May 6, 2024
how to pass the AAPC cpc exam graphic with doc and AAPC logo

How to Pass the AAPC CPC Exam: Comprehensive Guide

By Janine Mothershed

How to Prepare for the AAPC CPC Exam

Believe in yourself—you can pass the AAPC CPC exam! Preparing for the AAPC CPC exam may seem daunting, but with the right strategies and dedication, you can achieve success. This guide will provide you with essential tips on how to prepare for the AAPC CPC exam, ensuring that you are well-equipped to pass the CPC exam with confidence.

Ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Did I have the right tools I needed to pass the exam? 
  • Did I take advantage of the AAPC practice exams 
  • Did I effectively review the rationales provided? 
  • Did I take advantage of AAPC’s exam tips? 

Take a comprehensive medical coding training course. 

Coding Clarified online medical coding course includes: 

  • Access to the online medical coding class 
  • CPT, ICD10, HCPC, workbook & Textbook 
  • Instructor audio files for each chapter to implement notes into your books 
  • 1:1 time with the instructor as needed 
  • Professionally written resume 
  • AAPC Membership 
  • CPC Exam Voucher 
  • Job placement assistance/resources 
  • Online HCC Internship 
  • Free 50-Question Practice Exam 
  • Practicode 
  • Facebook group: 
  • Practicoders 

A Comprehensive Guide on How to Study for and Pass the AAPC CPC Exam

The Certified Professional Coder (CPC) certification offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) is highly regarded in the healthcare industry. Achieving this certification demonstrates proficiency in medical coding and serves as a valuable asset in advancing one’s career in healthcare administration. However, preparing for the CPC exam requires dedication, strategic planning, and effective study techniques. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on how to study for and successfully pass the AAPC CPC exam. 

Understanding the CPC Exam

Before delving into study strategies, it’s essential to understand the structure and content of the CPC exam. The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions, covering various topics such as medical terminology, anatomy, coding guidelines, and healthcare regulations. Test-takers are allotted 4 hours to complete the exam. To pass, candidates must achieve a score of 70% or higher. 

Study Materials

AAPC’s Official Study Guide: The AAPC offers an official study guide specifically designed to prepare candidates for the CPC exam. This comprehensive resource covers all exam topics and includes practice questions to assess your understanding.  

Medical Coding Books

Utilize current medical coding books to supplement your study materials. Look for publications that cover CPT, ICD-10-CM, and HCPCS coding guidelines in detail. 

Online Courses

Enroll in online CPC exam preparation courses offered by reputable institutions like Coding Clarified, an AAPC-approved online course. These courses often include interactive lectures, practice exams, and study modules to reinforce key concepts.  

Practice Exams

Take advantage of practice exams to simulate the testing environment and gauge your readiness. Many online platforms offer CPC practice exams with questions similar to those on the actual test.  

Study Strategies

Create a Study Schedule

Develop a structured study schedule that allocates sufficient time for each exam topic. Break down your study sessions into manageable chunks and set specific goals for each session. 

Focus on Weak Areas

Identify your areas of weakness through practice exams or self-assessment quizzes. Allocate more study time to these topics to improve your understanding and proficiency. 

Utilize Mnemonics and Memory Aids

Employ mnemonic devices and memory aids to help retain complex information such as medical terminology, anatomy, and code sets. Create acronyms or visual cues to facilitate recall during the exam. 

Practice Time Management

Since time is limited during the CPC exam, practice efficient time management techniques. Familiarize yourself with the format of the exam and practice answering questions within the allocated time frame. 

Use the process of elimination

The process of elimination for the AAPC CPC exam involves: 

  • Reading the question first 
  • Scanning the case for keywords 
  • Eliminating two answers 

Here are some tips for using the process of elimination: 

  • Read the guidelines 
  • Highlight the guidelines 
  • Take notes 
  • Look for keywords 
  • Check the first character of the code 
  • Run straight to the answers 
  • Look at the heading 
  • Look for “withs or with outs”: 
  • **Look for “do not report” 

Join Study Groups

Joining a study group or online forums dedicated to CPC exam preparation can provide valuable support and resources. Collaborating with peers allows you to discuss challenging topics, share study materials, and gain insights from others’ perspectives. 

Facebook groups

Medical Coding and Billing Forum 

Medical Coding for Newbies 

(The newbie group has extra resources in the group files and guide areas) 

Review Coding Guidelines

Familiarize yourself with the official coding guidelines published by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the American Hospital Association (AHA). Understanding these guidelines is crucial for accurate coding and compliance. 

Take Breaks and Stay Healthy

Remember to take regular breaks during study sessions to prevent burnout and maintain focus. Prioritize self-care by staying hydrated, getting adequate rest, and engaging in stress-relieving activities. 

AAPC CPC Exam Day Tips: 

  • Arive Early for the Exam
  • Bring Required Materials, Photo ID, and AAPC membership Card
  • Read Exam Instructions Carefully
  • Pace Yourself Throughout the Exam
  • Stay Calm and Confident

Arrive Early

Check the location and time of your exam if it is at a Meazure testing center. Plan to arrive at the exam location well before the scheduled start time to avoid any last-minute stressors. 

Bring Required Materials

Double-check that you have all necessary materials, including photo identification with the exact name you registered to take the exam with, AAPC membership card (if applicable), and coding manuals. 

Read Instructions Carefully

Take a few minutes to carefully read through the exam instructions before starting.  

Pace Yourself

Pace yourself throughout the exam to ensure you have sufficient time to answer all questions. Flag challenging questions for review and revisit them later if time permits. Always answer all the questions as 1 in 25% of getting the answer correct is better than 0%. Save the long scenarios for last as they require more time but are only worth 1 point each the same as the shorter questions. 

Stay Calm and Confident

Maintain a positive mindset during the exam and trust in your preparation. Remember that you’ve put in the effort to study and prepare adequately. 

Final Tips and Essential Resources to Pass the AAPC CPC Exam

Preparing for the AAPC CPC exam requires diligent study and preparation, but with the right strategies and resources, success is within reach. By utilizing official study materials, adopting effective study strategies, and staying focused and confident on exam day, you can increase your chances of passing the CPC exam and advancing your career in medical coding.

Here are some valuable resources to help you on your journey:

Good luck with your preparation, and remember that with dedication and the right resources, you can achieve your certification goals and advance your career in medical coding!

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