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Certification FAQs

  1. How are the exams scored?
  2. How long does it take for me to receive my official score?
  3. Why do I not receive my score right away?
  4. Why can’t we get a copy of the questions we get wrong or know what the right answers were to the questions we got wrong?
  5. If I fail the exam why can’t I take it in the same testing window?
  6. How many questions are on both exams?
  7. How long do I have to take the CPCS/CPMSM exam?
  8. How much does it cost to take the exam?
  9. What is the difference between the CPCS and the CPMSM and how do I know which one I should take?
  10. What standards are on the exam?
  11. Why is the test so broad?
  12. Is the test all multiple choice? Essay?
  13. Are there “trick” questions on the exam?
  14. What is the percentage of pass/fail rates for candidates who took the prep courses?
  15. Do the instructors (of the prep courses) know the questions on the test?
  16. Are questions about Det Norske Veritas (DNV) be included in the exam?
  17. Are the CCN practice exams a good indicator to measure how prepared a candidate is?
  18. Are there any other practice exams available, aside from what the CCN offers?
  19. What if the computer shuts down while you are taking your test?
  20. How long is the initial certification period effective and what are the requirements for recertification?
  21. Where can one obtain CMS, JC, NCQA standards online? They don’t seem to be available online?
  22. How often is the candidate handbook updated and when we purchase it how do we obtain the updates that have been made since our purchase?
  23. What factors determine the cost of the exam?
  24. Are the tests modified during the testing period as standards change?
  25. How can I contact someone regarding my questions about sitting for the exam?
  26. How do I apply for examination?
  27. How do I find an exam site?
  28. What are the post cumulative exam statistics?
  29. Where can I access practice tests for the CPCS and CPMSM exams?
  30. When do I need to recertify? 
  31. What are the fees for recertification?
  32. What are the new CE requirements for dual certificants, effective 2010? 


How are the Exams Scored?

Each candidate taking the exam is judged against a predetermined standard rather than against other candidates.  The predetermined standard is set by a committee of subject matter experts working with testing experts to ensure the validity, reliability and legal defensibility of the exam. Scaled scoring will be used on all exam forms. Scaled scoring involves a mathematical conversion of the number of items that a candidate correctly answers transformed so that there is a consistent scale used across all forms of the exam. The passing scaled score will be 400 for the CPCS exam and 450 for the CPMSM exam. For more information on scaled scoring, please see the Sept/Oct 2012 Synergy article on Scaled Scoring.


How long does it take for me to receive my official score?

For the Summer 2017 Testing Window, the CPCS and CPMSM exams are auto scored at the completion of the examination. Auto-scoring allows the candidate to receive a preliminary pass or fail result from the examination. Once the preliminary scores are validated, the official results will follow to candidates within six weeks from the close of the testing period/window.(See Candidate Handbook Page 10)

Beginning with the Fall 2017 Testing Window, official results will be mailed to candidates approximately four to six weeks from the close of the testing period/window. Please note that the close of the testing window may be up to three weeks after an individual’s testing date. 

Note: To ensure the confidentiality of exam results, actual scores will not be released via telephone, fax, or any other electronic transmission by either the CCN or CASTLE Worldwide, Inc. personnel. Scores will NOT be sent to employers, schools, other individuals, or organizations under any circumstances. Names of candidates who do not pass the examination are confidential and are not revealed under any circumstances, except by legal compulsory process.

Why do I not receive my score right away?

In order to maintain compliance with NCCA Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs, the CCN has moved to determining the passing standard for the CPCS and the CPMSM by a process of statistical equating. Because equating requires data on actual candidate performance to determine the passing standard, the scores cannot be released until after all candidates take the test. For additional information on the move to statistical equating, please see the May/June 2017 Synergy Article on the change from a cut score panel to equating. 


Why can’t we get a copy of the questions we get wrong or know what the right answers were to the questions we got wrong?

The exams are protected by copyright and the certification is accredited by NCCA.  To protect the integrity of the exam and assure fairness to future candidates, the questions on exams, including answers to questions, may not be shared by CCN, Test Development Volunteers and/or candidates who may have already taken the exam.


If I fail the exam why can’t I take it in the same testing window?

The testing window deadline (and late deadline) will have passed; therefore, you would not be eligible to take the exam in the same window.


How many questions are on both exams?

There are 150 questions on the CPCS exam and 175 questions on the CPMSM exam. (See Candidate Handbook Page 5)


How long do I have to take the CPCS/CPMSM exam?

Three hours for CPCS and four hours for CPMSM.  (See Candidate Handbook Page 5)


How much does it cost to take the exam?

NAMSS members $375.00; Non-NAMSS members $500.00. (See Candidate Handbook Page 7)


What is the difference between the CPCS and the CPMSM and how do I know which one I should take?


Review of the candidate handbook will provide details regarding the exam differences and the eligibility requirements (Please refer to the Candidate Handbook Pages 4-5). To best determine which exam is right for you, examine your qualifications and skill set and select the most appropriate fit.


What standards are on the exam?

Review of the candidate handbook will provide details regarding the standards used to develop the exam content. (See Candidate Handbook page 11)


Why is the test so broad?

The exams are developed to assure employers that candidates holding either one or both of the NAMSS certifications possess the requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities to work across all fields of the medical services and credentialing profession.


Is the test all multiple choice? Essay?

There are no essay questions. All questions on the examinations are multiple choice. There will be one correct answer, and two plausible but incorrect answers.


Are there “trick” questions on the exam?

There are no “trick” questions on the exams. However, each item will have two plausible distracters, which will challenge the candidate to discern what is the one correct answer.


What is the percentage of pass/fail rates for candidates who took the prep courses?

The CCN does not collect this specific data. For specific information relative to the NAMSS Prep Course, please refer to the Education tab of the NAMSS website.


Do the instructors (of the prep courses) know the questions on the test?

No. Prep course instructors do not know actual test questions. However, instructors teach based on the same exam content outline provided to the candidates in the Candidate Handbook which the Certification Commission uses to create the exam.


Are questions about Det Norske Veritas (DNV) included in the exam?

Please refer to the Candidate Handbook for those standards that are currently covered in the exams. At this time, there are no questions on the exams that test to DNV standards. If or when additional accrediting bodies or standards are incorporated into the exam content, the CCN broadly communicates this information to potential candidates well in advance of their inclusion on an exam.


Are the CCN practice exams a good indicator to measure how prepared a candidate is?  For example, if a candidate receives  80-90% correct on a practice exam, can he/she assume that he/she is prepared to take the test?

The practice exams are designed to give potential test candidates a sample of the way the questions will appear on the exam and what one correct answer and two plausible distracters look like.  There is no correlation between individual preparation and scoring on the practice exams.  None of the practice exam questions will appear on an actual certification exam.


Are there any other practice exams available, aside from what the CCN offers?

The CCN offers practice exams at a fee of $50 (See Candidate Handbook page 11 and NAMSS Website). The CCN is not aware of any other practice exams that are written to the exam content outline and consistent with the manner in which official test items are written.


What if the computer shuts down while you are taking your test?

In the event Internet connectivity is lost, your submitted answers will not be lost and the computer will stop the clock on your exam at the time connectivity is lost.  The clock will resume when connectivity is re-established and you will be able to complete the exam in the fully allotted time period.


How long is the initial certification period effective and what are the requirements for recertification?

Certification is valid for three years and recertification is required every three years. Please refer to the Candidate Handbook, page 10, for additional details and requirements of recertification.


Where can one obtain CMS, JC, NCQA standards online? They don’t seem to be available online?

CMS conditions of participation and interpretive guidelines are available online at no cost.  The Joint Commission and NCQA standards require purchase; however, someone in your state association within your organization/facility may be able to help you gain access to the standards during your certification preparation.  NAMSS Education Committee has also developed a crosswalk to the standards that is available for purchase at the NAMSS Store. (Please refer to the Candidate Handbook, page 11, for more information on where to locate reference materials)


How often is the candidate handbook updated and when we purchase it how do we obtain the updates that have been made since our purchase?

The Candidate Handbook is updated annually and is available on the NAMSS website under Certification. There is no cost associated with the Candidate Handbook.


What factors determine the cost of the exam?

The exams are accredited by the NCCA (National Commission for Certifying Agencies). A comparison of other NCCA accredited certification exams reveals that the fees for the CPCS and CPMSM exams are comparable. The cost of the exams coincides with the development / maintenance/ administrative costs of the certification examinations.


Are the tests modified during the testing period as standards change?

Exams are written to the accreditation standards in effect at the time the exam is assembled (April of each year). The exam forms assembled in April are administered in the following Fall testing window and subsequent Spring and Summer testing windows. (For example exams assembled in April 2011 were administered in the Fall 2011, Spring and Summer, 2012 testing windows.)

Of note, due to the new CPMSM Exam Content Outline, exams assembled in April 2012 will be administered beginning in Spring 2013 rather than Fall 2012.


How can I contact someone regarding my questions about sitting for the exam?

NAMSS Certification Team
(202) 367-1196
certification@namss.org


How do I apply for examination?

Visit the Application Procedures/Instructions page to learn more.


How do I find an exam site?

Visit the Scheduling Your Exam Appointment page to learn more.


What are the post cumulative exam statistics?


Where can I access practice tests for the CPCS and CPMSM exams?

Find information about the CPCS practice exam and the CPMSM practice exam here.


When do I need to recertify?

Three years after achieving certification. If you are dually certified, then three years from obtaining your first certification.


What are the fees for recertification?

Single Certification:
NAMSS Members: $150
Non-Members: $300

Dual Certification
NAMSS Members: $175
Non-Members: $325


What are the new CE requirements for dual certificants?

Find out more information on the certification news page.


For additional information, please refer to the Candidate Handbook.

Please note that the CCN does not develop, administer, sponsor, endorse, or financially benefit from any type of exam review, preparatory course or published materials related to the content of the certification examinations. The purchase and/or use of any exam preparation material does not guarantee a passing score on the exam.