Thinking about scheduling your CPC exam and wondering what to expect?

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 5 hours and 40 minutes 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 150 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 (10 questions)
  • 20,000 Series CPT®: Surgical procedures performed on the musculoskeletal system (10 questions)
  • 30,000 Series CPT®: Surgical procedures performed on the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, hemic and lymphatic systems, and the mediastinum and diaphragm (10 questions)
  • 40,000 Series CPT®: Surgical procedures performed on the digestive system (10 questions)
  • 50,000 Series CPT®: Surgical procedures performed on the urinary system, male and female reproductive systems (including maternity and delivery), and endocrine system (10 questions)
  • 60,000 Series CPT®: Surgical procedures performed on the nervous system (10 questions)
  • E/M services (10 questions)
  • Anesthesia, including time reporting and qualifying circumstances (8 questions)
  • Radiology (10 questions)
  • Laboratory and pathology (10 questions)
  • Medicine (10 questions)

The exam also covers relevant coding topics beyond the CPT® code book, including:

  • Medical terminology (8 questions)
  • Anatomy (8 questions)
  • ICD-10-CM code application, and the ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting (10 questions)
  • HCPCS Level II, including modifiers (5 questions)
  • Coding guidelines, including modifier use (6 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 (5 questions).

What code books do I need for my CPC certification exam?

  • 1.
    AMA CPT® Professional Edition. No other publisher is allowed for your CPT® code book.
  • 2.
    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.

  • 3.
    Your choice of HCPCS Level II code book.

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 (smart phones, 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.

For a complete list of approved and recommended resources for the CPC exam, please refer to the "Approved Resources" document.

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 many times can I take the exam with each payment?

Each exam payment includes one free attempt for the same type of exam, as long as it is taken within one year of your original exam date.

You can register for your free retake by logging into the Members area, click on "My Events," then select the examinations tab, locate your last exam, click details and schedule your retake.

Can I take the CPC exam online?

As a result of the COVID pandemic, AAPC took our most highly-sought credential and created an online exam that remains an option for candidates eager to secure their credential.

If you have questions about the online CPC exam, you find answers in the following section.

Online CPC Exam FAQs

Does the online CPC exam have special requirements?

Your computer must pass the minimum system requirements for the online CPC exam. You can test your computer in a few seconds any time prior to the exam.

The online exam, of course, will also require use an external webcam. You must position the webcam so that the proctor will be able to see:

  • Your face
  • Your hands
  • Your keyboard
  • 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

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 and a whiteboard, dry erase marker and eraser. You will be required to show your clean whiteboard (front and back) to your proctor before the exam and after the exam.

How many attempts will I get for an online CPC exam?

Members taking online exams will receive 1 attempt at a lower cost than the standard 2 attempts in-person voucher. For members with open exam vouchers, the voucher can be transferred to online.

Example 1: You make a new purchase for an Online exam — you will get one online attempt

Example 2: You have already purchased 2 live exam vouchers — if you choose to convert to online, you will get one online attempt and a credit minus the $299.00 will be provided on your account.

Example 3: You already have unlimited vouchers — you will be provided two additional online attempts.

How will the online test be administered?

Blackboard will be used to take the exam with our partner Examity, proctoring the exams online.

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?

Scheduling will happen directly through Examity after the online exam voucher has been applied to your AAPC account.

Can I see my scheduled online exam and exam results in the My AAPC app?

Not presently. While we work to enhance the app with information from the new online exam, please use the member area under My AAPC > Exams to see your scheduled exam details and results.

What is the online 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. If you cancel or reschedule within 24 hours or less, Examity will charge a $30 fee for each occurrence. This fee must be paid through Examity to reschedule your exam.

What is the no-show policy for online exams?

If you don’t show up to your scheduled exam OR don’t meet the requirements to take the exam, Examity will charge a $30 fee, which will need to be paid before you can reschedule your exam.

Is the online CPC exam taken in one sitting?

The online CPC exam is split into two parts, and you will be given 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete each part. You’re free to schedule each exam part for the same day, at different times, or on different days.

If I have extra time from Part l of the exam, will I be able to use it on Part ll?

Part I and Part II of the online CPC exam are administered as separate tests. You are given 2 hours and 45 minutes for each part, and finishing Part I early does not carry over to extend your time allotment for Part II.

Can I skip questions and come back to them?

You can skip questions or move back and forth between questions within Part I of the exam. Once you submit Part I of the CPC exam, you will not be allowed to go back to it. The same is true when taking Part II of the exam.

How long does it take to get CPC online exam results?

Exam results will be available within 5 business days of completing the second part of the exam. You can find your test score in the member area under MyAAPC > Exams in the exam details.

Will Areas of Study be available when I get my online exam results?

Not at this time. Once both parts of the exam are completed you will receive a Pass/Fail and an overall score. If you would like areas of study, please contact support.

Will ADA accommodations be made for this online CPC exam?

Not at this time. ADA accommodations will be given at physical locations. We are working toward this and will let members know as online options become available.

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