How to Study and Pass the CPC Exam to Become a Certified Medical Coder

If you’re looking for help on how to study and pass the CPC exam to get certified as a medical coder, you have many options. There are a lot of programs out there designed to help you out in different areas, with also the same variability in price. The presentation and format of these self-help or CPC prep course also varies so you should select one that will help you to best absorb all the information. These are among some of the options you have.

Online or classroom CPC prep course

The AAPC recommends that you take a medical terminology and anatomy course, then enroll in a CPC prep course before taking the exam. This is to make sure you are fully prepared before going for the CPC exam. So you have a choice of preparing in an online or classroom setting. Depending on your work and schedule you may go for either one, as they’re both excellent ways to get started. Either way you need the official CPC certification study guide for the current year of the exam.

Training camp

There are training camps available to help you review the topics and exam techniques before you go for the CPC exam. These are usually intensive preparatory courses that feature an expert and may include other speakers that last a few days. Some are specialized but most are to help you cover everything such as principles of ICD-9 coding, HCPCS coding, CPT coding, medical terminology, and others. You’ll find that these training camps are scheduled quite regularly throughout the year and nationwide to facilitate you. While they are intensive and feature great experts, these training camp prep courses are expensive. And if they are not available in your local area, you’ll need to shell out more for lodging and travel expenses.

Personal coach

If you can’t make it to a training camp, you could have the expert instructor come directly to you instead. You can approach a training company such as those that organizes the training camp and get a quote for on-site training. This option is of course more expensive but if you could try to get a bunch of people together then the cost could be reasonable. Otherwise you can directly contact the expert instructor you’re interested in to arrange a one-to-one consultation. The great advantage of having a personal coach is that you have their full attention. The prep course can be customized to work on your problem areas.


There are a lot of resources online for you attend an online webinar conducted by an expert instructor. Usually webinars are included as part of an online CPC exam prep course to give exam takers further support. Webinars are excellent as you can attend in the comfort of your own home but interact with the instructor to ask questions.

Practice exams

You can also find plenty of practice exams. They are usually online practice exams so you can check your score instantly. But for true authenticity, you could also get paper versions as well. These are designed to simulate the CPC exam, where you’re given 150 questions to answer in 5 hours and 40 minutes. The questions are meant to be as close to the actual exam questions as much as possible, and some may be modeled after past exam questions. The CPC exam is a test of your time management skill as well as your coding skill as a lot of exam takers simply can’t finish answering all questions within the time. By doing online practice exams, you’ll be able to learn how to manage your time during the exam, which can determine whether you pass or fail.

Local AAPC chapters

Don’t forget your local AAPC chapter. They routinely organize CPC review classes conducted by expert instructors. You should attend if given the chance as the instructors could be your future exam proctors in your area. Their tips and advice will be suitably localized for your area where you just can’t get from elsewhere. Here you also have a chance to meet and mingle with other exam-takers to exchange ideas and learn from one another. CPC review classes organized by your local AAPC chapter are usually very cheap and very convenient for you.