CCDS Certification

I want to take the CCDS exam , but trying to figure out where to begin. I was going to order the CCDS Study guide., I have coded for many years ( Inpatient ) , and have done CDI since 2010 . Any suggestions, I hear the test is very hard and not many pass on there first time ?? Would really appreciate any suggestions anyone could give me ?
     Debbie Carmack , CDS


  • If you've been an inpatient coder and have been doing CDI for the last 7 years, you should adequately be prepared for the exam. That's not to say you do not need to study, but you should have the knowledge to apply to the exam. The study guide is a great resource!

    Good luck and let us know how you do!

  • A nice thing about the study guide is that it comes with an online test.  I really think it is helping me get comfortable with the way questions are phrased.


  • It really surprises me that we don't have more guidance on what  others think we should be studying.   with so many certified on this site, it would be nice to hear from more people. 
  • I'd recommend the study guide.

  • I'd recommend the study guide.

    In agreement with Paul, I found the study guide to be very useful for preparation. That, along with the resources allowed into the exam (and practicing how to navigate these resources) will certainly help with a confidence boost. Good Luck!
  • Hi Debbie

    I took the exam on 6/15/17 and passed on the first try. My background is bedside CCU nursing and have only worked in CDI for 3 years.

    I obtained the CCDS study book and started with the practice exam first-this helped me identify areas of need within my own practice. I utilized my results to study from the CCDS exam book-so I got the most out of my study time. I then also took time to review ICD-10 Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting. I implemented using a DRG Expert book during concurrent reviews since my facility utilizes a 3rd party software vendor in the generation of DRGs/PDxs, etc.

    Though the CCDS study book does provide some official coding guidelines, I wanted to be sure given Coding Clinic changes that influence DRG selection now. Since the Coding Clinics are coming out quarterly, the exam isn't modified quarterly, I just wanted to be sure I was up to date in my practice.

    I also recommend really studying how to evaluate an effective CDI team-reading reports from your facility to see if you can pick up on trends (i.e. the Cardiothoracic department had 2 surgeons on vacation this month so there was a dip in the surgical CMI) and also evaluating Provider engagement. This definitely helps when it comes time to take the exam.

    Best of luck!


  • Thanks for sharing, Courtney!

    It is wonderful to have a previous exam taker to truly give some insight as to what to study. Others have given more general statements.

  • I also recently took and passed the CCDS certification examination. I prepared in a manner very similar to Courtney: I purchased the CCDS Study Guide, took the practice examination first to identify areas where I needed more focused studying, and went from there. I also reviewed the Official Coding Guidelines especially sequencing rules and definitions for principal and secondary dx. The CDI Handbook was also helpful.

    Like Courtney stated, spending time studying various reports and methods of evaluating CDI impact is critical. Familiarize yourself with CMI, HACs, PSIs, VBP, and PEPPER reports. I felt the exam was true to the objectives in the exam candidate handbook, so definitely review the handbook to guide your studies.

    Best of luck to you!!
    Jackie touch

  • I took my test June 29th and passed!  I have been a critical care nurse for over 15 years plus a CDI for 4 years,  I agree that the CCDS study guide will definately help you pass your test... If you are new to CDI, please go ahead and obtain this study guide!   it will help you to understand why and how you should be conducting your reviews.   Best of luck! 

    Linda Frederick, RN-CCDS

  • The Study guide is a great place to start, Fran Jurcak did a great job in writing that reference. Assure you are comfortable with the DRG Expert as a resource.  I also suggest candidates read resources such as ACDIS white papers, Official Guidelines for Coding & Reporting, AHIMA/ACDIS Query practice Brief etc. also I hear many candidates find questions related to analytics, CDI Metrics, PEPPER, Quality monitors difficult. If these are areas for which you are not exposed to on a regular basis- I suggest you seek out a mentor who does work with this to identify how metrics are interpreted and used to evaluate program success and needed areas of growth. Lastly, if you come from the clinical side and your experience was very narrow to a specific area- for example cardiovascular- take some time to review areas in which you may not feel as secure- for example neuro or GI. Or if you come from an HIM background take time to consider those areas clinically in which you have the least experience in record review and add them to your study plan. 
    We also have a CCDS Prep Bootcamp which many have found helpful. 
    Review techniques for test taking as well. Read the entire question thoroughly, think what your answer would be, then look at the multiple choice suggestions. Don't over analyze the question with 'what ifs' take it face value. then relax, sleep well, eat a good breakfast- just like your mom always told you- arrive early and take a deep breath..."You've Got This"
  • Has anyone taken the CCDS exam since they made changes and do not give results immediately? I scheduled my test for October 6th and am very curious.  Thank you!
  • Live scoring is now in effect. the modifications to the exam primarily reflected changes within the code set. Nothing extreme.
  • Hi,

    I have a question. Do I have to study about PEPPER for the CCDS exam?

    Thank you


  • Yes, I suggest to have a good understanding of PEPPER reports, CMIs, PSIs, HACs, CDI Analytics and Official Coding Guidelines. The CCDS Study Guide will definitely be helpful so you can assess what weaknesses you may have to focus on your review. Good luck!

    Nina L. MSN RN CCDS

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