RHIA and RHIT Exam Preparation Tips

RHIA and RHIT Exam Preparation Tips

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RHIT b/w

By Patricia Schnering, RHIA, CCS

Graduation is now a memory and your certification examination is looming on the horizon. Begin preparing for it now and feel confident of being victorious on October 14th. The following 10 preparation tips are presented for use in helping you plan your review and study time.

1. Include your family and friends. Let them know that you will need their support and encouragement while preparing for the exam. They are proud of you and your efforts to succeed and can be a real source of reassurance when your motivation droops.

2. Gather and organize your resources to begin your preparation process. They should include:

* the 2000 Certification Guide from the American Health Information Manage-ment Association (AHIMA);

* course syllabi and outlines;

* class notes from your courses;

* tests and examinations from your classes; and

* textbooks.

3. Design a study schedule that will work for you. Set a regular study routine and plan on spending 10 to 12 hours per week studying. Do a little bit at a time and maintain a steady pace to avoid burnout. Each of us has a time of day that we tend to use for our study time. I always work better in the early morning, but others may prefer to burn the midnight oil. Carefully plan your pre-exam study time and stick to your plan.

4. Develop an individual study program. Determine which topics will require a significant amount of study time and which will only require a brief review. Make a list of the topics and subjects in the order that you plan to study them. The list will provide a clear picture of what to study and will keep your review process on track. Keep the list conspicuously in view as a barometer of progress.

5. Review the major topic categories and weigh the importance of each subject. Look at how the topics are emphasized in the competencies (a listing of the competencies is provided in the Certification Guide) and in your textbooks. Try to pick out concepts that would make good exam questions. Remember every question counts toward that passing score.

6. Outline the chapters in your health information management (HIM) text. Pause to look at the outline and recall basic points. Are the points clear to you, or do you need to do some additional review of the subject? By using this approach, coupled with review of the major topic categories, you can quickly pinpoint your weakest subjects.

7. Take tests. Practice answering questions and working problems as much as possible. Retake all the tests from your classes and obtain an exam review book with questions so that you can practice taking more tests. Work with your watch in front of you. Time your tests so that you become accustomed to taking only one to one-and-a-half minutes to answer each question.

8. Organize study groups and set aside specific times to work together. This interaction can be truly beneficial to keep you motivated and on target. Collaborating with classmates may reveal fresh viewpoints, stimulate thought by disagreement or at least let you see that you are not alone in your quest.

9. Take advantage of any review sessions available in your area, as they present opportunities to learn and review the subject matter in a new light.

10. Carefully read the certification guide from AHIMA. You are accountable for the information, deadlines and instructions addressed in this material. If there is anything in the certification guide you do not understand, seek assistance from the program director or call AHIMA.

As your test day approaches, consider the following recommendations to guide you through the examination process.

Sometime before exam day, make sure that you know exactly where your examination site is located. You may want to take a pre-test drive to see how much time it takes you to get to the test site. If it is a long distance from home, it may be necessary, or preferable to plan on spending the night before the examination in a hotel or motel near the exam site.

On the day before the exam organize all the materials you need to take with you to the exam. Review the Certification Guide carefully and be sure to have all the items required:

* admission card

* proof of identity bearing a photograph and signature (e.g. drivers license)

* several sharpened #2 pencils with erasers

* at least one battery operated calculator (there may not be enough light in the room for a solar powered calculator)

* 2000 CPT Code book

* ICD-9-CM codebook with all errata through October 1999. You are allowed to bring any coding notes as long as they are permanently attached via tape, staples, etc. to the coding book. You may also bring your bookstand to hold the codebooks.

Put all of these items in a bag by the door so you won’t be scrambling around in the morning when you are beginning to get stressed out.

Avoid studying the night before the exam. Last minute studying tends to increase your anxiety level. However, you may want to allocate a small amount of time for review of any information that must be memorized. Get plenty of sleep and eat a good breakfast on exam morning so you have fuel for taking the test.

Taking the examination is your moment of truth if you have stuck to your study schedule. The following test-taking techniques can assist you with identifying the best answer.

* Take a quick look at the statistics formulas that are provided on the inside of the front cover of the exam booklet.

* Read all directions and questions carefully. Try to avoid reading too much into the questions. Be sensible and practical in your interpretation. Read all of the possible answers, because the first one that looks good may not be the best one.

* Scan the exam quickly for general format. Like the marathon runner, pace yourself for the distance. A good rule of thumb is one minute per question.

* Choose the test-taking method that works best for you. Some people answer all the questions that they are certain of first, then go back through the exam a second time to answer any questions they were uncertain about. Others prefer not to skip questions, but make their best choice on encountering each question and go on. Both can be good approaches.

* Answer all the questions. There are no penalties for guessing, but putting no answer is definitely a wrong answer. Also make sure you document your answers on the correct answer bubble on the scantron sheet. It may be helpful to periodically check, for example at intervals of every 10 or 20 questions, to make sure that you are on track with the numbering.

* Use deductive reasoning and the process of elimination to arrive at the most correct answer. Some questions may have more than one correct answer. You will be asked to select the “best” possible answer based on the information given.

* Break down scenario format questions by first identifying the question being asked and then reviewing the entire question for the information needed to determine the correct answer.

* Use all the time available to recheck your answers and make sure your answer sheet has been filled in correctly. However, avoid changing your answers unless you are absolutely certain it is necessary. Second-guessing yourself often results in a wrong answer.

After the exam, reclaim your life and focus on your career. One good way to start is to plan a special reward for yourself at some point immediately following or shortly after the exam. Schedule a family vacation or a relaxing weekend get-away. I went directly from the exam to spending the afternoon with my family at a Disney on Ice program. It was a great way to decompress. Just find some way of being good to yourself. You certainly deserve it. You have worked hard, so relish your victory. *


Schnering, Patricia, RHIA, CCS, et al Professional Review Guide for the RHIA and RHIT Examinations, 2000 Edition, PRG Publishing, 2000.

Leroy, Ruth, MHS, RHIA, Preparation Guide for the RHIA and RHIT Examinations, PRG Publishing, 2000.

2000 Certification Guide Registered Health Information Administrator, AHIMA.

2000 Certification Guide Registered Health Information Technician, AHIMA.

Patricia Schnering is president of PRG Publishing Inc., St. Petersburg, FL.

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