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LMC's Most Common Mistakes When Taking The AAPC's CPC Medical Coding Certification Exam

medical coding


Taking the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) Certified Professional Coder (CPC) medical coding certification exam is essential for those looking to become successful physicians or outpatient medical coders. However, it can also be a challenging experience. As with any test, there are common mistakes that many exam takers make that can hinder their success. This document will discuss some common errors and provide tips on avoiding them.

Not Studying Enough

One of the biggest mistakes that medical coding exam takers make is not studying enough. The AAPC certification exam covers medical terminology, anatomy, compliance and regulatory, CPT coding, HCPCS coding, and iCD 10CM coding, so reviewing and understanding them is crucial to fully prepare. Many people need to pay more attention to the time and effort required to study for this exam, resulting in a lower chance of passing.

Creating and sticking to a study schedule is crucial to avoid this mistake. Give yourself enough time to review all the material and start studying on time. Utilize study aids such as the LMC Physician/Outpatient Medical Coding Course, LMC review course, an exam study guide, and practice exams to help you prepare effectively.

Not Familiarizing with Exam Format

Another common mistake is to familiarize oneself with the exam format. The AAPC certification exam is a timed, multiple-choice test with 100 questions. Medical terminology (4 questions), Anatomy (4 questions), Compliance and regulatory (3 questions),  ICD-10-CM (5 questions), HCPCS Level II (3 questions), for CPT Coding(58 questions), including 6 in each Surgery Section(10000 series- 60000 series), E/M(6 questions), Radiology(6 questions), Pathology and Laboratory(6 questions), Medicine Section(6 questions) and Anesthesia has 4. Lastly, there are 10 cases to code with one question each. Understanding how much time you have per question is essential to manage your time effectively. Additionally, knowing the types of questions and the scoring system can help you strategize and answer correctly. Learn Medical Coding Academy includes 10+ practice tests and real-case scenarios to code in our medical coding course program.

Review the exam guidelines and format before taking the test to avoid this mistake. Take advantage of practice exams or study materials that simulate the exam scenario. This will help you become more comfortable with the format and minimize surprises on test day.

Not Paying Attention to Keywords

Many exam takers need to pay more attention to keywords in the questions. These keywords can provide valuable clues on approaching and answering a question correctly. For example, words like "not" or "except" can completely change the meaning of a question.

To avoid this mistake, take your time when reading each question and underline essential keywords. Make sure you fully understand what the question is asking before selecting an answer. When in doubt, refer back to your study materials for clarification.

Not Managing Time Effectively

As mentioned before, time management is crucial when taking the AAPC certification exam. Many people make the mistake of spending too much time on one question and not leaving enough time to answer the remaining questions. This can result in incomplete sections and a lower overall score.

To avoid this mistake, pace yourself and try not to spend too much time on any one question. If you encounter a difficult question, mark it and move on to the next one. This will ensure you have enough time to answer all questions and review any marked ones before the end of the exam.


Taking the AAPC certification exam can be a nerve-wracking experience, but avoiding these common mistakes can increase your chances of passing. Remember to study diligently, familiarize yourself with the exam format, pay attention to keywords in questions, and manage your time effectively. You can conquer the exam and become a certified medical coder with proper preparation and a calm mindset. Good luck!

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