July 23, 2024

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How to Manage Your Time Answering Questions During the CPC Exam

How to Manage Your Time Answering Questions During the CPC Exam

The Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) is the most sought after medical coding certification in the professional coding community. The majority of people who pass the exam and got certified move on to better career and salary opportunities. Certified medical coders are in high demand as employers look for certification with 2 years experience.

Importance of time management

Which is why the CPC exam is no pushover. You’re required to answer 150 multiple choice questions in a marathon 5 hours and 40 minutes. Without extra break time in between, you’re left with only a little over 2 minutes to answer each question. There are plenty of horror stories of people not being able to answer all the questions in time. You’re allowed to refer to your books and notes for answers so the issue is really about time. If you walk into the exam hall without a time management plan in place, you’re only handicapping yourself.

Multiple passes strategy

The good news is that you can follow a tried and tested strategy to help you focus and pass the exam. Remember that each question are not equal. Some will be easier to answer than the rest. You can leverage on this little tip using a multiple passes strategy. Your goal would be to go through the exam 3 times. First pass you answer all the easy questions, second pass the medium difficulty questions, then the last pass the truly difficult ones.

Because they’re all multiple choice answers, they actually carry the same weight even though the effort to answer them varies. A common mistake that students or exam takers make is to waste too much time on a difficult question at the beginning, thus depriving themselves of easier questions at the end.

Rate the questions according to difficulty

While you’re going through the questions in the CPC exam booklet on your first pass, keep track of the question’s difficulty with a simple mark. You can put for example, a dot next to questions that are of medium difficulty, and two dots next to really difficult questions. So on your second pass just focus on the single dot questions, and on your third pass the double dot questions. This will save you a lot of time on your second pass and third pass. There is no need to over think it, just go by your gut feeling so you don’t end up spending too much time rating the questions.

Track your time and progress and keep moving

There are 150 questions you need to answer in 5 hours and 40 minutes. Your CPC exam answer grid have 5 columns containing 30 questions each. Allow yourself one hour for each column, which leaves some time at the end for review. You can request the proctor to announce as each hour elapses to remind yourself of progress. Don’t be afraid to skip questions that may take a lot of time so that you can keep moving forward.

Don’t leave any CPC exam questions unanswered

When the CPC exam time is almost up, use the last few minutes to guess at an answer for the unanswered questions. There are only 4 choices, which gives you a 25% chance of getting it right. Make an educated guess and you can bump up your chances to 50/50. Usually there will be one obvious wrong answer, so make sure you use all the remaining time to make educated guesses.

Practice and prepare

The best way to do well with these strategies is to practice. The experience of taking the CPC exam is very different from doing it in your home or participating in online sample exams. The atmosphere is different and there could be distractions and discomfort. Make sure you have suitable clothing to stay comfortable, eat to get your energy levels up, and get plenty of rest the day before. You’ll want your mind to perform at its optimum throughout the whole duration of the CPC exam. With a proven strategy and prepared mind, there is nothing to stop you from passing the exam and get certified.