August 2, 2020
What is the CPC Exam?

Everything you Need to Know About the CPC Exam

By Janine Mothershed

What is the CPC Exam?

The CPC (Certified Professional Coder) Exam is a test to get certified in Medical Coding by the AAPC (American Academy of Professional Coders). AAPC is an educational board that conducts all types of health care certifications, including exams for CPC certifications in the US, as well as many other countries.

The CPC Exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions which evaluate 17 areas of knowledge and a broad range of coding related topics, including;  medical terminology, anatomy, anesthesia, medicine and pathology. It is well known throughout the world of medical healthcare as a gold standard for physician based Medical Coding.

May be Taken In-person or Online

You may choose to take the exam online or in-person. Both options have different specifications and rules. To pass this exam, you must get 70% of the answers correct. This means out of 150 questions, 105 questions must be marked right.

The CPC Exam conducted online is an open book exam. You must have reliable internet connection and a stand-alone webcam that can be moved to show your face, hands, keyboard and the area around the keyboard. The Online exam is taken at home in a quiet area during two separate 2 hour and 45 minute sessions and proctored by Examity. The cost is $299 for one attempt but is included with our course.

The in-person test is also open book and must be taken within 5 hours and 40 minutes total in one session. In-person test takers are given two attempts at passing. If you are not able to pass the examination in the 1st attempt, you will have one more free opportunity to take it again. The cost is $399 to take the CPC in-person.

Test Taking Strategies

While taking the test, be aware of the time restrictions. Make it your goal to read and answer all questions. Section out the test to know how much time you may have on each area of study. You may want to go through and answer all the questions that you know first and come back to the more challenging ones in the end. Bring a watch. Your proctor will not allow you to look at your cell phone. Be sure to get ample sleep the night before and eat prior to the exam in-person or online.

What Books do I Study?

We use four books in our course to study and prepare for this exam.

  1. 1.Current Year Medical Coding Training: CPC®; AAPC; AAPC       publisher; ISBN-13:978-1-626883-444
  2. 2. CPT® Professional Edition (current year), AMA publisher
  3. 3. ICD-10-CM Code Set (current year), any publisher
  4. 4.HCPCS Level II (current year), any publisher

What Topics does the Exam Focus on?

10,000, 20,000, 30,000, 40,000, 50,000 and 60,000 Series CPT

This includes surgical procedures performed on the integumentary system, musculoskeletal system, digestive system, urinary system and nervous system.

Evaluation and Management

Coding proficiency related to place of services and preventive medicine.


Anesthesia in time reporting, qualifying circumstances, physical status modifiers, surgical, diagnostic and OB services.


This includes both diagnostic and interventional radiology.

Laboratory / Pathology

Path/lab of organ and disease panels, drug testing, therapeutic drug assays, evocation/suppression testing, consultations, urinalysis, molecular pathology, MAAA, chemistry, hematology and coagulation, immunology, transfusions, microbiology, anatomic pathology, cytopathology, cytogenetic studies, surgical pathology, in vivo and reproductive.


Specialty-specific coding, immunizations, biofeedback, dialysis, central nervous system assessments, health and behavior assessments, hydration, medical nutrition, therapeutic and diagnostic administration, chemotherapy administration, photodynamic therapy, osteopathic manipulative treatment, patient education and training, non-face-to-face non-physician services and moderate sedation.

Medical Terminology

Medical terminology for all systems in the human body.


Anatomy for all parts of the body.


Diagnosis for all the chapters included in ICD-10-CM, Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting.


HCPCS Level II coding, focusing on modifiers, supplies, medications and professional services for Medicare patients.

Coding Guidelines

ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting, CPT®, parenthetical notes and modifier use.

Compliance and Regulatory

Compliance and regulations of Medicare Parts A, B, C and D; applying coding to payment policy, place of service reporting, fraud and abuse, NCCI edits, NCD/LCD, HIPAA, ABNs and RVUs.

Finding a Medical Coding School

Choosing the right Medical Coding School is key to your success when taking the CPC Exam. Coding Clarified will teach you everything that you need to know to pass your certification exam and to become certified as a medical coder. We include all above books in written and audio form, a CPC Exam Voucher and so much more.

We wish you the best of luck on your exam. Apply for a Medical Coding scholarship today to prepare for your CPC Exam. Learn more about what Coding Clarified offers.

Share This