Certified Professional Coder (CPC) Exam: Frequently Asked Questions

Coding and Billing98 Comments

So you’re thinking about a national certification exam? 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 AAPC website.

CPC Exam FAQs (the CPC is offered through AAPC):

How much does it cost?
You must be a member of AAPC to take the CPC exam. The CPC exam costs $300 and membership costs $125. As long as your Career Step medical billing and coding online course access is still current, you qualify for the student membership price of $70.

How do I sign up for the CPC?
You must register for the CPC and schedule it at least 3-4 weeks in advance from your desired testing date. Exam availability and dates are posted on the AAPC website. The exams are offered through local AAPC chapters, and there are usually multiple chapters in every state. As each chapter offers exams 4 times a year, there is usually an exam date every few months.

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

Am I allowed to bring any notes or books?
You are only allowed to bring your three code books with you the day of the exam (your ICD-9, CPT, and HCPCS). The code books must be versions from the current or previous year. You cannot have anything attached/glued/stapled into your books, but you can highlight, tab, and have notes handwritten on the pages.

How many questions are on the CPC?
The CPC exam is a 150 question exam—all multiple choice. You have 5 ½ hours to complete it.

What kinds of questions are on the exam?
About 70% of the questions are coding scenarios and the rest cover topics such as medical terminology, anatomy, etc.

What do I have to score to pass?
An overall score of 70% is a passing score on the CPC exam. Exam results are provided to you within 7-10 days following the exam date.

What if I don’t pass?
If you do not pass, AAPC provides you with scores from your weakest areas to help you study for a second attempt. A free retake on the CPC is included with the price you paid for the first attempt. You can retake the exam as soon as another exam date is available.

What is the Apprentice status?
If you do not have 2 years of work experience before taking the CPC exam, you will receive a CPC-A credential after passing. The “A” stands for apprentice. Once you submit proof of 2 years of coding work experience, you can have the apprentice status removed from your credential. The Career Step program satisfies one of the two years required.

What if I move? Will I ever have to recertify?
The CPC 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 36 CEUs to AAPC every 2 years. For more information on CEUs, you can visit AAPC’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.
  • AAPC sells 3 practice exams and prep books that some students recommend for added preparation.

We hope all your questions about medical billing and coding have been answered with this post. Still have some questions? Feel free to call us or request more info on our website.

Leave a comment below »

  1. Amanda Hervol December 23, 2015

    I am currently enrolled in the Medical Coding classes here and love them.  I’ve purchased the practice exams from AAPC and notice that most of the questions are involve coding.  Can anyone tell me if this will be how the official CPC exam will most likely look?

  2. Lk02 December 25, 2015

    I will take the CPC exam in Jan 2016. Will I be able to use my 2015 CPT and HCPCS books? I do have ICD-10 books so am covered there.

  3. samira December 30, 2015

    I have completed my COC certification this December along with ICD-10 proficiency. I would like to take up CPC certification this year and I haven’t started taking coaching for the same. Kindly suggest the differences in syllabus for COC and CPC in general.


  4. Coding Support December 31, 2015

    The CPC is the certified professional coder, this is the test Career Step prepares for. It covers outpatient coding in physician office settings. 
    The COC, certified outpatient coder (formerly known as CPC-H) is a more advanced certificate we do not prepare for, it covers more advanced outpatient coding in facilities/hospitals/ASC’s. With a little more study from AAPC COC test prep book, and experience on the job you may be prepared for the COC. For more information Please see aapc.com

  5. Coding Support December 31, 2015

    If you have experience coding, you could sit for the CPC.  We recommend completing a training program to prepare yourself thoroughly.

  6. Coding Support December 31, 2015

    Yes, the practice exams sold by AAPC are very similar to the actual test. It contains many coding scenarios with multiple choice options, Good luck!

  7. Coding Support December 31, 2015

    Yes,  AAPC will let you use the previous years coding books up through March.

  8. SriDevi January 01, 2016

    I competed my bpharma and I am interested in joining medical coding training .can you suggest me know whether coc or cpc would be suitable for me to take training ?

  9. Coding Support January 05, 2016

    The training program prepares you for the CPC with AAPC and/or the CCA with AHIMA.

  10. Coding Support January 07, 2016

    The CareerStep Professional Medical Coding and Billing program prepares for the CPC exam.

  11. Lynn January 08, 2016


    I am interested in taking the exam but I don’t feel prepared at all. My coding classes were online so I feel that I was really teaching myself.  Do you have any suggestions to help me prepare for the exam? I am more interested in medical billing than I am coding. I live in Atlanta area if you could give me some information to help me in my area I really would appreciate it. I received my associates last May. Thank you in advance!

  12. Coding Support January 13, 2016

    Taking a medical coding/billing program is excellent preparation for certification.  Refreshing on guidelines and practicing with coding scenarios is recommended as you gear up for the exam.  Please check with AAPC.com for testing dates and locations in your area.

  13. Andria January 19, 2016

    I earned my Associates as medical administration assistant. That covered a lot of billing and coding and I have about 6months experience. Once I pass my cpc exam, will I get a CPC-A or just CPC ?

  14. Coding Support January 20, 2016

    Everyone who passes the CPC exam is automatically a CPC-A until the two years experience is submitted to AAPC.

  15. rieshel January 24, 2016

    Hi Good Morning!
    Just want to ask, if i ever i passed the CPC -A, and you said that I need to have a 2 yrs working experience as a coder, what if in 2 yrs i didn’t find any job as a coder, should i retake the exam???

  16. Allison January 28, 2016

    I took my Medical Billing and Coding training course back in 2013, but I never took the AAPC exam because I got a job with a doctors office working in their billing department. I now want to further my career and would like to take the exam. Should I take a course over again or can I just do some refresher stuff online and use my 2013 workbooks?

  17. Coding Support January 28, 2016

    Career Step coding program prepares for the CCA and/or the CPC.  We do not cover information needed for the COC.  For additional information on this certification, I would recommend going to AAPC directly.  They sell practice exams for the test and you can look for the certification requirements for a comparison as you make your decision.

  18. RAUSHAN KUMAR February 01, 2016

    can any let me know what is passing marks of CPC.

  19. Instructor Michelle Malquist February 01, 2016

    If you have taken the CPC and are wanting to sit for your retake, AAPC will not switch this retake to the COC. Your retake would be the CPC.
    I’m hoping this answers your question.
    Good luck!

  20. Instructor Michelle Malquist February 01, 2016


    If you are keeping up with your CEU’s and submitting the required amount that AAPC requires, then you do not need to retake the certification exam.

    Good luck!

  21. Instructor Michelle Malquist February 01, 2016


    If you are a returning student, I would recommend taking our ICD-10 fast track course, to prepare you for the certification in ICD-10. To do this, you would need to contact one of our Enrollment advisers at 1-800-411-7073.
    Good luck!

  22. kumar February 02, 2016

    can we write the exam using 2015 version CPT & HCPCS books. now kindly advise…

  23. Mel February 02, 2016

    If I am not a student from Career Step, but finished Program/Course elsewhere, Would the school allow me to take the CPC Review class (I am aware would need to pay)

  24. Randy Johnson February 04, 2016

    The CPC exam through AAPC is based on the current calendar year’s code sets. Based on this we strongly suggest you use the current year’s books. The previous calendar year’s books may be used on an exam, but you would be at obvious disadvantage doing so.

  25. kumar February 07, 2016

    I have attended the exam on 6th February. how will i get the result.

  26. Susan February 09, 2016

    I wanted to know if you can retake the exam even if you pass, for example I get a 70 but would like a higher score to show potential employers.

  27. Coding Support February 09, 2016

    Certification exam results are immediate from the CCA exam with AHIMA.
    It takes several weeks for AAPC to report the results.  They usually come via email, you are also welcome to check your status at the AAPC website.

  28. Jeffry Ward February 09, 2016

    Hello everyone. I am currently in school for medical billing and coding and am going to be scheduling my exam soon. SO i know the systems have switched over to ICD-10-CM. Is that all that the test will cover is the ICD-10CM? Also u do have to take it at a location you cant take it online? You can be hired without being Certified?

  29. Mohan thomas February 10, 2016

    Is the CPC exam computerized ?  Do I have to sit before a computer an take the exam or is it the old scantron (pencil) way ?

  30. Coding Support February 10, 2016

    You may retake the final with Career Step. We offer three attempts. A 75% or higher is passing. We keep your highest attempt score.

  31. Coding Support February 10, 2016

    The CPC exam is a paper/pencil test.

  32. Coding Support February 10, 2016

    If you are enrolled in the Professional Medical Coding and Billing ICD-10 program, the final exam with Career Step will test with I-10 codes, both ICD-10-CM, and ICD-10-PCS codes. The final with Career Step may be taken at home.
    Certification exams need to be taken in person, at the testing site.
    Most employers prefer certification, others require it.

  33. prasanna February 14, 2016

    When can we expect the result for the exam held in 6th February. kindly advise.

  34. april February 17, 2016

    Why the Feb 6 2016 CPC exam result not yet around?

  35. Coding Support February 17, 2016

    AAPC administers, grades, and sends results of the CPC.  This process can take several weeks.  We do not have an exact date for your specific test, so you might want to contact AAPC for an estimate.

  36. Arulmozhi February 20, 2016

    I am failed cpc exam in December 2015. I will re attempt in 2016.the test is icd 9 or icd 10? pls clarify my question.

  37. sukumari February 22, 2016

    thankyou for valuable info

  38. Instructor Michelle Malquist February 23, 2016


    The CPC exam is now only being offered in ICD-10. So, you will need to know how to code in ICD-10 in order to pass the exam.

    Good luck!

  39. Theresa February 24, 2016

    Is it possible to take the test in segments with a waiver or accommodation due to a disability?

    Thank you.

  40. Melissa February 25, 2016

    I am planning on signing up for the CPC Live w/ Instructor course though the AAPC. My question is, How much time during a week do people generally spend logging in and taking the course. I work a 40 hour job and a part time job on Thursday nights. So will two hours a night be realistic or is this going to consume hours and hours daily?

  41. Coding Support February 26, 2016

    The program is self paced so you do not have to study full time or even part time.  The Professional Medical Coding and Billing Program is approximately 523 hours.  Enrollment is good for 12 months, so you may set your own schedule.

  42. Coding Support February 26, 2016

    Please contact our skills assessment department for information regarding your circumstance: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

  43. Jennifer K. February 29, 2016

    I am thinking about going back to school to become a medical coder. Do you have information on accredited schools that offer either Associate degrees or just certificates? Also, are certificates prepare you enough to eventually take the CPC exam?
    Thanks a lot for your valuable answers.

    Hi Jennifer,

    Career Step is an excellent choice if you’re looking to become a medical coder (if we do say so ourselves =). We are one of the only online certificate programs approved by AHIMA (which is the largest industry association), and our curriculum is actually used by some of the largest and most respected names in the industry to train their employees—which means you’re training with the courses employers have chosen for themselves! And yes, our certificate program prepares you to take the CPC exam. In fact, you’ll graduate from Career Step ready to take the CPC and/or the CCA exams, and we’ll include an exam voucher for the exam of your choice so you can take it for free.

    Hope that helps and best wishes!

  44. Tangier March 11, 2016

    Good afternoon,

    Thank you so much for your time. I am planning to take the CPC test in May 2016; I have 2015 cpt & hcpcs…are 2015 books acceptable for the test in May 2016?

    Thank you,

  45. marcos March 13, 2016

    I pass the exam and got CPC-A certificate, I submitted my experience and they removed the apprentice status, do I get another certificate with CPC only and not CPC-A.

  46. coding support March 14, 2016

    You are allowed to use the 2015 CPC coding books until March.

    Thanks and best wishes!

  47. coding support March 15, 2016

    Hi Marcos,
    Thank you for your question! CareerStep offers courses in certificate programs. Our Medical Coding and Billing course is designed to prepare yo for the CPC national certification exam or the CCA National certification exam. Hope this helps and it you have any other questions pleas let us know.

    Best Wishes!

  48. Hi Marcos,

    Once the apprentice has been removed from your CPC, you should receive a new certificate from AAPC which states CPC. If you have any further questions regarding this, please contact AAPC.

    Best wishes!

  49. Amberlyn Cox April 11, 2016

    Hi there,
    So reading through the comments & questions, on Feb 2, 2016 instructor Randy Johnson says that the passing score is a 70% but on Feb 10, 2016 “coding support” said it’s a 75%. So which is it because I just took a practice test from Penn Foster and recieved a 69% so I’d like to know how far off I really am? TIA

    Hi Amberlyn!
    A passing score for the CareerStep final is a 75%.  The CPC test with AAPC pass rate is 70%. 
    Hope this helps clarify.

    Best wishes!

  50. crystal watson April 16, 2016

    how many reports on the cpcexam

    Hi Crystal,
    Thanks for your question! The CPC exam does not have reports but there are coding scenarios. The following link shows a breakdown of the questions for the CPC exam: https://www.aapc.com/certification/cpc/#tab-1

    Best wishes

  51. cyndi April 20, 2016

    In order to take the Certified Professional Coder Test, does a person have to have an Associates Degree?

    Hi Cyndi.

    Thanks for your comment! You are not required to have an associates degree to take the CPC.

    Best wishes!

  52. seetha April 28, 2016

    i would like to ask if i have prepared for the CPC examination,can i book my seat by myself only or require anything for that?

  53. coding support April 29, 2016

    Hi Seetha,

    Yes you can book by yourself, however if you are a graduate from Career Step, you may want to check with graduate support to see if the cost of certification was included in your package.

    Best wishes and good luck with your exam!

  54. coding support May 02, 2016

    Hi Sasha,

    It may be best to contact AHIMA, typically from year to year the codes will update, along with any government changes or legal changes that have occurred recently.

    Best wishes!

  55. Paula May 13, 2016

    What is the national average pass rate for the CPC exam?

    Hi Paula,

    Last we checked with the AAPC, we were told that they do not track the pass rate for the CPC. However, with that being said, our graduates have reported doing well on the exam and feeling very well prepared after completing Career Step training.

    Best wishes!

  56. Carolyn L May 16, 2016

    Hi there
    i am finding a job who are fexiable working at home. now i am checking of medical coding and billing. BTW: I have no experiences of this field.

    two major organizations offer the certifactions. AHIMA—CCA,CCS,CCS-P or AAPC—CPC or CPC-A. i am thinking which one is more suitable for me and more companies acknowledge. i will much appreciate it if you can provide some suggestion.

    the aim getting certificate and enroll an institue is to find a job. do your guys offer internship even for an apprentice?

    thanks a lot by advance.

    Hi Carolyn,

    Thank you for your questions. Medical coding and billing is an excellent work-at-home career option. Our medical billing and coding training program is designed to be completed in 4 months of full-time study. However, the online format allows you to study on your own schedule and your own pace, so your enrollment includes 12 months of program access in case you need extra time. Learn more here about the course and career opportunities

    Both the CPC and and CCA exams are nationally recognized, and passing at least one exam indicates your preparation as a coder. There are some coders who choose to take certification exams through both organizations, but that is not required. We suggest looking at this blog article we put together with a list of questions you should ask to guide your decision.

    In regards to your question about internships: We are partnered with IOD Incorporated, who has specifically invited Career Step Medical Coding and Billing graduates to apply for its Coder Development Program, a 13-week paid training program resulting in employment upon completion for those who reach specific performance thresholds. Coder Development Program graduates are placed into remote inpatient coding positions with comprehensive oversight and ongoing mentorship, which allows them to work from their homes—a perk usually requiring several years of experience. Read more about this opportunity here:

    In addition there are about a half a dozen other remote medical coding companies we also work with. Once you graduate, our Graduate Advisors provide information on the opportunities available with these other companies.

    We hope this helps answer your questions! Best wishes!


  57. kaviyalakshmi June 17, 2016

    I am a final year microbiology student.can I take part in this exam.I need more information regarding the exam.

  58. Career Step June 20, 2016

    Hi Kaviyalakshmi,
    Thank you for your question. We would suggest looking at this website for information on the the CPC exam: https://www.aapc.com/certification/faq.aspx. Hope this helps!

    Best wishes!

  59. Mahesh June 29, 2016

    Hi There -

    I am from India and I am currently working as a Medical Transcriptionist for a US firm having their Branch in India.  I would like to advance my career and go into Coding. Is there any online training that I can enroll?  Also, can I take the CPC or CCA online once the training is complete?  Please advise.

  60. Career Step July 01, 2016

    Hi Mahesh,
    Thank you for interest in our Medical Coding and Billing course
    The medical billing and coding online program that Career Step offers is designed to be completed in 4 months of full-time study. However, the online format allows you to study on your own schedule and at your own pace, so your enrollment includes 12 months of program access in case you need extra time.

    The CPC and CCA exams are administered at local testing sites in the US.

    Hope this helps and best wishes!

  61. cheri clark July 03, 2016

    What is the difference between cca and cpc? Are they multiple choice?

  62. Career Step July 05, 2016

    Hi Cheri,

    That’s a great question! We actually have a blog post about what you need to know about each certification exam. You can read it here:

    The CCA exam is a 2-hour test with 100 multiple-choice questions and the CPC exam 150 question exam—all multiple choice. You have 5 ½ hours to complete it.

    Hope this helps answer your questions-best of luck on the certification exam!

  63. santosh July 14, 2016

    Hi i am from india. I dont have degree. Can i do the cpc certification exam.

  64. coding support July 18, 2016

    Hi Santosh,
    Thank you for your question!
    A degree is not required to be a medical coder. please check with http://www.aapc.com for availability of testing in your country.

    Hope this helps and best wishes!

  65. sumit kumar dixit July 21, 2016

    Hi my name is sumit i want to know when will aapc announce the result of cpc exam which was held on date 07/16/2016.how much question ask in coc exam

  66. Akila July 24, 2016

    Book will provided for exam or we have to bring for the exam.on Sep 17 2016 I have booked for my exam
    Thanks in advance

  67. Career Step July 26, 2016

    Hi Sumit
    Thank you for reaching out to us! Normally it takes 1-2 weeks to receive the result of your exam and there are 150 questions!

    Best of luck!

  68. Career Step July 26, 2016

    Hi Akila:

    You will need to bring your own coding books for the exam.  You can find a list of approved manuals at https://www.aapc.com/certification/cpc/#tab-2

    Good Luck on your exam!

  69. Priya August 01, 2016


    Once we cleared the CPC exam , how long it would be take to get CPC certificate.

  70. Priya,
    Once you have taken your CPC, results should be in your AAPC login approximately 1 week after taking the exam. Your CPC certificate should arrive to you approximately 2 weeks after you have passed the exam.

    Good luck with your studies.

  71. Ajitsara August 05, 2016

    if it’s degree based job ?

  72. coding support August 08, 2016

    The employers may have a preference, generally certification is required.

    Hope this helps!

  73. dr kitty wadhwani August 10, 2016

    hello i m planning to gve the exams in mumbai but aapc is providing the books in south cities but not in mumbai i m having difficulty to get the books here as i had choosen the centre in mumbai

  74. coding support August 10, 2016

    Hi Dr. Wadhwani
    Thank you for letting us know.  AAPC is in charge of proctoring the CPC exam.  You will want to check directly with AAPC for information on testing locations and availability.

    Best wishes!

  75. chintu August 15, 2016

    Would like to know the steps to apply for free retake in coc exam

  76. coding support August 15, 2016

    Hi Chintu,
    To register or retake the COC exam, please contact AAPC directly at http://www.aapc.com.

    Hope this helps!

  77. Nesma Abd Elaziz August 20, 2016

    Can I take the exam without enrolling for the course by only register and becoming a member and pay the exam fees??

  78. arunjunii.kannan August 21, 2016

    Hi,my cpc certification cancelled due to not submit my CEU, what can i do to retain my certification.. Kindly reply for it

  79. coding support August 22, 2016

    Hi Nesma,
    AAPC has a list of certification requirements for the CPC at: https://www.aapc.com/certification/cpc/#tab-3 

    The completion of a coding program is not required, but strongly recommended before taking the exam.

    Best wishes!

  80. Arunjunii,

    To retain your certification, you will need to retake the CPC exam. This is the only way to receive this credential back. Once you have retaken the CPC, make sure that you keep up with your CEU’s so that you do not have to retake the exam a 3rd time.

    Good luck!

  81. Shine August 25, 2016

    Hi, I just want to ask on how to become a CPC do I need to finish the medical coder/biller course or I can go ahead and take the CPC course online?
    I have finished my BS degree in nursing.

  82. vijay August 25, 2016


    Please advise what is the fees of second attempt of exam, as is have taken two test in on attempt.

  83. mahammad shareef August 27, 2016

    Hi,I Have a ‘student’ membership from AAPC till Aug-2017.I will get CPC exam in sept-2016 in order to get exam whether i have to become member again? is ‘student’ membership not enough?....from INDIA

  84. jessica August 28, 2016

    I’m taking the CPC exam in Sept 2016 can i use my cpc d hcpcs books from 2015, and then just buy the icd 10 book.


  85. coding support August 29, 2016

    Hi Vijay,
    AAPC provides a free re-take for the CPC if you don’t pass on the first attempt. A third attempt would have to be paid for.

    Hope this helps!

  86. coding support August 29, 2016

    Hi Shine,
    AAPC recommends completion of a coding program before taking the CPC. It is not a requirement, but highly recommended.

    Best wishes!

  87. Mahammad,

    Since you already have a student membership with AAPC, you should not need to purchase a second membership in order to take the CPC. Your current membership is sufficient. The next time you will need to pay for a membership will be in August of 2017.

    Good luck with taking the CPC exam.

  88. Coding Support August 30, 2016

    Hi Jessica,

    I would definitely use the 2016 CPT/HCPCS books, as there were more than 300 changes between the 2015 edition and 2016 edition. Using 2015 books, will put you at a disadvantage on this exam.

    Good luck with your studies.

  89. Jinal August 31, 2016

    I am planning to take the CPC exam in december 2016, should i pre order the 2017 CPT, ICD 10 CM and HCPCS level II manuals and wait for one more month to start my preparation and plan to take the exam in January 2017 or go ahead with the 2016 manuals and take the exam in 2016? Does taking exam in 2017 make a difference in the validity of the certificate as compared to taking exam in 2016?

  90. Christine A. August 31, 2016

    I am a current student studying healthcare administration. My ultimate goal is to become a director of a nursing home. Is it highly recommended I take this exam? I currently work in an environment that requires some use of coding so maybe this will help?

  91. coding support September 01, 2016

    The CareerStep training program teaches the details of coding needed for the CPC and/or CCA exam.  If you are looking to learn the details of coding, to become a certified coder, this is the program for you!  If you are not wanting to be a coder, but just learn the detailed process, it can be beneficial to take the class as well.

  92. coding support September 01, 2016

    Yes, a coding training program can teach you the ins and outs of medical coding.

    Hope this helps!

  93. coding support September 01, 2016

    The CPC updates every year in January.  They will let you reference your previous years books through March, although you will be at a disadvantage without the current years books. Having the current years books is recommended.

    Best wishes!

  94. Aidines September 01, 2016

    I had to take a long break due to personal issues and will be restarting my studies hopefully within the next month. I have the 2016 ICD-10-CM,2015 HCPCS II, and the 2015 CPT books.  When I reactivate, will I get updated books?  If I have to purchase “current” books, what versions are out and when do they roll over?  I don’t want to buy the current books and then a month from now the next batch is out.  Thanks.

  95. Instructor Michelle September 08, 2016


    We are currently using the 2016 CPT and HCPCS books. These will be changing over to the 2017 books in December of 2016. When you decide which books you would like to order, please contact our Operations Department at 1-888-657-5752 opt 2 then opt 1.

    Good luck with your studies.

  96. Murthy September 12, 2016

    hellow every one..i am from india.,i have 1+ yr of exp in HCC domain, can u tell me how to get a job in abroad as a hcc medical coder…plz let me know how to approach…

  97. coding support September 15, 2016

    Hi Murthy! You may want to begin a job search for remote positions in the desired country. Use your experience to your advantage in the application and interview process.We would need to get additional information on your background, and your coding education.  You are welcome to contact 800-246-7837, and ask to speak to our enrollment department.  Best of luck to you!

  98. Akila September 20, 2016

    Any option for revaluation



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