Four Steps to CCS Success: It’s What you Know!

Four Steps to CCS Success: It’s What you Know!

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.


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About the Author

Mary Beth York, CCS, CCS-P, CIC
Mary Beth York has over twenty year's experience in coding, auditing and documentation improvement for hospitals ranging from community to teaching hospitals as well as physician group practices. Mary Beth is the author of Libman Education's highly successful CCS Exam Prep course, as well as Libman Education's highly successful CCA Exam Review course. 

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