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About the Exams

AHIMA follows industry standards and best practices to create and update all exams. Subject matter experts (SMEs) are involved in every step of the exam development process which is overseen by AHIMA testing professionals.

Exam Questions

AHIMA exams contain a variety of questions or item types that require you to use your knowledge, skills, or experience to select the best answer. Each exam includes scored questions and pre-test questions randomly distributed throughout the exam. Pre-test questions are NOT counted in the final results.

These items contain a stem (or question) and four (4) answer choices including only one (1) correct answer.

These are like multiple choice items except there are two (2) or more correct answers. The item will tell you how many correct options there are.

Scenario questions present typical situations followed by a series of exam items based on the scenario.

AHIMA is committed to offering exams that contain current and relevant content. We achieve this by reviewing current questions and developing new ones to reflect changes in the profession.

All AHIMA certification examinations may contain a number of pre-test or “pilot test” questions. These questions are NOT scored. The purpose of pre-testing questions during the administration of an examination is to gather data on the performance of these items.

In order to accurately test the performance of these items, they will not be identified. Including pre-test questions on an examination is a common practice used by many national and state examination programs and is a critical step in developing additional test items and ensuring the continued reliability and validity of the examination. The time allowed for testing has been evaluated to ensure there is adequate time for completing both scored and pre-test questions.

All exam questions are classified based on one of the following cognitive levels:

Cognitive Level


Performance Required

Recall (RE)

Primarily measuring memory.

Identify terms, specific facts, methods, procedures, basic concepts, basic theories, principles, and processes.

Application (AP)

To measure simple interpretation of limited data.

Apply concepts and principles to new situations; recognize relationships among data; apply laws and theories to practical situations; calculate solutions to mathematical problems; interpret charts and translate graphic data; classify items; interpret information.

Analysis (AN)

To measure the application of knowledge to solving a specific problem and the assembly of various elements into a meaningful whole.

Select an appropriate solution for responsive action; revise policy, procedure, or plan; evaluate a solution, case scenario, report, or plan; compare solutions, plans, ideas, or aspects of a problem; evaluate information or a situation; perform multiple calculations to arrive at one answer.

Exam Scores

The passing score, or cut score, is established through a process known as standard setting. A panel of stakeholders who serve as subject matter experts (SMEs) provides judgments on how a minimally qualified candidate (MQC) would perform on the exam. The SMEs utilize the standard setting methodology to establish the passing scores. The results of this standard setting procedure along with the recommended cut score range are then compiled and presented to CCHIIM.

CCHIIM reviews the panel’s recommendations, as well as an estimated expectation of candidate performance, and consequently votes to approve the passing score. The approved passing score is then converted to a common or scaled score where all passing scores are set at 300, regardless of exam or version of an exam. Scaled scores are used to ensure consistency and fairness in reporting scores to all candidates. AHIMA converts all passing scores to 300 to establish consistency across all exams and programs.

There is no penalty for guessing. If you choose an incorrect answer, you simply do not earn the point(s) for that item. No points are deducted for incorrect answers.

All AHIMA exam scores are reported on a scale of 100 to 400. All AHIMA exams are scaled such that the passing score is 300. Any score of 300 or greater is a "pass." Any score below 300 is a "fail." The passing score is based on the knowledge and skills needed to demonstrate competence in the skill domain and the difficulty of the questions that are delivered to a candidate.

After you complete your exam, the points you earned on each question are summed and then compared with the cut score to determine whether the result is pass or fail.

AHIMA and Pearson VUE are responsible for the validity and integrity of the scores reported. Occasionally, candidate misconduct may cause a score report to be suspect. AHIMA and Pearson VUE reserve the right to void or withhold examination results if, upon investigation, violation of AHIMA’s regulations is discovered. Candidates are expected to fully cooperate with any investigation.

No two candidates have the same knowledge base and experience and educational backgrounds vary. Many candidates spend time studying and preparing for the exams to determine how well they might apply their knowledge and experiences. Therefore, it is not possible to train for or teach to the exam by reading certain books or memorizing specific information. The best way to prepare is to review and study the Exam Content Outline for the selected exam type.

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