Tips to pass CPC exam

Many students ask for advice on how to prepare for the exam and what to focus on during CPC or any other AAPC exams.  The following tips will help to learn more about exam itself and get a higher score:

  • Have current year books – AAPC exams are based on current year code set and it’s critical to use current year code book on your exam. The code set, guidelines and modifiers happen to change every year. There might be as many as 1,000 code changes in each book, therefore it’s strongly recommended to update your code books every year and have current year book during exam.
  • Know how to effectively use them – CPC exam is an open book test, meaning it’s all about knowing your book and being able to find the answer. Familiarize yourself with each section, pay special attention to the guidelines in front of your CPT, ICD-9 and HCPCS books.  Read them several times. Knowing coding guidelines and modifiers is a key to getting a high score on the exam. You can’t put any loose paper in the book, but you’re allowed to flag your book with tabs.  You can also write in your book, so go ahead and make notes that will help you to come up with correct answer.
  • Practice as much as you can: there’re several tools available for you for purchase on AAPC website and through other companies. Practice exams are very helpful. They allow you to familiarize yourself with types of questions you’ll find in real exam. Study guides have good tips on passing the test and review each section of the exam.
  • Deep knowledge of anatomy and terminology will help you more than you think.  Understanding of the way body functions will allow you to select correct answer on coding question much faster.
  • Do questions you know first, and then move to more difficult questions. Don’t get stuck on hard questions – don’t waste your time. It’s not only stressful, but kills your confidence.  Remember, the test is timed; it’s only 5 h 40 m.  You can get to the difficult questions later.
  • Be positive. Be confident. Don’t stress out. Focus on what you know. Remember – you’ve been trained and you know what you’re doing.  Good luck!


Here are some threads from AAPC website that have great input on CPC test passing techniques, shared by certified members.  Take time to read it, as it might answer your toughest questions:

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