by Mary Beth York, CCS, CCS-P
Senior Associate at Barry Libman Inc. and Libman Education
The CCS credential is a mastery-level credential and not for the novice coder. Candidates for the credential who do not have considerable hands-on experience in both hospital inpatient and outpatient coding will have a difficult time passing the exam.
The CCS certification exam is not designed to trick you. It is designed to test your ability to recall, analyze, and apply the Coding Guidelines to either a multiple choice question or a case scenario.
Successful CCS exam preparation is twofold: you must
1. Know your coding guidelines.
2. Know how to use your ICD-10 book skillfully.
Sounds simple but it is a lot of work! Having prepared hundreds of students to take and pass the CCS exam, I have identified the attributes of a successful CCS Exam study plan. Make the most of the time you have to prepare for the exam by following these suggestions:
1. Allow 8-13 weeks of preparation time.
2. Don’t go it alone: Studying with a buddy and/or group will keep you focused and on track.
3. Read the AHIMA Candidate Handbook, which provides specific details of the exam’s contents.
4. Study using the ICD-10-CM, ICD-10-PCS and AMA CPT code books and not an encoder: the exam is based on your ability to use the books skillfully.
5. Read and thoroughly understand the ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting.
6. Review Coding Clinic for ICD-10-CM and AMA’s CPT Assistant. Issues that arise in these publications often appear on the test.
Information on AHIMA’s CCS certification is available here.