How to Pass the CPC Certified Professional Coder Exam - MedCerts

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How to Prep for and Pass the CPC, or Certified Professional Coder, Certification Exam

Are you considering a career in medical coding? The Certified Professional Coder, or CPC certification is an industry-leading credential that showcases your medical coding competence and opens up new doors for future career opportunities.

In this post, you'll learn:

  • What a certified professional coder does

  • Benefits to becoming CPC certified

  • CPC certification exam requirements and materials needed

  • Certified professional coder exam sections and topics

  • How to study and prepare to pass with flying colors

    What Is A Certified Professional Coder?

    If you're a detail-oriented professional with a passion for healthcare, becoming a certified professional coder (CPC or CPC-A) could be the perfect career choice for you. As a CPC-A, you'll be responsible for assigning codes to medical procedures and diagnoses to aid in the medical billing process for medical facilities, medical billers, and physicians.

    Becoming a CPC requires an in-depth understanding of medical terminology, anatomy, and coding guidelines. This American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) certification indicates that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in the field of medical coding and medical billing.

    Benefits of Earning Your CPC Certification

    CPC certification is a testament to your expertise in the field and can open doors to higher-paying positions and career advancement opportunities. In addition, employers in physician's offices and other healthcare settings highly value this certification and often require it when hiring medical coding specialists.

    In fact, with at least two years of practical medical coding experience, CPC-certified coders can earn nearly 20 percent more income than non-certified coders.

    How to Earn Your Certified Professional Coder Certification?

    To become a Certified Professional Coder, you must pass the CPC exam administered by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). The exam is designed to test your proficiency in medical coding and assess your ability to apply coding guidelines and regulations accurately.

    The CPC exam covers a wide range of medical and diagnostic coding topics, including:

    • Anatomy & medical terminology

    • Evaluation and management

    • Anesthesia & surgery

    • Radiology

    • Pathology

    • Medicine

    To pass the exam, you must demonstrate a solid understanding of these topics and their application in real-world scenarios to follow medical coding guidelines.

    Additionally, passing the certified professional coder exam requires a deep understanding of integrating medical coding and payment policy changes into the insurance reimbursement processes. This includes knowledge of healthcare industry regulations, such as HIPAA, and how they apply to medical and procedural coding practices.

    What Is the CPC Exam?

    The Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam is a test that evaluates your proficiency in medical coding. The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions that assess 17 areas of knowledge. It's designed to test your ability to apply CPT® procedure codes, HCPCS Level II supply codes, and ICD-10-CM diagnosis codes accurately. Medical providers use these codes to submit claims to payers.

    During the exam, you can reference approved coding books, including the AMA's CPT® Professional Edition and your choice of ICD-10-CM and HCPCS Level II code manuals. You can take the CPC exam online or in person.

    Note that MedCerts students don't have to purchase these additional exam materials, as they're included in your tuition.

    Requirements to Take the CPC Exam

    A minimum of two years of coding experience is required to earn the CPC designation. However, even if you don't yet have this experience, you may still be able to take the test.

    If you pass, your designation will be CPC-A, which stands for CPC apprentice. Although the CPC-A designation does not hold the same weight as a fully certified CPC, it still provides an opportunity to gain valuable experience and work towards full certification.

    Consider taking the CPC-A exam as a starting point and using it as a stepping stone toward becoming a fully certified CPC. Many employers are willing to hire CPC-As and offer on-the-job training to help them meet the complete CPC requirements.

    What Does the CPC Exam Consist Of?

    The CPC exam is a comprehensive assessment of your coding-related knowledge and skills and consists of 100 multiple-choice questions.

    The questions based on the CPT® code book are divided into six categories, which are as follows:

    • 10,000 Series CPT®: Surgical procedures performed on the integumentary system (6 questions)

    • 20,000 Series CPT®: Surgical procedures performed on the musculoskeletal system (6 questions)

    • 30,000 Series CPT®: Surgical procedures performed on the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, hemic and lymphatic systems, and the mediastinum and diaphragm (6 questions)

    • 40,000 Series CPT®: Surgical procedures performed on the digestive system (6 questions)

    • 50,000 Series CPT®: Surgical procedures performed on the urinary system, male and female reproductive systems (including maternity and delivery), and endocrine system (6 questions)

    • 60,000 Series CPT®: Surgical procedures performed on the nervous system (6 questions)

    In addition to the CPT® code book questions, the exam also covers other relevant coding topics, including:

    • E/M services (6 questions)

    • Anesthesia, including time reporting and qualifying circumstances (4 questions)

    • Radiology (6 questions)

    • Laboratory and pathology (6 questions)

    • Medicine (6 questions)

    • Non-CPT® coding topics, such as medical terminology and anatomy (4 questions each)

    • ICD-10-CM code application and the ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting (5 questions)

    • HCPCS Level II, including modifiers (3 questions)

    Furthermore, the exam assesses your knowledge of coding guidelines, including:

    • Compliance and regulatory information, such as Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D

    • Place of service (POS) codes

    • National Correct Coding Initiative (NCCI) edits

    • HIPAA and other regulations

    Finally, the CPC exam evaluates your ability to apply your coding knowledge and skills to real-life medical cases.

    Ten cases with multiple-choice answers cover all the categories listed above, requiring you to accurately code from clinical record documentation. These cases may also test your knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy, compliance, and regulatory information.

    CPC Exam Fees

    The CPC exam price for a single attempt at the CPC exam is $399, and for two tries, it's $499.

    But here's some good news—if you're a student at MedCerts, you won't have to worry about paying these fees, as they're already included in your tuition. So MedCerts students can rest easy knowing they can access everything they need to succeed without worrying about additional financial burdens.

    Where to Take the CPC Exam

    You can take the CPC exam online or in person—the AAPC offers both options, giving you the flexibility to choose what works best for you.

    One important thing to keep in mind is that if you're not an AAPC member yet, you'll need to become one before scheduling your CPC exam. Even renewing AAPC members must have a current membership to sit for a certification exam. But don't worry—the process is straightforward and can be done quickly online.

    How to Pass the CPC Exam

    To pass the CPC exam, you must aim to score 70% or higher. Exam results are usually released within 7 to 10 business days after you take the exam.

    Note that the exam consists of long, multi-part questions that may require you to look up multiple codes (three, four, sometimes even five). These questions hold the same weightage as the general knowledge questions, so allocate your time accordingly. It’s recommended that you complete CPC exam training before attempting the exam.

    Online Certified Professional Medical Coder Certification Course

    Considering a career as a Certified Professional Medical Coder but feeling overwhelmed by the exam requirements and fees? With the MedCerts online CPC-A Professional Medical Coder Certification Course, you'll receive affordable CPC exam training that includes all necessary materials and exam fees.

    Enrollment is easy, and once you're in, you'll have self-paced, flexible, 24/7 access to all course content. Plus, the student support team is always there to help if you have questions or need assistance. With MedCerts, you'll have access to a dedicated career coach who can help you navigate the job market and find your dream job as a certified medical coder.

    CPC Certification Frequently Asked Questions

    What is the CPC certification?

    CPC certification is a recognized medical coding certification demonstrating proficiency and commitment to excellence in the healthcare industry. It is the industry's most recognized medical coding certification, and it can be a valuable asset for career advancement.

    What's the difference between CPC vs. CCS certifications?

    CPC (Certified Professional Coder) certification is geared towards outpatient coding in physician offices, private practices, and clinics, while CCS (Certified Coding Specialist) certification is geared towards inpatient hospital settings.

    Is the CPC certification worth it?

    Earning a CPC certification is worth it as it can demonstrate to potential employers that you have the necessary medical coding training and experience in the healthcare industry. It can also showcase your proficiency in determining the correct diagnoses, examinations, and billing codes.

    How long does it take to get CPC certified?

    To become a full CPC, a medical coder must complete at least two years of professional experience and submit two letters of recommendation to the AAPC. After meeting the requirements, the coder can take the CPC exam. The time it takes to become certified can vary depending on each individual's circumstances.

    How much does the CPC exam cost?

    One attempt at the CPC exam is $399.

    What score is required to pass the CPC exam?

    A minimum score of 70% is required to pass the CPC exam.

    How hard is the CPC exam?

    The CPC exam can be challenging as it covers a wide range of topics and requires extensive knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy, and coding guidelines. However, with adequate preparation and practice, passing the exam is achievable.

    How long is the CPC exam?

    The CPC exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and takes around five and a half hours to complete. While it is a rigorous exam, you can easily pass on your first try with adequate training and preparation.

    What are the AAPC CPC exam approved books?

    The AAPC CPC exam approves using the AMA's CPT® Professional Edition, along with a choice of ICD-10-CM and HCPCS Level II code manuals.

    How often do you have to renew your CPC certification?

    To maintain your CPC certification, you must renew your AAPC annual membership and complete 36 CEUs every two years.

    Boost Your Career with a CPC Certification Training Course - Get Started Today

    With the demand for medical coders on the rise, now is the perfect time to invest in your future and earn your CPC certification.MedCerts offers an affordable and comprehensive online course that includes all materials and exam fees, as well as flexible, self-paced, 24/7 access and dedicated student support.

    Don't miss out on this opportunity to advance your career and stand out to potential employers. Take the first step towards your dream career today and learn more about MedCerts' online CPC certification course.

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    Published on December 9, 2023