CCDS exam

Any good tips for what to and how to study for the CCDS exam. And which DRG expert should I take with me?


  • I recently took the exam. I'd recommend at least reviewing the basic coding rules, especially principal diagnosis assignment. The most recent CCDS study guide definitely helped me, as well. What helped the most, at least for me, was the actual CDI experience. Hope that helps.

    - Richard G. RN, CCS, CCDS

  • Thanks for starting this thread! I am also beginning to study and have the updated study guide with practice exam questions. My concern is my lack of reviewing adult records: I have only practiced as a CDS in a children's hospital and am wondering if other peds folks have any tips that would be helpful.

    Jackie Touch, MSN, RN, CCM
  • Hi Jackie,
        I just took the exam.  If you master the practice test and study the new study guide book you will do fine.  Also, the first few pages of the ICD-10 code book were a big help.  Good Luck

    Penny Jefferson, BSN, RN, CCDS
  • Thanks, Penny...good to know!
  • Jackie, As a Peds CDI I did fine on the exam. I used the CCDS Study Guide and it adequately prepares you. Remember, you can write notes in your DRG Expert book!!
  • Ahh, yes, Jeff...I am going to be writing notes! Thanks so much!
  • I am wondering about taking my medication book in.  Do they reference a lot of medications in the exam?
  • I am wondering about taking my medication book in.  Do they reference a lot of medications in the exam?

    I am wondering about taking my medication book in.  Do they reference a lot of medications in the exam?

    Yes, you are allowed to take a drug reference into the exam
  • Thank Guys for all the discussions here, I have not been on the talk for a while so just catching up!
  • I do not see what actually constitutes the PASS score for the exam.   If the practice test yields a 75% or so, will that essentially give a "good" idea of being prepared?
  • will they be giving the test at the Las Vegas conference?  if so how much will it cost and what day will the exam be on.  thanks  
  • I would suggest a few things in prep- the CCDS Study Guide is always mentioned as you see above. I encourage candidates to review the Official Guidelines to Coding and Reporting- pay particular attention to the topic of determining the principal diagnosis. I would also suggest you assure you are proficient in the use of the DRG Expert as this is the resource you are allowed to bring into the exam. If there are specific issues you always get confused about- add notes ot the DRG Expert. for example if you get confused related to the sequencing of HIV as a principal write some notes on the topic in the book. (ACDIS allows notes within the book- just not post it notes or loose sheets). 

    We teach in our CCDS Exam Prep Bootcamp that you should also review the objectives of the exam and if there are areas in which you feel particularly weak- concentrate on this area in your exam prep plan. for example if you have had limited exposure to Quality measures or CDI metrics spend a bit more time in review of those areas. 

    Good Luck! It is a hard exam but that makes the CCDS credential all the more of an achievement. 

  • Taking in two hours; i'll come back with more feedback!

  • Looking at practice tests, it seems most are going for somewhat older ICD-10 rules, like needing to query for a link between DM and a foot ulcer or between CHF and HTN. Should I assume 'original' icd-10 rules for the exam or is it constantly updated? 

  • the exam was reviewed for FY 2017 changes as well as most recently for 2018, to assure no questions contradict any new guidelines. That said, it is important to consider when reviewing records if there is possibly another etiology for that foot ulcer for example, or any other complication listed under the word "with". A query may still be warranted if there are competing contributing factors. good luck in your studies. 
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