Wednesday, September 19, 2012

3 Tips to Getting Your Best Score

Every parent and student that comes to me for advice on the ACT exam wants to know the same question; what are the easiest things I can do to quickly raise my ACT score? The question doesn't come from laziness at all, but rather frustration. So many students put in long hours studying and don't seem to get results.

Why Student's Have Trouble Increasing Their ACT Score

The biggest problem that students face when trying to increase their ACT score is that they are doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. A focused plan makes all the difference. Otherwise, you may just be spinning your wheels and wasting time and energy.

You need to learn to quickly answer questions, manage the clock and know what to study.

Learn to Quickly Answer Questions

Simply retaking practice tests to "become a better test taker" isn't going to do much more than get you comfortable with taking tests. That helps some, but not an enormous amount. There are specific test-taking skills that have to be learned, such guessing, saving time answering questions, how to read the Reading / Science passages and more.

Time Management is Key for the ACT Exam

Every student struggles to get all the questions answered in the time allotted. There are two time-management skills that help tremendously, and they do not merely include "go as fast as you can." As a matter of fact, some students make the mistake of thinking that the "easy" questions are first, so they just hurry through them, costing valuable points.

Know What To Study for the ACT Exam

Knowing what NOT to study can be just as important as knowing what TO study to get a high score on the ACT exam. For instance, studying Trigonometry is not a good use of your time unless you are hoping to score above a 32. Memorizing the periodic table for the Science portion is also a big waste of time.

The key to a good score on the ACT exam is to be strategic and have a well thought out plan, dealing specifically with your strengths and weaknesses. This normally requires a study course that is designed to teach you "how" to take the test, as opposed to teaching you more of the same curriculum that is on the test.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Parent's Guide to Getting a High ACT Test Score

So many parents ask me what they can do to help their students get a higher ACT test score, and so many of them are doing the wrong things, that it can be discouraging. However, at least they are asking and can get the right information.

There are two categories of advice I give parents about helping their students get a high ACT test score. What to do and what NOT to do.

What NOT To Do:

First and foremost, don't ramp up the pressure on your student unintentionally by well-meaning, but misguided tactics. Spending a lot of money on tutoring or an ACT prep course may seem like the right thing to do, but that just puts more pressure on the student to make sure the money is not wasted. They need a confidence booster, not fear of increasing consequences of failure.

The other thing is not to nag. So many students plan to study and then, when their parents remind them, they choose not to study because they are feeling forced. Sometimes the best thing a parent can do is nothing; let them take the test the first time and do poorly, and then they will be more responsive to some gently suggestions.

What TO Do To Help Your Student Get a High ACT Test Score

The things that you want to do are to be supportive, but in a way that builds confidence. A quiet, reassuring "I know that you'll do well" goes a long way to reducing the Test Anxiety that can cause students to bomb on tests.

Also, involve your student in selecting an ACT prep course that is simple and not intimidating. If it is too long or too expensive, they will just feel more pressure to perform and anxiety over how they will complete the course.

Sometimes, it is a better idea to have them complete two shorter ACT prep courses, because after the first brief course, they may see results and opt for a second. It's much easier to climb a mountain by thinking one step at a time. Faced with a 10 week, 20 hour course, few students feel enthusiastic.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How Do I Get Certified As a Certified Coding Specialist

A Certified Coding Specialist-Physician-Based or CCS-P describes a medical coding practitioner certified by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). These individuals are specialized in physician-based settings such as offices, practices, clinics, or specialized medical settings. They are responsible for reviewing patient's records and also assigning numeric codes for each diagnosis and procedure. Coding practitioners have an in-depth knowledge of the CPT coding system and are experts in health information, documentation, integrity, and quality. Since the coded data from patient's is submitted to insurance companies for reimbursement, coding specialists play a critical role in the healthcare field. There are many certifications available such as the AAPC CPC, but many coding specialists are also CCS-P certified.

By becoming certified, the employment for these coding specialists is highly favorable. Health professionals who perform coding in a healthcare setting should consider obtaining this certification in order to testify to their abilities. This certification exam assesses a mastery-level proficiency rather than an entry-level skill.

There are several eligibility requirements that must be passed in order to take the exam. Any candidate for the exam must have a high school diploma from a school in the United States or have achieved an equivocal education. There is also a list of requirements and candidates must meet one of the eligibility requirements on the list in order to take the exam. They must have completed a coding training program, have had two years of experience, are credentialed, or be credentialed and have one year of coding experience. These are the basic requirements and it is unlikely that a candidate who is not eligible to take the exam would be unable to pass it.

While these are not requirements, there are some training and recommendations for exam candidates. They are recommended to have six months of coding experience where they have directly applied codes. It is also recommended that individuals have completed an AHIMA approved coding program or that the individual has completed another coding training program that covered similar material.

The AHIMA CCS-P exam is a fairly basic test. For members of AHIMA, it costs $299, and for non-members, the cost is $399. The test has a multiple choice section with 88 single response items. It also contains a multiple select section of 8 questions. This is followed by a fill in the blank section of 13 medical record cases. This section of the test requires examinees to perform diagnostic and procedural coding. The time limit for the test is four hours without any breaks.

After testing, immediate scoring is available if enough candidates have taken the exam. The passing score will vary slightly and the Angoff procedure is used to set the minimum passing score. The passing scores are published after enough candidates have taken the exam.

After completing the application materials, all candidates will receive a document saying that they are authorized to test, or ATT. After receiving the letter, the candidate has four months to take the exam and will have to reapply if they do not complete the testing within that window. If the candidate does not pass the exam, they must wait 91 days before being eligible to take the exam again. These are the basic requirements and specifications for the CCP-S exam.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How Much Does a Certified Medical Coder Make

If you're wondering how much does a certified medical coder make, especially in these challenging times then do read on. Joining the industry of medical coding may be the right one for you because it offers great career opportunities with high salaries. Medical coding is on the rise, and there is a healthy demand for certified professionals. The increased need to provide universal access to health care and the increased use of electronic means makes medical coding a growing industry in the years to come.

The figures and analysis here are from the 2012 AAPC Health Care Salary Survey, and they reveal that people in the health care industry continues to be well compensated from the work they do. The list of professionals that responded to this survey includes educators, auditors, practice managers, billers and coders.

According to the survey, the recession in 2008 may have affected this industry like any others, but the years that have passed brought back new opportunities. From the recession, professionals in this industry have reported not only an increased opportunity for growth, but better decision making skills in their workplace.

Average salary for a medical coder

According to the 2012 survey, the average medical coder can earn $47,870 annually. This average medical coding salary involved both the non-certified and certified medical coders, but if you break down the actual earnings of non-credentialed and credentialed medical coders, you will get a significant difference on medical coding salaries. The figures below shows the salaries of medical coders according to their certifications or credentials.

1. A Certified Professional Coder or a CPC gets to earn $47,796 annually. 
2. All coders holding AAPC credentials get to earn $48,033 annually. 
3. Those with specialty credentials can earn $54,145 in a year. 
4. A Certified Professional Coder-Payer or CPC-P earns an average of $55,255, which is $3,800 higher than last year's average. 
5. A Certified Professional Coder-Hospital Outpatients or CPC-H, on the other hand, earns $56,466 with an increase of $1,800 from last year. 
6. A Certified Professional Medical Auditor or CPMA earns $59,365 with an increase of $3,200 from last year.

Salary for certified medical coder

Based on the figures, you can clearly see that those who are credentialed get to have higher salaries although there is a slow and steady growth of medical coding salaries from previous years. This means that those who have credentials get the most advantages out of their work from financial to professional development.

The medical coding salaries not only differ by the credentials, but also by the workplace. All workers have an increased salary by 9.7% as compared to last year's statistics. Those who worked in facilities earned more, but have the least salary raises. Those working in solo practice may have lower salaries, but have the most increase from $40,290 in 2010 to $45,312 in 2012.

The job responsibilities of the medial coders also dictate the amount that they get. More so, education and credentials greatly affects the rate of medical coders. Also, there are more jobs today that need medical coders with credentials than before. This means that credentialed medical coders are more in demand as years pass by so getting one for you is beneficial.

There are a lot of factors that affect the medical coding salaries, but one thing is sure, getting credentials, choosing your work setting and getting further education will place you at the top of the highest paid medical coders.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Registration Strategy and Tips

When you register for the ACT test date held in February each year, there are a few tips that you need to keep in mind. I am constantly asked by parents what is the best month to take the ACT and what is the strategy for taking it more than one time. With that in mind, let's take a look at the Do's and Don'ts.

Why the February ACT Test Dates are Ideal

The biggest advantage of taking the ACT test in February is that you have the Christmas break to study and you have plenty of time after getting your score report to study for a retake on the June test date.

If you are taking the ACT for the first time in February, you should really prepare yourself by at least taking a full-blown practice test before that date. Just the familiarity with taking the full 3 1/2 hour test once before will help improve your score.

Retaking the ACT Test on the June Test Date

About three weeks after you take the ACT in February, you will receive your score report. The thing to do is to look past your "composite score" and focus on the English and Math sub-scores.

These will tell you exactly where you can focus your studying efforts to quickly bring up your score. "Just studying everything" is a very poor strategy that ensures you will work a lot harder than you have to.

Consider an ACT Prep Course

A very good strategy to increase your score over what you got on the February ACT test is to find a short, economical ACT prep course that will allow you to zero in on the exact areas where you need the most help. This will give you the quickest boost to your score.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

ACT Scoring and the Average ACT Score

The ACT (American College Test) is a national college admissions exam that tests knowledge and ability in four major subject areas:

The exam format is 215 multiple choice questions, broken into four separate tests, and also a separate thirty minute writing test. ACT test results are accepted by all four year universities and colleges across the United States.

Across the nation, an average of over 43% of high school graduates have taken the ACT before they graduate. The Midwest and Rocky Mountain region have the highest percentage of students taking the ACT test. Nearly all high school students in Michigan, Colorado and Illinois take the test before they graduate.

The ACT test is much less popular in the north Atlantic. In Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, and Delaware under 20% of high school graduates take the ACT..

Average ACT Scores 
ACT scores, grades, and class rank are the main criteria a college uses to determine if an applicant will be accepted. The ACT test scores out of 36 points, with a possible score range from 1 to 36. The nationwide average ACT score is fairly consistent from year to year, and was just over 21.1 in 2009. Nearly 30% of ACT takers score between 19 and 23. Over 55% of all ACT takers score between 17 and 25. While technically it is possible a student can score a 1 on the ACT, over 99% of students earn a 12 or above.

The average ACT score fluctuates from state to state. The states typically having the highest average ACT test scores are Washington (23.1), Connecticut (23.3), Massachusetts (23.6), and New York (23.1).

The states scoring the lowest were Florida (19.8), Washington DC (19.1), and Mississippi (18.9).

The minimum ACT required score for admission will differ for each school. Although there are exceptions, most public colleges require an 18.

Most Ivy League schools only accept applicants whose ACT scores are in the 90th percentile, which in most years equates to a minimum score of 28.

Achieving a 36 on the ACT does not require getting every question correct, but is difficult nonetheless. Only 1 in every 4,000 students earn a 36.

Typically a score over 34 puts a student in the top percentile. A score of 30 is considered to be very good and is only earned by the top 4% of all students.

How the ACT is Scored 
The ACT score is calculated by using the average of the scores from all four test sections. All of the sections are scored on a scale of 1 to 36. If the average score is not a whole number, the ACT rounds the score up to the nearest whole number. Like other standardized admissions tests, the ACT has created a "College Readiness Benchmark" for each subject area.

The readiness benchmark is supposed to be an accurate gauge of whether a student is intellectually and academically ready for college. The ACT college readiness minimum benchmark scores are 22 for mathematics, 18 for English, 21 for reading, and 24 for science. The weighted average of all four of the college readiness benchmarks is 21.25, which means a student who gets a 21.1 does not meet the level of readiness that the ACT indicates is required to succeed in college. Surprisingly, the ACT reports that only 23% of all test takers in 2009 exceeded the benchmarks in all of the categories.