How to Prepare for the CCS Exam

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Certified coding specialists (CCS) play a crucial role in the mission of hospitals and medical clinics. They need skills in using numerical coding systems and a strong working knowledge of medical and disease terminology. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) administers the CCS test. AHIMA provides or recommends many resources to prepare for the CCS exam. Coders who use the resources to prepare and pass the exam can obtain CCS certification and expand opportunities for employment in the medical coding field.

Review the AHIMA outline of CCS exam content. Use this summary to understand the various subjects that you need to master for the exam. Identify your strong and weak areas so you can focus on specific problem areas when preparing for the CCS test.

Purchase the coding books used on the CCS exam. CCS examinees must use these coding books during the test to perform simulated coding exercises. Refer to the AHIMA list of allowable code books for the exam. Purchase the first three volumes of the ICD-9-CM coding book at a bookstore. Get a copy of the CPT coding book directly from the American Medical Association.

Familiarize yourself with these coding books. You can also buy a workbook that has sample coding problems and answers. Use the coding books to do the coding practice problems. Read the answers and study the explanations to improve your coding skills.

Use a review guide prepared specifically for CCS examinees. Study the material and take the practice test. This guide provides practice on case studies like the coding problems on the actual test.

Review the AHIMA list of recommended resources for additional publications. The CCS study resources include both printed publications and online e-courses. Ensure that you use a variety of resources that include information on both inpatient and outpatient services.

Do the CCS practice questions provided by AHIMA. Wait until you think you are ready for the test to answer these practice questions. Doing these questions last will allow you to assess your level of readiness for the test. Go back and review the study material and workbooks if you do not perform well on these problems.


Focus on the areas where you have no experience or knowledge if you have financial difficulties in purchasing all of these materials. Purchasing all the books and courses may be too expensive for some. Look for other local coders preparing for the exam to split costs and save money on study materials.


Avoid paying multiple test fees. Coders can take the test multiple times but must pay for each test. Apply only after you are confident that you can pass the exam.