If you are taking the AAPC CPC exam, then you will at some point ask yourself this question; do people pass their medical coding certification exam on their first try? And how do they do it? Although official figures are hard to come by, rough estimates suggests that only 40% to 50% of exam-takers pass on their first attempt.
The medical coding certification exam is no pushover
Make no mistake, the CPC or Certified Professional Coder certification exam is a grueling marathon of an exam that takes nearly 6 hours long. Medical coding careers and its industry are growing fast because of the federal push for the implementation of electronic health records such as ICD-10. This translates to better salaries and career options, but also mean it is getting more competitive as more people like yourself try to get certified.
But people do pass the CPC exam on the first try or attempt
The good news is that 40% to 50% of people do pass on their first try, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do the same. If you do a simple survey of those who passed on their first try, most will say the exam is tough. You will also find that the common things they all share is that they are well-prepared and have a good amount of previous coding experience. Some do pass without experience but these cases are rare. Almost all of their advice points to the same pattern, which is to:
1. Review the official study guides
2. Get yourself some coaching or online blitz review videos
3. Do plenty of AAPC practice or mock exams
4. Plan and practice your strategies for answering questions and time management
If you fail the exam, you can retake it until you pass
The other thing you might notice from the advice of those who passed is to keep calm and not give up. Those who failed the exam the first time just continued to retake the exam until they passed. Sometimes it takes a few attempts so as long as your scores improve with each attempts then you’re on the right track. If you fail you have one free retake within 12 months, so use the time well to get fully prepared.
Recover fast and learn from your mistakes
Before you retake the exam, it is worth examining what you felt was the problem. The most common complaint is the lack of time to finish answering all the question. Those who passed on their first attempt finished answering all their questions even if they thought it was tough. Based on the many advice out there, it is safe to conclude that perfecting your time management, question answering, and CPT lookup strategies is often the best way to improve your chances other than knowing your topics.