Certified Professional Coder CPC® Certification Exam
Launch Your Career With the CPC Exam
The Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam is the conclusive step to attaining CPC certification—renowned throughout the world of healthcare as the gold standard for physician-based medical coding. By passing the CPC exam and earning the right to append the CPC acronym to your name, you become a healthcare business professional recognized for reliable mastery of professional-fee medical coding.
Who Should Take the CPC Exam?
After you’ve trained with AAPC to become a medical coder—or if you have substantial medical coding experience—you should take the opportunity to gain certification by registering for the CPC test. Passing the CPC exam elevates your earning potential by greater than $20,000 above annual salaries for persons without AAPC’s medical coding certification. And CPC salaries, averaging $54,401 in 2018, maintain a 9% increase each year. What’s more, the demand for certified medical coders continues to grow, with a 22% rise in jobs projected by 2022.
What Is the CPC Exam?
The CPC exam is a test of medical coding proficiency consisting of 150 multiple-choice questions that assess 17 areas of knowledge. Most questions present a coding scenario to test proper application of CPT® procedure codes, HCPCS Level II supply codes, and ICD-10-CM diagnosis codes—all of which medical providers use to submit claims to payers. During the test, you will reference approved coding books—the AMA’s CPT® Professional Edition, as well as your choice of ICD-10-CM and HCPCS Level II code manuals. You must complete the CPC exam within 5 hours and 40 minutes and answer 70% of the questions correctly to pass.
How Do I Prepare for the CPC Exam?
Get Ready for the CPC Test by Starting With the Essentials.
CPC Exam is Now Available to Take Online
AAPC recognizes the challenges that COVID-19 presents for our exam candidates. While we have extended the time you have to take your exam in-person, we are also offering the opportunity to take your CPC exam online.
Our New CPC Online exam will consist of two parts that will be given in Blackboard in two separate sessions and proctored by Examity®. You will schedule each part of the exam separately through the Examity® platform, which is accessible through Blackboard. Exam scheduling instructions will be emailed to you as soon as the CPC online exam voucher has been applied to your AAPC member account.
On the day of each exam session, you will connect with your Proctor through Examity (accessible through Blackboard) to complete the authentication and take your exam. Your results will be posted within 3-5 business days from the date in which your final exam session is complete.
|Online Proctored||Physical Location Proctored|
|Equipment required||Reliable Internet connection and an external webcam that can be positioned to show your face, hands, keyboard and the area around the keyboard (about 10 inches)||None|
|Location||Taken at home in a quiet, private location||Local chapter or Licensed Instructor|
|Exam format||150 multiple-choice questions delivered in two parts taken at different scheduled times||150 multiple choice questions taken in its entirety|
|Time allowed||Two parts: 2 hours and 45 minutes each||5 hours and 40 minutes|
|Proctor to Examinee ratio||1 to 2||1 to 25|
|Cancellation fee||No fee charged if cancelled 24 hours in advance||Waived due to COVID-19|
|Reschedule fee||No fee charged if rescheduled 24 hours in advance||Waived due to COVID-19|
|No show fee||$30 fee for each occurrence that must be paid prior to rescheduling||$100|
|Availability||Starting May 15th||Location by location basis depending on restrictions of COVID-19|
|Number of attempts||1||2|
Why Do Employers Look for the CPC Credential?
Medical coding accuracy is key to optimal, ethical reimbursement, which makes medical coders integral to the financial resources of every healthcare organization providing treatment and services to patients. For more than three decades, CPCs have established an unwavering reputation of excellence. The title of Certified Professional Coder therefore comes with high expectations, trust, and respect.
Passing the CPC exam unequivocally demonstrates to employers that you possess:
- Expertise in assigning accurate medical codes for diagnoses, procedures, and services performed by physicians and other qualified healthcare providers in the office, as well as professional-fee coding as it pertains to facility settings (e.g., inpatient hospital)
- Sound knowledge of coding guidelines and regulations to meet compliance requirements, such as establishing medical necessity, using modifiers appropriately, and observing bundling rules
- Proficiency across a wide range of services, including E/M, anesthesia, surgery, radiology, pathology, and medicine
- Thorough grasp of anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology to comprehend clinical documentation and code descriptors
- Understanding of how to integrate medical coding and payment policy changes into a practice’s reimbursement processes
The CPC Exam Breakdown
Passing the CPC exam requires you to correctly answer a minimum of 105 questions from the series below. The exam questions, however, will not be identified or sorted by the series to which they pertain. The CPC test will rely on a level of understanding that enables you to identify the series.
10,000 Series CPT®
The 10,000 Series CPT® part of the exam will consists of ten questions related to surgical procedures performed on the integumentary system, which includes skin, subcutaneous, and accessory structures, as well as nails, pilonidal cysts, repairs, destruction, and breast.
20,000 Series CPT®
The ten questions in the 20,000 Series CPT® will home in on surgical procedures performed on the musculoskeletal system from head to toe. Specifically, these areas include the head, neck, back and flank, spine, abdomen, shoulder, arm, hand and fingers, pelvis and hip, leg, foot and toes.
30,000 Series CPT®
Ten questions covering the 30,000 Series CPT® focus on surgical procedures performed on the respiratory system, surgical procedures performed on the cardiovascular system, surgical procedures performed on the hemic and lymphatic systems, and surgical procedures performed on the mediastinum and diaphragm.
40,000 Series CPT®
Your knowledge of the 40,000 Series CPT® will be tested with ten questions targeting surgical procedures performed on the digestive system, which will focus on these areas: lips, mouth, palate and uvula, salivary gland and ducts, pharynx, adenoids, and tonsils, esophagus, stomach, intestines, appendix, rectum, anus, liver, biliary tract, pancreas, abdomen, peritoneum, and omentum.
50,000 Series CPT®
The CPC exam will assess your knowledge of the 50,000 Series CPT® with ten questions pertaining to surgical procedures performed on the urinary system, surgical procedures performed on the male reproductive system, surgical procedures performed on the female reproductive system, including maternity and delivery, and surgical procedures performed on the endocrine system.
60,000 Series CPT®
Ten questions directed at the 60,000 Series CPT® involve surgical procedures performed on the nervous system and will include codes pertaining to the skull, meninges, brain, spine, spinal cord, extracranial nerves, peripheral nerves, autonomic nervous system.
Evaluation and Management
Ten E/M questions will assess your coding proficiency related to place of services, such as office/other outpatient, hospital observation, hospital inpatient, consultations, emergency department, critical care, nursing facility, domiciliary and rest homes, and home services. It will also include questions directed at preventive medicine, non-face-to-face services, neonatal and pediatric critical care, intensive care, prolonged services, chronic care, transitional care, case management, and care plan oversight.
Eight questions related to anesthesia will pertain to time reporting, qualifying circumstances, physical status modifiers, anesthesia for surgical, diagnostic and obstetric services.
The ten questions in this section of the CPC test will focus on both diagnostic and interventional radiology, including diagnostic ultrasound, radiologic guidance, mammography, bone and joint studies, radiation oncology, and nuclear medicine.
Laboratory / Pathology
Ten path/lab questions will determine your knowledge of organ and disease panels, drug testing, therapeutic drug assays, evocation/suppression testing, consultations, urinalysis, molecular pathology, MAAA, chemistry, hematology and coagulation, immunology, transfusions, microbiology, anatomic pathology, cytopathology, cytogenetic studies, surgical pathology, in vivo and reproductive.
Ten questions will cover numerous specialty-specific coding scenarios, as well as immunizations, biofeedback, dialysis, central nervous system assessments, health and behavior assessments, hydration, medical nutrition, therapeutic and diagnostic administration, chemotherapy administration, photodynamic therapy, osteopathic manipulative treatment, patient education and training, non-face-to-face nonphysician services, and moderate sedation.
Medical terminology for all systems in the human body will be assessed in eight questions.
Anatomy for all systems in the human body will be assessed in eight questions.
Ten questions will require proficiency in diagnosis for all the chapters included in ICD-10-CM, as well as thorough knowledge of the ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting. Additionally, diagnosis questions will appear in other sections of the exam from the CPT® categories.
HCPCS Level II
Five questions on the CPC exam will pertain to HCPCS Level II coding and include questions focusing on modifiers, supplies, medications, and professional services for Medicare patients.
This section of the CPC test will involve six questions addressing the ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting, CPT® coding guidelines and parenthetical notes, and modifier use.
Compliance and Regulatory
Five questions testing your knowledge of compliance and regulations will pertain to services covered under Medicare Parts A, B, C and D; applying coding to payment policy, place of service reporting, fraud and abuse, NCCI edits, NCD/LCD, HIPAA, ABNs, and RVUs.