CCDS Certification
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Exam/Testing

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT THE CCDS EXAM

The CCDS exam was updated to incorporate ICD-10 and quality metrics. The passing grade has not been determined, and candidates taking the exam in the first few weeks will not get their scores on site after completing the exam. The ACDIS CCDS Advisory Board and a team from Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP, the company that administers the exam) will meet to review the first few weeks of exam results and determine the passing score and mail results to all candidates whose results are pending. We anticipate that instant on-site score results will resume by early March 2016.

See below to download a PDF of exam content.


To become a Certified Clinical Documentation Specialist (CCDS), a candidate must pass the examination. This examination is offered in two methods:

  1. Via paper-and-pencil at the Association of Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialists (ACDIS) annual conference.
  2. At one of approximately 190 AMP Assessment Centers located around the country (click on your state for locations and directions).

Candidates who apply to take the examination will be contacted by the program when they have been approved to take the examination.

Candidates have four months/120 days from the date their name is submitted to AMP to schedule and take their exam.

Computer testing: The CCDS examination is offered by computer at approximately 190 AMP Assessment Centers located throughout the United States (click on your state for locations and directions). There are no application deadlines and a candidate who meets eligibility requirements may submit an application and fee at any time. The examination is by appointment only Monday through Saturday at 9:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Candidates are scheduled on a first-come, first served basis.

Paper-and-pencil testing: This examination is offered once annually via paper-and-pencil at the ACDIS annual conference.

Allowable resources

CCDS examination takers will be allowed to bring the following two books with them into the test:

  • DRG Expert, published by OPTUM (formerly Ingenix). Books must be ICD-10 editions.
  • One of the following standard drug reference guides:
    • Mosby's Nursing Drug Reference
    • Nurse's Pocket Drug Guide
    • Physicians' Desk Reference
    • PDR Nurse's Drug Handbook
    • Nursing Drug Handbook/Lippincott's

Books will be checked for additional pages or loose notes inserted or attached inside. These are not allowed to be brought into the exam.

Pass/fail statistics

The overall pass rate for the CCDS exam for 2015 was 74.2%.

Types of examination questions

The examination is an objective, multiple-choice test consisting of 120 questions. One hundred questions will be used in computing the score. The exam questions have been designed to test the candidate's multidisciplinary knowledge of clinical, coding, and healthcare regulations, as well as the roles and responsibilities of a clinical documentation specialist. The questions are updated on a continuous basis to keep them relevant to current realities in healthcare. Choices of answers to the examination questions will be identified as A, B, C, or D.

  • Recall questions test the candidate's knowledge of specific facts and concepts relevant to the day-to-day work of clinical documentation improvement professionals. Because the examination is an "open book" test, candidates may use reference resources in answering recall questions, as this is the manner in which clinical documentation improvement professionals frequently carry out their responsibilities.
  • Application questions require the candidate to interpret or apply information, guidelines, or rules to a particular situation.
  • Analysis questions test the candidate's ability to evaluate and integrate a range of information in problem solving to address a particular challenge.

The current exam is designed so that approximately 40% of the questions will be of the recall type, 40% of the application type, and 20% of the analysis type.

The exam that will be administered beginning January 18, 2016, is designed so that approximately 40% of the questions will be of the recall type, 40% of the application type, and 30% of the analysis type.

Certification examination content

The exam content is based on analysis of the activities of clinical documentation specialists in a wide range of settings, hospital sizes, and circumstances. Input from a survey taken by members of the Association of Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialists (ACDIS), and the input and research of an advisory board comprised of experienced clinical documentation specialists, was used to identify seven core competencies with which clinical documentation specialists should have a strong working knowledge.

Click this link to download a PDF of exam content for beginning January 18, 2016.

Management and examination services

The Association of Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialists (ACDIS) contracts with Applied Measurement Professionals, Inc., (AMP) to provide management and examination services. AMP provides administrative support for the certification process, including examination development, validation, and administration. AMP carefully adheres to industry standards for development of practice-related, criterion-referenced examinations to assess competency.

AMP offers a full range of services, including practice analyses and development of examination specifications, psychometric guidance to committees of content experts during examination question writing, development of content, valid examination instruments, publishing, examination administration, scoring, and reporting examination results.

Applied Measurement Professionals, Inc. (AMP)
18000 West 105th Street
Olathe, KS 66061-7543
Tel: 913/895-4600
Fax: 913/895-4650
E-mail: info@goAMP.com
www.goAMP.com

ACDIS maintains records, handles finances, and processes examination applications, certification materials, and requests for continuing education approvals.

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