by Mary Beth York, CCS, CCS-P, CIC
The Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) coding credential from AHIMA indicates to the world that the holder of the credential has mastery level hospital coding skills. It is both a meaningful credential and a difficult one to achieve.
The process of preparing for the CCS is daunting. So much to learn! So much to memorize! It can be achieved, hundreds do each year, but preparation is key.
For several years I have worked with CCS candidates as they prepare for the exam. In essence it boils down to four essentials that you must know in order to be successful.
1, Know how to use the coding books
You will need to master the ICD-10-CM, ICD-10-PCS and CPT code books. No encoders here! Physical books are required to sit for the CCS exam. Your ability to quickly find what you are looking for will make the difference in whether you are able to finish the exam.
2, Know the conventions of the classification systems
Main terms, subterms, abbreviations, indentations and instructional notes all have meanings which must be understood.
3. Know the guidelines
The guidelines are the rules which instruct us how a code may be assigned. The CCS candidate must recall, analyze and apply the guidelines to either a multiple choice question or a case scenario within 60 seconds, hence the masterly level of the exam.
4. Know the process
The structure and content of the exam is not a secret and you should be prepared for what you will face. Be prepared for all the domains. Practice with the test format. Time management is essential.
Pick the CSS Exam Preparation that is Best for You!
Whether you are a medical coder or a CDI Specialist, choose the path that best fits your learning style and develop the skills you need to pass the CCS! Learn more here.