The Certified Coding Associate (CCA) exam is offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) to identify candidates with coding competency in a hospital or physician’s office. The CCA is an entry-level credential that acknowledges you have the skills required of coding professionals. The CCA credential is a nationally accepted standard of achievement.
Are there prerequisites?
To be eligible for the CCA exam, you need to have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Six months coding experience, completion of an AHIMA-approved coding program, or completion of a similar coding program is recommended but not required.
How do I register for the examination?
You can register for the CCA exam online or by paper application. The online application and the paper application are found on the AHIMA website. The registration fee is $199.00 for AHIMA members, $299.00 for non-members, and is payable by personal check, money order, debit card, or credit card.
Once your application is received and approved, you are provided an authorization to test (ATT) notification. You have four months from the time you receive the ATT to schedule your exam at any of the Pearson VUE testing centers located nationwide.
What can I expect on the test?
The Certified Coding Associate exam is a computer-delivered, two-hour test consisting of 100 multiple-choice questions. The exam assesses your knowledge and understanding of competencies needed to perform at the basic entry level. The test is divided into six domains:
- Clinical classification systems: 30 – 34% of questions
- Reimbursement methodologies: 21 – 25% of questions
- Health records and data content: 13 – 17% of questions
- Compliance: 12 – 16% of questions
- Information technologies: 6 – 10% of questions
- Confidentiality and privacy: 6 – 10% of questions
Questions on the exam are developed using three different cognitive levels – recall, application, and analysis. You have four options to choose from, and only one answer is correct.
Are reference materials allowed during the exam?
Yes. You are required to bring the following codebooks with you to the testing center: ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS. If you take your exam after May 1, 2019, you need the 2019 version. For tests before May 1, 2019, you need the 2018 version. Your materials need to be clean from any notes from other reference sources, free from post-it notes or loose materials, and without handmade tabs. If you arrive at the test center without the required materials, you will not be allowed to test, and you will forfeit your exam fee.
Encoders are not allowed at the testing center.
Before reporting to the testing facility for your exam, make sure you have the required code books and two forms of identification. Both forms need to have your signature, and one form must contain your photo. Report to the center 30 minutes before your exam and present your identification and codebooks for review.
At your computer testing station, you are given an erasable pad and pen to take notes. Only your codebooks are allowed with you at your station; your personal belongings are stored when you check in. Manage your exam so you have time in the end to review your responses. When you are satisfied with your answers, submit your test for scoring, and report to the test center proctor for your unofficial score report.
Before you leave the testing center, you are provided your unofficial test results. The report states “pass” or “fail.” The number of correct answers is converted to a scaled score between 100 and 400. To pass the CCA exam, you need to achieve a scaled score of 300.
If you pass the examination, you are authorized to use CCA following your name. AHIMA adds newly certified individuals to their database automatically. Your registration means employers, agencies, and accrediting agencies can verify your status.
If you do not pass the exam, you must wait 45 days before registering for the exam. Subsequent tests require you to submit the application and fee again.
How Can I Prepare for the CCA Exam?
That’s a great question. We’ve broken down the answer into three parts.
- Do yourself a favor and study. Do not walk in unprepared. We have recommended prep materials below, but that only helps if you actually try. Plus, studying is actually proven to be the best antidote to test anxiety.
- Take care of yourself. Make sure you’re eating well, exercising, and sleeping. All of these things are scientifically linked to brain performance. If you take care of your body, you’ll be helping your grades.
- Get a study guide or set of flashcards. Some people study better a certain way. Find your study strengths and make the most of them. We’ve tried to make it easy for you by tracking down the best study guide and flashcard set for your exam. Below you’ll see links to both!