Dear Coding Support: Calming the Final Exam Panic

Coding and BillingNo Comments

stressed deskDear Coding Support,

I am going back through the coding modules to study for the final.  I am causing myself to second guess everything.  I am stressing and self-doubting. There are knots in my stomach, and a voice in my head keeps saying, “It will be ok,” but then another voice says, “You will struggle and not make it.” I believe I am going crazy; well, my husband would say I was already there.  I keep telling myself to breathe and it will be ok.  I know I can use any resources besides people, but I have relied on instructors so much that it makes me nervous to not have access to them.

Please help!
Final Prep Frazzled

Dear Frazzled,

I want you to remember that you are not just now preparing for the final exam; you have been preparing to take the final for the past year. All the work you have put in to this course has been the best test prep you could possibly ask for.

Keep this in mind—at this point you do not want to try to learn any new info or new concepts; you just want to review what you have already learned in the course. Think about this as jog your memory time rather than regurgitation time (I know, that sounds disgusting). What I mean is that this is NOT a time to try to memorize anything. Review the guidelines as well as the Unit Tests and Module Exams in the coding modules and USE YOUR RESOURSES! There is too much covered in the course to be able to remember all of it—the key is to know how to find it.

Because of your hard work in the course, you will automatically bring some little memory cues into the exam with you. For example, never use modifier 51 when you are coding for a facility. These memory cues will tap you on the shoulder as you are going through the exam and help guide you to the correct answer. REMEMBER— the correct answer is right in front of you! The exam all is multiple-choice or T/F! Use the answer choices to your advantage, look up the codes in the book and eliminate the ones that don’t make sense with your scenario.

Yes, you do have to finish the entire test, but you—just like everyone else—only have to answer one question at a time. Take your time. Exhaust your resources on the questions you are not sure about. Trust your instincts! They are usually your memory tapping you on the shoulder. Don’t change an original answer unless you have a concrete reason to do so.

You know this stuff well enough to get to this point—this is your opportunity to prove it! This is your chance to show what you can do, the culmination of all your hard work. This will be you tackling the exam, not the exam tackling you!

Best of luck!
Coding Support

Leave a comment below »

  1. Tammy November 12, 2014

    This is the best advice.  It works!!! Take a big deep breath and believe in yourself.  I can say this as I have now finished my ICD 10 test with Honors and have passed the proficiency test.  I am currently getting ready to do the fast track ICD 9.  The course prepares you very well.

  2. Sue Roberts November 12, 2014

    How long and how many chances do we have to take the final exam?

  3. Instructor Craig Laursen December 09, 2014

    Hi Sue,

    You have 48 hours to complete the final. 8.5 hours is the average time students take to finish the exam. We give you the 2 days so you don’t have to do it all in one long session. You have a total of 3 attempts to get a passing score.

    Best of luck!

  4. Kate February 13, 2015

    I’m shooting for 95 and above on the final!! Calling and asking you questions when I get stuck throughout the course definitely gives me more hope and courage to get my high honors grade!

  5. Career Step February 16, 2015

    Keep up the good work, Kate! You can do it! =)

  6. Trish February 25, 2015

    In reference to Tammy’s comment on 11-12-14, she stated that she finished her ICD-10 test and was getting ready for Fast Track ICD-9.  My understanding is that I am taking the ICD-9 and after I graduate, I take the fast track to ICD-10. Also not sure what comes first, the Fast Track to ICD-10 or the certification exam?

  7. Career Step March 02, 2015

    Hi Trish,

    Because of the ICD-10 delay we have students on a number of different training plans, and it sounds like you and Tammy are just on different options. There are Career Step students taking advantage of each of these different options…

    - Training on ICD-9 and then taking an ICD-10 FastTrack program after graduation.

    - Training on ICD-10 and then taking an ICD-9 FastTrack program after graduation.

    - Training on both ICD-9 and ICD-10 within one training program.

    No matter which option you’re training through, you’ll be gaining the skills you need to start a rewarding career as a medical coder.

    As far as whether you’ll need to take a FastTrack program before your certification exam, it depends on the code set the exam will be testing you on. Right now, AHIMA and AAPC both test on the ICD-9 code set. Both organizations have states that they will not be switching their exams over until after the implementation of ICD-10. However, if you were to take you certification test after the ICD-10 implementation, you would definitely want to check with the organizations to see if their exams have changed and/or complete the ICD-10 FastTrack course before taking your certification test.

    Hope that helps!

  8. Charlotte Stiles June 23, 2016

    I am a little excited about the exam, however, I have lots of notes and cue cards but still feel unsure about exam. Please help me.

  9. coding support June 29, 2016

    Hi Charlotte,
    If you have passed all of the modules and practiced coding by attempting the practicum reports, we say you are ready for the final. It is open note, open book, so please use those notes and any cards you have created.
    Worst case scenario, if you don’t pass on the first attempt, there are two more available.  Just do your best, take your time, and answer the questions one by one. You can do it!

  10. Barbara acha August 09, 2016

    I have a couple questions regatding the ICD 10. Last section of the program. Can you please help me?

  11. Career Step August 10, 2016

    Hi Barbara,
    Thanks for reaching out to us—we would be happy to answer any questions for you!

    Please contact us at at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 1-800-411-7073.

    Best wishes!

  12. Laura September 27, 2016

    How many questions are in the final exam and I believe I read that it’s multiple-choice true and false correct?

  13. Career Step September 27, 2016

    Hi Laura,
    Thanks for reaching out to us! The CPC exam is a 150 question exam—all multiple choice. You have 5 ½ hours to complete it.

    Hope this helps!

  14. Cindy September 30, 2016

    After I pass the final exam, I’m excited to know what comes next.

  15. Stephanie October 31, 2016

    Do you receive a response on the test questions you miss?

  16. coding support November 01, 2016

    Hi Cindy,
    Final exam questions are graded and you will receive an overall percentage score on the final test.  If you would like further information on test questions, you may schedule a final exam consultation with an instructor.

    Best wishes!

  17. Kristin January 22, 2017

    What exam should one choose to take first? the CCA or the CCS exam.

  18. CodingSupport January 23, 2017

    Hi Kristin,
    We recommend beginning with the entry-level exam, the CCA.  After you have a few years experience with inpatient coding, you may sit for the more advanced CCS certification.

    Hope this helps!

  19. Mary March 18, 2017

    I’m scheduled for the CPC exam April 8th but have the 2016 code books. Is it okay to use those? I really don’t want to buy new books if it’s not necessary.

  20. Instructor March 20, 2017

    Hi Mary,
    Thank you for reaching out to us! AAPC will allow you to use your 2016 books for the CPC exam. However, he exam has been updated to the 2017 code books which may put you at a disadvantage. Hope this helps answer your question.

    Good luck on your certification!



Request Info