What can I Expect During a Medical Coding Test?

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  • Written By: P.M. Willers
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 03 April 2020
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A medical coding test examines the skills required for certification as a professional coder. The exam will test your knowledge of medical terminology as well as reimbursement, payment, and insurance methodologies. A medical coding test also covers coding and reporting techniques and guidelines. The exam normally consists of two sections, Medical Coding Concepts and Reimbursement Methodologies. Normally, the examination has 150 questions and lasts for five hours and 40 minutes.

The primary and most helpful resource for scheduling and preparing for your medical coding test is your local chapter or association of professional coders. Depending on your position and level, there are several different medical coding tests that you may need to take and successfully pass. Contact your employer or your local professional chapter for information on which test is necessary and required for you. Once you have found which test or tests are necessary, you can schedule your exam and begin the preparation process.


A medical coding test must be scheduled ahead of time with your local chapter of professional coders. Your educational or medical institution can assist you in finding out how and when to schedule an exam. It is normally necessary to schedule a medical coding exam at least four weeks prior to the examination date. Depending on the specific medical coding exam and testing location, you may be allowed to bring manuals or code books. Check with your examination site or test proctor to find out which manuals can be taken into the testing site on examination day.

There are two main sections in a medical coding test. The portion of the exam testing medical coding concepts will cover areas such as anatomy and medical terminology, as well as aspects of the Health Care Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS). This portion will also include the International Classification of Diseases, ninth revision, clinical modification (ICD-9-CM) coding concepts.

The second portion of a medical coding test covers reimbursement methodologies. This area includes the examination of both inpatient and outpatient payment systems as well as physician reimbursement. Health insurance basics may also be included within this section.

Test preparatory courses are available both online and through various community groups and educational institutions. Many medical education institutions host review and study groups where one can become more familiar with the exam content, layout, and test structure. An online practice quiz is also an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the test.

Successfully passing the examination will generally result in the professional title of Certified Professional Coder (CPC). This title and certification are necessary for medical coding positions at most medical institutions. At medical institutions where certification is not required, credentialing or certification as a CPC may warrant a pay increase.


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