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To pass the AAPC’s CPC exam, you need to score 70 percentile, Out of a total of 150 questions, you can miss 45 answers. This test is not about memorizing. It’s about knowing how to find the best answer.
The AAPC has many preparation materials for the Certified Professional Coding (CPC) exam. These are available through the AAPC’s website, but they are quite expensive. You’ll learn everything you need to pass the CPC exam in a coding course at a university or community college.
You should only purchase AAPC’s training material if you are far away from practice. However, you should consider taking AAPC’s CPC practice test. We’ll cover these in a bit.
Since the CPC exam covers many topics, it is easy to get overwhelmed with the preparation steps. Here are some ways to deal with this big, intimidating ordeal. During the exam, you will spend most of the time with the CPT manual. While there are few questions on ICD-10-CM codes and HCPCS.
there are more questions related to the CPT code set, so it is good to focus your study efforts. Learn the manual back and forth, and be comfortable navigating it and using its many appendices.
CPC Exam Passing Score
What's In This Post?
- 1 CPC Exam Passing Score
- 2 10 Tips for Passing the CPC Exam
- 2.1 Invest in study guides and sample papers
- 2.2 Start with the questions you know
- 2.3 Highlight key coding conventions
- 2.4 Aim for 30 questions per hour
- 2.5 Reuse terminology and codes
- 2.6 Stay calm throughout the test
- 2.7 Look for modifiers
- 2.8 Don’t follow the advice to bring snacks
- 2.9 Read the answers first
- 2.10 Pay close attention to modifier guidelines
- 3 Taking the CPC Test
- 4 CPC Certification Exam Time Management
- 5 What To Do During The CPC Exam
- 6 How to Pass the CPC Certification Exam
- 7 FAQ — CPC Certification Practice Exam
Verify the start time and exam address at least two days before your exam date. If you’re unfamiliar with the test venue, consider mapping out your driving directions in advance. Take into account possible construction, traffic, or potentially inclement weather during your trip and arrive 10 to 15 minutes early.
Electronic devices with on/off switches (cell phones, smartphones, tablets, etc.) are not allowed in the examination hall. Failure to comply with this policy may result in the disqualification of your exams.
Most people take the test only after working for a while in coding (to be certified, the CPC requires a passing score and two years of professional experience, or the educational equivalent).
If you’ve gained that experience, you should be relatively familiar with medical terminology and anatomy, and physiology. Still, it’s a great idea to brush up on it through flashcards or review courses.
The test will have questions that explicitly reference medical or physical terminology (such as the question, “What type of joint is this?”), but having a strong medical vocabulary will help you understand other questions as well.
Once you have studied, make sure you take advantage of as many practice exams as possible. Treat these exams like real tests: Study extensively for them, give yourself time while taking them, and then pay attention to which questions, and more importantly, what types of questions you do regularly.
do wrong. On your first test, did you struggle with the anesthesia code? Go back to that section. Were you careless with your ICD-10-CM code? Review the ICD-10-CM manual. Many private companies offer practice CPC exams, but the AAPC practice test is probably your best bet.
Don’t think of practice exams as formalities or a waste of time. Many practice tests may be easier than the actual test, but you should still take them seriously. You should try to get at least 80% marks in the practice test before taking the actual CPC exam.
10 Tips for Passing the CPC Exam
If you’re like most students taking the CPC exam for the first time, chances are you want to pass it, complete it, and never have to pay the $300 fee again (and get through a five-and-a-half-hour exam). Not to mention sitting!) So, here are some great tips to crack the exam on your first attempt.
Invest in study guides and sample papers
Set timers and do them over and over again, study how you got the right answer, and try to identify the pattern of why you didn’t get the right answer on the left out questions. Find your efficiency method.
Start with the questions you know
Keep in mind that you only need 70% marks to pass, which means you can miss 45 questions out of 150. That means remove the questions you know first. You don’t want to leave easy questions unanswered. It will also help you to boost your confidence during the exam; So leave the difficult questions for later.
Highlight key coding conventions
In the ICD, make sure you know your sepsis, HIV, toxicity, adverse effects, late effects, radiation treatment, neoplasms, diabetes, hypertension, CKD, fetal, maternal, and infection codes. Highlight all of these coding conventions for quick key-ins as answers.
Aim for 30 questions per hour
After 30th, 60th, 90th, and 120th questions draw a line to divide them into time-bound sections and start with 120-150, then 90-120. In the end, the questions are easy. Mark difficult questions and come back to them (if your time is running out, mark them with guesses if you don’t come back to them).
Reuse terminology and codes
If you don’t know some of the terminologies in a question, look up the word in the back of the CPT code description. Also, keep an eye out for questions that answer other questions (i.e. one question might give away the coding that another question is asking for).
Stay calm throughout the test
Remember you can memorize a lot of questions and still pass, so guess what you don’t know. Try to eliminate the answers you know are wrong so that you can increase your chances of guessing right.
Look for modifiers
The other answers do away with modifiers themselves so look for “surgical complications, staged procedures, closed procedures, etc”. ICD diagnostic codes can also eliminate procedure codes that you are not sure about.
Don’t follow the advice to bring snacks
It is distracting and will derail you. You can take a breather a little mentally, but unless you really need to eat for medical reasons, just lean over, get in the area and be there!
Read the answers first
Knowing what to expect from a question will allow you to know which section of the CPT/ICD-9 or HCPCS you need to refer to, cutting down on wasting time searching for it. Flip right to the section you want to be in, and then look at the question.
Then, in the question underline the keywords that will lead you to code. For example, the laparoscopic keywords in the question should make you focus on open procedures versus closed procedures, essentially eliminating wrong answers right off the bat.
Pay close attention to modifier guidelines
Highlight all guidelines for the use and non-use of modifiers, such as Mod 53 in Colonoscopy, Mod 59 in Skin Repair, Medicine Section Modifier Guidelines, Mod 62 in the Use of Spinal Surgery and Non-For Instrumentation and Bone Grafts, etc. Use. Highlight skin. Also sections for each process.
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Taking the CPC Test
When you take the CPC exam, you are allowed to bring each code manual (ICD, CPT, and HCPCS manuals). You are allowed to place notes on the margins of these manuals, but these notes may not contain any test-specific information. You are not allowed to tape anything in these manuals.
It’s a good idea to mark important or frequently used sections of your code manually. For example, the CPT manual comes with several tabs that you can keep in the book to mark some important places. Use these to mark where code sections begin (such as surgery or medical sections in a CPT manual), and where to find certain appendices.
When you are taking the CPC exam, you will be asked to perform as though you were coding in your regular coding task, so set up your manual in a way that makes the most sense to you.
Also, know that each manual contains a lot of useful information beyond the code. The CPT manual contains many diagrams of the human body, including the ocular system and adnexa, the musculoskeletal system, the nervous system, and more.
Mark these pages and refer to them during the test if you are stumped on a question related to structural terminology.
CPC Certification Exam Time Management
When you’re taking a test like the CPC exam, which is about six hours long and consists of 150 questions, it’s a good idea to break things down to make them more manageable.
Separate the questions into blocks of time, and work on one block of questions for a set amount of time before moving on to the next set.
For example, you can divide the CPC exam into five groups of 30 questions. Take one hour for each of the thirty questions. Or you can try and ask 10 questions every 20 minutes.
As soon as your allotted time is up, move on to the next block of questions. That is if you split the test into five-hour blocks of 30 questions, and you’re on question 25 after the first hour, just skip to question 31. If you finish a block of questions early, go back and fill in the questions you left.
As long as there is CPC in a test, it is important to maintain your speed while taking the test.
You don’t want to spend too much time on any one question. Make reading your goal and answer each and every question on the test, if possible.
It is a good idea to bring a timer for the exam. It can be a kitchen timer or a clock. Just make sure you don’t have a distracting alarm set on it, and you should be fine. (Your proctor will not let you use your cell phone for obvious reasons).
What To Do During The CPC Exam
- Listen carefully as the proctor reads the instructions. If you do not understand the given instructions then ask questions before the start of the exam.
- Be especially careful about marking your answer sheet. Be sure to correctly fill your selected bubble on the test grid. The exams are machine graded. To ensure an accurate score, the bubble must be filled as shown in the example on your test grid.
- Scan the entire test when you are instructed to start. Answer the simplest, shortest questions first – it gives you the feel of being successful and stimulates associations.
- Remember to pace yourself. You have an average time of 2 minutes 15 seconds to answer each question. Be relaxed and don’t panic. You will be able to finish.
- Read each question carefully. Note the words in the question such as “no, except, most, least and greatest.” These words are often important in determining the correct answer. However, there are no “trick” questions on the test, so don’t worry about hidden words or meanings.
- Answer every question. If you don’t know the correct answer, remove as many wrong answers as possible, then choose from the remaining answers. If you have no clue – guess. A guess is better than an empty response.
- If you end up with some extra time, use that time to go back and review questions you weren’t quite sure had the right answer. Use the code book again to confirm.
- Some people find it helpful to look at the possible multiple choice answers (not the question) first. This way, you can refer to the sections of the CPT®/ICD-10 or HCPCS that you will need to refer to to answer the question. Next, go through the question carefully to rule out your wrong answers. Usually you can quickly rule out one or two possible answers.
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How to Pass the CPC Certification Exam
To pass the CPC exam, you need to score 70% or better in the exam. Always keep this in mind while giving the exam.
You may see three, four, or five codes in long, multiple-part questions, which are similar to general knowledge questions. If you’re stuck on a question, don’t be afraid to drop it and come back to it later.
Another good way to manage your goals and your time are to remember that your objective in the exam is to choose the best available answer.
This test is not an exact repeat of what you will see in daily coding. These are hypothetical situations that can be shortened or simplified for space, so you’ll end up wasting your precious time on the details of each question. Choose the best possible answer and move on.
Remember that you can get 45 questions wrong when you take the test. Don’t waste a lot of time on a question that is completely bugging you.
Instead, go ahead and try to regain your momentum with easier, less time-consuming questions. If you have extra time, go back to the more difficult ones after completing the easier ones.
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CPC Key Points
- Confirm what test materials are allowed during the exam. Gather these items several days before the exam (Photo ID, member ID, #2 pencil, and an eraser with the appropriate coding manual.)
- Most test takers have found that they perform better after a good night’s sleep. We believe that a late evening study session the night before your exam is not very useful.
- Eat a healthy breakfast (nothing heavy) and bring a light snack and water to keep you energized during the exam. Peppermint or lemon candy usually keeps you alert.
- If you are sensitive to noise, bring earplugs to remove distractions during the exam.
- Layer your clothes in case the room temperature fluctuates.
- Successful test takers have a good code book. Familiarize yourself with all parts of your CPT, ICD-10 and HCPCS code book. Learn how to quickly locate codes, directions, tables and instructions within them. This may be the most important tip we can give you.
CPC General Tips
- The priority should be to clear the CPC exam. 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, instead of planning two hour study sessions, include 15 minute study sessions throughout the day which are not productive due to fatigue, distraction etc.
- Believe you can pass the exam. If you have doubts you will not pass the test. Reaffirm positive.
- Remember: Most employers are interested in the credentials you have, not the time it takes to earn them and the number of exams.
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FAQ — CPC Certification Practice Exam
Que — What Is CPC Exam Passing Score?
Ans — An overall score of 70% is the passing mark in the CPC exam. The test results are provided to you within 7-10 days after the date of the exam.
Que — How long does it take to get the result from AAPC?
Ans — The results of the exam are generally released within 7 to 10 business days after the exam is conducted.
Que — Is the CPC exam difficult?
Ans — The CPC exam is a very difficult exam, it consists mostly of surgery reports and procedures and also contains anatomy and medical terminology, but if you already have coding experience you can review the CPC and it will help you Will help in studying for the exam.