Clinical Coding Exam Revision Tips

 Revision. Is it fun? No. But is it bad? Not if we have anything to do with it. 

We’ve put together this guide which contains expert revision techniques, specific tips on how to study for clinical coding exams and the best kept secret on last minute cramming. This is the revision bible. Pair it with our e-learning academy and you’re in a good place.  

1.  Don’t cram, space. 

Time is just an abstract concept that we created as a civilisation to gain control over our lives, but also, you’ve run out of time. Cramming is like hoarding. Before you know it, your mind is cluttered, you can’t find anything, and you become anxious every time you think about it. Throw. Cramming. In. The. Bin.  

Instead, try a technique called spaced repetition. It involves reviewing information over a long period of time, at gradually increasing intervals. Our brains learn more effectively when we space our learning over time because the more we encounter certain pieces of information, the more likely we are to be able to recall it from our memory. Learning something once or twice, or putting minimal effort into remembering it (cramming) won’t make the information stick. And your brain needs that stick. 

2. Active revision 

Just because you’re consuming something doesn’t mean you’re taking it in. Memorising and understanding are two very different things. You know that, we know that, and we all learn it the hard way.  For revision to be effective, it has to engage the brain, the body and the senses. The following are a few of the best methods; 

  • Flash cards 
  • Study groups 
  • Mind maps 
  • Teaching someone else 
  • Practice questions 

Our academy courses integrate pictures and quizzes specifically designed for learning and revising clinical coding. So if you’re struggling with where to begin or what to do, go check it out. 

3. Practice Papers 

If our clinical coding trainers could spoon feed you exam help, they’d feed you a big bowl of past papers. We love to hate them, but practising past papers is the best way to revise for an exam because you are quite literally taking the exam. It’s a no-brainer.  

We also advise recreating your exam conditions as closely as possible. The exams will be held digitally this year meaning you’ll be surrounded by the very things that distract you on a daily basis. By practising the conditions, as well as the exam, you give yourself the best possible opportunity of going into the exam with confidence. Remember, every time you get distracted, you break your flow. And it takes a lot longer than you think to refocus. So keep your head in the game by keeping everything else out of it. 

You can access the last two years past papers through NHS Digital or all past papers via IHRIM. We also have practice questions over on the academy site. 

4. Make a schedule 

Take it from us, freestyling your revision is not the one. Creating a structure in which to work will help you make the most of your time and keep you motivated until exam day. Our top tips for making a schedule include; 

  • Be intentional and set objectives: Saying, ‘I’m going to revise today’ with no clear direction will end in a pit of despair. Instead, say ‘I’m going to revise X between 11:00 and 13:00 and use the following techniques.’ 
  • Implement the Pomodoro Method or similar: The Pomodoro Method follows a basic pattern of 25 minutes of studying followed by a 5 minute break. Do this 4 times before taking a longer break. Short sessions followed by regular breaks are a much more effective way of learning than unbroken revision for hours. The sentiment is the crucial thing, so don’t feel obligated to follow the exact times. 
  • Schedule in multiple topics in a day: Bouncing between topics will help you stay focused and will also give your brain time to consolidate the information you’ve learnt.  

5. Find your code 

 A technique worth trying is to approach your clinical coding revision like a day on the job. Your work involves translating medical notes into codes that only a select group of people can understand. So create a way of studying that causes the information to talk back to you. Try extracting key information from your notes and assign a personal association to it the same way you would extract information for a set of medical notes and assign a code.  

Bring your revision to life by making it yours. The best techniques are made better when you make them work for you. You know the best time of day for you to revise, how you should take a break, how much sleep you need and so on. So trust the science, but also trust yourself. 

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