Certified Coding Associate (CCA) Exam: Frequently Asked Questions

Coding and Billing79 Comments

So you’re thinking about a national certification exam to become a certified medical coder? Here are some of the frequently asked questions we get from students and graduates preparing to get certified. For the most up-to-date information and more detail, you should visit the AHIMA website.

CCA Exam FAQs (the exam is offered through AHIMA):

How much does it cost?
The CCA exam costs $199 for AHIMA members and $299 for non-members. Membership for AHIMA costs $175. As long as your Career Step program access is still current, you qualify for the student membership price of $45.

How do I sign up for the CCA?
You must apply for the CCA on the AHIMA website at least 6 weeks in advance from your desired testing date. Once you get a confirmation back from AHIMA, you have a 4-month period to take the exam. You can then locate a testing center to set up a date and time. Keep in mind that you must schedule your exam at least 3 days prior to the date you’d like to test.

Where do I take the test?
You take the CCA in person at a local testing center. To locate an exam site for the CCA:

  • Visit http://www.pearsonvue.com/.
  • Click on Locate-Find a Testing Center.
  • Click on Health Medicine Nursing & Pharmacy on the left hand side under Category.
  • Scroll down on the right side to select American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and click on it.
  • Type in your zip code and click Search.

Am I allowed to bring any notes or books?
You are only allowed to bring your hard copy code books with you the day of the exam (your ICD-9 and CPT books). The exam is updated in March of each year. From January-March you may take the exam using the current or past years’ code books. After March, your code books must match the current year to be eligible for the exam.

How many questions are on the CCA?
The CCA exam is a 100 question exam—all multiple choice. You have 2 hours to complete it.

What kinds of questions are on the exam?
The CCA content is about two thirds health data, health record, HIPAA, legal aspects of healthcare, anatomy, and physiology. Coding questions make up the other third of the exam. For more detail, you can visit AHIMA’s website (page 33).

What do I have to score to pass?
The grading for the CCA is complex, but simplistically, a passing score is about 300 out of 400. You find out your score immediately after you take the test.

What if I don’t pass?
If you do not pass, you have to wait at least 91 days to retest, and you will need to pay for the exam each time you want to take it.

What if I move? Will I ever have to recertify?
The CCA is a national exam, and is thus recognized in all 50 states. Once you pass, you do not have to retake the exam itself again, as long as you submit 20 CEUs to AHIMA every 2 years. For more information on CEUs, you can visit AHIMA’s website.

What is the best way to prepare for the exam?
Everyone studies a little differently. Here are a few ideas:

  • Review areas you could improve on the Career Step final exam. If you passed your Career Step final exam on your first try, take advantage of the available retakes for additional practice.
  • Review the reports in the practicum and the information in the program.
  • Use the Career Step forums and Career Step support team for tips on the certification exams.
  • AHIMA sells prep books and review guides that some students recommend for added preparation.

If you need more information on the training requirements, visit our medical billing and coding program page. Got more questions? Call us now!

Leave a comment below »

  1. Todd July 20, 2014

    Good info. I’m a few months away but just found it interesting that 2/3 of the exam is HIM content, while the actual coding questions make up only 1/3. I think Career Step will have me well prepared to get my certification after this training.

  2. Sue Roberts July 26, 2014

    I would like to know the difference between the CCA & the CPT exams and titles.

  3. Career Step July 30, 2014

    Hi Sue,

    We actually just added a blog post about that to our editorial calendar! It should be up in a few weeks.

    In the meantime, you may want to check out this blog post: http://www.careerstep.com/blog/coding-and-billing/facing-the-fork-in-the-road-cca-or-cpc-which-exam-is-the-one-for-me1. It talks a little bit about how to decide which test is right for you.

    Best wishes!

  4. Jana August 27, 2014

    How much medical terminology is on the exam? Can we take a medical dictionary into the exam?

  5. Instructor Craig Laursen September 03, 2014

    AHIMA’s CCA exam content outline is here: http://www.ahima.org/~/media/AHIMA/Files/Certification/CCA_Content_Outline.ashx

    I would estimate 5-10 terminology questions on the exam. A medical dictionary is not allowed; you will only have the use of your code books for the exam.

    Best of luck!

  6. Anne November 30, 2014

    I am taking practice exams and they have DRG codes on all the practice tests….is there a DRG code book we can take into exam??

  7. sam December 08, 2014

    I am planning to take test in mid January ,,do we have to take   CPT 2013 and 2014 both..please reply

  8. Instructor Craig Laursen December 08, 2014

    The DRGs are in the very back of your ICD-9 book. They are grouped by diagnosis codes.

  9. Instructor Craig Laursen December 09, 2014

    Hi Sam,

    The AAPC will allow you to use the 2014 CPT book until April of 2015. You do not need to take a 2013 book.

    Good luck on the exam!

  10. Therese Huynh December 12, 2014

    I have been practicing with the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) Exam Preparation, Third Edition…from AHIMA
    will this be sufficient for the CCA exam?


  11. Instructor Craig Laursen December 15, 2014

    Hi Therese,

    It was a great study tool for me! Check out my blog experience from the CCA:



  12. sam January 12, 2015

    which cpt book we need,,professional edition or standard

  13. Career Step January 13, 2015

    Hi Sam, either edition will work. Best of luck!

  14. Lizi Dillon January 26, 2015

    Do you have to take a training program to be able to take the CCA?

  15. Career Step January 27, 2015

    Hi Lizi,

    No, you do not have to complete a training program in order to take the CCA. The only thing AHIMA requires is a high school diploma. However, they recommend:

    - 6 months coding experience directly applying codes; OR
    - Completion of an AHIMA approved coding program; OR
    - Completion of other coding training program to include anatomy & physiology, medical terminology, Basic ICD diagnostic/procedural and Basic CPT coding.

    You can find more information at http://www.ahima.org/certification/CCA.

    Best wishes!

  16. Sue McCratic February 16, 2015

    I am studying to take the test .  Any suggestions on the reimbursement technologies portion of the exam??  Also anyone recent who took the test I could talk to who passed the exam??  In California. Did anyone find that they had enough time for the exam?

  17. instructor Craig Laursen February 17, 2015

    Hi Sue,
    I took the CCA in December of 2013. This link is my blog post about that experience:

    I would recommend using the CCA study guide from AHIMA to prep for the exam. The Career Step coding course is more than enough prep for the coding portions of the CCA.
    Please let me know if you have any other questions.


  18. shernel April 30, 2015

    I would like to know how do I find out when the CCA exams are given in NYC. I would like to take it before September 2015.

  19. Career Step April 30, 2015

    Hi Shernel,

    The CCA exam is given at Pearson Vue testing centers. You can search for a location near you at https://www2.pearsonvue.com/testtaker/registration/SelectTestCenterProximity/AHIMA/1190895.

    For more information on the CCA exam, check out AHIMA’s website: http://www.ahima.org/certification/CCA.

    Best wishes!

  20. Krystal May 26, 2015

    I have just started the career step medical billing and coding program and I have just briefly searched AHIMA’s site.  I am wondering at what point I should look into taking the exam for the CCS-P?  Or is the CCA enough to impress employers?

  21. LaToya July 13, 2015


    I wanna know what I need to prep for the CCA exam? I have completed medical billing and coding program in June 2014. I have made my decision to take the exam so if anyone can help me out I would really appreciate it.

  22. Instructor Craig Laursen July 14, 2015

    Hi LaToya,
    I highly recommend the CCA study guide - the official one published by AHIMA. You can read about my experience taking the CCA here:
    Good luck!

  23. brichelle Johnson July 19, 2015

    Hello I have my diploma in Medical Billing and Coding specialist. I went and took the cca exam and made an 188. I brought the online study guide as well do you know or have any other study books or website that will be useful for me

  24. Instructor Craig Laursen July 20, 2015

    Hi Brichelle. I think the study guide is the best study tool. Check out this blog post for details on my CCA experience:

  25. Saadia September 22, 2015

    I am taking CCA exam on October , 22 2015 . Which books do I have to take for exam ?? I am very confused . Please guide me

  26. Coding Support September 23, 2015

    AHIMA has a list of allowable codebooks for the CCA at the following website: http://www.ahima.org/certification/CCA
    Look for the quick link on the right hand side of the screen.

  27. Bazegenawork Woldeyohanes October 12, 2015

    I was make appointment to take CCA exam but I was disappointed. Pearson Viu for oct 8 some one call me and he told me to come Friday because the sit was full. I went Friday but it’s not happened. I need your help. I pay my money for nothing.

  28. Instructor Michelle Malquist October 14, 2015

    To find out what is going on with taking your certification exam, you will need to contact AHIMA so that they can help you schedule your exam. Their phone number is 1-800-335-5535.

  29. sam November 06, 2015

    As of now, does the CCA contain only ICD 10 based questions? Or a combination of ICD 9 and 10?

  30. Kate November 09, 2015

    Hello.  I am interested in taking the CCA exam.  My understanding is that ICD-10 was just implemented.  If I take the exam in January 2016 - will I need an ICD-10 code book instead of the ICD-9?

  31. Instructor Randy Johnson November 10, 2015

    You will need the ICD-10 code books to take the CCA exam in January 2016.

  32. Instructor Randy Johnson November 10, 2015

    The CCA exam contains only ICD-10 based questions.

  33. Angel November 29, 2015

    I didn’t pass my first cca exam in 2012 but want to retake now. Do I have to use the icd 9 or 10 book? Which I’m not familiar with.

  34. Mary December 01, 2015

    I have tabs on all my code books. Do I need to take these off before I go in to my test?

  35. Coding Support December 02, 2015

    The CCA exam is currently offered in ICD-10.  It changed fro ICD-9 to ICD-10 in October.

  36. Coding Support December 02, 2015

    Coding books may not have additional pages inserted into the codebooks.  You may use tabs for the different sections, but the tabs cannot contain supplementary information.  See AAPC and/or AHIMA websites for more information.

  37. saadia January 04, 2016

    I am taking CCA in February,, I have prepared from ICD-9,, do I have to prepare again from icd 10 or all the previous knowledge is same and just new books to take to the exam day?
    is there any book for this exam that will help me to prepare in 2016 test?

  38. Coding Support January 07, 2016

    When you take the CCA test in February 2016, it will reference ICD-10 codes.  You will need ICD-10 books, and ICD-10 training to be properly trained to answer the questions on the certification test.

  39. Leslie January 08, 2016

    I’m brand new to this all.  I have no experience and only have a high school diploma.  What ae my first steps?  My goal is to become a CCS.  Can I bypass the CCA and go directly into CCS? 


  40. Saadia January 10, 2016

    Is there any online training course for Icd 10

  41. Career Step January 11, 2016

    Hi Saadia,

    The Career Step Medical Coding and Billing course provides training in ICD-10. You can learn more about the program here:


    You can also call an Academic Advisor at 1-800-411-7073 to learn more.

    Best wishes!

  42. Coding Support January 13, 2016

    The CCS is an advanced certification.  You need 2-3 years experience in an inpatient setting before sitting for this advanced test.  Career Step does not cover the information needed for the CCS.  We prep for the CCA and the CPC.

  43. Marge Gehrke January 25, 2016

    After taking the test - how soon do you find out your results.

  44. Instructor Michelle Malquist February 01, 2016


    If you are taking the CCA, you should find out your score before you leaving the testing center. If you are taking the CPC, it takes about a week for results to show in your login.
    Good luck!

  45. Hannah February 06, 2016

    I just took th CCA exam 2/5/16 and I wasn’t given a score afterwards. My paper said enough people haven’t taken the exam to determine a passing score for the new ICD-10 EXAM. I’ll know my results in 12 weeks apparently…

  46. Jin Blossoms February 24, 2016

    Hannah, the wait for test results is normal because you are taking the exam during a Beta period. When you registered or paid for the exam, there were bold print on the bottom of the exam description before you placed the order through AHIMA. It says something along the lines of “this exam is in Beta,” which pretty much means you’re a guinea pig for the new ICD-10 exam content. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just means you have to wait about 12 weeks, maybe more, depending on how many other exam takers there are.

  47. sadia February 25, 2016

    Is AHIMA certified CCA exam preparation fourth edition enough for exam preparation?

  48. Coding Support February 26, 2016

    There are many certification classes and products out there; we recommend taking the Professional Medical Coding and Billing preparation course through Career Step.

  49. Melinda February 26, 2016

    Hello, I am looking to get certified for medical billing and/or coding. I am a little confused. I have noticed on the AHIMA website that there are a lot of different certifications and would like to know which is the best to start with?

  50. Coding Support February 29, 2016

    The coding training program at Career Step prepares for the CCA with AHIMA.

  51. saadia March 02, 2016

    which books should I take for the exam?
    cpt 2015 or 2016.
    ICD - 10 CM 2015 0r 2016

    Hi Saadia-

    Thank you for your question! The CCA updates to 2016 codes in March.  If you plan on taking the exam after March, you will need the 2016 books.

    Best wishes!

  52. Mendy March 07, 2016

    If I take the CCA after March 2016 do I have to have 2016 books or can I use my 2015 drafts?

    Hi Mendy-
    Thank you for your question! The CCA updates to 2016 codes in March.  If you plan on taking the exam after March, you will need the 2016 books.

    Best wishes!

  53. Nataliya March 23, 2016

    I would like to correct the info posted above regarding CCA Exam allowable code books. According to AHIMA website, the list of CCA Exam Allowable Code Books for this year includes both 2015 and 2016 editions. This list was already updated on March 2, 2016.

    Hi Nataliya,

    Thank you for your comment. This post was from 2014 so there are changes from year to year regarding allowable code books.

    Best Wishes!

  54. Vicki Roberts April 07, 2016

    Can you tell me what the differences between CCA and CPC certifications are for?  Why/Should I take one over the other, or are both helpful at some point

    Thank you.

    Hi Vicki-
    Both the CCA and the CPC are nationally recognized certification exams that will help you in your efforts to find employment as a coder, and students have been successful after joining either organization and taking either of the two exams. We want to help and assist you as much as possible in making an informed decision as to which exam is right for you.

    We are happy to help you make a decision and provide information and resources to help you choose an exam, register, and prepare for it. We would suggest logging onto the forum and chatting with past graduates to see what their preferences have been, and getting in touch with graduate support at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

    This blog post also provides very helpful information:

    Good luck!

  55. Lorraine Purpura April 20, 2016

    I am taking the CCA exam on Friday 4/22/16. I just received an email from AHIMA staing that scheduled testers after May 2, 2016 will have to use 2016 code books. Any test takers prior to this date ICD-10-CM/PCS and 2015 draft of CPT code book.

  56. coding support April 26, 2016

    Hi Lorraine,

    It would be best to comply with the new AHIMA requirement. If you are testing before the date then you should still be able to reference the 2015 versions.  Please contact AHIMA for more information.

  57. Sasha April 26, 2016

    Good Afternoon,

    This April I purchased the fourth edition CCA Exam preparation book without knowing that the CCA exam updated or will be updating as of 5/1/16 and the fifth edition will be available in May. Does anyone know if the the fourth edition will still align with the updated CCA exam. I just purchased it and studied the entire book and I am wondering if it was a waste of time and money. What primarily changes when the CCA exam is updated? Is it best for me to now purchase the fifth edition also to be prepared or if I am confident with what I know from the fourth edition I should be prepared?

  58. Pratheeksha May 08, 2016

    Do I have to buy coding books from anima to take cca or can I buy it from amazon

    Hi Pratheeksha,

    You can absolutely buy your books on Amazon! Just make sure you are purchasing current years publications as the health information management industry changes on a regular basis.

    Good luck on your exam! 



  59. Z May 09, 2016

    I took the CCA test this past end of August/September 2015.The ICD 10 books where not available so I used ICD 9 instead. It took 5 months to find out my grade on the exam.
    I failed the exam because of this. Who can I talk to about a refund or a retake? Where do I file a complaint?

    Hi Z,
    You will need to contact AHIMA to file a complaint.

    Good luck!

  60. Instructor Michelle May 12, 2016

    I would suggest contacting AHIMA in regards to your CCA exam. Their number is 1-800-335-5535. Good luck!

  61. natalie May 18, 2016

    Hope someone can help. Are some of the coding questions with the codes and code meanings with multiple choice underneath? ??? I’m taking practice exams included in the study guide online and that’s the format. Thank u in advance

  62. Natalie May 21, 2016

    Wondering if someone knows if the questions to SOME coding questions are multiple choice(like the code and what the code meaning is?) I am taking a practice exam online that came with the study guide and was just wondering. thank you in advance

  63. Stephanie J. Thomas July 04, 2016

    I just bought the CCA exam Review Guide 2016 edition. I want to take the exam so which cpt book and what edition ICD 10 book will I need?

  64. Instructor Alaina July 05, 2016

    Hi Stephanie,

    Your current (2016) coding books should be fine.You can find a complete list of allowable code books on AHIMA’s website at http://www.ahima.org/certification/CCA

    Good Luck on your exam!

  65. Sharonqnc July 20, 2016

    Is the CCA certificate widely recognized in Massachusetts?

  66. Dewi July 26, 2016

    How long after you pass CCA exam can you take CCS exam? I am currently taking ICD10 for ICD9 coders course from careerstep

  67. coding support July 29, 2016

    Hi Sharon.
    Thanks for your question! The CCA is a nationally recognized certification so yes it would certainly be recognized in Massachusetts. Hope this helps answer your question!

    Best wishes!

  68. coding support July 29, 2016

    Hi Dewi,
    Thanks for reaching out to us!
    Career Step prepares your for the CCA with AHIMA and the CPC with AAPC.  The CCS is a more advanced certification, AHIMA recommends 2-3 years experience on the job coding inpatient records before you sit for that exam.

    Hope this helps and best wishes!

  69. Tammy Cobb August 03, 2016

    I am currently in the process of getting my Associates Degree in Medical Coding, I graduate in March, 2017. I want to specialize in CCC, where do I find courses for cardiology coding? Is there some kind of financial assistance to help with the cost of the exams if someone can’t afford them out of pocket? I am on the Dean’s List, Honor Society Member and have 3 Academic Achievement Awards, would be horrible to see all my hard work and dedication go to waste all because I can’t afford the exams out of pocket, when I already struggle to make monthly payments to my school. Any suggestions will be appreciated. Thank you.

  70. coding support August 04, 2016

    Hi Tammy,
    Thanks for reaching out to us!
    CareerStep provides training for the CCA and the CPC.  We may create specialty programs in the future, but currently don’t have a specific cardiology focused-course.

    Best wishes!

  71. Tiffany August 05, 2016

    I bought the CCA exam prep fifth edition.  It’s used so I don’t have access to the online exams. Are the online exam questions different than the ones in the book?

  72. Hi Tiffany,
    Thanks for your question!
    The online exam questions are actually different from what is in the book.

    Best of luck on your exam!

  73. Shay September 09, 2016

    I just took and passed my CCS yesterday. I graduated from the Career Step Medical Coding and Billing program in March of last year, and then had a year of on the job experience. It was a hard test, but I was more than prepared through by the careerstep program and job experience. I was allowed to use my 2015 draft set for ICD-10-CM and PCS, But I was required to have a 2016 CPT book. HCPCS was not required/allowed. They did allow a medical dictionary.

  74. Gayle Carbajal September 13, 2016

    How long will I have to take the CCA exam?

  75. Career Step September 15, 2016

    Hi Gayle,
    That’s a great question!

    You must apply for the CCA on the AHIMA website at least 6 weeks in advance from your desired testing date. Once you get a confirmation back from AHIMA, you have a 4-month period to take the exam. You can then locate a testing center to set up a date and time. Keep in mind that you must schedule your exam at least 3 days prior to the date you’d like to test.

    The CCA exam is a 100 question exam—all multiple choice. You have 2 hours to complete it.

    Good luck on the exam!

  76. saadia September 19, 2016

    I am taking CCA in November, 2016. please someone guide me which books should I get for exam?

  77. Career Step September 19, 2016

    Hi Saadia,
    You are only allowed to bring your hard copy code books with you the day of the exam (your ICD-10 and CPT books). The exam is updated in March of each year. From January-March you may take the exam using the current or past years’ code books. After March, your code books must match the current year to be eligible for the exam.

    Hope this helps!

  78. Mark October 06, 2016

    Hi, I have been studying the CCA Exam prep booklet from AHIMA (4th edition).  To those who have taken the exam, how similar are the questions on the ACTUAL exam compared to the questions in the booklet. Thanks!!!

  79. Career Step October 12, 2016


    I found the questions in the CCA Study Guide to be very close to the questions on the exam. Obviously the questions you see on the actual exam won’t be worded exactly the same way, but the Study Guide does a great job of highlighting the concepts covered on the exam.

    Here’s a link to a blog post I wrote about my experience taking the CCA:


    Best of luck!



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