CPC & CCA Exams vs. Career Step Final Exam

Coding and Billing6 Comments

The Career Step coding final exam is designed to be similar to the CPC and CCA medical coding certification exams—they are set up to complement each other so that you can use how well you do on the final to gauge how you might do on the certification exam. The specific differences between the Career Step final and your certification exam depend on which exam you register for but are mainly based on the timing and the set up of the material.

One of the main differences between your Career Step final and your certification exam is the time allotted to take the exam. On the Career Step final you’ll have 48 hours to take the exam while you’ll only have 5 hours and 40 minutes to complete the CPC exam and 2 hours to take the CCA exam. Many students purchase practice exams and reviews from AAPC or AHIMA to prepare especially for this aspect of the exam as it can be a challenge to plan and pace yourself accordingly.

As far as the format, both the CPC and CCA are multiple choice like our final exam. The exams also primarily consist of coding questions as well (just like our final). On the Career Step exam, 80 out of the 150 questions are coding scenarios. There are 20 or so questions on the guidelines, leaving 50 to cover the rest of the information in the other modules. You also need to achieve a 75% on the Career Step final. Let’s see how this compares to the certification exams…

On the CPC exam, 107 out of the 150 questions are coding scenarios and the rest of them are on various things such as medical terminology, anatomy, etc. An overall score of 70% is a passing score on the CPC exam.Though there are different sections of the exam, they are not scored independently—every question is of equal weight. The test is administered at a local testing center and taken in hard copy format. Exam results are provided to you in 7-10 days following the exam date. You have to register for the CPC and schedule it at least 3-4 weeks in advance from the date you want to take it.

The CCA exam contains 100 questions and is a 2 hour exam. The exam is about 70% health data, health record, HIPAA, legal aspects of healthcare, pathophysiology, anatomy, and physiology. Coding questions make up the remaining 25% of the exam. The CCA is also multiple choice and passing score is 61% (55 out of 90 questions). The test is given at a local designated testing site where you go and take the exam on a computer and submit it electronically. You find out your score immediately after you take the test. For the CCA, you have to apply for the exam at least 6 weeks in advance from the time you expect to take the exam, and once you get a confirmation back, you have a 6 month period to take the exam. You can then locate a testing center and schedule that within three days of taking the exam.

Our goal is to help you prepare for national certification, which is why our online medical coding and billing program and our final exam are structured the way they are. If you have any questions about certification, just let us know. We’re here to help!

Leave a comment below »

  1. Valerie Ritter May 21, 2014

    I’m assuming that the certification exams are not open book like the Career Steps final is.  Correct?

  2. Craig Laursen May 23, 2014

    Valerie - You are allowed to use your code books on the certification exams.

  3. Theresa Arnold May 27, 2014

    What is the best way to gauge when to sign up for the CCA since it is 6 weeks waiting time?

  4. Craig Laursen June 04, 2014

    Theresa - I would recommend signing up for the CCA right after graduation. This way your coding skills are still fresh and you will still have the waiting time to go through the CCA study guide.

  5. Lynne Land June 05, 2014

    Do we get the CCA study guide from Career Step or do we need to get it through AHIMA?  Thanks!

  6. Career Step June 12, 2014

    Hi Lynne,

    The CCA study guide is separate from your Career Step course so you’ll need to go through AHIMA to purchase it.

    Best of luck on the test!

  7. Dr. Jalil September 22, 2015


    Which steps you recommend for passing the CCA test, I reviewed the AMIMA guide it is big book that I can find my way, could you shortly recommending me same sample steps,


  8. Instructor Craig Laursen September 22, 2015

    The study guide is a great first step. Check out this blog post on the CCA:


  9. carla September 22, 2016

    what material would be good to study for final exam for medical billing exam

  10. Career Step September 28, 2016

    Hi Carla,
    Everyone studies a little differently. Here are a few ideas that may help.

    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.

    Good luck on your exam!

  11. Jennifer October 18, 2016

    Do students who take the Medical Coding and Billing final exam have to wait 2 full weeks to find out their score or can it be sooner?

  12. Instructor Michelle Malquist October 25, 2016


    Thank you for your question. The reason why we state two weeks is if there are holidays during that time, or computer issues arise. There are times that the results get send sooner than the two weeks, but that is not a guarantee, which is why we state two weeks. If you have any further questions regarding this, please contact our Skills Assessment department at 1-888-657-5752 opt 3, and they can answer your questions.

  13. Kristin January 20, 2017

    How do you determine what exam you want to take the CPC or the CCA? Should a person do the CCA first and then the CPC? What is the recommendation concluding the preparation of them?

  14. Kristin January 20, 2017

    Do they have the coding books at the exam center or do you take your own?

  15. Instructor January 20, 2017


    You will be able to take your own coding books into the certification. Coding books are not provided by the testing organizations. You may write in your codebooks, but any additional pages that are added, or sticky notes, will be removed.

    Good luck!

  16. CodingSupport January 20, 2017

    Hi Kristin,

    You may choose which certification to go for!  Most graduates only choose one or the other as each certification has to be maintained (it’s extra work to have two!).  This blog article discusses some differences to help You decide.

    Best wishes!

  17. Teresa March 14, 2017

    Are there any study guides for the Career Step final exam exam? It is taken online and at the convenience of your home or wherever you prefer, correct?? Thanks.

  18. CodingSupport March 14, 2017

    Hi Teresa,
    To prepare for the final we recommend re-reading the guidelines, found at the front of the ICD-10-CM book, the ICD-10-PCS book, and scattered throughout the CPT book (at the beginning of each section, and some sub-sections).

    It can also be beneficial to repeat unit tests and module exams throughout the program, especially for the coding modules (ICD-10-Coding, and CPT blocks).

    The final exam with CareerStep is online, you may take it from home.  It is open-book, and open-program.  For more information please read the Final Exam Preparation module, in addition take a look at this blog post for tips on how to prepare for your exam: http://www.careerstep.com/blog/coding-and-billing/facing-your-final-exam-fears

    Best of luck!



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