What Is Covered on the Medical Coding Certification Exam?

The majority of employers prefer to hire medical coders who have some credentials on their resume, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. You earn these vital credentials by taking certification exams in medical coding from one or more professional organizations in the field. Here we will discuss the sorts of materials that are covered in medical coding certification exams.

One organization, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), offers the Certified Coding Associate (CCA), Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) and Certified Coding Specialist—Physician-based (CCS-P) credentials by examination. These are all credentials that are in high demand in the workplace, and the latter two can only be earned after you have significant experience under your belt.

The most basic exam AHIMA offers is the CCA exam, for which you should be well-prepared after completing a medical coding certificate program from an accredited university or college. Those taking the exam complete 100 multiple-choice questions on areas including: health records and data content; health information requirements and standards; clinical classifications systems; reimbursement methodologies; information and communication technologies; and privacy, confidentiality, legal and ethical issues.

The CCS exam is a two-part test consisting of 60 multiple choice questions and 13 medical record coding questions. Areas included are: health information documentation; diagnosis coding; procedure coding; regulatory guidelines and reporting requirements for acute care (inpatient) service; regulatory guidelines and reporting requirements for outpatient services; data quality and management; information and communication technologies; privacy, confidentiality, legal and ethical issues; and compliance.

The CCS-P exam is also a two-part test containing 60 multiple choice questions and 16 medical record coding questions. Questions are broken down into the following topics: health information documentation; ICD-9-CM diagnosis coding; CPT and HCPCS II coding; reimbursement; data quality and analysis; information and communication technologies; and compliance and regulatory issues.

However, AHIMA is not the only professional organization that offers credentialing exams. The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) offers a number of credentials, one of which is the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) certification. This exam consists of 150 questions and covers a subject’s knowledge of coding guidelines; medical terminology; anatomy & physiology; coding for a broad range of procedures such as anesthesiology and radiology; and coding for a broad range of diagnoses involving the digestive, endocrine, nervous and musculoskeletal systems, to name a few.

The best way to prepare yourself for any of these exams is to complete a certificate program in medical coding from an accredited college or university. Even more importantly, these programs are designed to prepare you for your future career.