What Would Be The Best Option For The CPC Exam – Online or In-Person?
The CPC examination can now be taken online or in person. Which might be better for you? I look at the pros and cons of each exam type and discuss which I would go for if I was a new student sitting for the CPC exam.
The AAPC CPC examination now has an online exam option. And if you’re someone who’s about to sit for the exam, You might be wondering what’s better for you—the online or the in-person exam. So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both of them.
What is CPC Exam?
The CPC exam has been the most popular coding credential for a long time. And for a long time, you could only take it in person and an exam proctored by one of the AAP C’s local chapters or through an instructor who had permission to Proctor exams independently because of their relationship with the AAPC. But because of some of the changes with Covid 19, getting those exams online got expedited.
CPC examinees now can take the exam online proctored for $299 for one attempt or in person for $399, for which you get two tries. So now there are many things to expect between both exams.
You’ll still need all your paper books just because you’re taking the exam, maybe online through an online Proctor. So they’re still going to have you open up your book and flip through it to make sure that you don’t have any post-it notes and the extra pages in there that you haven’t whited out an entire page and written notes in there because that is not allowed in the exam.
So they’ll have you flip through all of your books to check through them, and the books you can use are the same. So you have to use the AMA Edition only at the CPG, and then your choice of ICD-10-CM is multiple-choice timed exams.
Pros of the online CPC exam
So let’s start with some of the pros of the online CPC exam.
So one of the big pros is that no one will see you taking the exam. You don’t have to worry about spying on co-workers who might be sitting for another exam or that anyone will see you that you may work with or get that word back to someone you work with.
If you don’t want people to know that you’re sitting for your CPC exam and want to be private about it and only say something until maybe after you’ve passed, the online option might be good for you. Because then you don’t have to worry that anyone but you will know that you’re taking the exam.
Another advantage of the online exam option is that many people are less anxious. There’s a lot less that can maybe go wrong. When you’re in an in-person proctored exam, there are a lot of things around that are uncontrollable.
You can probably have a little bit more control of if you’re taking them online because you’re in your own space that you have control of. So you might be a little bit less anxious because there’s less stuff around you. Some examinees have reported that they are moving through faster in online exams. They can just kind of like it’s quieter. They’re in control of the environment and are going through the exam a little faster now.
Pros of the in-person CPC exam
The pros of the in-person exam are that you get breaks. When taking the online proctored exam, it’s in two sections. It’s in section 1 and section 2, and you can take them at two different times. You can’t schedule them back-to-back if you want. You can schedule them at whatever is convenient to take that second one.
You can complete section one and move around in section one, but once you’re done with section one, you finish that up and move on to section two.
You can’t go back to section one and every answer question so that you can move around in the exam, but only in that section you’re taking at the time.
So another pro of the in-person exam is that you can flip back and forth as much as you want through the entire exam. Also, with the in-person exam, you can take papers and but you have to hand them in at the end because you can’t take any documents that you wrote stuff on out with you. But you can write in your exam booklet that you can highlight things, cross things out, and white stuff out.
You can’t do that in the online exam. In the online exam, you’re allowed to take it on a whiteboard. So you can show the online Proctor your whiteboard that there’s nothing on it, nothing on the back of it. And if you want to do the process of elimination markings on the whiteboard, you can do that and then erase it Afterwards And then show them that it’s erased.
So with the in-person exam, if you look, If you need that paper, then you might want to go with the in-person exam because that’s the only option. You’re going to have to write stuff down. And with the online exam, you get those two attempts even though it’s a little more.
So if you don’t pass that first attempt, you can return for a second.
Cons of the online CPC exam
One of the cons of the online exam is that there are some techniques to have an external webcam. Webcam should be movable from one to around to show everyone what is going on in your office. You can show them your desk by positioning that webcam. You can’t do that with a laptop camera.
It would be harder to move your whole laptop around to show you what’s happening in your room. And what’s happening in the environment, if anyone else is in there or papers on your desk.
So you have to be a little bit familiar with that equipment, how to use it, and then just using online exams. Then, like you have to know how to navigate through them, use your computer to click those radio buttons or whatever they are to select the correct answer for the online exam.
You also need to have a private, undisturbed space. So if you’re in an area where your kids are constantly running around or your pet, you might not have the availability to have a private, undisturbed space for an extended period, and again, you only get that one attempt.
Cons of the in-person CPC exam
One of the cons of the in-person exam is that bubble grid you have to fill in. There have been examinees that if you’re on question 10, you seem to skip this one, go on to question 11, and go back to fill your bubble grid. Unfortunately, for question 11, you put it in the wrong spot, which messes up your whole bubble grid.
You’re reliant on ensuring that everything is aligned correctly on the bubble grid you filled it in. You didn’t miss a spot that you didn’t accidentally, which means skipping over a question and then going to the next one and starting filling out, and you filled it in the wrong. After all, you missed something on the bubble grid and got everything out of whack with your answers. And again, you will have those uncontrollable distractions with the in-person exam.
I have a friend who proctored an exam once and told me that she had an examinee that was so anxious. She passed out during the exam, and they had to go and get medical help. So they had to stop the exam for everyone taking it, stop the clock and then restart it. Then, finally, they called the AAPC to explain what had happened.
But that can make everyone else a little bit more anxious about their examination. You can find details about what is required for the online versus the in-person exams on the AAPC website.
If it was me and I was a new coder just sitting for my CPC exam, I would probably go with the online option because that would be, for me, a good option. However, I have a private office, the tech, and I feel more comfortable filling in and online because I’m more tech-savvy.
Suppose I was someone who liked paper which is for certain things I do. If I was someone who’s like, no, I want that paper, I want to cross things out, highlight items, circle things, and write notes and the margins of the exam book. So I would probably go with the in-person exam for that reason.
FAQ on CPC Exam
- Are the online and in-person pass rates of the CPC exam different?
Yes, so we are seeing that individuals are ending their exams quicker in the online testing. They do not require as much time to complete the exam, and we see a higher pass rate for those taking it online. If the students were used to the online delivery or practice exams, it felt like another practice exam to those individuals because they had been preparing for an online platform all along.
That’s one of the things we’ve recommended to those thinking about doing the online option. If you’ve been able to navigate online with the practice exams, that’s perfect practice for you in the online exam for the certification.
- How should I study for the CPC exam?
Get acquainted with your manuals. AMA’s CPT® Professional Edition and your pick of ICD-10-CM and HCPCS Level II books are all permitted throughout the exam. It would help if you understood what to anticipate on the test. Also, it is better to attempt a practice exam.
- How much time should be spent studying for the CPC test?
You should spend at least two months studying for the AAPC CPC exam. The more you can remember without consulting your books throughout the test, the better. To get the best score, you’ll be sure to complete all questions within the allotted time.
- Is the AAPC CPC test challenge?
The exam is challenging and unquestionably different from the CCS examination from Ahima. However, the only industry that would take you if you are applying for coding positions without experience is physician coding, and they demand a CPC certificate.
- Can I retake the CPC exam indefinitely?
You may retake the exam twice as necessary to pass it, but keep in mind that CPC exam fees will apply each time. The Certified Professional Coder exam costs $390, as we have already explained, and you are given a free retake after each payment.