I just took the CCS yesterday and learned some valuable tips. Linda wanted me to post some of them for you all, so here goes!
First: Make sure you have the correct books and book years! AHIMA and AAPC will differ, so be sure you are looking at the most recent AHIMA CCS book list. As of 2/5/2016, the ICD-10 books need to be 2015 or 2016. The only CPT book that is allowed is the 2015 AMA CPT. The moderator said I was the ONLY person they have allowed to test for the CCS this year at that particular testing center because everyone else had come with incorrect books.
Second: The ONLY things allowed into the testing room with you are as follows: ICD-10-CM/PCS books, CPT, medical dictionary, drivers' license (or other ID), and a notepad that the testing facility provides for you. You can't have any food, water, watches, calculators, loose paper, pens, pencils, purse, phone, etc. They provide a locker with a key to store any of those nonessentials.
Third: This may vary by testing location, but according to my emails with AHIMA and talking to Pearson Vue, this is what they said about tabbing/writing in books: "No tabs whatsoever are allowed in your books unless the tabs are permanent tabs that you can't remove." (In other words, the book manufacturers would have had to make the book with permanent tabs). This means that even the sticky tabs in the front of your CPT book are not allowed! The moderator even tore out that page so I couldn't bring it into the test with me. (I was able to keep it, but I had to put it in my locker.) For writing, AHIMA and the moderator said "no writing" in the books. I had called Pearson Vue a few weeks earlier, and they said "some writing is okay as long as it doesn't look like you wrote a whole book." This is conflicting information. I erred on the side of caution and only had 2 tiny sections in which I wrote a couple random notes. I didn't have any bubbling/highlighting in my CPT. If you do have bubbling/highlighting/lots of written notes, I suggest you contact AHIMA or your local Pearson Vue for their opinions. Get it in email format, that way you can bring written proof with you on test day!
Fourth: Andrews prepares us well. I felt very confident in the coding sections. The case questions are similar to the intermediate Coding Clinic cases I think. There ARE outpatient questions, so be sure to brush up on outpatient guidelines and using the CPT! Also, be sure to study health insurance (DRG, APCs, the various organizations that deal with insurance). Our "Understanding Health Insurance" book is huge, and let's be honest, it is dry reading. BUT it has very useful information that will help you on those questions. Also, be sure to study Status Indicators (in reference to APCs) and Discharge Status Codes. There aren't a ton of those types of questions, but those were my Achilles heel, so I'm giving you all a heads up! Just be sure you have a general understanding in how information is gathered regarding patient care for billing purposes. Like I mentioned before, there aren't a TON of those types of questions, but there were a few more than I expected which may have tipped the scale for me negatively. Don't make the same mistake I did of focusing mainly/only on the coding aspect.
Fifth: KNOW YOUR CODING GUIDELINES.
Sixth: Take a deep breath and remember this: It is just another test. Nothing horrible happens if you fail! You gain experience. You will see what you know well and will find out what you need to work on. If you fail, you're still an amazing coder and you can try again. If you pass, you're also an amazing coder! I know everyone wants to pass, but it's a very hard test! Our nerves get the best of us at times. If I don't pass (which is a definite possibility), I will be scheduling that exam as soon as I can, practicing coding questions, researching more about Health Insurance, and I WILL obtain my CCS and I WILL be a medical coder.
Keep calm and code on all you amazing medical coders!