CCDS preparation

Hey guys, 

I'm about to take CCDS. Can you please let me know some resource material you guys have been using while preparing to take this exam? How was your experience with this exam? 

Thank you in advance, 


  • By the way I'm thinking of not taking the DRG expert while sitting for the exam. Has anyone of you been taking this exam without this book (DRG expert). Thnx
  • Taking it this week so I will let you know.  I am taking the DRG expert, wasn't going to take the PCS, but just changed my mind and asked a coder friend to loan it to me at the last minute.  I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.  I have been leaning on the pocket guide, the study guide, and a boot camp type book the director at my facility used for a 3 day education we had last spring which closely mimics the pocket guide.  Good luck, I'm a little intimidated by the 70 something % pass rate, and not knowing how often the test is updated.  I felt like the practice test had some bad answers, even after researching questions I got wrong by referencing the pocket guide and talking it over with my manager and other CCDS staff.  
  • I took it about four months ago. Just used the study guide and passed. I did need the DRG expert for a few questions but did not need PCS. .02
  • Thank you guys. I appreciate the answers. The thing is I don'y want to buy DRG expert. I do have ICD-10-CM  book and ICD-10-PCS. Can I bring this books instead? 
  • The questions will want you to assign or analyze a DRG, at least when I took it - things probably change all the time. Not sure anything but a DRG expert will do. Maybe you can borrow one?  
  • Hi everyone. Just took the test last week and passed with a 99% . I used the CCDS studyguide and took the practice test questions in the back of the book repeatedly. I had the DRG expert, both books but did not use them.and i used the Mosby drug reference book for a few questions. Good luck to everyone. 
  • I just took the test yesterday and passed! I just read the post above that mentions the 70% pass rate. I believe it. After finishing the test, I was positive that I had failed.  I was very surprised I passed. My time management skills were way off.  I neglected to use the timer button on the test (there wasn't a clock in the testing facility and I don't wear a watch) and when I did push the timer button, I only had about 50 minutes left to answer over 90 questions. I am also a certified OR nurse and this test was much harder. I thought many of the questions were confusing and didn't necessarily pertain to the "normal" CDI work flow. One example is --4 medications were listed in the question and the question was what diagnosis would you expect to see on the chart.  'The were 4 single diseases listed  as answers and when I looked up all 4 of the medications, they could be indicated for use on more than one disease process. Let's say my drug handbook indicated that each medication could be used to treat disease process A,B,C, and D but answer choices  A-B -G-H were listed as  single answers.  How do you decide between A & B.?  I studied by using the Review Handbook, taking the practice test several times, and looking up resources on ACDIS.  Good Luck
    Alb123, there is a certification exam tab on ACDIS with a candidate handbook.  They are very specific about the books that can be brought to the exam.  Only the DRG expert any year and a drug handbook are allowed.  
    Theresa Coonan BSN, RN, CCDS
  • Did you use the DRG Book Rebecca?
  • Be sure to check to see which books are allowed. ICD-10 CM and PCS books were not on the permitted list when I took the exam last May. DRG Expert and specific drug handbooks were. I used the DRG Expert a couple of times and the drug handbook for 1 or 2 questions.

    I agree with featherz..Maybe see if you can borrow a DRG Expert for the test.

    I used the study guide and really spent time understanding the Official Coding Guidelines. Fortunately, I passed on the first go round.

    Good luck!!
  • The only two sources you can bring into the exam are the DRG Expert and an approved pharmacology book. the CCDS Candidate Handbook lists approved sources. You cannot and do not need an ICD-10 CM or PCS book. i do suggest you bring a DRG Expert as it does offer guidance that can be used in a number of the questions. It may provide you a source to verify your chosen answer is correct. That said, i do not remember using the book that much when I took the exam (several years ago) but it did allow me to double check a few of my answers. 
  • Please remember you can make written notes within the DRG expert.
  • I just passed my exam on Friday.  I wish I would have made some notes in my DRG expert--I did not even open it during the exam, and found it generally un-useful to have, since I do not know how to use it.  I pretty much just brought it with me because I could.  I brought a drug book too, but did not even open it. 

    There was not really one particular area that I thought was more challenging, the questions I missed were spread evenly across the content areas.  I have a clinical background in nursing, and have worked as a CDS for two years (the only one in a small hospital).

    I thought there were a lot of tricky questions, and I am used to multiple choice, NCLEX style questions, I have taken nursing certification exams, and written NCLEX-style questions for competency assessment and nursing students, and volunteered on the NCLEX panel.  I am good with this question style, but  I found it difficult to know if I should or shouldn't read certain information into the questions on this exam.  I would have benefited from doing more practice questions.

    Good luck to all!  If you have questions, my email is, I would be happy to help if I can.

  • Thamk you!!
  • congratulations on your passing. My word of advice to test candidates is always take the question at face value- don't read in to the question too much. Everything you need to answer the question is in the question itself.  and try to answer the question before reading the supplied choices. 
  • what kind of questions were on the test? were they more clinical  questions ?
  • I am looking to take the CCDS within the next three months.  I also want to obtain my CDIP.  Is there anyone with both certifications, and if so, do you think it would be ok to study for both exams at once, or, do one exam, then the other?  Thank you
  • I see no issues with studying for both at the same time as there is some overlap. and there should be no contradiction where the two overlap. (in other words they should be consistent- since they are based on regulatory guidance and clinical standards of care).   I do caution you that the exams are very different in focus. CCDS focuses on the function of a CDI as you see demonstrated in the exam objectives- found within the candidate handbook. The CDIP has a more general focus on records management- or the HIM functions. 
  • In addition to the current year DRG Expert, what are the recommended sources of study for the CCDS Exam? What books are recommended for  Anatomy, Physiology, Pathophysiology, and clinical indicator reviews?
  • I recently purchased the CCDS 4th edition exam study guide. I was provided with the link for the practice exam within the book. However when following the link I am met with a page that states the exam will be available soon? Has anyone else encountered this? Any idea on the timeframe of availability?

  • I have the 3rd edition CCDS study guide, but have not yet taken the test. Do I need to get the updated version for studying, or is the copy I have sufficient?
  • Hello,

    I am planning to take this exam as soon as I can. My questions are:

    1. Approximately how long do you need to study before you give the exam? I understand everyone is different that's why I asked approximately. :)

    2. Which book should I use to study? I see many people are mentioning "Study guide" is this study guide available on ACDIS website? or somewhere else?

    Thank you.

  • I did the online boot camp and used the ACDIS study guide:  CCDS Exam Study Guide. It has a link on it to a practice test.  I studied in small frequent amounts for about a month between when I signed up for the test and when I took it.  I also did the practice test a number of times leading up to the test.  The test was more challenging than I anticipated. 
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