How Do I Study for the CPC Exam?
Question: (from Gabrielle) I completed my medical and billing program about a year ago. I never ended up taking my test to be certified because I ended up getting a job with the doctors office I had done my internship with as a receptionist. I really want to pursue a career in billing and coding, but I am not sure how to set up my test to be certified or where to even start when it comes to studying for it. If someone could please email me back I would really appreciate it.
Don’t despair — many current coding and billing professionals have gone through your exact experience. I recommend utilizing the AAPC’s website to locate a chapter in your area to contact and gain CPC exam site information and date. Click here to access the link to that area on their website.
There are many areas of study that you must have a solid understanding of in order to successfully pass the CPC. It is important not to get overwhelmed once you open the test booklet — just remember to focus on coding conventions and guidelines and don’t get sidetracked in the minutia.
The following list is a mini breakdown of the areas of study you should ensure you have a thorough understanding of prior to sitting for the exam:
- Medical terminology: Prefixes/suffixes used for naming medical conditions/procedures
- HCPCS: Alphanumeric designated codes that identify supplies/drugs/temporary codes
- Modifiers: Two-digit suffix appended to the end of a code to indicate additional services/providers/statuses
- ICD-9-CM: Diagnosis code reporting for physician and outpatient, coding conventions and guidelines for reporting of illnesses/conditions/accidents/injuries, and more
- E&M (Evaluation and Management Visit Codes): Know what visit codes are used in each outpatient or inpatient setting.
- Anesthesia Section: Understand the types of anesthesia — general/regional/local anesthesia/conscious sedation.
- Radiology Section: X-rays/diagnostic imaging/MRI/PET scan/ ultrasound/nuclear medicine
- Path & Lab Section: Testing and identification of disease/infections/etiology
- Medicine Section: Covers various procedures for all other medical specialties
- Integumentary System
- Musculoskeletal System
- Respiratory System
- Cardiovascular System
- Digestive System
- Urinary System
- Reproductive System
- Endocrine/Nervous System
- Eye/Ear System
The AAPC also offers several courses on their website to assist you with exam preparations:
- Online Medical Terminology /Online Anatomy Course: Two-month courses that focus on understanding medical terminology and anatomy, a core requirement for medical coding certification
- CPC Preparation Course: Prepares students for a medical coding career in outpatient coding and may be taken online or in the classroom
- Official CPC Certification Study Guide: (2013 edition available Jan. 2, 2013) This 385-page study guide reviews each section of the CPC exam in detail and provides practical examples/sample questions/test taking techniques.
- CPC Online Practice Exam: The three 50-question online practice exams emulate the content and difficulty level of the actual exam and equal the actual 150-question CPC exam
- CPC Review Class: Review classes are offered by AAPC local chapters, with official AAPC instructors leading students through exam preparations. These are anywhere from three to eight hours in duration.
For more information from the AAPC on CPC exam preparation, please click here.
Additionally, many free resources are available that you can utilize for exam preparation as well. I have included a few links:
- http://www.justcoding.com/free-quizzes– JustCoding.com provides a free quiz archive of challenging quizzes that focus on specific coding topics.
- http://www.OptumCoding.com/CodeThis/ – offers free coding scenarios for ICD-9-CM/CPT-4 conventions for surgeries, office visits, hospital visits (inpatient/outpatient/ER)
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehXzixe8p9E –This link on YouTube links to a free video from SuperCoder.com and introduces the student to some tips from industry experts on how they can ace the CPC exam.