Certified Coding Specialist (CCS®) Exam Update for International Candidates
The Commission on Certification for Health Informatics and Information Management (CCHIIM) is temporarily suspending the administration of the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) examination outside of the United States and Canada. This action has been taken due to concerns over exam security.
As a result, all CCS exam appointments scheduled between February 28, 2020 through at least June 30, 2020, have been canceled. AHIMA apologizes for this inconvenience. We are working to reopen the CCS exam by July 1, 2020.
Please note that all other AHIMA exams internationally have not been affected and those examination administrations are moving forward. Again, thank you for your interest, and we apologize for the inconvenience.
CCSs are skilled in classifying medical data from patient records, often in a hospital setting but also in other healthcare settings. These coding practitioners:
CCSs create coded data used by hospitals and medical providers to obtain reimbursement from insurance companies or government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Researchers and public health officials also use this data to monitor patterns and explore new interventions.
Coding accuracy is highly important to healthcare organizations because it has an impact on revenues and documentation of health outcomes. Accordingly, certification in coding has become an implicit industry standard. The CCS credential demonstrates a practitioner's tested skills in data quality and accuracy as well as mastery of coding proficiency. The CCS certification is a natural progression for professionals experienced in coding inpatient and outpatient records.>/p>
Eligibility requirements to apply for the exam can be met in several ways, including credentials held, education, and experience. Candidates must meet one of the five eligibility requirements from the list below:
Earlier this year AHIMA began taking steps to better protect your data and improve the security and privacy of customer information. As part of this effort, effective November 1st we will no longer accept paper exam applications. In addition, after December 1 we will no longer accept paper checks.
We will be transitioning to an ACH system at the beginning of 2020, which will allow you to pay via electronic fund transfer. Until we make this transition, we will only accept credit cards.
You can complete an online application at https://my.ahima.org/certification/getcertified
If you have questions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
To apply to take the CCS exam, review the information described here and then complete and submit the online application. Paper applications are no longer accepted.
Before applying, carefully review the information provided in the Candidate Guide. It is the candidate's responsibility to ensure eligibility before submitting the application. Applicants who are determined to be ineligible and submit an ineligible application or wish to withdraw their application will receive a refund of the application fee minus a $75 processing fee.
The CCS and CCA certifications are now included in the list of national certifications that may be submitted on the Demographic Data Collection Tool (DDCT) as part of the application for the Magnet Recognition Program® designation. You can view this information on the ANCC Accepted Certifications page.
Exam fees must be paid by credit card when completing the online application. Fees are as follows:
Premier Member Price: $284.05
Member Price: $299
Non-member price: $399
You will receive an Authorization to Test letter when your application to take the exam is approved. Please read it carefully. The ATT will state a four-month eligibility period during which you must schedule your exam appointment. Candidates who fail to schedule an examination appointment within the eligibility period indicated in their ATT will forfeit their application fee.
Candidates who arrive at the test center 15 minutes after the scheduled appointment will not be allowed to test and will forfeit the application fee.
Candidates who have forfeited their application fees in the situations noted above must complete a new application and submit a new application fee to reapply to take the exam.
AHIMA has developed this checklist to serve as a guide to the exam process. If you have questions, please contact email@example.com .
Organizations may purchase individual exams or exams in bulk. The process for organizations and candidates within these organizations is outlined below.
Organizations: Follow the steps below to purchase and administer exams for candidates within the organization:
Candidates: Follow the steps below to apply to take an exam ordered by your organization:
**PLEASE NOTE** Submission of official transcripts and certification of completion attestation are not affected by this change, and the normal process should continue.
Organizations who DO NOT purchase Exams
If you do not purchase exams for your students or staff the above instructions do not apply. Students now have the capability to upload their completed Early Testing Form (if applicable) to the early testing section of the application. This form should be uploaded at the time of the application
To fully prepare for the CCS exam, candidates may find it helpful to become familiar with the following information.
The exam is timed for 4 hours. It consists of two sections, a Multiple Choice Section and a Medical Scenario Section.
This section is made up of 97 multiple-choice questions. Of the 97 questions, 79 are scored and 18 are pretest questions that are not scored. The pretest questions are administered to evaluate the question for possible inclusion as a scored question in future exams. Pretest questions are interspersed throughout the exam and cannot be identified by the candidate. Whether answered correctly or incorrectly, they do not affect the candidate's score.
This section includes 8 scenarios with up to 3 separate questions. The questions require candidates to choose from a range of codes to answer the question. Of the 8 scenarios, 6 are scored and 2 are pretest scenarios that are not scored. (See Multiple Choice Section above for information on pretest items.)
AHIMA certification examinations are based on an explicit set of competencies. Competencies for the CCS exam were determined through a job analysis conducted with hospital-based coders.
Competencies for CCSs fall into seven domains. Each domain accounts for a specific percentage of the questions on the certification exam, as shown below. Download the CCS Exam Content Outline for information about the competencies within each domain. The exam tests candidates only on content pertaining to the competencies shown.
Domain 1 – Clinical Documentation (14-18%)
Domain 2 – Diagnosis Coding (28-32%)
Domain 3 – Procedure Coding (28-32%)
Domain 4 – Reporting Requirements for Inpatient Services (6-10%)
Domain 5 – Reporting Requirements for Outpatient Services (6-10%)
Domain 6 – Data Quality Management (3-7%)
Domain 7 – Privacy, Confidentiality, Legal, and Ethical Issues (1-5%)
Recommended Resources for Study
Candidate Guide (see p. 6 and 30 – 31 for information on the CCS credential and exam)
CCS Exam Content Outline - effective through April 30.
2020 CCS Exam Content Outline - effective starting May 1.
Certification Exam Pass Rates
The CCS exam is only offered outside the U.S. at specific times during the year. Applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis. The exam dates for 2019 are:
Exams will be offered outside the U.S. during these timeframes:
After reviewing the requirements below for international exams, please refer to the other CCA pages for information about materials allowed in the testing center, identification required, and other information.
Retest Policy (For testing outside the US only):
Candidates who have taken and failed the examination must wait a minimum of 165 days before applying to take the exam again. To retake the exam, candidates must resubmit an application with appropriate exam application fee.