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What Is the CPC Exam?

Posted Monday, Mar 28, 2022 by sbowen

Considering pursuing medical billing and coding as a career path? You’ve probably come across references to the Certified Professional Coder (CPC)® exam in your research.

Altierus Career College has prepared many Medical Billing and Coding Diploma program students for the CPC exam over the years. This article offers an overview of what the exam is, why it matters, and how you can prepare.

Who Offers the CPC Exam?

The CPC exam is created and administered by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), an industry organization that was founded in 1988. The AAPC is dedicated to establishing quality standards for medical coding and providing training and resources for its 200,000 members. It also offers software and other services to hospitals, insurance companies, and medical practices.

Why Take the CPC Exam?

Pursuing industry certification is a good way to ensure you have mastered essential knowledge in medical coding and that you are familiar with best practices in the field. There is also evidence that medical billers and coders who are certified may have better employment and salary prospects than those without.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics points out that employers “may prefer to hire medical records and health information specialists who have certification, or they may expect applicants to earn certification shortly after being hired”.[i] The AAPC claims that certified coders could potentially earn $25,000 more annually than those without certification.[ii] Salary and employment will vary depending on the local job market, the employer, and the candidate, however.

What Is the Format of the CPC Exam?

As of January 2022, the CPC Exam was a multiple-choice, computer-based test. Candidates answer 100 questions across 17 knowledge areas. The test takes four hours to complete, and you must score at least a 70% to pass the exam.[iii]

The exam can be taken at testing sites, but due to COVID-19, it is now possible to take the exam from home using a secure portal that is monitored by proctors.

What Areas of Knowledge Does the CPC Exam Test?

As you’d expect, the CPC exam tests your knowledge of current medical coding and how to apply them in different scenarios. These include:

How Can I Prepare for the CPC Exam?

It is possible to study independently for the CPC exam. You can cover the cost of an AAPC test-prep package and pay the exam fee ($399 as of January 2022)[vii] yourself.

You can also pursue formal training through a career college. The advantage of formal training is that you can focus on your studies instead of trying to fit them around other work. The Altierus Medical Billing and Coding Diploma program takes as few as eight months to complete, and, thanks to our blended learning approach, only requires you to be on campus once a week for hands-on instruction.

The program also includes support from our faculty, an externship experience, and dedicated CPC exam prep as part of the curriculum. Plus, our all-inclusive tuition covers books, a laptop you can keep, and testing fees for one attempt at the CPC exam.

Get Ready for the CPC Exam with Altierus Career College

Want to pursue a medical billing and coding career? Learn more about earning your Medical Billing and Coding Diploma—and preparing for the CPC exam—with Altierus Career College!


[i] https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm#tab-4

[ii] https://www.aapc.com/certification/cpc/, “Who Should Take the CPC Exam?”

[iii] https://www.aapc.com/certification/cpc/ , “What Is the CPC Exam?”

[iv] https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/cpt/cpt-overview-and-code-approval

[v] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HCPCS_Level_2

[vi] https://www.aapc.com/icd-10/

[vii] https://www.aapc.com/certification/cpc/, “Choose Your Package”