Certified Professional Coder (CPC) Exam: Frequently Asked Questions

So you’re thinking about a national certification exam? Here are some of the frequently asked questions we get from students and graduates preparing to get certified. For the most up-to-date information and more detail, you should visit the AAPC website.

CPC Exam FAQs (the CPC is offered through AAPC):

How much does it cost?
You must be a member of AAPC to take the CPC exam. The CPC exam costs $300 and membership costs $125. As long as your Career Step medical billing and coding online course access is still current, you qualify for the student membership price of $70.

How do I sign up for the CPC?
You must register for the CPC and schedule it at least 3-4 weeks in advance from your desired testing date. Exam availability and dates are posted on the AAPC website. The exams are offered through local AAPC chapters, and there are usually multiple chapters in every state. As each chapter offers exams 4 times a year, there is usually an exam date every few months.

Where do I take the test?
You take the CPC exam in person at a local testing center. To locate an exam site for the CPC:

Am I allowed to bring any notes or books?
You are only allowed to bring your three code books with you the day of the exam (your ICD-9, CPT, and HCPCS). The code books must be versions from the current or previous year. You cannot have anything attached/glued/stapled into your books, but you can highlight, tab, and have notes handwritten on the pages.

How many questions are on the CPC?
The CPC exam is a 150 question exam—all multiple choice. You have 5 ½ hours to complete it.

What kinds of questions are on the exam?
About 70% of the questions are coding scenarios and the rest cover topics such as medical terminology, anatomy, etc.

What do I have to score to pass?
An overall score of 70% is a passing score on the CPC exam. Exam results are provided to you within 7-10 days following the exam date.

What if I don’t pass?
If you do not pass, AAPC provides you with scores from your weakest areas to help you study for a second attempt. A free retake on the CPC is included with the price you paid for the first attempt. You can retake the exam as soon as another exam date is available.

What is the Apprentice status?
If you do not have 2 years of work experience before taking the CPC exam, you will receive a CPC-A credential after passing. The “A” stands for apprentice. Once you submit proof of 2 years of coding work experience, you can have the apprentice status removed from your credential. The Career Step program satisfies one of the two years required.

What if I move? Will I ever have to recertify?
The CPC is a national exam and is thus recognized in all 50 states. Once you pass, you do not have to retake the exam itself again as long as you submit 36 CEUs to AAPC every 2 years. For more information on CEUs, you can visit AAPC’s website.

What is the best way to prepare for the exam?
Everyone studies a little differently. Here are a few ideas:

  • Review areas you could improve on the Career Step final exam. If you passed your Career Step final exam on your first try, take advantage of the available retakes for additional practice.
  • Review the reports in the practicum and the information in the program.
  • Use the Career Step forums and Career Step support team for tips on the certification exams.
  • AAPC sells 3 practice exams and prep books that some students recommend for added preparation.

We hope all your questions about medical billing and coding have been answered with this post. Still have some questions? Feel free to call us or request more info on our website.

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