Take the Certification Exam! Just get started!

by Sandra Macica, MS, RHIA, CCS

Whether you want to take the CCA or the CCS certification exam within the next few months, I encourage you to just get started.   You don’t have to do it right; you just have to do something! Any preparation that you do will improve your coding expertise and benefit your future self.

You are not alone; many people struggle getting prepared for what seems to be a big task. The key is to break the task down into manageable pieces, for example our 30-day study plan is set up so that you study about ½ -1 hour a day.  Libman Education’s 30 day CCA plan and 30 day CCS plan are great tools to get you started.

Now you have a plan but what else do you need to make this task easier? Sitting down for the first time may be the most difficult part of studying. There is likely something you would much rather be doing. Set up your study space so that you feel really comfortable. Have your code books and other resources handy. Post some encouraging words around you. (Download one of my favorite motivational quotes here.)

Where do you start? Most of either the CCA or CCS exam is about your knowledge of coding and classification systems. For the first time you sit down, review your code books. Remember, while you may use an encoder to assign your codes at work, you will have to use books for the exam. If you are not familiar with the books, take the time to flip through the layout. Start with ICD-10-CM. Know where the coding guidelines are located and read through them. You may think you know the guidelines but you most likely focus on those areas of coding that you do every day. For example,if you only code inpatient visits, you may not be familiar with the outpatient guidelines. If you never code coronary artery bypass, you may not know how many codes to report for a quadruple bypass using a left internal mammary artery.

Reviewing the guidelines is a great place to start studying regardless of how much coding experience you have. You will begin to see where your strengths and weaknesses are.  Start making notes to yourself about where to focus your efforts. If you code neoplasms every day, give that section a review, ensure you really know what you think you know and then check it off your list.

You may want to consider purchasing a review course, readiness assessment or mock exam. Libman Education has a full suite of options to help you prepare for the CCA or the CCS.  Our exam reviews are designed for learners just like you: the course provides structure to your efforts, ensures all the areas of the exam are covered, provides plenty of test-taking practice, and provides access to an instructor to help answer your questions. Haven’t taken a multi-hour, 100 question exam in a while? We offer a readiness assessment to determine your skill level relative to the exam or consider a mock exam which includes one-on-one mentoring with a skilled coder/instructor.

Have questions about which path is right for you? Contact us at [email protected]. We are here to help.

About the Author

Sandy Macica, MS, RHIA, CCS
Sandy L. Macica is the former Director of Educational Content for Libman Education. Sandy is an experienced educator and coder with particular experience in developing online training for hospital coders in ICD-10-CM, ICD-10-PCS, and CPT® coding as well as coding certification exam preparation. Sandy is an enthusiastic presenter on all things coding and often speaks on complex coding topics for professional organizations and healthcare clients. Sandy is a long-time member of New York HIMA and was honored to receive the NYHIMA Distinguished Member Award in 2018.

2 thoughts on “Take the Certification Exam! Just get started!

  1. Patti Williams - October 23, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    I have taken the COC 2 times and have not passed it yet. I have been coding Ed’ for 15 yrs. but I need to get a certification. I thought about the CCA ? What is on the test?
    a lot of coding or more of other stuff.
    I did get the study guide previous and it helped a little . When you study you would think the stuff in the study guide would be on the test.
    I would like more information on what to get and how much for the CCA.

    Thank You Patti Williams

    • Libman Education - October 24, 2018 at 5:18 pm

      Hi Patti,
      The CCA is a foundational certification demonstrating proficiency in assigning accurate medical codes for diagnoses, procedures and services in all settings, including hospitals (both inpatient and outpatient) and physician practices.

      We offer a CCA Exam Review course that offers a comprehensive review of materials covered on the CCA credential exam — providing the material you need to pass.

      If you want to be sure you are pursuing the right credential, feel free to contact our Education Specialist, Angela Lehoux, at [email protected].

      More about the CCA Exam Review: https://libmaneducation.com/product/cca-exam-review/