Keys to CCS Success: Know Your Resources

By Cari A. Greenwood, RHIA, CCS, CPC, CICA
Instructor, CCS Exam Review with Live Instruction

AHIMA’s Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) credential indicates mastery level coding proficiency. Anyone with a CCS will tell you – obtaining this credential is not an easy accomplishment. However, by preparing adequately and properly you will give yourself a much better chance of success at reaching your goal.

As an author and instructor for CCS credential preparation, I have identified several keys strategies you can employ now to help you be better prepared to pass the CCS certification exam.

In my experience and in my opinion, it is essential that CCS candidates develop a profound familiarity with their coding materials.

If the totality of your coding experience has been executed with an encoder, you could be in for a wake-up call when sitting for the CCS. The CCS exam requires that candidates appear at the testing center with the correct hard copy code books to take the exam. Show up without books or with the wrong books and you will not only be turned away, you will forfeit your exam fee.

Having the rights books is just the first step. Mastering the use of the code book is essential.

When scheduling your exam, be sure to leave ample time to familiarize yourself with the layout and format of the code books. CCS success will depend on your ability to quickly locate the resources you need to consult when taking the exam. These resources include:

  • Guidelines
  • Conventions
  • Indices
  • Appendices
  • Tables
  • Definitions
  • Symbols

In addition to knowing where these resources are located within the code books, you should know how to use and apply them during the practice of coding.

Additionally, you can put tabs in your books to help you find information more quickly. Note that the AHIMA Candidate Guide specifies that handmade tabs are not allowed.

Familiarity with the code books, gained through actively using them in your studies, will ensure you know where information is found when you need it. The CCS is a timed test. Time wasted trying to find something is time you will not have to answer other questions.


CCS Exam Review with Live Instruction 
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Online, self-paced, interactive and comprehensive review. Valuable study and test-taking strategies. Knowledge checks and coding scenarios to ensure mastery of material. Taught by Cari A. Greenwood, RHIA, CCS, CPC, CICA. Learn more here.

Disclaimer: This article is written for educational purposes only. Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure its accuracy and completeness. It is the responsibility of the reader to refer to the definitions, descriptions, conventions, and guidelines specific to each coding classification, as well as relevant laws and regulations when selecting and reporting medical codes.

About the Author

Cari A. Greenwood, RHIA, CCS, CPC, CICA
With more than 18 years of experience in health information management (HIM), Cari Greenwood, RHIA, CCS, CPC, CICA, is a well-rounded HIM professional who holds RHIA and CCS credentials from AHIMA, a CPC credential from AAPC, and is an AHIMA-approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer and an HFMA-Certified Inpatient Coding Auditor. Through her 12 plus years as a coding educator, Cari has gathered insight and information derived from her experience working with individual professionals and teams as they pursue advanced HIM training.

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