You Can Pass The CPC Exam On The First Try

Knowing how to prepare for the CPC exam and having an effective strategy for taking the exam is just as important as your medical knowledge and coding skills. There are a number of things you can do to make sure you pass on the first try.

Make sure you understand what will be included on the exam. There are 150 multiple choice questions that are broken down into roughly fifteen sections including medical terminology, pathology, anesthesia, etc. To pass, you need to achieve 70% overall (not 70% in each section). Also, make sure you understand basic coding concepts including who develops, maintains and updates CPT, ICD-9 and HCPCS and that you have a general understanding of HIPAA, reimbursement rules, CMS guidelines and audit procedures.

Plan your time. The fact that you have five hours and forty minutes to complete the exam does not mean you set aside two minutes, fifteen seconds for each question. Some questions will take much longer while there will be others you can answer on the spot. Answering the questions you know on your first pass, then going back for the harder ones, is always a good strategy.

Prepare your manuals. The CPC exam is open book (with an approved CPT, ICD-9 and HCPCS manual). If through your studies, you have not learned how to mark up your books with important notes, guidelines, reminders or use the “bubbling and highlighting” strategy, make sure you do so. Use tabs to help you locate certain sections in your manuals. You can also mark up your answer sheet such as crossing out wrong answers and marking questions you plan to answer later.

Learn how to remain calm and focused. Here are common mistakes that happen under pressure (and what you can do about them):

Choosing the wrong answer when you know the right one. This happens a lot so always double check. And be very careful when marking the answer grid.
Not understanding the question. Read each question and scenario carefully and look for key words to help you find the proper code or answer. And be aware, for example, that a scenario that talks about a 52-year old man doesn’t always mean that age or gender will be a factor in choosing the correct code.
Leaving a question blank. Even though you’re not sure, make your best guess. You have a 25% chance of getting it right.
Getting tense and losing focus. It’s a great idea to take deep breaths on a regular basis and it’s OK to lean back in your chair and close your eyes for a few moments to recharge.
Dreading a part of the exam. It’s important to note that even though you feel that there is a section (topic) that is a weak point for you, the questions in that section may come easy.

Look up the answers (codes) first for surgery questions. At first, this may seem an odd approach but it works well for specific coding questions, Rather than reading the scenario word for word, looking up the codes first allows you to eliminate one or more of the wrong answers. Then you can go back and ascertain the right answer.

Get a good night’s sleep and eat a good, light breakfast. Cramming the night before may do more harm than good. A good breakfast is important and you can bring water, snacks or candy (cinnamon disks are great for staying alert!) to the testing location.

Passing the CPC exam on the first try is within reach if you fully prepare for the exam and know how to make the best use of your time.

Dale A Schmidt is a medical professional and educator who lives in Bellingham, WA. He specializes in medical coding for physician based practices.

Guide to Becoming a Junior Web Designer

Once you’ve decided you want to become a web designer, you may be confused at what steps to take next. Regardless of your background, current skills and abilities, you may be wondering where to begin. Starting a career can be exciting and thrilling – it’s a wonderful career to get into. You must have have a solid grasp on traditional design fundamentals, as well as knowledge of current technologies that will help you perform more efficiently. Starting on your path, you want to give yourself the best start to your budding career.


The responsibilities can range greatly depending on the design agency. Although there are many jobs you could possibly be doing, here is a list of the most common job responsibilities to expect as a web designer:

– Work with art directors to prototype and design websites
– Code with HTML/CSS, possibly PHP and JavaScript
– Wire framing interfaces
– Meet with clients to discuss how you can best communicate their vision
– Strong knowledge of Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.

Even if you don’t have some of the above skills, don’t worry. All of these skills are easily attainable by getting a good design degree. The responsibilities won’t be as demanding as a senior position. Working in a real-world environment at your first job as a web designer will give you an invaluable experience by providing you with skills you wouldn’t necessarily learn in school.

Get a Good Education

Getting a degree will naturally be the next step in progressing your career as a junior web designer. Having a degree is a typical stepping stone in your progress. Many design schools have the technology and resources to give you a curriculum that will provide you with a solid foundation for success. One of the biggest advantages of attending school is that you are exposed to a wide variety of art and design courses that will be beneficial to your overall education. Even though you think that some of these classes may be a waste of time, it is important to always create connections back to design and how it will help you in your career.

Finding the appropriate education will help you develop a solid design process, discipline, time management and communication skills and different methods to approaching different design problems. Pursuing a career in the industry is both challenging, but satisfying. If you are willing to put in the effort, then becoming designer will be a good career path for you.


There are a variety of skills you’re going to have to learn (depending on whether you want to specialize in design or development). If you specialize in one or two areas, you’re more likely to be successful. It is pretty to focus your skills in one or two disciplines, than spreading yourself thin over many and being mediocre at all of them.

– Exemplifying passion and eagerness to learn
– Ability to multitask in fast-paced environment
– Great time management skills
– Excellent communication skills, both oral and written
– Attention to detail
– Follows through on projects and ask appropriate questions
– Proactive and detail oriented
– Team player and has ability to be a team player
– Works well independently

Often times, employers will hire a junior web designer based on these skills because it means they show potential. Many employers are looking for someone who is easy to work with because technical web design skills can always be taught. Not everyone will be good at both design and programming. However, have a basic knowledge of parallel skills will make you ten times more valuable to employers.

Work on Your Resume & Portfolio

A solid web design portfolio is your doorway to success as a web designer. Building a solid portfolio will not only convince possible employers, but if you plan on doing any freelance, it will attract the type of clientele you want to work with. Your portfolio must be creative and reflect your personality and style. Prospective clients and agencies need to see what kind of work you have previously worked on so they have a general idea of what you can offer them in terms of your web design.

Building your resume is mainly getting as much experience as you can. Having a web design degree on your resume will be a major bonus, but it also looks good to participate in extra curricular activities and web design internships. Having a solid web design resume will be very attractive to employers – since many web design students don’t have much experience.

Career Progression

As a junior web designer, it is very common for individuals to work their way up within an design agency. Patience is an important virtue when progressing as a junior web designer. Don’t expect to know everything overnight – it takes years to build up skills that are considered at a “professional” level. Starting out takes time, but if you have the passion to become successful is it a reachable and very attainable goal. If you work on all the above skills, requirements, portfolio and resume building and career progression, you’ll be well on your way.