When you took the CPC exam, did you have enough time? Please discuss the time factor
Thanks for posting this, Linda. I haven't taken the CPC yet, but the time factor is something I'm definitely concerned about, so I will be interested to learn what those who have taken it have to say.
I, personally, felt that there was enough time. I worked on the exam, though, until almost the very end. I stopped with about 15 minutes to go. When there was about an hour left, I had already gone through the entire exam. There were a few questions that I had put a star next to because I either wanted to go back and check or I purposefully saved them for the very end. Time will be a factor in two circumstances: If you don't know the material and your guidelines (then it won't even matter how much time you have, I guess) and if you do not utilize smart test taking strategies. Every question is worth the same amount. Therefore, skip the questions that will take you awhile to answer. I headed straight to the anatomy & physiology, medical terminology, and compliance questions. You either know them or you don't. Then, I did the HCPCS section followed by the ICD-10-CM questions. For the CPT sections, I started with my strong suit: Integumentary (I work for dermatologists). I saved Cardiovascular and Medicine for the very end. Also, be sure to read the suggestions in another discussion about reverse coding. Since the test is multiple choice, you don't need to check codes that are in every answer choice...they are obviously correct. You can eliminate some answers simply based on the modifiers. Look up the codes that are different within each answer to find the correct one. If you are well prepared in terms of studying the guidelines and taking practice tests, and if you go in with a test taking strategy, then time will not be a factor.
Thank you, MIchelle. These seem like excellent tips!
I practiced timing myself with the AAPC practice exams the week before and was way too slow, so I chose the strategy of starting in the back of the exam. I was a nervous wreck by the time I finally got into the real test. What I started doing was scanning for shorter or easier questions to do first. If I didn't know the answer almost instantly, I skipped over it. The time goes very quickly! At the 30 minute warning I think I still had 20 or so to do and these were for the most part the longest ones. I guess I answered them by looking for simple discrepancies or modifier problems. No time to be very thorough at that point. With 10 minutes to go, I still had several of the longest ones left. I knew I didn't have time to even read the question, so I semi-guessed those by scanning the answers. I really don't think I could have finished enough questions to pass the exam if I had gone in numerical order and not skipped around. I ended up getting an 87% with 5 minutes to spare doing it that way.
This is an excellent question and I just touched on this under my congratulation post. To paraphrase what I mentioned there, my strategy was to break up the 150 questions into 3 groups of 50. I gave myself 1 hour 50-55 minutes for each group, and as I made it through the halfway mark for each group, I checked my watch for the time. This was very helpful for me! I also had wonderful proctors who gave us the option of having hourly notifications which the majority of us wanted. This too was helpful. When preparing for the exam I strongly recommend timing yourself because it will give you a feel of whether you are moving too slow or too fast.
I did not feel like I had enough time even though I worked as quickly as I could. Those five hours really flew by.
One technique that saved a few precious seconds was using the page guides at the top of each page to find a code number instead of scanning entire pages.
One bit of advice I would like to give for long questions is if you start one, make sure to make some type of clear note about what you discovered. A few times I started working on a long question, then decided to pass on it until the end. But when I had time at the end to go back, I had to start all over again because I did not notate anything, which ate up precious time. Even noting a 'best guess' or 'definitely not this answer' would have been helpful. Because I was so nervous (I did not move from my desk for the entire 5 hours), the few notes I made were scribbles and were basically useless on my second look.
At the end of the exam, I still had about 15 unanswered questions and I had to guess.
Most, if not all, of the questions had four multiple choice answers (A, B, C and D), but the answer sheet had five available bubbles (A, B, C, D and E)! I had actually chosen E on one very easy question and went back and corrected it. So, look out for that.
Andrews has prepared us very well for this wonderful career. Trust the process and remember to breathe! You can/will do this!
Best of luck to all CPC takers!
Thank you everyone for your advice! I'm just starting my prep, and this will help me a lot!
I'm following also, since I'm just beginning my prep as well!! Very useful tips!! Thanks everyone!
I felt there was enough time provided, I was finished with a half hour to spare and used the opportunity to go back to the questions I had marked for review. I was unable to afford both the practice exams and study guide, so I just timed myself doing the study guide 50 question review to gauge my speed. The time factor did make me very nervous going in, but after the first hour I stopped looking at the time and worked as quickly (but as thoroughly) I could. Checking my watch so often made me more nervous...
I do have to say - 5 hours, 40 minutes goes very fast but getting done in time is very doable.
Everyone mentions time as a factor, the first 50 question practice exam I flew through and had 20 minutes left on the clock when I finished. I was so worried about time that I had rushed entirely too much. I took two more 50 question practice exams to get more comfortable with time; then I went ahead and took a whole 150 question practice exam. For me, I knew it would be a huge challenge to stay still and stay focused for that amount of time. It was difficult, but because I had practiced, I knew I could do the full amount. That helped me as much as anything, being confident that mentally I could do it.
I was afraid of getting on the wrong line on the scantron, so I started at the front worked to the back, didn't skip any as I went. You just have to realize some questions will take a little longer, but you can make up that time on short questions or sections that you are more confident on. Personally, I would have a mental break if I knew I had all the long ones or most difficult ones ahead of me as the time is counting down. That would never work for me, but there are lots of people that it does work for.
There are five columns on the answer sheet, if you watch your time and complete one column per hour you will have time left for review. I took my own timer so I could monitor my progress.
I finished the exam with about 10 minutes left, I never felt like I rushed, I never felt overly stressed. Working through the rationals on the practice exams and making notes in the book accordingly was my best study method.
Take the practice exams and figure out what works for you, everyone is different, you have to know how you think and how you work best, how you respond to stress, and apply the tips and hints that fit you.
Best of luck to those preparing, you have the knowledge just figure out how to get it on the page in a timely manner.
Congratulations to everyone earning the CPC-A credential!
Thanks so much for the tips!
I just took my CPC exam on August 27th, I feel like I did have enough time to get the test done and I passed it my first try. I worked my way through the questions in order without skipping any, I didn't want to take the chance of getting my answers mixed up and accidentally put them on the wrong line, I also didn't want to leave the longest questions for last. There are 5 columns of 30 questions on the answer sheet, it breaks down to about 1 hour and 5 minutes per column to get the test done on time and that's how I kept pace. A couple of the columns took me longer, maybe 1 hour and 20 minutes, and a couple columns took me about 50 minutes. In the end it took me 5 hours and 10 minutes, including a 10 minute bathroom break, to finish the exam.
In the couple weeks before my test I did take the practice exams offered on the AAPC website and timed them as if they were the real test. I also completed the entire official CPC certification study guide from the AAPC which has 19 chapter review quizzes that have 10 questions each, these questions are pretty much the same as what you'll find on the CPC exam and helped me a lot. There's also another 50 question practice exam at the end of the study guide. I feel like the AAPC practice exams and study guide helped me quite a bit and would really recommend them when preparing for the exam.
Good luck to those who have not taken the test yet, I feel like The Andrews School has prepared us extremely well for the CPC exam, so be confident about your education going into the test. Just study, study, study, and take those practice exams on the AAPC website.
Thanks Anthony for your information and reaffirmation for all of us following in this program. It is reassuring to hear that the time and effort will pay off with Success! Congratulations to you.