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Resolved Marking up books

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Automated Robot
Staff member


I read somewhere that if your books are too marked up they may not be allowed when you sit for a certification exam, does anyone know if this is true?

Ruth Sheets:

You can have handwritten notes that you use (or would use) in everyday coding. You can certainly put a lot on handwritten notes in the books, but don't copy questions from any test questions. Don't insert other sheets of paper! This is what it says on the AAPC website:

What is allowed in our books?

Handwritten notes are acceptable in the coding books only if they pertain to daily coding activities. Questions from the Study Guides, Practice Exams or the Exam itself are prohibited. Tabs may be inserted, taped, pasted, glued, or stapled in the manuals so long as the obvious intent of the tab is to earmark a page with words or numbers, not supplement information in the book.
No materials (other than tab dividers) may be inserted, taped, pasted, glued, or stapled in the manuals.

The above is from http://www.aapc.com/certification/faq.aspx

I had all the types of notations that are discussed on the Blitz videos, and also a list of medical terms that I tended to get confused on, with brief definitions that I put on the blank page in the back of my CPT book. The woman checking the books did not have any concern about the level of notations in my books. She probably spent no more than 30 seconds looking at my books.

If your proctor follows the rules, you should have no trouble with lots of handwritten notes in the approved books. :)

Alicia Scott:
I have been a proctor for several years now. It is no trouble to mark up your books what does concern me or other proctors is if it looks like you have answers to tests in the manuals. I have put in mine codes that often go together. For example by the appendicitis code I might have the CPT code for an open or closed appendectomy written in. That could look suspicious if they thought I had been writing answers to an exam in. I do this for quick reference while I was teaching.

You can't circle codes that were on your exam for example. It would not be wise really as it would take time away from your exam. The best thing out there is the Blitz to show you what is important and not. How not to over mark your manuals. If there are terms you get confused with then by all means make a note in the blank areas. Guide lines you struggle with make note.

As the popularity of Laureen's Blitz is growing you will see more people with "Bubble & Highlighted" manuals.

Remember this, they know you can look up a code. All the answer are given to you as it is multiple choice. You are being tested on the GUIDELINES! Read the notes before the sections.

Example of this is DM codes. If that is in the choices then you can bet they want to know you will use 5 digits because all 250. DM codes have 5. Manifestation order, what do you code if the doctor doesn't state what type of DM the pt has?

Carolyn Heath:
I usually write my notes on the blank pages in the coding books and some next to the codes themselves. I will be proctoring my first exam in September of this year and when I checked the books, I will be looking for how the books are being marked by flipping through the book. When it gets closer to my first exam proctoring, I will be asking for advice on what to take to the exam site while waiting for the examinees to finish.

Alicia Scott:
Proctoring can be fun. When we were using the college I could sit at my desk. You would think I would work but most of the time I read a book or played a computer game. I don't get to do that often without being interrupted. Pure bliss to be able to read a book for over 5 hrs without having to wash dishes, do laundry to answer where or why from the children. It was a nice break once a month.

I read somewhere that if your books are too marked up they may not be allowed when you sit for a certification exam, does anyone know if this is true?
Mary, when I took my exam last year the proctor spent less than 10 seconds looking at my books. We had 70 students taking their CPC boards and only 6 proctors - it was crazy! We were asked to change rooms 3 times, then the proctors switched rooms themselves while trying to read the instructions to us. After starting 30 minutes late we had to listen to the people in the room next to us have a party for 3 of the 5+ hours. One of our proctors went next door and explained we were trying to concentrate on an exam and the people made it a point to be even louder after she spoke with them. It was a miracle that any of us passed - our books being checked were the least part of our problem!

When I took my exam in December, they checked our books for writing, but mostly for loose papers by shaking them upside down. I was really nervous because I had lots of notes, charts, bubbling & highlighting, compared to the folks sitting near me. I felt relieved when the tester joked that my books, looked like her exam books, and that she has kept them because of all her notes inside.

Carolyn Heath:
Michele and Mary, I was in a situation where I was taking my exam (and this was my second time) that the outside of the room at the hospital I was taking my exam at was under construction. The only thing was that it was on a Sunday morning where there was peace and quiet and the people who was doing the construction decided to work on that day. All that hammering and banging was unbearable for two hours. One of the proctors went out and told them that people were taking a test, but it did not make any difference. I, along with other test takers, complained to AAPC about it and they let me take the test over with no charge. When you write your evaluation about the test for AAPC to review, they will pay attention to that.

I have a question what about writing a formula for calculating anesthesia unit. Is it ok to write in my CPT book? Thanks in advanced.

Carolyn Heath:
I have the formula for calculating anesthesia unit written in my book, so it is OK to have it written in your book. You should write it in your future CPT books as well. You never know when you are going to need it.

Ruth Sheets:
Yes, definitely because a coder might want to have that handy for everyday coding. I had it in my book at the time of my exam.

Thank you Carolyn and Ruth. I will definitely write the formula in my CPT book.
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