to exam result until after the 10 business days. exam results will not be released over the telephone
Due to the grading process of the CIC exam, it may take 10-15 business days after the exam has taken place.
In the month of January there may be a longer wait time due to reviews of new content.
June, November, and December may be a longer wait time due to high volume of exams being taken.
How many times can I take the exam with each payment?
Members taking the exam will receive 1 attempt unless they purchased the 2-exam bundle.
Can I take the CPC exam online?
AAPC took our most highly-sought credential and created an electronic exam that remains an option for candidates eager to secure their credential.
If you have questions about the electronic CPC exam, you find answers in the following section.
Electronic Live Remote Proctor (LRP) CPC Exam FAQs
Does the LRP CPC exam have special requirements?
Your computer must pass the minimum system requirements for the electronic CPC exam. You can test your computer in a few seconds any time prior to the exam.
The electronic exam, of course, will also require use an external webcam. You must position the webcam so that the proctor will be able to see:
The area surrounding your keyboard (about 10 inches)
Is the CPC exam open book?
Like the in-person exam, you will be allowed three coding books on your desk (one of each type listed below). Online proctors will do a thorough review of your books before you begin the exam. It is highly recommended that you use current year books on your exam.
AMA CPT version only
Your choice of ICD-10-CM
Your choice of HCPCS
Note: Printed guidelines will not be allowed during the online exam. Review allowed reference materials here.
What can I have in the room with me during the exam?
Along with the three coding manuals above, you may also have a drink on your desk. Please note that the room needs to be clear of whiteboard, calendars, and sticky notes with writing. Also, all landline phones, books, and miscellaneous items should be placed out of reach.
Please review the allowed materials for your exam type.
How many attempts will I get for an electronic CPC exam?
You may purchase a 1 exam voucher or 2 exam vouchers. If you choose to transfer your existing voucher to electronic you will receive the same number of vouchers you currently have available.
How will the electronic test be administered?
We’ve partnered with Examity to proctor our electronic exams.
How do you prevent people from cheating (using Google, cell phone, etc.)?
The integrity and security of our exams continue to be our focus. Thanks to AI and 1 proctor per 2 examinees, we have closer monitoring than with live exams.
Important Note! Any member who violates our code of ethics by cheating will lose their credential(s) and will not have the opportunity to sit for any future AAPC exams.
How will I schedule my exam?
Once your purchase is complete, the electronic exam voucher will be applied to your AAPC account and you will receive a Notice to Schedule through our partner Meazure Learning (formerly Scantron).
Can I see my scheduled electronic exam and exam results in the My AAPC app?
Yes! Your scheduled exam will show in the My AAPC app and the exam tracker will let you know when your exam is in grading and results are available.
What is the electronic exam cancellation and rescheduling policy?
If you cancel or reschedule your exam date/time prior to 24 hours before the start of your exam, there will be no fee. You may not reschedule or cancel your testing appointment less than 24 hours in advance.
What is the no-show policy for electronic exams?
If you don’t show up to your scheduled exam OR don’t meet the requirements to take the exam, your exam voucher will be canceled, and you will need to purchase a new voucher in order to take the exam.
Is the online CPC exam still taken in two sittings?
No, the online CPC exam is no longer taken in two sittings. All AAPC online certification exams will be taken in one sitting.
Can I skip questions and come back to them?
You can flag questions, skip questions, or move back and forth between questions and sections. However, once you submit the exam, you will not be allowed to go back into it.
When will I receive my electronic CPC exam results?
We want to ensure the accuracy and quality of the exam. Exam results will be available within 7-10 business days of completing the exam. Results will show in the member area under MyAAPC>Exams in the exam details.
Will Areas of Study be available when I get my online exam results?
Yes, areas of study will show in the member area under MyAAPC>Exams in the exam details.
Will ADA accommodations be made for this online CPC exam?
Yes, ADA accommodations are available for electronic examinations. To apply for accommodations please complete the form here. It is important to get your ADA accommodations approved before purchasing/scheduling an exam.
About the author
Thought Leadership Team
Editorial Staff / AAPC
The AAPC Thought Leadership Team is a distinguished consortium of experts, visionaries, and thought leaders committed to shaping the landscape in the industry. With a deep understanding of the profound impact our industry has on society, this council serves as a guiding force, driving the development and implementation of ethical standards in coding practices.
Certified Professional Coder (CPC)®
The CPC credential is the gold-standard credential for medical coders. It demonstrates expertise in coding medical services and procedures performed by physicians.
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